Reviews Archive:

CAGE - Astrology
CATCH THE RAINBOW - A tribute to Rainbow
CAULDRON BORN - 2 song promo CD
CENTURION - Arise Of The Empire
CHALICE - Digital Boulevard
CHARISMA - Charisma
CIRITH UNGOL - One Foot in Hell
CIRITH UNGOL - Servants Of Chaos (DCD)
CIRRHA NIVA - Enter The Future Exit (MCD)
CIRRHA NIVA - Liaison De La Morte
DAVID NEIL CLINE - Thorough Scrutiny
COMPANY OF SNAKES - Here They Go Again Live
CRIMSON GLORY - Astronomica

(Omega Records)

Anyone into real Metal out there? Yeah, I guessed so... Then you should definitely add CAGE to the list of purchases on your next CD shopping day. This San Diego bunch has been voted by the readers of Germany's Rock Hard magazine as the best newcomer act of 1999 and delivered first class material ever since their origin in 1993. Already the debut album "Unveiled" and their successful American support shows for JUDAS PRIEST, IRON MAIDEN, DIO, FATES WARNING and DOKKEN (just to name but a few...) proved that CAGE is one of the strongest forces in traditional Power Metal these days. And the currently released, long awaited follow up "Astrology" will certainly strengthen that solid foundation even more. This new album, which is a concept release, lyrically deals with the twelve signs of the Zodiac and delivers a similar amount of powerfully produced Metal-to-the-bone compositions in the tradition of early JAG PANZER / JUDAS PRIEST and the likes. Sometimes it's quite scary how similar vocalist Sean Peck sounds to JAG PANZER's Harry "The Tyrant" Conklin. But never mind - being compared to top notch musicians shouldn't be a problem, should it? And CAGE is still strong enough on their own not to be labeled a cheap copycat - this is one of America's best kept secrets and I bet my ass that they will make it a lot bigger in the years to come! Buy! All further info at:
Frank Stöver

A tribute to Rainbow

No, not another senseless tribute album, this was my first thought before the disc entered my cd player. But after listening to it, I had to change my opinion. Singer Henning Basse (METALIUM, ex-BRAINSTORM) and some well-known musicians of the German Metal scene such as drummer Uli Kusch and the rest of HELLOWEEN, Ralf Scheepers (PRIMAL FEAR), Jens Becker (GRAVE DIGGER) plus Ferdy Doernberg (ROUGH SILK) perform all-time classics like "Stargazer", "Still I'm Sad", "Catch The Rainbow" or "Man On The Silver Mountain" in a convincing way and the post-DIO era is also featured with tremendous versions of "I Surrender", "Lost In Hollywood" and "Spotlight Kid". Of course, the magic and spirit of the originals can't possibly be captured in the same way, but that's no news at all to the readers. Apart from that, Henning Basse sings on eight of the eleven tracks and particularly his strong covered DIO parts are along with the out of critic musicianship and the crunching guitar sound the highlights. Only the decision to do "Kill The King" is not of my liking because this tune was covered a million times before. All in all, this cover album is surely one of the better ones (even if I still can not understand why it's necessary to release tribute albums...) and can even compete with the also recommendable "Holy DIO" tribute.
Heinz Konzett

2 song promo CD
(Underground Symphony advance)

A preview of the 2nd full length from this Georgia band- proud to play epic power metal with strong high pitched vocals. The original "Clontarf" mixes progressive-like riffing and HELSTAR/ AGENT STEEL styled vocal actions. Howie Bentley's solo astounds- moving from dual guitar harmonic speed through facets of slower note enhancement- and judging from one song I'm impressed at the direction/ focus of this new effort. "Lucifer's Hammer" obviously is a cover of an old WARLORD song- which I believe will appear on a forthcoming tribute album. CAULDRON BORN do the song proud- heavy and majestic without sounding too modern. I await the next Underground Symphony album this fall. Email:
Matt Coe

Digital Boulevard
(Eagle Records)

Haven't heard the other two albums of this German band. So I do not know if they improved their sound on "Digital Boulevard". The style is to categorise as neo-classical, melodic, slightly progressive Hard Rock with a kind of love-hate of voice of Gino Naschke who reminds me of the AXXIS singer. The seventies keyboards are not of my liking as they are too loud as well as the melody lines are easy to foresee. I prefer more crunching Metal in general and the 90's DEEP PURPLE sound is okay with me if the songs can convince 100%. Unfortunately this is not the case here.
Heinz Konzett

(Massacre Records)

