A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Alive In Athens (3CD)
This is absolutely cool! Picture yourself a three hour live concert by ICED EARTH. Because that's exactly what you get, when you buy this triple live attack called "Alive In Athens" (which is also available as a five picture discs set, btw). Thirty-one songs are on this document which comes in a cardboard box. For the Metal fan of today, this is a real must. It has the same magic like for example "Live After Death" by IRON MAIDEN. The three CD boxes are filled with beautiful colour pics. Do I have to tell you more? I don't think so. Who doesn't know "Melancholy (Holy Martyr)", "Iced Earth", "Watching Over Me" or "I Died For You"? My ultimate favourite song on this great document however, is the long masterpiece "Dante's Inferno" from their PURGATORY days. The recordings are taken from two different nights when they played at The Rodon in Athens, Greece, namely January 23rd and 24th. They came up with two different sets to complete this overview of "The best of ICED EARTH". The Greek audience was an obvious ch oice for the band, 'cause they're very fanatic and they sing every word of the lyrics. This gives you the idea that you'll find yourself in the middle of the audience, when listening to the CD. "Alive In Athens" is definitely a crown on their work for this well-talented band from Tampa, Florida, USA (Indiana nowadays - Marlies), who are finally getting the recognition they deserve so much. Funny detail is the fact, that the picture on the backside of the cardboard box was taken at the Wacken Open Air Festival in Germany '98. Sit back and relax for three hours and let it all come over you, 'cause needless to say this release is something you just can't ignore. It's very cool stuff indeed, created by a very cool band.
Toine van Poorten
If I were to hazard a guess this band has to be one of the top 3 in the Century Media roster worldwide for sales- and I remember the days when a buddy of mine could only get 6 interviews for these guys on the "Night Of The Stormrider" days in the USA...and I was one of them. Many years later and gold albums in Greece plus touring worldwide to thousands, ICED EARTH still set my heart ablaze although with "Horror Show" their 6th studio platter I don't hear much growth beyond the previous albums. Intermingling the acoustics in songs like "Damien" and "Ghost Of Freedom" with the heavy punch of opener "Wolf" (listen to the blazing double bass and furious picking in the riffs) and killer cover of the IRON MAIDEN classic "Transylvania", ICED EARTH travel the lines of NWOBHM, a little doom and a lot of METALLICA fury ( before the band forgot how to play metal and only played for the $$$). The album is another concept one, except each song tells a story based on a horror movie or short story. Vocalist Matt Barlow evokes comparisons from Paul Stanley to Bruce Dickinson, and his voice suits the music magically. The cover art from Danny Miki and Travis Smith definitely conjures up the evil music nicely, and would suit a comic book of its own very quickly. Will this album place the band in the upper echelon of bands like METALLICA and IRON MAIDEN in terms of arena audiences and sales? Probably not- but I think it won't diminish the band's following either for they have not succumb to the pressure of commercializing their sound. Better than "Something Wicked..." but not nearly as stellar as "Night Of The Stormrider"- "Horror Show" is solid ICED EARTH and that's cool with me.
(Headless Corpse Records/Germany)
So here's the second album from that Bay Area based band. I liked their previous release which was an excellent surprise from that once KILLER area and that new one is more of the same. Great sound, good ideas, good musicianchip, good melodies, not an absolute killer yet but they're on the way, best example is the title track! Waouh, they have come up with may be the best riff from 1998!!!! Just fuckin' incredible! GODLY EXECUTED SONG! All in all, a very good album if you like classic old Thrash Metal with soul. I'm sure you can find on the Net their site because at the time of writing, I don't have it here but find it and see how you can get it! (www.imagikametal.com - Marlies) For European Meta llers, the album is available through Hellion records in Germany.
A new mini-CD comes from this Norway act, who continually challenges themselves and their followers with a unique blend of jazz, progressiveness and metal. "Ageing Years" opens this 4 song EP with a dreamy/ droning guitar/keyboard sequence that also showcases the bass prowess of guest Bjorn Thomassen. Another favorite "Where Are You Now" includes an attacking arrangement and impassioned theatrical vocals from Tor Ola Svennevig (who recalls the best of SAGA and MARILLION). You'll hear something fresh from "Energy" on first listen and latest- as the band rarely subject their fans to the same mood twice within a movement. The guitar sound could be a little more polished for the style IMPROVISION goes for- but I think the fact that they are self-financed has as much to do with this as anything. People who like prog. rock and metal that spans the gambit of 3 decades- the spaced out 70's tones, the drop dime 80's changing arrangements and the 90's heaviness should seek out "Energy" right away. Norway isn't known fo r acts this progressive, but assuredly IMPROVISION ranks near the top for newer acts to watch for worldwide. Contact: Intromental Management/ PO Box 1268/ dk-2300 Copenhagen S/ DENMARK. web: http://www.intromental.com
Ten songs fill this solo release of BLACK SABBATH guitar player Tony Iommi, and each song has a different singer. People who think that they will hear some kind of second rate BLACK SABBATH songs will be very surprised I think. IOMMI makes sure he will survive in this new millennium. But the die hard SABBATH fans will scratch behind their ears and they may find it tough to comprehend this album at once. Iommi used some well known singers to perform his new tunes. And so we hear back people like Peter Steele (TYPE O NEGATIVE), Billy Idol, Dave Grohl (FOO FIGHTERS), Skin (SKUNK ANANSIE), Philip Anselmo (PANTERA), Billy Corgan (SMASHING PUMPKINS), Ian Astbury ( THE CULT) and OZZY. A lot of the band names printed above won't make you happy and so does the overall sound of this album. Most of these songs sound like new songs of the bands mentioned earlier, but they definitely have got nothing in common with BLACK SABBATH. Except for the guitar sound of Mr Iommi himself then. Tip for the newborn Metal heads is to give this thing a try, you might like its dark heavy sound. Die hard SABBATH fans should start searching for the other 'unreleased' solo album of Mr Iommi with Glenn Hughes on vocals. This will knock you off your feet, that's for sure. But it was really nice to hear Brian May (QUEEN guitarist) back on a few songs here. Highlights of this CD are the last two songs, namely "Who's Fooling Who" with OZZY on vocals and "Into The Night" with BILLY IDOL on vocals. But I suggest you'd better pick out your faves for yourself.
