Reviews Archive:

PAIN OF SALVATION - The Perfect Element
PANTERA - Reinventing The Steel
PARADOX - Product Of Imagination
PARADOX - Heresy
PARAGON - 3-Track Promo 2000
PARAGON - Steelbound
AXEL RUDI PELL - The Wizards Chosen Few
PHANTASM - Wreckage
PICTURE -Picture 1/Heavy Metal Ears
PINK CREAM 69 - Sonic Dynamite
POSSESSED - Seven Churches/Beyond The Gates
POWERAGE - Business Toys
POWERGOD - Bleed For The Gods
POWERS COURT - Nine Kinds Of Hell
PRIMAL FEAR - Jaws Of Death
PRIMAL FEAR - Nuclear Fire
PRIME EVIL - Unearthed

The Perfect Element
(Inside Out)

Hmm, I traded the last PAIN OF SALVATION and it seemed that I made a big mistake. "The Perfect Element" offers progressive music, not to call progressive Metal, and it sounds awesome. The FATES WARNING melodies, the quiet mood and the formidable guitar work with a RUSH groove are my alternative when hearing some different stuff along Tori Amos, Lorenna Mc Kennit or the aforementioned RUSH. I like their deep emotions and complex arrangements, l love tunes as "Ashes", "Her Voices" and the title track and even their few modern sounding and hence not as convincing parts as in "Used" do not disturb the band's play on this peculiar album in a bad manner. This is no Metal album, but with some really amazing music and that counts (though 99,9% of great music IS Metal.....). Greets.
Heinz Konzett

Reinventing The Steel
(Elektra Records)

I don't know why, but somehow I had high hopes in this new PANTERA record (not only because Phil Anselmo grew his hair back long again). Maybe it was the cool album title that irritated me, who knows?! But unfortunately I got disappointed (again). To set things straight here: I never shared the widely spread underground opinion that everything that PANTERA did after their great "Power Metal" album was total shit. Nope - I personally even liked "Cowboys From Hell" and "Vulgar Display Of Power" A LOT!!! I still do! I just hated all the copycats that followed PANTERA shortly after and poisoned the whole Metal scene with their shitty and unoriginal releases. Well, unfortunately PANTERA themselves ended up in a musical dead end after those two records when they decided to stick with this super-duper aggressive non-musical crap! "Reinventing The Steel" is not thaaaat bad, it has a couple of really cool riffs again and there's also some good parts in some of the songs. But most of the ten cuts once again end up in t otal chaos and get on my nerves pretty quickly. Dimebag Darrell is an awesome guitarplayer, the band a super tight and highly aggressive unit, but their songwriting totally sucks these days. Sad but true...
Frank Stöver

Product Of Imagination (re-release)
Heresy (re-release)
(Maximum Metal / High Vaultage)

German Speed Metal masters PARADOX got praised immensely by the press overhere in the late 80's, who even considered them as "Germany's answer to METALLICA..." Well, that's bollocks if you ask me, 'cause even if Hetfield & co have betrayed their loyal following over the last couple of years, PARADOX never ever managed to come any close to the class of METALLICA's early material. Okay, these guys also played their type of Metal the fast and aggressive way, spiced everything with rough sounding vocals, but apart from that they had nothing in common with the most popular Bay Area bunch. Their debut "Product Of Imagination" offered an entertaining mixture of traditional Speed and Thrash Metal with hints of early TESTAMENT or FLOTSAM & JETSAM. A big letdown definitely were the vocals, who not only sounded pretty immatured, they were neither aggressive nor melodic enough to set standards and suffered from the typical German accent. Kalle Trapp's strange yet very typical production didn't do the band justice either. The CD re-issue comes up with three live tracks (recorded at a local club here in my hometown Bremen in 1987) and a demo-version of "Pray To The Godz Of Wrath", which originally appeared on the first part of the "Teutonic Invasion" compilation. Two years later, in 1989, the long awaited follow-up "Heresy" saw the light of day and turned out way more convincing. The vocals sounded a helluva lot better and the guitarwork had become more exciting as well (former guitarist Markus Spyth had been replaced by Dieter Roth). Harris Johns' production helped the band to sound really heavy and crushing, yet remaining the melodic aspect. And the overall song-writing was a lot stronger also. Still not convincing the whole way through (there's a couple of rather boring tunes on the album), but at least pretty promising. The CD version features two additional demo songs that had been recorded in the pre-production period of "Heresy". If you can't find them at your local dealer, get in touch with High Vaultage at the followi ng address: High Vaultage Records, Henri-Arnaud-Str. 6, 64546 Mörfelden-Walldorf, Germany, e-mail:
Frank Stöver

