Slayer – Repentless




Nuclear Blast

Review by Rick Ossian

Upon first hearing of this latest, I was duly impressed.  In particular, the introductory salvo, Delusions of Savior.  It is a metal instrumental, and from the sounds of it, hopefully a musical image of what is to come for these fellows from California.  This is their first album from Nuclear Blast, after being a part of the stables at Metal Blade, Geffen and Def Jam/American.  These blokes have been around for over 30 years, and unfortunately recently lost one of their long-time cohorts, one Jeff Hanneman (R.I.P.), due to liver failure.  At one point the future of the band was apparently in doubt, as leader Tom Araya likened any continuation to be “just like starting over, especially after 30 years with Jeff”Exodus guitar-slinger Gary Holt has climbed aboard and things seem to be moving along just fine.  Of course, those of you who know will note that Paul Bostaph is the skin-pounder, and who could forget Kerry King — the ‘other’ guitar player!  Anybody who misses Dave Lombardo on the drums (still) will just have to get over it.

The title track is up next, and one gets the feeling that there are going to be no holds barred here.  This is HEAVY duty stuff here.  They are not screwing around, and they have hit on a mix of hardcore punk and metal.  There is a double-edged sword of a guitar solo about a minute-and-a-half in, one that needs to be heard to be believed.  It is part thrash, part riff, part shred.  Very good work.  “What you get is what you see!”, bellows Araya, and from the sounds of things, this is very exciting stuff indeed.  Anybody who is not enjoying themselves at this point best check their pulse!

Take Control is another forceful number, ready to blow your head off at the slightest impulse.  When listening to Slayer, one must remember that they are faced with one of the ‘Big 4′.  The world of metal has been an exciting place of late, what with the new Maiden release and all, but how often do you get a release from one of the Big 4 nowadays?  The last was Anthrax, I believe (Worship Music).  Can’t offhand recall the most recent Metallica or Megadeth CD’s.  I know that they are in the collection, but something tells me that this is the most strident of the recent crop when it comes to thrash metal.  We get more shredding herein, by the way.  Guitar solos seem to be the order of the day, at least for the present, and this one (1:40 is just loaded with FX – some serious shred, infused with wah) is just one of several.

Vices is up next, and offers up some excellent riffing at the outset.  “A little violence is the ultimate drug/Let’s get high!”screams Araya, then another solo is cut loose.  This one sounds like it features both six-string wizards (Holt and King).  I find it interesting when the solo section is obviously shared by both guitarists.   “So fuckin high!”  Awesome stuff.


Cast the First Stone is the next track on this platter, and the intro is a bit doom-and-gloom, but do not worry, dear readers – the speed resumes shortly after proceedings begin.  Paul (drummer) is very busy, as well – he can deploy the double-bass attack as well as the next!  More guitar heroics ensue at the two-minute mark, and there is some shred as well as some psychedelic-sounding blues.

When the Stillness Comes features a simple enough beginning to start, but one gets the feeling that the boys are just getting warmed up.  This is an evil blues intro, but as one might imagine, they get riff-happy pretty quick.  There are some positively powerful drums on this track, and the guitar is not far behind.  If there is such a thing as metal blues, then this is it.  Positively evil-sounding vocals, speaking of ‘visceral hate‘ and the ‘last thing you see are my eyes’.  I like the imagery of ‘blood falling from the sky like rain’.  Not sure why, but ‘blood from above‘ seems unduly apocalyptic, for some reason.  Of course, when Tom is vocalizing it, it sounds even more horrible!

Chasing Death finds its way to the fore next, and is another slamming, pounding assault to the senses.  Vocally, instrumentally, as a whole, everything is here!  Anybody who is snoring now is simply missing out, and how could you, I would ask?  Sometimes rock/metal is maudlin’, we’ve all heard when a band is obviously just treading the veritable hamster wheel – I submit to you that Slayer do NOT do that!  Those of you who are still mourning the loss of Mr. Hanneman need to just celebrate his life instead, and move on with the rest of the band.  Just listen to that guitar, and those drums!  What more do you need?  Obviously, there is a time for mourning – if you have seen him live, you know even more what he was capable of.  However, I would submit (again) that Mr. Holt is a worthy substitute, if that is even possible.

Implode is next, which was evidently debuted at 2014’s Revolver’s Golden God Awards.  It starts out life with another slamming guitar-and-drum salvo, musically preparing us for the impending doom of Araya’s vocals.  ‘I can’t wait to see it all go down!‘, he screams.  Sometimes a song is not just a song – sometimes it is a testimony.  There is also much more shredding and thrashing about, which is what we’ve come to expect from this lot, so no surprises there.

