Reviews Archive:

VALHALLA - Thoughts Of Glory (demo)
VANDEN PLAS - Far Off Grace
V/A - Best Of Wacken O.A. (2CD)
V/A - Deeper Into The Vault
V/A - Detroit Rock City
V/A - DisDURPance Vol.3
V/A - Holy Dio tribute
V/A - The Keepers Of Jericho - Helloween
V/A - Metal For Muthas Vol.1
V/A - Metal For Muthas Vol.2 - Cut Loud
V/A - The Next Generation 1
V/A - Rebellion- A tribute to Queensryche
V/A - A Tribute To Accept
VICIOUS RUMORS - Sadistic Symphony
VIGILANTE - Edge Of Time
VIRGIN STEELE - The House Of Atreus - Act I
VIRGIN STEELE - The House Of Atreus - Act II
VORTEX - The Mill

Thoughts Of Glory
(Demo CD)

VALHALLA is an Austrian three-piece, dedicated to traditional Heavy Metal, meaning they certainly fit into the concept of this zine. Their demo CD "Thoughts Of Glory", which comes up with a cool looking viking coverart, features seven tracks (five "real" songs plus an instrumental intro and outro) and has a running time of 27:18min. The vocals are rough, with almost no variety and the music is pretty basic structured, based on drums, bass and one guitar only. Apart from their kinda limited musical abilities and immature songwriting qualities the band should definitely add a second guitar player to their line-up to achieve a fuller guitarsound and to be able to come up with more exciting doubled lead guitar work. It doesn't make any sense to praise this material with false statements. Fact is, that these guys still have a long way to go and therefore they'll have to practise a lot harder to be able to compete on the international market. Otherwise they get lost pretty quickly! Contact: Legion Of Eternity, Diet mannsdorf 13, 8784 Trieben, Austria, E-mail:
Frank Stöver

Far Off Grace
(Inside Out)

These German proggies released the good "The God Thing" album two years ago but as on the debut the DREAM THEATER similarities were too obvious. Maybe the tour with their idols opened their eyes a bit, being a copy can not be the end of the line. So, "Far Off Grace" comes heavier and not as easy to foresee than the predecessor, the band increased the staccato riffing, of course remaining a real progressive Metal act. The production is quite rough and sterile, not warm sounding. The drum sound could be more darker, it sounds too dry and the rhythm section dominate the sound a little bit too much. After listening to the new nine songs the first time, it didn't impress me at all, now - after six or seven listening sessions - the first rather negative impression is gone and the bulky character of the album is not as evident as before. Progressive Metal fans who like a heavier DREAM THEATER version should check out the new VANDEN PLAS for sure, all others should be more careful to avoid a letdown.
Heinz Konzett

Best Of Wacken Open Air (2CD)
(Steamhammer / SPV)

I'm not really a fan of compilation albums, unlike they come up with rare or unreleased material. But this double CD set, dedicated to the incredible German "Wacken Open Air" festival, seemed to be a cool release in the first place, as it gets sold for the price of a single CD and features no less than 50% of live recordings from bands that already played there. Furthermore names like MOTÖRHEAD, PRETTY MAIDS, GAMMA RAY, ANGRA, FATES WARNING, MERCYFUL FATE etc.etc. should be reason enough to check this out. So, the bandcollection is kinda cool and the chosen songs in most of the cases really representative (well, in DORO's case I wouldn't necessarily have chosen the horrible industrial-like "Terrorvision", but...). The biggest letdown is, that all live versions simply have been taken from the band's official live albums and are not exclusive "Wacken Open Air" recordings. So, in the end, this is just another compilation of good music, but certainly not essential for people who already own the regular albums of their fave "Wacken" bands.
Frank Stöver

Deeper Into The Vault
(Steamhammer / SPV)

After the highly interesting "Into The Megavault" compilation back in the late 80's, Megaforce Records simply had to come up with a worthy continuation called "Deeper Into The Vaults", which recently got re-issued through SPV here in Germany. Once again you'll get a couple of rare tracks and single B-sides which makes this album worth checking out for Metalheads. Especially EXCITER's brilliant "Death Revenge" (obviously recorded during the "Violence And Force" sessions, but unavailable anywhere else!), the original single version of BLITZKRIEG's "Blitzkrieg", TESTAMENT's "Burnt Offerings" (a demo version for "The Legacy" album, still with original vocalist Steve "Zetro" Souza on vocals!), S.O.D.'s "Ram It Up" (way better than their new stuff and only available on the "Speak English Or Die" CD re-issue!) and ANTHRAX's live version of "Across The River" / "Howling Furies" already justify the purchase of this disc. Unfortunately there's also some useless stuff on there (LONE RAGER, M.O.D., T.T.QUICK) and even so me known material (by OVERKILL, VENOM, MERCYFUL FATE...). The packaging furthermore is a joke (as there's actually none!) and there's even a big mistake in the featured MERCYFUL FATE track: instead of "Black Funeral" (as printed on the cover) you'll get "Black Masses". But hey - go for it anyway, if you liked the 80's Metal movement as much as I do!
Frank Stöver