3-Track Promo 2000

Bassist Jan Bünning kindly sent me this three track cd as an appetizer for their upcoming new crusher. And if you missed this killer band so far - it's more than time to discover one of the best German Metal bands these days! The proof of this statement has been the last excellent cd "Chalice Of Steel" and their newly recorded tracks. "Thunderstorm" can be called the fastest PARAGON song they ever wrote, the fast-paced riffing stands in the proud tradition of JUDAS PRIEST's "Painkiller" opus. The second track, "Deathsquad", convinces with an ACCEPT riff in their "Balls To The Wall" period and the improved singing of Andreas Babuschkin. The third track, "The Dark Ages", reminds of glorious HELSTAR times with their own German Metal touch, what a killer track. These three songs will surely be on the upcoming PARAGON album, and if the other songs can hold this tremendous quality we can await a great piece of pure Heavy Metal.
Heinz Konzett

(Remedy Records)

Glad that these Germans are still alive! After "The Final Command" and "Chalice In Steel" on B.O. Records (get both if you find 'em), the new crusher delivers again a high dose of pure Metal made in Germany. This time the ACCEPT meets JUDAS PRIEST meets classic US Metal cocktail was mixed with some IRON SAVIOR-like melodies; because Piet Sielk produced the album in a fine way. I have no clue about this but what I surely know is that bands like PARAGON stand for Heavy Metal in its purest form - no keyboards, no bombastic interludes - just honest, basic Metal which I adore deeply. The singer Andreas Babuschkin will not be of everybody's liking with his unique, mid-ranged voice but what the heck do you await from a real Metal shouter besides emotion, balls and power? The band's performance on tracks like the riff monster "New Dark Age", the oldschool German Metalish "Steelbound", the angry "Face II Face" or the re-recorded "World Of Sin" (from the same album which is out of print a long time ago, if someone wants to sell it- let me know I would buy it....) make this piece of Metal something special. A wonderful Metal cover, ten killers and only one filler with the slow "Don't Wake The Dead" should make you look for the other side of the coin - meaning the two words which make our life rich - Heavy Metal.
Heinz Konzett

The Wizards Chosen Few

Is there already a new PELL album? Yes, a double best-of cd this time, but not in the normal way. Two new good tracks ("Broken Dreams" and "Ghosthunter") and some raw live recordings - the medley of "Burn/Purple Haze/Call Her Princess", "Mistreated" and "Snake Eyes" - give the release a more experimental feeling as on dull best-of albums. PELL standards as "Magic", "Eternal Prisoner" or "Fool Fool" among the 19 tracks deliver the normal program to the live ones. Hey Axel, let's start at last an extensive tour, would be time and a pleasure to hear some of your fine melodic Metal songs.....
Heinz Konzett

(Deep Six Records)