Well, this is now the second band that emerged from the IVANHOE split. As some of you will remember, IVANHOE was a powerful prog Metal band and former singer Andy B. Franck has already proved with the debut of his new band SYMPHORCE that he has taken along the power. CHARISMA have taken the progressive part. Their music is not very easy to listen to, although the guitar riffs of Achim Welsch do sound very powerful. It seems as if the band has tried to take along the typical IVANHOE prog parts and add bit more power, modern parts and some DREAM THEATER influences (just listen to the keyboards, played by Richard Seibel). The rhythm work is very complex and handled excellently by dummer Markus Blind and bass guitarist Giovanni Solas (ex- IVANHOE). One thing that adds an own identity to the disk is the voice of Annette Kienzle. Her voice is quite powerful, but also can carry along emotional and proggy vocal lines. Their songs are not easy to get through. You need definitely to listen at least a few times to the d isk to get acquainted to it. Basically the songs sound rather dark, due to the heavy and dark guitar and bass guitar sound. The songs featured on this disk are quite nice (except the ABBA cover "Rich Man's World", which is far too electronic and reminds me more of Dark Wave than Metal), but I am missing a real highlight. Some songs that are standing out from the disk are the powerful opener "State Design", the atmospheric power ballad "The Prophets" where Achim takes over a part of the lead vocals as well and the aggressive, powerful „Open Eye", but the band has definitely to improve their feeling for melodies. They show very well that they are excellent musicians, but their compositions have to become more mature in future. All in all an average disk which will definitely find its listeners among the die-hard prog Metal fans, but it is absolutely not my cup of tea.
Helmut Posch

Arise Of The Empire
(Scarlet Records)

This release is a little outdated, but who cares? This Italian five piece start their career with a punching Metal debut. Already with the first riff it's obvious this is not an ordinary Italian band. No, the guys play a much straighter kind of Metal like most of their countrymates. Hence, the music is mainly influenced by JUDAS PRIEST as well as the favourite song of singer Germano Quintaba has to be "Painkiller". His shrieking vocals are okay when hearing one or two tracks, but through fifty minutes? Less would be much more and his extreme shouting gets on your nerves after twenty minutes. He should use his talents more subtly and by looking at his model Rob Halford ten years ago he would hear the difference and remark what's lacking in his performance. The music is really good and enjoyable, pure Metal with some great riffing, and with a more pleasant vocal performance songs like "Metal Gladiator" or "Razor Blade" would kill. Hopefully on their second output.
Heinz Konzett

One Foot in Hell
(Metal Blade)

I don't want to sound controversial for the sake it, but most of the so-called true Metal bands of today should better check out what have been done in the past before recording everything. I am not saying that everything past is good, but more than often the new releases which pop out now from everywhere, being too calculated, lack the charm and honesty that made the bands in the 80's so essential. Take CIRITH UNGOL for an example. They were not the most talented musicians ever, their songs sounded sometimes a little disjointed and their album never got an adequate production, but in the end their memory still lives on in the heart of true Metal believers. And no wonder really. When you hear "One Foot in Hell", the finally reissued on CD band's third album, you understand what true Heavy Metal is all about: a sense of epicness, dedication, a way of life. CIRITH UNGOL play an obscure and somewhat primitive form of Metal, dominated by the haunting insane vocals coutesy of Tim Baker, the intricate guitar playin g from the late Jerry Fogle, and the tight rythm section handled by Flint and Robert Garven. "Chaos descends", "Nadsokor" and the title track "One Foot in Hell" in particular still stand today as Metal classics, thanks to their twisted atmosphere of epic horror. As always the album is graced by a fantastic cover art from Michael Whelan, inspired by the classic Micheal Moorcok's sword and sorcery saga of Elric the Necromancer. Maybe the production is more polished than on the band's previous effort and that made "One Foot in Hell" a little more accessible for those who are not familiar with CIRITH UNGOL' music. Nevertheless check out the next reissues of CIRITH UNGOL two first albums, "Frost and Fire" ( a little too primitive but enjoyable anyway) and especially "King of the Dead", considered by many as the band's masterpiece. Don't miss the chance to experience real true Heavy Metal and buy this fantastic reissue!
Edouard Vergriete

Servants Of Chaos (DCD)
(Metal Blade)

CIRITH UNGOL followers are gonna freak out with this 32 track compilation as it features the band's music in its rawest version. Robert Garven and Greg Lindstrom have made sure that they would give their fans a run for their money as it's definitely not your average compilation you have in your hands. The men have dug around and have found versions of many songs that appeared on their albums but recorded differently with different parts or solos, things like that, versions which seem to please them a lot more than the ones on their albums. There's of course many unknown ones written in the late '70s mostly which to be honest doesn't do shit to me as they feature way too much psychedelic keyboard parts and are just drawn out. Four live tracks appear which fuckin' shows how good this real H.M. outfit was in a live situation. Like I said, die hard C. U. fans will love every minute of this impressive album which includes also an impressive layout. It can also be a good way to introduce newer people to their somewhat unique brand of Heavy Metal- even if I would recommend instead the mighty "One Foot In Hell" instead- played by that incredibly talented and criminally underrated California outfit. And you know what? "Maybe that's Why" RULES BIG TIME!
Laurent Ramadier