Detroit Rock City
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
(Mercury Records)

This is the official motion picture soundtrack for the latest KISS movie "Detroit Rock City" and apart from a few examples, it's a really cool one. The overall concept of it seems to be the combination of several 70's (Hard) Rock classics, no matter if it's in their original version (VAN HALEN, BLACK SABBATH, THIN LIZZY, CHEAP TRICK, DAVID BOWIE, THE RUNAWAYS or SWEET) or covered by bands that are hip today (and gone tomorrow?!), like EVERCLEAR (who contributed an excellent version of THIN LIZZY's "The Boys Are Back In Town"), PANTERA ("Cat Scratch Fever"), stupid MARILYN MANSON ("Highway To Hell"), DRAIN STH (who turned the T.REX classic "20th Century Boy" into an annoying Doom song) and THE DONNAS ("Strutter"). On top of all that you'll get two alltime KISS classics ("Detroit Rock City" and "Shout It Out Loud") plus a brandnew, previously unreleased KISS powerballad ("Nothing Can Keep Me From You", which had been co-written by Dianne Warren). Entertaining! Looking forward to see the movie.
Frank Stöver

DisDURPance Vol.3
(self financed)

Fans of Progressive Rock should know this compilation series by now as this is already part three of it. Well, I'm probably not the best person to judge bands of this genre and SNAKEPIT ain't really a forum for Progressive music either (but REAL METAL!!), so I will just keep this short. 15 bands are featured, all presented with one of their songs, mostly taken from their own self-financed releases. In case you need to know, here's the list of names for you: YOKE SHIRE (USA), AGENT COOPER (USA), NANGYALA (Netherlands), ZENOBIA (Germany), SCYTHE (Germany), TUNNELVISION (Germany), TELLTALEHARD (Germany), BODY FULL OF STARS (U.K.), PLATOS HALO (USA), TRANSCENDENCE (Germany), SFUMATO (Germany), PROTOTYPE (USA), PARANOISE (USA), MYSTERY (Canada) and SALEM HILL (USA). The quality of the recordings is pretty good, the packing impressive (the CD comes with a beautiful fantasy cover art and all necessary band info inside the booklet!) and the playing time of approx. 73 minutes definitely worth your money. So, in case you'd like to dive deep into the Progressive underground scene, make sure to send 25,-DM (inside of Germany) or 30,-DM (rest) to the following address: DURP c/o Markus Weis, Am Gangsteig 9, 85551 Heimstetten, Germany,, e-mail:
Frank Stöver

Holy Dio
A Tribute To The Voice Of Metal - Ronnie James Dio (2CD)
(Century Media Records)

Ronnie James Dio has always been one of the strongest and most charismatic vocalists in the Metal history. No matter if you pick up albums by RAINBOW, BLACK SABBATH or his solo releases - all of them are of highest quality and feature many all-time classic songs. So, in current times of tribute-mania it was certainly overdue to honor this man's talent with a tribute release as well! That it ended up becoming a double CD-set even more proves how many excellent songs there are to choose from. 19 artists came up with their versions of the most important songs of his long lasting career (6 x DIO, 8 x RAINBOW and 5 x BLACK SABBATH). No matter if you prefer DORO, FATES WARNING or YNGWIE MALMSTEEN, or if your faves include BLIND GUARDIAN, AXEL RUDI PELL or HAMMERFALL - they all ended up with very good interpretations (even though I still don't like GRAVE DIGGER at all...). There's no real surprises to discover. Well, exceptions are ANGEL DUST's version of RAINBOW's very early tune "Temple Of The King", the co-operat ion of DAN SWANÖ / PETER TÄGTGREN on BLACK SABBATH's "Country Girl" and the great RAINBOW ballad "Rainbow Eyes", performed by a RAINBOW coverband called CATCH THE RAINBOW (featuring Uli Kusch on drums and Henne Basse of BRAINSTORM / METALIUM on vocals). The rest is basically wellknown stuff, most of the time pretty close to the original and - surprise surprise - with very strong vocal deliveries from all the featured vocalists! Definitely one of the better tributes these days...
Frank Stöver

The Keepers Of Jericho - A Tribute To Helloween
(Arise/ N.T.S.)