Shit! Is there any old timer around who could have imagined to see a PHANTASM album released one day? After all this act existed for like one year or so, released a demo (produced by Bill Metoyer) and did a couple of shows on the west coast, and never did anything else studiowise. It was hard to imagine that somebody would release an album (on both formats, cd and vinyl!) from such an underground outfit. But thanks to the interest of Deep Six and the work of Katon, here we have an album that features that somewhat legendary six song tape from '86 (which features drumming courtesy of Gene Hoglan) and a soundboard show from March 1987 when the band supported NUCLEAR ASSAULT on a couple of dates. As you know by now the band featured Katon W De Pena formerly from HIRAX, Ron McGovney formerly from METALLICA and three other young and unknown musicians. It's clear that PHANTASM didn't have much in common with HIRAX the way they sounded on their first two releases, maybe more with "Blasted.." as the songs were longer, most of 'em being medium paced with riffs reminiscent at times of early DARK ANGEL, SLAYER. As much as I praised that demo 14 years ago, I'm of the opinion nowadays that they really lacked talent and ideas in the songwriting department since with the exception of "Pray For Power" and "Blown To Oblivion" which contains some hot and catchy riffing the other numbers sound really insipid and fall in the 4th rate category of Thrash where many other underground acts have finished (i.e. DARKNESS, PEDIFILE, ANIALAROR, HATRED etc). Of course Katon sounded like good old Katon, of course Hoglan delivered powerhouse drumming but it's not enough to transform PHANTASM into a cult act. Even the three unreleased songs from the live recording ("Future Victims", "Bacteriaside" and "Lucide") are nothing but average despite the SLAYER/ DESTRUCTION/ DARK ANGEL type of riffing stamped all over them. This said, PHANTASM are still miles ahead from most of the current Thrash/ death acts around nowadays so I would still recommend this release on this basis. Contact:, Deep Six Records-P.O. Box 6911- Burbank, CA 91510- USA, vinyl available from , Badman Records-Nebrehovice 7- 38601 Strakonice- Czech Republic . HIRAX contact: , HIRAX- P.O. Box 1474- Cypress, CA 90630- USA.
Laurent Ramadier

Picture 1/Heavy Metal Ears

Finally they've released the first four PICTURE albums on CD, two by two. For me, the first two albums can be seen as essential stuff if you're into Dutch heavy metal. Raw, unpolished, heavy, and still with a lot of melody. The CD's come with a nice booklet which contains a lot of nice information and PICTURES that were never shown before. The line up on these first two albums was the same. Jan Bechtum, the Dutch Ritchie Blackmore, on guitar, Laurens 'Bakkie' Bakker on drums, Rinus Vreugdehil on bass and Ronald van Prooijen on vocals. Already on their first album they had great songs like "You Can Go", "Rocking In Your Brains", "He's A Player", "One Way Street" and the PICTURE classic pur sang "Bombers". The second album was received in Holland even better than the debut album. I too have some great memories of the songs that were on that album, especially highlights like "No, No, No", "Nighttiger", title track "Heavy Metal Ears", "Unemployed" and "Rock & Roll/Under Your Spell". This last song is still an absolute killer, with its perfect speed change right in the middle of these two songs. I've destroyed many neck muscles headbanging on the fast second part of that one I can tell you. I think that this is a great opportuniy for the youngsters to find out what heavy metal was all about in the very early eighties. It's captured here on "Picture 1" and "Heavy Metal Ears". This first CD has got a running time of about seventy minutes.
Toine van Poorten

Sonic Dynamite
(Massacre Records)

After their flopped try to play trendy Grunge ("Changed"), they realised that classical Hard Rock is the music they can do best (and sells better...) and "Electrified" was a strong comeback record, even if I could not trust them if they maintained that the musical re-change was honest. "Sonic Dynamite" stands in the line of the predecessor, meaning DOKKEN-like Hard Rock with catchy hooks, supported by a perfect production work of bass player Dennis Ward. Singer David Readman's performance on all twelve tracks - from the heavy "Seas Of Madness" (maybe their heaviest song ever that reminds of DOKKEN's "Kiss Of Death") to the emotional "Spread Your Wings" - is astonishing, one of rare singers in the Hard Rock biz nowadays who has his own tone which you can recognise after a few seconds. Most of the stuff is mid-paced Hard Rock ("The Spirit", "Waiting For The Dawn") and some tunes have to be heard more often to offer their quality which makes this record more long-lived than "Electrified". Without any doubt, a fine Hard Rock album.
Heinz Konzett