Piano Wire begins with a nice chugging riff, right on the edge of your seat you should be by this point.  Everything about this band just brims with excitement and metal fury.  I absolutely defy anyone to be yawning or waffling at this point.  If you don’t like this latest collection of tracks from the thrash kings of old, then there is something seriously wrong with your taste buds – musically speaking, that is.

Atrocity Vendor starts out with another heavy-as-hell, in your face riff.  Paul lets everyone know that the drums want to be a BIG part of the tune straight off, and I say more power to him.  One thing I noticed about this track was that I had a picture of an AV in my head from the very start.  More wah/crybaby infused soloing, more hammering drums, more evil vocals, and unfortunately a very short track.  If I do have one complaint, it is the same old whiny, bitching Fish-Man complaint – the tracks are too short.  Almost Ramones-style short, in fact!  I guess that comes from listening to all of the prog stuff, right?

You Against You is, mercifully, a bit longer. The opening/main riff could be straight out of old school metal, but once the drums and the vocal ferocity kick in, we are reminded that we are, indeed, listening to Slayer.  Lest one forget, there is going to be incredibly savage vocals, HAMMERING drums, and guitar-from-hell. Did I mention the bass?  Tom seems to mirror Paul when they are in the engine room, and it didn’t really even occur to me until now that they are one of the most wicked rhythm sections I’ve heard in some time.  Apparently, metal DOES need to have a bit of rhythm…although I cannot recall the last time I’ve seen folks actually DANCING to metal, I can recall a mosh pit or two from my younger days.  This track is designed for that!  More serious widdling at the 2:30 mark, and both guitarists are at it again.  This hell is just for you!Tom intones – perhaps it is a warning for us to sit up and take notice -as if we weren’t already!  Another shredding lead occupies the closing, which is just fine with me!

Pride in Prejudice, speaking of closing, is our last track.  Paul starts this one out with an absolutely pounding intro, and then the others boys join in in short order.  Tom positively assaults us with his vocals AND lyrics, which by now should be obvious! ‘Don’t give me that power bullshit!’, he virtually screams at us.  ‘One gunshot sets the precedence‘.  When one contemplates the severity of Slayer lyrics, there isn’t really much that we NEED to understand.  We just NEED to listen.  Listen to that guitar!  Holy crap!  I absolutely need to listen to this again!  Top marks!


Iron Maiden – The Book of Souls

IM Book of Soulsironmaidencovershottwo

Released 04 September 2015

Parlophone UK

Review by Suzi Horsley and Rick Ossian

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Iron Maiden.

I *love* Iron Maiden. Probably more than any other band ever- seeing them at Sonisphere last year was one of the highlights of my life, and the picture of me screaming my head off to Fear of The Dark remains one of my most loved pictures of me everThey were my gateway into Heavy Metal. When I was 17 or thereabouts, (I’ve told this story way too many times on here) I nicked my housemate’s copy of Best of the Beast (It might have been Number of The Beast, I can’t remember these days) and was enthralled. I walked around the house snarling “666! The Number of The Beaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaast” for months. From then on, it was a slow descent to my current eclectic tastes which are slowly widening to include Metal of the Black and Death variety. Anyway, Iron Maiden hold a very, very special place in my heart for a multitude of reasons, and I am rather firmly of the belief that it is actually impossible for them to put out a bad album.

However, that being said I didn’t think was possible for Linkin Park to put out a bad album (remember that horror?  Or this one?) or for Lacuna Coil to put out a bad album or…well you get the idea. In the last few years I’ve been let down by some of my trusty favourites, so before I gave The Book of Souls (announced on my birthday this year don’tcha know – thanks for the present, guys!) it’s inaugural listening in the southern tower of Castle Wyrd Ways I was somewhat apprehensive.  Could a band who have been steadily churning out killer albums for the last 40 years do it again? It’s been five years since we had an Iron Maiden release – what if they’d all forgotten how to play, or something?

Well, I’m very pleased to say that is not the case. I’ll spare you the summation of my feelings and give you a track by track breakdown and as a Wyrd Ways Rocks Show Special and (to save fights) my colleague, the esteemed Rick Ossian, also known as WWRS’s King Of Prog And AOR and Senior Reviewer will be joining me.