Enter The Future Exit (MCD)
(Parnassus Records)

I want to introduce you to this band from Holland. Especially people who are into Progressive Power Metal and like names such as PSYCHOTIC WALTZ and FATES WARNING, will like this band a lot. "Enter The Future Exit" is a four track MCD, worthy of twenty-seven minutes of high class music. The first two tracks, "Vacuum" and "Sky Decor" are two long epics. They last ten minutes each and are full of speed and mood changes. The vocals of Arnold Kloek (ex-AFTERDARK) are very powerful but still very melodic. The riffs are innovative and complex. A lot of you readers might find this over the top, but if you're into bands like FATES WARNING, I'm sure you'll be more than surprised. More than once the changes in the songs will lead you into another direction, especially in these first two songs. We also hear the KATE BUSH-like vocals of bass player Liselotte Hegt. In the second song, "Sky Decor", the band shortly fools around with some Jazzy rhythms somewhere in the middle of the song. Right after that, the band seems to explode into a furious rhythm, so be prepared to bang your heads there! And we also hear the sweet voice of Liselotte again. The other two songs are live versions of "The Dream" and "Redemption Denied", recorded at 013 in Tilburg on December 27th, 1998. The band already played gigs with SCAVENGER, PRE MORTEM, LACUNA COIL, SKYCLAD and RUDE AWAKENING, to name but a few. The band now consists of Arnold Kloek - vocals, Liselotte Hegt - bass/vocals, Tommy White - drums, Wilbert van de Broek - keyboards and founder members Peter Venema and Rob Willemse on guitar. The MCD can be ordered by sending Hfl 20,- or $10,- to: Cirrha Niva, Copernicuslaan 58, 5223 EK, 's Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands. At this address you can also order their previous CD demo "No More Psychosis" and their debut CD "The Mirror World Dimension" and lots of interesting merchandising. The price of this great MCD includes p&p, by the way.
Toine van Poorten

Liaison De La Morte
(Suburban/Parnassus Records)

It has been a while since we heard from these Dutch prog rock kings and queen. But with this new CD they make a very good comeback. Add to that the great video clip that is on this CD plus the perfect live show and you have a whole concept that stands on a very high level. Seven tracks with a total length of over fifty minutes tells you the dark love story of an old man for his deceased wife.The sound of the CD is not tied to one single style of music. It's a combination of metal, folk, progrock, jazz and classical music. The sound of the merry go round opens the first part that is called "October 31st". "Nostalgia" reminded me a bit of "The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner" of IRON MAIDEN, with its mystical and dark middle piece. Other influences come from QUEENSRYCHE, DREAM THEATER and FATES WARNING. While "Nostalgia" certainly bears some folky SKYCLAD like moments. But now I only name the metal influences that I hear here. The singing part of Liselotte points in the direction of KATE BUSH. The horror and drama aspect may come from a cult band such as DEVIL DOLL- one of the very few bands on this whole planet that can create a sound that you can see when you listen to it with your eyes closed. Well the same goes for the music on "Liaison De La Morte". Close your eyes and follow the lyrics and you'll see what is happening in the story. It's the perfect combination of music, film, drama and art.You must undergo the beauty of this masterpiece on CD yourself. CIRRHA NIVA consists of Wilbert van den Broek on keyboards, Tommy White on drums, Arnold Kloek as the old man on vocals, Peter Venema on guitars, Liselotte Hegt on bass and female vocals and Rob Willemse on guitars. Rob is the brains behind the whole concept, together with the secret seventh member of the band, Inge Steenhorst. For more information about CIRRHA NIVA you can take a look at their website at or send an email to You can also send a letter to Stichting CIRRHA NIVA, Postbus 2152, 5202 CD 's Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands.
Toine van Poorten