I hate HELLOWEEN because they were the purveyors of that wave of "happy/ easy to sing along" Metallic trend that we have to live with right now. I'm also not the biggest fan of those tributes that flourish everywhere because they just go nowhere (the DIO tribute being an exception!). Despite all these negative points, I found some surprisingly enjoyable stuff on this record, especially the renditions of "Guardians" (RHAPSODY), "A Little Time" (HEAVENS GATE), "Eagle Fly Free" (VISION DIVINE), "Savage" (BRAINSTORM) (being not so surprisingly the best and heaviest cut on this record) but there's a lot of lame stuff that can be heard on this too (not especially because of the bands, but also because the songs are lame to start with) like "I Want Out" (SONATA ARTICA), "Ride The Sky" (METALIUM) (which sucks totally comparing to the cover STEEL PROPHET did on one of their albums!), "I'm Alive" (LUCA TURILLI) (Surprising? Not at all haha!!) or the crappy "Halloween" from DARK MOOR. All in all, not so bad stuff, and actually some of it is more enjoyable than the original material. It's just too bad that there's not more material covered from their five song debut EP ("Victim Of Fate" being the only song covered) as it remains their heaviest/ best stuff to this day in my opinion.
Laurent Ramadier

Do you have enough of the annoying tribute mania? I am totally fed up. Okay, HELLOWEEN were the biggest influence of all the happy sounding European Metal armada through the last four years and therefore it was natural that those bands wanted to tribute their models. And I have to admit that some of the best bands out of that category are contributing to this tribute. Beginning from RHAPSODY (with "Guardians"), DARK MOOR ("Halloween") or MORIFADE (with a very good version of "Judas") to the more real Metal based outfits such as BRAINSTORM (contributing the most convincing cover of this tribute with the thrashy "Savage") and METALIUM (playing a powerful version of "Ride The Sky"). You see the involved bands chose mainly older HELLOWEEN tracks and most of them sound enjoyable and partly very nice. LABYRINTH's failed try to cover "Future World" (because of a weak vocal performance, what happened to this formerly great band the last year?) and the too powerlessly played "How Many Tears" from SECRET SPHERE can not hold the quality work of the other outfits. So, this is one of the better tributes I've heard in the last few months, but still I doubt if that is enough for a recommendation because it makes more sense to discover original stuff, doesn't it?
Heinz Konzett

Metal For Muthas Vol.1
Metal For Muthas Vol.2 - Cut Loud
(EMI Records)

Oh man, these two digitally re-mastered re-releases made my day when they arrived here. Do you wanna hear the real stuff, discover two diamonds out of the NWoBHM or just want to listen to 20 year old Metal that still gleams like a 1000 Volt light in the dark? If you already own these gems on vinyl, you know what I am speaking of. Volume 1 had the more popular names on it - IRON MAIDEN with Wrathchild and Iron Maiden, ANGEL WITCH's classic Baphomet, SAMSON's Tomorrow Or Yesterday or Captured City from PRAYING MANTIS but other contributions as ETHEL THE FROG with the formidable Fight Back, NUTZ's rock'n'roller Bootliggers or the fast-paced Fighting For Rock And Roll from the E.F.BAND were as well convincing NWoBHM anthems and made this sampler so peculiar. On "Volume II - Cut Loud" the contributing bands were not as well-known as on the first compilation and one track (XERO's Cutting Loose and ) is only mediocre but who cares about that little critical point when hearing the two TRESPASS classics One Of These D ays and Stormchild, WHITE SPIRIT's great rocker High Upon High, HORSEPOWER's ZEPPELINesque You Give Me Candy, the melodic diamond Lady Of Mars form DARK STAR or RED ALERT's heavy smasher Open Heart? Essential original NWoBHM stuff and worth every penny. Go for 'em.
Heinz Konzett

The Next Generation VOL. 1
(AFM Records)

All signed bands under the AFM Records banner contribute on this low-price sampler with one or two songs. Beginning with the well-known EDGUY to the highly talented and promising VOICE, TARANTULA and SQUEALER, the HAMMERALL clones STEEL ATTACK (each of these five with two tracks), the average Thrashers PARALYSIS, the rather original dark Metal of THE EXPERIENCE, the new signing SLEEPING GODS (TYPE O' NEGATIVE copycats...) and ending with the terrible VOLLRAUSCH (the band name is as silly as the music). Unfortunately, only SQUEALER with the BILLY IDOL cover "Rebel Yell" and STEEL ATTACK ("Holy Sea Of God") come up with previously unreleased material, so it's evident: if you wanna get acquaintance with their recommendable bands, it's far more sense in checking out the latest full albums of EDGUY, VOICE, SQUEALER and TARANTULA.
Heinz Konzett