Hello Maiden fans and freaks worldwide – Rick here, your favorite Fish-Man, with a few words (or so) to add to my fellow WWRS cohort Suzi’s.  Apparently, track listing(s) vary from one continent to the next, so what we shall have here is a Transcontinental Twisted Review with a shared authorship of sorts.  Now, normally when I do a review I do a pretty technical breakdown and try to map things out for the listener.  I will try to refrain from that to a certain extent here and just get down to brass tacks.  Like Suzi, I have become an ardent admirer of the Irons (Up the Irons!) since they appeared in my musical orbit — only difference being that I may have become more aware of them much earlier than Suzi.  Then again, the only REAL reason for that is because I am much older.  Also, there isn’t going to be a lot of objectivity involved here…let us be clear, this is a completely biased review.

When I first began listening to Maiden, I was a MUCH younger man than I am now.  I also have one concert experience to covet, and I can’t even begin to tell you about it, because the memories just aren’t there.  I DO recall that Guns N’ Roses bowed out as the support band (supposedly because their star was on the rise and Axl didn’t think it ‘proper’ that G N’ R should open for somebody else at the time). Another American outfit, Hurricane, did the honours instead, and I remember not much else except for Dickinson‘s regular requests for us to “SCREAM FOR ME, OMAHA!!”

Since I’m the boss (or T’Gaffer, to use Yorkshire slang), and Maiden were the band that single-handedly got me into this whole Heavy Metal thing, if you two think you’ll get away without at least the odd interjection, you’ve got another thing coming!

So let’s get to it.  Damn straight.

The album is Maiden’s first studio double album (though I have a digital copy from Groove Music) and comes in at a whopping 92 minutes. It has  their longest ever track on it, which comes in at 18.01 minutes long and knocks Rime of The Ancient Mariner down to being Maiden‘s second longest track. It is *not* a concept album, although I rather feel it should be, but it quite thematic on the subjects of death and hell and other cheerful things like that.

If Eternity Should Fail  is our introduction which kicks off with some weird Spaghetti Western-esque “do-do-dooooooo” stuff before Bruce gives the most beautiful, ethereal standalone kick off to a vocal introduction to an album I think I’ve ever heard. What you then get is gloriously classic Maiden – all the things that make Maiden great – with something that’s new.  It’s old Maiden enough that no one is going to be upset, but new Maiden enough that it isn’t boring either.  And the lyrics are mind blowing.  It’s also instantly catchy.  I’m only on my third listening and singing along already.  At the end it has some really creepy spoken word stuff which gives you some flavour (and freaks you out).

As an opening track, this one sets the stall out well.  The intro is a bit… interesting.  Very 80’s synths (remember this band telling us in their sleeve notes that Metal and keyboards should never mix?  How times have changed!) backing a mournful verse, with Bruce showing another, Blues-y, side to his voice.  Then the rest of the band comes in and we’re in familiar territory.  This is Maiden.  A good one to start with.

If Eternity Should Fail follows The Red and The Black (more on that later) as track 5 in the States, and I was agog at the intro, a purely spacey, Egyptian-style intro that recalled some of the tracks from Powerslave, for me at least.  The requisite galloping and guitar-soloing are there, and at the five-minute mark there is a brief bass/drum takeover, of all things.  Bruce‘s vocal power is just that, an extraordinary display of an extraordinary man’s talents.  The voicing(s) at the end may be these blokes’ way of getting all philosophical on us, but who cares?  It SOUNDS cool!

Track 2 here in the UK is the previously released single Speed of Light which is *deep breath* the closest I think Maiden have ever come to releasing a Pop Song. It’s not bad, please do not misunderstand me for a single second, it’s just a bit poppy in a way I can’t put my finger on. It’s my least favourite track from the album, but it’s still good. From any other band I’d think it was perfectly acceptable. Anyway, it’s a bit boppy, and I want Maiden to make me scream and then displace bits of my spinal column head-banging. This track doesn’t do that. I do still find myself bouncing along in my desk chair signing the chorus though so, yeah…

Oh, give over, Elfie!  This one’s a cracker!  The song gallops along on sheer joy and showcases a band that are enjoying themselves.  After the last couple of albums, I’d begun to fear that Maiden had lost the ability to write quick songs.  This one proves me wrong, and does it in fine style.  Nicko even uses his cowbell!

Speed of Light, the track that first became available to us, is the last track to appear, ironically enough, on the US version.  Though it may sound tepid by some standards, it is a truly remarkable piece of work as well.  