Toine van Poorten
Winds Of War
(Old Metal Records)
Here's another dose of vintage metal, brought to you by Old Metal Records. Germany's IRON ANGEL who started out really promising in the early 80's along the lines of DESTRUCTION, KREATOR, SODOM and AVENGER (later RAGE), but unfortunately never really got the attention they deserved. Too big was the overmighty shadow of the aformentioned acts and mainly too polished sounding their second full length "Winds Of War" (intense tracks like ,Creatures Of Destruction' were rare exceptions on here). While their debut "Hellish Crossfire" was still a deadly assault of good ol' speed & thrash (somewhere between EXODUS, SLAYER and old METALLICA), "Winds Of War" was more traditional sounding metal with cliché type choruses (,Born To Rock', ,Fight For Your Life' etc.) and even a ballad (,Back To Silence'). Another weak point probably was vocalist Dirk Schröder, who's partly screamy / partly aggressive voice immensly suffered from a strong German accent and therefore to me never sounded completely convincing. But, to remain fair, just like LIVING DEATH's Toto, he became somewhat of a unique trademark for the guys. Musically the band was always way above the average. Having experienced the band live a dozen times back in those days, I still remember how speechless drum maniac Mike "Double Bass" Matthes always left me. But also the guitar department which consisted of Sven "Poser" Strüven and Peter Wittke knew to set standards in the German underground. These semi-official Old Metal re-issues are without any doubts way more exciting than the original Streamhammer "special price" CD's (that are out of print anyway) and even feature several bonus tracks. "Hellish Crossfire" also has the band's superb "Legions Of Evil" demo, while "Winds Of War" comes up with four live tracks from 1985. Hell yes!!! I only wished that Mr.Fowley would go for a more detailed packaging (lyrics!!) on future re-issues. Order them directly from: Old Metal Records, 5953 N. 10th Street, Arlington, VA 22205, USA, Fax: (703) 532-1389
I already wrote about this band in one of the previous issues of SNAKEPIT. Iron Glory decided to put thirteen of the best tracks on a CD for all the fans of this fantastic clan of metal heads. Mike Skelton on guitar and vocals, Rex Alan on guitars and vocals, Tony Blair on drums and vocals and Dan Bippes on bass and vocals, together they form IRON CROSS. Listen to this brutal attack of over sixty minutes. Nobody can escape from the iron claws of these guys. Their sound is like a mix of an evil HALLOWEEN (one of their song is actually called "Halloween") and the authentic US metal sound that we love so much. Great twin guitar solos, thunderring drums, a heavy pounding bass and a vocalist that can sing and scream. Put this all together and you will get the unique US metal sound of this great band. I am very curious how their new songs will sound because this band is pure heavy metal to me. Hopefully we'll see you guys at Wacken Open Air or Bang Your Head next year, because nobody can stop the force of this IRON CROSS. The last news on the band is that they're doing some shows with Flotsam and Jetsam, Rob Rock and Anvil in the upcoming months in the USA.
Toine van Poorten
Here we have another example of the release overkill concerning the so-called HAMMERFALL disease - IRON FIRE. Nice played traditional Metal with a melodic voice, NO balls and, of course, HELLOWEEN and GAMMA RAY are named as the biggest influences. How many such bands do we have to endure until the labels remark that this is a blind alley? Those of us who are into real Metal for more than the last three years know that the success of HAMMERFALL caused a welcome comeback of our music but it was there before their chart entries and it will be there afterwards. Coming back to "Thunderstorm", the twelve tracker is better than the terrible ZONATA debut, comparable to CRYSTAL EYES or STEEL ATTACK, with a few enjoyable tunes as "Rise Of The Rainbow" or "Metal Victory" and some bad ones like "Warriors Of Steel". Nothing worth discovering.