Thorough Scrutiny

It's been quite a while since David's first full length album, "Malefic Influence" had been issued so this second album was a very awaited one. So what do we have here? Has the man changed much from his previous musical orientation? No way guys, David stayed completely true to his roots and hasn't betrayed us so all power to him for that first of all. Throughout the whole album, he offers us traditional Hard Rock with lots of emphasis on the guitar parts but without putting aside the importance of the vocals. Actually he reminds me more and more of early Michael Schenker, Pat Travers (maybe that's not so much a coincidence that there's a great cover of "Snortin Whiskey" here) or Joe Perry when they started their own bands and if you clearly remember, their main device was to let the music do the talking. Well that's exactly what he does here. He never tries to impress anybody with his playing or whatever, he just plays what sounds right to him and he does a great job for sure. Hell, tunes such as "Queens Of The Skyways"- which could be easily be a powerful hit, "Take It Or Leave It", "Miss Minority", "Life Under Glass" are just excellent classic Hard Rock songs exactly like what old bands were giving us back then! The production job is rather good considering the fact that it's a self financed product. Let's hope a Metal company- small or big, will finally invest in his guy because much more should hear what he delivers! David Neil Cline rocks, that's for sure! Website:
Laurent Ramadier

Here They Go Again - Live

Bernie Marsden, Micky Moody and Neil Murray were part of the best WHITESNAKE times and grandiose albums like "Lovehunter", "Saints & Sinners" or "Come An' Get It". As David Coverdale plays more crappy Pop than Heavy Rock through the last years and let WHITESNAKE die without any pride, the old members thought it would be a cool idea to play the old WHITESNAKE classics live under the banner COMPANY OF SNAKES. And that was indeed a good idea. But it became a very bad idea to record two of those gigs and release it as a double live cd. The album features nearly all the old 'SNAKE classics such as "Trouble", "Ready And Willing", "Lovehunter" or "Here I Go Again" (ah, "Fool For Your Loving" is missed), a few ALASKA tracks (the Marsden post-WHITESNAKE band) and the RAINBOW hit "Since You've Been Gone". With a big fault- the vocals suck big time. Instead of hiring a young, fresh singer who has balls to sing their classics, Stefan Bergren fails in any emotion and can not compete with Coverdale in one second. And it's indeed very strange to hear songs from the Wacken gig where Gary Barden sang with Stefan Bergren on vocals.... kind of a fuck-up! Hey old fellows, listen to "Live In The Heart Of The City" in 1980 and you know HOW those songs should sound. Avoid this dull and non-inspiring live disc by any means and grab out your old, timeless WHITESNAKE pearls. Shame on you, Micky, Bernie and Neil.
Heinz Konzett

(Rising Sun Records)

CRIMSON GLORY gained themselves a very big following in the Heavy / Power Metal genre with their first two albums "Crimson Glory" ('86) and "Transcendence" ('89), who are considered alltime classics. But already the third release, the controversial "Strange And Beautiful" ('92), was quite a shock to some of their old die hard fans as it turned out less epic and more mainstream oriented. The result was that CRIMSON GLORY ceased to exist and their members went seperate ways. "Astronomica" is supposed to be their comeback / reunion album now and to me it's just a slap in the face of every supporter of the band as it doesn't justify to carry the CRIMSON GLORY monicker at all! To me the major letdown is certainly new recruited vocalist Wade Black (formely with Tampa based LUCIAN BLACK)! In most of the songs he's basically screaming instead of singing, never reaching the class of old frontman Midnight for a second, but destroying all interesting aspects of the songwriting. If you listen really carefully, there's so me typical CRIMSON GLORY trademarks to be discovered, especially in the twin guitar work of Jon Drenning and Ben Jackson, which here and there still has this oriental feel to it. I just wished they would've written more songs in the melodic vein of "Edge Of Forever", which is actually one of the better tunes, also in terms of the vocal delivery. But unfortunately the majority of the album doesn't sound like old CRIMSON GLORY at all and quickly becomes really annoying. So, to sum it up - this is quite obviously another example of a reunion that better shouldn't have happened...
Frank Stöver

Dead To The World

What amazes me about bands these days are their press kits- the biography sheets that some groups submit to describe their sound are off base many times and lead me to down a group that many people would appreciate, but not the readership of a certain magazine. Therein lies the dilemma facing CRONIC DISORDER. This North Carolina foursome have slight nods to the old school thrash/speed metal field ( the second and third riffs of "Culture Of Violence" and "With Reckless Abandon") but the vocals of bassist Doug Canipe live in the Phil Anselmo world of guttural screaming and most of the other riffing follows in the groove mold with occasional death like ferocity. I can hear the comparisons to TESTAMENT and DEMOLITION HAMMER to a minor extent but there is not enough old school feel to recommend "Dead To The World" to our Snakepit readers, as they tend to appreciate killer riffing, melodic/strong vocals and an attention to thought induced songwriting, all elements that CRONIC DISORDER have yet to master. I can't fault the production and I understand why many publications have praised "Dead To The World"- it's just not exciting enough for myself and I believe many of our readers would feel the same way hearing this. Contact: Cronic Disorder/ PO Box 141/ Cherryville, NC/ 28021/ USA. Web:
Matt Coe