The Great Unknown starts with all the guitars doing cunning understated things, and is almost stripped back for a Maiden guitar line. The Bruce comes in with some restrained vocals and then you get some keyboards I think, and the track just slowly builds up for well over a minute until finally around the 1 and a half minute mark Nicko gets unleashed on the drums and then the guitars kick into Maiden style and you get hit full on in the face with the glories of a full Maiden line up doing what they do best, while Bruce shows off all that opera singer training he had. Also, epic guitar solos.  I can see the crowds going nuts, with horns up screaming this one back in the middle of a festival already.

This one is an example of what Iron Maiden have been experts at for the last thirty years.  Slowburning, epic songs that build from quiet and thoughtful to full speed gallops, before returning to quiet, without feeling forced.  One thing that you can’t help but notice is the sheer quality of the guitar work from original member Dave Murray, Adrian Smith and Janick Gers (the former White Spirit and Gillan six-stringer who has now been with Maiden for something like a quarter of a century, but still feels like the new boy!), all underpinned and anchored by Steve Harris’s throbbing, galloping bass.

The Great Unknown comes in as the second track on this side of The Pond, and Steve begins this number in rather regal bass fashion.  The urgency is there, the in-your-face delivery is there – in fact, it’s ALL there, folks.  All we need to do is listen!  It occurred to me during my first listen of this track that NOBODY screams/yells at you/us like Bruce.  About 5 minutes in there is a contemplative shift of sorts, and …Unknown begins to sound like a different song, hell, even a different band, up to the fade-out. “And the world has fallen/And we stand alone” – kind of prophetic lyrics, but then they do that occasionally, don’t they?

Up next is my favourite track from the album – The Red and The Black. Kicks off with Spanish-style guitars and then kicks into a high octane, thumping, thrumming wall of glorious, multi-coloured sound. Seriously, it is an aural orgasm. You know how Maiden have a back catalogue full of songs that you can just jump and down to, singing “woaoh ah ohhh oh!” along with a slamming guitar line and drums that are just right where it’s at (Lars Ulrich can piss off, Nicko is king FOREVER) THIS IS THAT TRACK. It’s just perfection. I can’t even begin to tell you how perfect it is – it jumps to being my number three favourite Maiden track (Fear of the Dark and Number of The Beast are at 1 and 2. Incidentally Can I Play With Madness is fourth). It’s also a glorious 13 minutes long. There’s always a risk with long tracks that they’ll get boring halfway through. Not so, with this one. It’s 13.33 minutes of sheer perfection.

The Red and the Black is up fourth here in the expanse that is Nebraska too, and I don’t know that a bigger track has been heard (at least not to these ears) in quite some time.  Steve begins the proceedings again, I believe, though these ears MAY be a bit untrained.  Any bass players out there that would be willing to express their opinion(s) would be more than welcome!  Emotions and guitar solos are running high on this track as well, and at about the ten-minute mark things shift to a more uptempo rendering.  At ten-and-a-half the repetition, though oh-so-subtle, is the only thing that takes away from the track.  Repetition CAN be cool, methinks.  Perhaps in another world, repetition is all the rage!  At twelve minutes in we do another shift to that world-famous, globe-trotting gallop, and then Steve ends things, kind of like he did at the beginning – you remember, back at the beginning of this track?

There’s some very interesting guitar work on this one, acting as a mirror to Bruce’s melody line, playing along to his singing, matching him note-for-note.  The wash of keyboards in the background adds colour and depth without overwhelming anything else.  Probably the most striking thing is that, four songs in, with nothing clocking in at less than five minutes (most either pushing or exceeding 10 minutes) none of these have overstayed their welcome or sounded forced.  It’s really looking like Iron Maiden have completed their transformation from meat-and-potatoes NWOBHM to a fully-fledged Prog Metal band of the type the likes of Dream Theater can only dream of being.  The Red And The Black is just one of the tracks that reinforces that.  Then there’s the gear shift at around nine minutes in that just makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end.

When The River Runs Deep should then be an instant disappointment, following such an epic little adventure. However it isn’t. The Red and The Black has a peaceful finish to it and then When The River Runs Deep slams right into your face with a full-on start, and no build up. It’s “only” 5:52 long (there’s only one track shorter than 5 minutes on the whole album and it comes in at 4:58), and I’m sure there’s some cowbell in it. Just the right amount, it doesn’t need more. We’ve got Her Majesty’s Right Royal Air Raid Siren, Bruce Dickinson after all.

When The River Runs Deep is one of those classic Iron Maiden songs.  Unmistakeable.  Riffs, vocals and solos… all perfectly weighted and placed.