Brave New World
Classic MAIDEN lineup that recorded "Piece Of Mind" through "7th Son of a 7th Son" (of which you should own at least 2 of these album or you aren't a traditional metal follower) plus guitarist Janick Gers record a new 67 minute/ 10 song opus. Featuring more choruses than to my liking, this album continues where "7th Son..." left off- fence sitting between shorter, streamlined cuts like the first single "The Wickerman" and "The Fallen Angel" and epics like the Egyptian laced "The Nomad" or 8 minute closer "The Thin Line Between Love And Hate". They don't exploit the 3-guitar trio too much in terms of harmonics- but you'll hear some fire burning soloing within "Brave New World" and "Dream of Mirrors". The rhythm train of Harris/ McBrain pretty much hold down the fort without much dazzling heroics- possibly signaling an older slant to the Maiden soundscape. Bruce Dickinson still has the pipes of vigor- commanding, lifting and projecting melodies of low, middle and high range all throughout. The live production gives quite a healthy sonic experience- I feel that the songs could translate very well in a live setting and not differ too much from the studio versions. The verdict: after 50 listens, I'd rate "Brave New World" no higher than 5th in the line of studio albums- because it doesn't eclipse the track record set forth on "The Number Of The Beast", "Killers" or even "7th Son Of A 7th Son". May the youth discover why Eddie and the boys are metal legends....but pick out the others before you dive headlong into "Brave New World"... and I hope for an even stronger effort with the next one.
I'Ve Been To Hell
Piet Sielk releases an appetizer of the upcoming full length with this four tracker. Two covers, PRIEST's "The Hellion - Electric Eye" with a tremendous sound and a really great vocal performance of Piet and the okay "Headhunter" from KROKUS (which are back by the way and killing live, yeah). The two new songs, the title track and "Never Say Die", are nothing more and less than typical IRON SAVIOR stuff, means traditional German Metal. If you like RUNNING WILD or GAMMA RAY, they are more than a serious tip, you might know already.
You like '80s European Metal?! Well don't wait more and check out that new album from German's IRON SAVIOR. Stuff like "Solar Wings", "I've Been To Hell" (which is one of the best/ catchiest Metal tracks I've heard in a while!) etc are all mid paced stuff similar to PRIEST circa 1980, pure Heavy Metal with no frills. On the other side I love Speed Metal, but when I hear lame Speed Metal played for the sake of it as it's the case with "Seek And Destroy" it's another story. Fortunately that's the only crappy song on this record. Yeah this album is obviously and blatantly inspired by old PRIEST just like a track such as "Firing His Guns" with its verses very close sounding to "Rapid Fire". Add to this a real convincing cover of "Delivering The Goods" and it gives you an idea of how good yet unoriginal this new release is. Pure heavy stuff!!!
Leading the Spain brigade this melodic metal quartet unleash a catchy debut album with "1999", a 10 song/ 49 minute journey into lands normally reserved for PRETTY MAIDS or STRATOVARIUS. The latter comparison comes into the foreground through the mixing talents of STRATOVARIUS shred master Timo Tolkki (who accents a healthy snare snap and a killer guitar tone for guitarist Paco Agra). I especially appreciate the quick arpeggio licks that accent the heavy overtones within "Two Days in Paradise". Most of the songs aren't overly adventurous but they focus on tight structuring, a good sense of clean/ distortion texture and the keyboards add a slightly classical stance to their style. Expect the solos of Paco Agra to recall the guitar heroes of yesterday (Rhoads) and today (Tolkki)- plus the production has a slight polish without being too crystalline. Vocalist Daniel Garcia delivers some moody melodies, working best in the double bass mid-tempo basher "Mind Escape"- but I believe needs room to improve in the vers es where he tends to emphasize a whiner /monotone nature. I'd still recommend "1999" for an audience who want friendly yet not quite happy metal- IS PAIN could be a future shining star. Contact: Goldtrack Records/ PO Box 37062/ 28080 Madrid/ SPAIN Web: http://www.arrakis.es/ ~goldtrack
Voices In Your Nightmare
Many faithful Snakepit readers follow the catchy melodic metal scene- derived from bands like UFO, BREAKER and WILD DOGS. Add Canada's IVORY KNIGHT to the list of exceptional melodic metal acts- as this 5 song demo attests. The trio revolves around plenty of ear catching guitar riffs and a good dose of chorus harmonizing (but not sugar sappy like the 80's glam days...). The title track's main riff sounds uncannily like "Madhouse" from WILD DOGS- but I don't fault the band as most mainstream fans won't know the latter unless they picked up the Old Metal "Reign Of Terror" re-release. Vocalist/bassist John Devadasan Perinbam has a confident power to his bluesy style- very comfortable like Phil Mogg or Jim Hamar. This demo was recorded on a 4-track machine so the band promises a higher quality recording later this year- but these 5 songs nonetheless demand your attention if you appreciate straightforward metal with tons of melody and hooks to savor. Favorites include the epic ballad "Out On the Streets", opener "Turn of the Wheel" and closing barnburner "Inferno". I can't wait to hear more material from IVORY KNIGHT- as a label deal can't be far away... Contact: Ivory Knight, PO Box 38144, 1430 Prince Of Wales Dr., Ottawa, ON Canada, K2C 1N0 Web: http://www.ivoryknight.com