Rebellion- A tribute to Queensryche
(Dwell Records)

Before I'd get a Dwell tribute and like only 3-4 bands as they'd make death/black acts do cuts from JUDAS PRIEST, IRON MAIDEN and so forth and I'd instantly use the CD as a coaster. They've slowly improved (as I dug most of their SAVATAGE tribute) and like this one a little more. BLACK SYMPHONY (one of the best US progressive metal bands) open the proceedings with "Deliverance" nicely- then follows the highlight with SHADOWKEEP performing "Queen Of The Reich" and Rogue M. hits those highs easily. Other noteworthy efforts include TEMPLAR's version of "The Needle Lies" and ION VEIN's spirited interpretation of "Take Hold Of The Flame". I think we can't forgive the poor vocal performance from REWIND on "Jet City Woman" or the abomination musically that ruins "Operation Mindcrime" by ORANGE MOON. The demo quality recording from BLACK ART can't get kudos from me either...and I wonder when they will realize that they will never get a shot at a record deal... I'm glad I got this from one of the bands- but have little use for these albums as the trend has grown way out of hand.
Matt Coe

A Tribute To Accept
(Nuclear Blast Records)

This ain't real, is it?! Man, how many "Tribute" albums do we still have to survive until this fuckin' trend is finally over? I can't stand it anymore and it's really getting on my nerves by now! Even though the participating bands are partly quite unusual this time (TAROT, WATCHTOWER, SEVEN WITCHES, STEEL PROPHET, NEW EDEN...), there's either no excitement in the band's versions or they turned out absolutely annoying (just check out ATROCITY or RYKERS to find out how trendy ACCEPT songs can be dismembered). One of the better bands on here is probably SINNER, but their version of "Balls To The Wall" almost sounds like the original, while HAMMERFALL even used Udo Dirkschneider as a guest vocalist for their interpretation of "Head Over Heels". Pretty useless... All in all this is just another compilation not worth spending your money on (if really necessary, you should go for the way better DIO tribute). And if you would like to hear some good old ACCEPT classics, buy yourself "Breaker", "Restless And Wild" or "Balls To The Wall" (if you shouldn't own them yet) to get the real thing.
Frank Stöver

Sadistic Symphony
(Perris Records)

VICIOUS RUMORS has always been one of my favorite bands from the early eighties. Their last album "Cyberchrist" from 1998 showed us that The RUMORS were following the musical scene quite well. There were some alternative sounds found back in their music and also their riffs showed us that this band had grown with the musical evolution of that time. Their roots however were still in the early eighties, which was reflected in the guitar solos and the high screaming vocals of their singer. On "Sadistic Symphony" they continue on this path. Great US metal is mixed with some alternative riffs and/or structures. It's not all that frightful, I think it's just part of their growing process. Other bands make the same sound year in year out. This band grows and still keeps their fans satisfied. You can still back the influences of IRON MAIDEN, ICED EARTH and old QUEENSRYCHE for the melodic parts, where the heavy riffs may bear some influences of the great OVERKILL. "Sadistic Symphony" has become a solid heavy metal album that will certainly please all their old and their new fans.
Toine van Poorten

Edge Of Time
(Eternal Riddle)

Their debut album astounded me (and was supposed to appear in Snakepit number 5...but space restrictions proved otherwise) and now comes the sophomore CD from Japan's high quality power/progressive metal masters VIGILANTE. 9 songs plus an instrumental intro show a slight adjustment to more streamlined arrangements and catchier melody lines from vocalist Hideaki Niwa- but no sacrifice to the incredibly fluent musicianship we've always expected from this band. Unlike other bands who favor one side over the other, VIGILANTE combine DREAM THEATER like movements and VICIOUS RUMORS/ HELSTAR like power riffing from song to song- examples including the blood pumping "Prisoner Of Fate" and the mid-tempo mind odyssey "Blame And Praise" which features heavenly twin solos from Hiroshi Omoto and Kazuaki Horie. I think the production also has a bright, live feel but I wish that the vocals could have been a little higher in the mix (as Hideaki's Japanese accent may have you reaching for the lyric sheet to make out what he's singing). Otherwise no complaints from me- VIGILANTE deserve a bigger deal, more European touring and a chance to expand their following away from just the Far East. Contact: Vigilante Inc., #104,Wingkuden, 2-22-30, Niikura, Wako-shi, Saitama 351-0115, Japan Email:
Matt Coe