Seven Churches/Beyond The Gates
(Century Media)

I was really happy to hear that Century Media were going to re-release them since it's impossible to find the original CD version on Combat and I don't want to mention the other poor European version. First of all, the layout is just superb with some more or less unknown pictures included and stuff like that. As for the sound, it's a good surprise since the thing sounds more clearer and more powerful than on the pitiful European version, it really gives that album an incredible intensity. Everything is into that album, ultra raw vocals courtesy of Mr Beccera, killer riffing from Mr Torrao and Lalonde and Mike Sus unique drumming style so weird when you listen to it the first time. There's anthology tracks like "Evil Warriors", "Seven Churches", "Death Metal" or "The Exorcist" which is one of the most classic songs in that style of Metal. As for "Beyond The Gates", despite t he fact that the production is still weak (you can't do any miracles with such a weak original thing), it contains some great tracks like "Phantasm", "March Or Die", "Seance" to name a few. It's just a bit harder to get into those tracks but it's still another Metal classic. They also have included the last recording that this line up did. "The Eyes Of Horror" which was another fine Metal release despite the fact that the sound was a bit too much polished due to the work Mr Satriani did for them on that last EP. Highly recommended releases!
Christophe Abraham

Business Toys
(True Music Promotion)

Existing since 15 years and still sounding the same way - POWERAGE obviously love what they play and are a honest band. AC/DC, ROSE TATTOO or BLACK CROWES are the keywords when it comes to describe their sound, the same grooves, riffs and melody lines. The singer uses his clean voice on some songs ("So Hard" , "Fighting", the BLACK CROWES influenced "Talk To Me"), and not his Brian Johnson kind of voice as on previous releases. They are still the German JACKYL or the 90's version of Swiss KILLER (anyone remember that AC/CD imitates in the 80's?), far away from being original, on the other side enjoyable played Hard Rock stuff. Skipping the below average ballad "All My Love", the rest of the songs could also be taken from a normal AC/DC album since "For Those About To Rock, We Salute You". Not as strong as the new SKEW SISKIN but not bad at all.
Heinz Konzett

Bleed For The Gods
(Massacre Records)

Killer. Absolutely killer stuff. POWERGOD covered 16 pure Metal classics and performed those expertly. And what makes this cover album more special than others? Their choices. Covering SAVAGE GRACE, AGENT STEEL, Q5, HALLOW'S EVE, DRIVER, METAL CHURCH, CHASTAIN, WARLOCK, NASTY SAVAGE and some others could fail because the quality of the originals remain inaccessible. POWERGOD honored their idols in a way that blows my mind. Powerful production and excellent covers that present the 80's gods in their unique class. Anyone into 80's Metal has to hear this one. When it all began. "XXX", "Bleed For The Godz", "Metal Church", "Kill With Power", "Steel The Light", "Metal Merchants" or "Burning The Witches"'s real Metal.
Heinz Konzett

Nine Kinds Of Hell
(Dragonheart records)

It's been far too long since we heard from this very talented Metal band from America. But Danie Powers is back with a very strong album. Every time I hear this band I have to think about MANILLA ROAD with RANDY RHOADS on guitar. Danie growls low and screams very high. This lady has a vocal range of almost five octaves. Who can beat that? It's easy when you want to create different atmospheres but you only have one singer in your ranks. No problem for this lady who handles it all by herself. She's also a great guitar player, which she proves at the beginning of "Agnostica", with a RANDY RHOADS like guitar solo. Who said that women can't play guitar???? Danie's band is completed by Steve Murray on bass and Mark Evans on the drums. Nine long songs which are good for over fifty minutes of heavenly Power Metal are on this new release called "Nine Kinds Of Hell". "Conquistador" is the ballad, but it sounds very sphereful and fits mighty fine with the rest of the songs. I hope that it won't take another five years until the next release. Highly recommended to every Power Metal freak out there!
Toine van Poorten