I found myself immensely enjoying US track 7, When the River Runs Deep, which in Maiden World is short but sweet at only about six minutes, but still an excellent track, with a super fucking bad-ass main riff and some soloing featuring one of those wah/crybaby pedals (I’m thinking probably Janick there).  The solos abound on this and all of the tracks.

The Book of Souls is the last track of Disc One for those with a physical copy here in the UK and track 6 for those with a digital version. It’s a 10 minute long epic, and it’s best listened to by sitting back and closing your eyes and letting it wash over you.  While you headbang, obviously.

Now then.  The title track.  The Book Of Souls.  Is it epic?  Yes.  Somewhat surprisingly, the keyboards are a lot further forward in the mix than you’d expect.  Again, that raises a wry smile, but it turns the song into something huge.  Then the pedal goes down at the halfway point and the goosebumps are back.  The soloing again is incredible.  Guitar afficianados bang on about Vai, Satriani, Friedman and Malmsteen… but if you want guitar heroics that actually serve the song, you really can’t do any better than Murray, Smith and Gers.  The energy and imagination in this track alone put bands twenty years younger to shame.  THIS is how you do Prog Metal.  Yes, you can do all the Proggy twiddly bits, but you remember the Metal.  

The title track, which you will find in penultimate position Stateside, begins life as it ends, with some positively heavenly acoustic guitar work.  Since when do these guys deploy such subtle weaponry?  I haven’t heard it on any tracks since, oh, say the last album?  All kidding aside, dear readers, The Book of Souls is a piece of work that needs to be heard to be believed.  It is incredible – it is fantastic.  It is, as Bruce intones, the “food of all the gods“.  Their are many sweet solos, and the crybaby pedal is broken out again.

Disc 2 kicks off with Death Or Glory and is an instantly upbeat faster paced (and shorter) track than The Book of Souls. It’s fairly punchy, with memorable lyrics, and is again, bound to be a crowd pleaser, but I got distracted listening to it and forgot to write anything. (Elfie! – T’Gaffer)

Death or Glory, which occupies the eighth slot here, features another big rock intro, complete with more wicked vocals and even a couple of paradiddles (getting a bit technical there, Rick! – T’Gaffer) from Nicko.  We get the full package here, folks, with no less than three guitar solos to boot!

Now this is what an album opener should sound like.  Yet Death Or Glory could be classed as the opener for “Side 2”.  This one’s got the Maiden swagger all over it.  This really is the sound of Iron Maiden in full flight, and it is truly majestic.  The goosebumps are back again as soon as they get to the bridge.  If you don’t get the urge to get out your air guitar about three minutes in, you have no soul.  On any other album, this would be the highlight track… but as my colleagues have already mentioned, this album is something special…

Shadows Of The Valley follows Death Or Glory in the UK, and again it’s fairly fast paced. Disc One may be all slow build up songs that then smack you in the face, Disc Two is full of boiling over tracks who have already reached a full head of steam by the time they start. I can’t put my finger on which previous release this track puts me in mind of, but whichever one it is, they’ve done it before. This seems to be a subtle re-working than an entirely new track. Still, bloody good though.

Unlike the UK version,  Shadows of the Valley is the album opener on the Stateside version.  I can hear Steve REALLY well, and of course that classic Maiden gallop is there.  Nicko’s drumwork is wonderful, I might add, and I can hear that beautiful ting ting ting of his cymbal(s).  Bruce is in wonderful form, considering his recent bout (Bruce wins!) with cancer, and there are plenty of guitar solos to go around.  “Into the valley of death“, Bruce intones, which we should realize takes on a completely different perspective, again considering Dickinson’s brush with the Reaper.

They’re at it again on Shadows Of The Valley!  Another slab of classic Maiden.  Bruce is singing out of his skin… which is truly amazing when you consider that, when this was recorded, he had a tumour “the size of a golfball” on his tongue.  There’s the hint of an Eastern influence on the riffing.  Those solos… as I type this, the song is playing and the hairs on the back of my neck are standing on end.  This one is going to go down a storm at the live shows.

Tears of a Clown is the albums shortest track coming in at a mere 4.58. It’s also (apparently) based on Robin Williams’ death in 2014. The opening guitars don’t quite ring right for me – they’re a little off beat somehow, but then it improves.  The opening lyrics:

All along in a crowded room
He tries to force a smile
The smile it beamed or so it seemed
But never reached the eyes, disguise
Masquerading as the funny man do they despise

…are absolutely heartbreaking and a very poignant reminder of the complexities of mental health. It is, a solid tribute both to Robin Williams (assuming the story is true) and to those battling mental health stigma everywhere. Never let it be said that Maiden are scared to tackle the hard subjects. And unlike a lot of bands they manage to do it in a non-sensationalist way as well.