The House Of Atreus - Act I
(T&T Records / Modern Music)

Did you really think that David DeFeis and company already delivered their milestone in 1998's "Invictus"? C'mon - you're kidding, aren't you?! These guys are just so unbelievable creative that every new album that gets released under the VIRGIN STEELE banner takes them to another (higher) level, without losing their typical trademarks of the past. Well, as the title already makes quite clear, "The House Of Atreus Act 1" is only the first part of an incredible (Heavy) Rock opera that even got performed in German theatres before the actual album was finished. Productionwise VIRGIN STEELE finally managed to come up with a perfect sounding record and the songwriting in itself is so incredible in-depth, that you simply will remain speechless for quite awhile after you got to listen to it! On this "Part 1" you'll get the first 22 pieces of music that are all connected to each other in one way or another. On one hand there's the album's overall lyrical storyline (which is based on Greek mythology), and then you'll get the musical side, which combines brilliant yet typical, epic VIRGIN STEELE hymns like "Kingdom Of The Fearless", "Through The Ring Of Fire" or "Flames Of The Black Star" (just to name a few) with classical inspired (mostly piano) interludes or moody (partly spoken) pieces. It's extremely difficult to find the right words for all the deeply structured and top notch composed creations on here, so let me put it this way: the album is a pure masterpiece from start to finish and proves that VIRGIN STEELE is still one of the most underrated bands around and that their major breakthrough is more than overdue! So, forget about SAVATAGE, forget about MANOWAR (really? - Heinz) and do not even dare to think about the highly overrated DREAM THEATER - by the gods, these guys are fuckin' ultimate!
Frank Stöver

The House Of Atreus - Act II
(Noise Records)

A last minute review. Not a last minute album. David DeFeis writes songs like eating chips. Shortly after the release of "Act I", "The House Of Atreus - Act II" comes as a double cd. 23 songs. Unbelievable. Which band can beat VIRGIN STEELE in the bombastic Metal field? None. Majestic melodies, again with keyboard interludes (though more integrated in the songs as on "Act I"), part their ways with an untypical lyrical concept about the Greek history. It's impossible to judge single songs, you have to hear both cd's carefully to understand what genius David is. If you like "Streets" from SAVATAGE, this album is for you. (better: if you do not like "Streets", you are reading the false magazine). An album to worship VIRGIN STEELE and to discover the beauty of emotional music. Thank you.
Heinz Konzett

The Mill
(Stormbringer Productions)

VORTEX is back and "The Mill" is good proof of it. Four Songs were recorded on this blood red vinyl, which is ready to be unleashed at their hungry fans. The cult band from Holland have spread their wings again. Hear the evil voice of Jurjen "Thundervox" Tichelaar and the mean riffs and solos of Martjo "The Whirlewolf" Brongers during the opener "Oubliette" and you know we're dealing with a great quality old school Heavy Metal outfit here. "I Got Mucho More" takes the speed up higher, crossing away in the fourth gear. You know when the solo will hit you, but you're not aware of the fact that it will hit you right in your face. The B-side of this 10" opens with a riff which can be compared with Eddie van Halen's "You Really Got Me" riff. But this song is much darker and heavier of course. The solo is fast and the rhythm section is grinding. Nonetheless, it sounds very catchy here. The last song is called "A Lovely Day". That's what you will have when you play this record over and over again. Jurjen growls like a chained madman, while Martjo plays his most flashing solo of these four tracks. If you survive this then you can call yourself a real metal head. This is definitely not for the faint hearted. How to get this 10"?! Simply drop a line to: Blue Steel Agency- Gorechtkade 47- 9713 BE Groningen- The Netherlands or send an e-mail to You won't regret spending your money on this one, 'cause this is what it's all about, my friends. Metal in its purest form! Hail to VORTEX and may they live on forever!!!
Toine van Poorten

Stormbringer release a vinyl four tracker from the Dutch legends and if you didn't know their stuff before you can await a peculiar piece of Metal. They recently played with SAD IRON and HAMMERHAWK in Germany, so their comeback (thanks to Arno "I hate keyboards" Hofmann!) should be celebrated at the Wacken open air to show more people how Metal from the Netherlands can sound. Underground Metal is delivered on all four tracks, hard to describe, VORTEX stands for unique 80's Metal which is out of date these days (and hence even more loved now than at that time...). Thanks as well to Stormbringer Records for putting this one out. Order it for 10 bucks or DM 20 from: Stormbringer Records, Linnegatan 24, 380 62 Mörbylanga, Sweden. Email:
Heinz Konzett