Jaws Of Death
(Nuclear Blast Records)

PRIMAL FEAR really saved my day last year with the release of their extremely strong self-titled debut. Their welldone combination of JUDAS PRIEST type songwriting mixed with SINNER / THIN LIZZY elements was one of the biggest surprises for me next to the breakthrough of HAMMERFALL and the return of traditional Metal in general. Now they are back with their second album and have to prove that it wasn't just a one off happening. Well, it certainly wasn't, but I still don't like "Jaws Of Death" as much as the previous album. The riffing was a bit more effective on the debut, the production slightly better and the overall songmaterial offered more variety and stronger melodylines. Plus: this time the chosen covertune (RAINBOW's "Kill The King") doesn't come any close to the class of last years furious version of DEEP PURPLE's "Speedking". Don't get me wrong: "Jaws Of Death" still beats the shit out of most releases that are flooding the market these days (and has a brilliant packaging!), but I really bet that th ey can do better than this!
Frank Stöver

Nuclear Fire
(Nuclear Blast)

Does the title pay homage to their record company- who knows? Has the quartet from Germany delivered another album that all PRIEST freaks will adore? Most assuredly! The three gun blast of "Angel In Black", "Kiss Of Death" and "Back From Hell" pummel your sonic senses with rapid machine gun riffing, double bass drum fury and Ralf Scheepers highest vocals in quite some time. While the trademark hawk graces the cover and the production continues to be excellent, PRIMAL FEAR made it a point to concentrate more on writing memorable parts and melodies- something that "Jaws Of Death" lacked at times. While I'll be the quickest to note that this band aren't exactly forging a new style of Metal on to the public, what "Nuclear Fire" offers is a solid quality 12 song album that nestles itself firmly between "Screaming For Vengeance" or "Painkiller"- refusing to go more modern than necessary. Favorite tracks- the triplet fueled "Fight The Fire" that hints at previous METALLICA circa 1984 glory days and closing anthem "Living For Metal". Traditionalists already have "Nuclear Fire"- newcomers would be well advised to get this one and learn what PRIMAL FEAR can bring to the cause for 2001...taking steps from Metal's historic timeline, British and German.
Matt Coe

(Battle Zone)

To those unknowing of the NY metal scene in the 80's, PRIME EVIL were one of the bands that took the speedy thrash style of acts like DARK ANGEL and SLAYER and put their own twist on the sound for the New York faithful to latch on to. King's new label Battle Zone decided to compile all the demo and rehearsal material they could muster from 1987-1991 and here you have 17 songs that will vary in terms of quality (I guarantee you will have a tough time making out Andy Eichhorn's vocals on cuts 13-16) but offer a nice retrospective to a thrash band that deserved a label deal at the same time as the second tier of Bay Area thrash bands were getting their deals. The first 4 cuts are from their debut self titled demo in 1987, rarely letting up for a breath of air except on the opening moments of "Living In Fear" (featuring some killer tom work out of Tad Leger- who would leave the band shortly after the demo's release). Next appears 1988's "The Manifestation" demo, another 4 cuts that put them up in the thrash ranks with a better, livelier production and more cutting riffing and lacerating vocal work that recalls the best days of Ron Rinehart and Schmier from DESTRUCTION. The last industry demo from 1990 appears next, offering up their best material to date in songs like "Global Degradation" and "Redemption". The last songs comprise a live to 2 track recording from 1991 and a 4 track demo recording in May of 1989. Excellent color packaging for the j-card with liner notes from Ed Farshtey (a long time fan of the band who released a 7" PRIME EVIL recording on his Rage Records in the early 90's) and all the lyrics plus exclusive live shots of the band in their best element. I'm glad to see these underground bands gaining more recognition today- for classic demo cuts remain as timeless as your favorite albums growing up. Get this if you like uncompromising thrash. Contact: Battle Zone Records- c/o King Fowley-
Matt Coe