It’s absolutely spot-on.  Despite the somewhat cliched title, the song itself is pretty much perfect.  Lyrically poignant… and that guitar work.  I know, I keep coming back to it, but this triple attack from Messrs Gers, Murray and Smith is truly awe inspiring, and there’s no hyperbole in that.  Each and every time, the soloing is incredible.

Tears of a Clown is the shortest track on board here, at just under five minutes, but it is no less cooler than the remainder of the tracks.  It features a wickedly cool intro, and is probably a perfect example of the stop-start, proggy time signature freak-outs that our parents warned us would screw up our ears and the rhythm of our hearts!  More of the wah-pedal being stepped on, which I ALWAYS enjoy, as well.

The Man of Sorrows isn’t any more cheerful and is the penultimate track of the album which also is seemingly based on a mental health theme. It’s probably the most haunting track on the album, and has  slower paced verses and vocals that really let Bruce’s range go to work. Like all Maiden tracks there’s a fairly long vocal free intermission in the middle. Always a pleasure to listen to musicians who are skilled at what they do making some melodies work their asses off.

The Man of Sorrows has a sweet guitar opening, weighing in as track 6 in the US, and an extremely cool ending as well, with a slamming pounder of a riff (1:30), more galloping (2:00), and more guitar solos (4:00/4:30).

Finally, the album comes ot a glorious close with The Empire Of The Clouds. Written solely by Bruce (as was If Eternity Should Fail), it boots Rime of The Ancient Mariner from the longest Maiden track slot, being as Rime is a mere 13 minutes long, and Clouds comes in at 18.01. It also features Bruce on the piano and begins with a distinctly unMaidenish piano intro. This is not a headbanger, this a Lie Back And Enjoy It. And it’s beautiful. There’s even a violin. Or something with strings at any rate. Anyway, it’s a gloriously fitting closer to an album that has been a long time in the making.

Empire of the Clouds (US track 3!) pretty much sums up the definition of epic, and even when faced with other standard side-long prog tracks, it does NOT lack whatsoever.  There is plenty of pomp and circumstance, Stürm und Drang, as it were, and you know it’s going to be an absolute monster when there are keys and strings involved!  The introduction features a beautiful piano piece, and about a minute in we get some gorgeous violin work.  Two minutes in, we get some powerful vocals.  You don’t really hear your first taste of guitar until about three-and-a-half minutes in!  At the four-minute mark, things get decidedly heavier.  This one is positively hair-raising – I literally had gooseflesh during my first listening to it!  Again, plenty of lead guitar work to go around, and the big Nicko shift (7 minutes in) is interesting to say the least.  If one were to look in Webster’s (or the Oxford English Dictionary for those of us on this side of The Pond! – T’Gaffer) under ‘vocal prowess’, then there would be a big picture of Bruce there with this track!  There are transitions a-plenty as well, and at fifteen minutes in, you would swear we were listening to a different track again!  Towards the end, at about 17 minutes in, as the track begins to fade out, we get more of that ‘grand’ piano stuff.  This track in particular kind of says it all, and could even be indicative of a Maiden ‘formula’, if there were one!

So after 1600-odd words of my waffling at you, what do I think of The Book of Souls? Well, frankly I think it’s a continuation of a 40 year long career standard. There’s not many bands who can consistently turn out excellent albums. Iron Maiden are one of those bands. Longterm fans won’t be disappointed and new fans will be left wanting more. I’m rating this album 5/5 but only because Carl won’t let me rate it as an 11. (Just this once, I might let you do that, Suzi – T’Gaffer)

It’s been five years since The Final Frontier (which I have to admit was something of a disappointment).  The question that has to be asked is, “Has it been worth the wait?”  The answer has to be, and can only be in the affirmative.  If you’re going to call this a “comeback” album, it’s been the best return since Osiris.  This is a band that, even after nearly 40 years, are capable of working magic.  Not content with nostalgia trips, this is a band that is pushing forward and pushing forward hard.  It’s likely we will never see the like of Iron Maiden again, and the credit for that lies firmly in the hands of Steve “Bomber” Harris.  He put this band together.  He’s the lynchpin that holds this band together.  His drive, determination and sheer ability to pick exactly the right musicians to fit his vision have absolutely come to full fruition with The Book Of Souls.  Every single note played on this incredible record just proves that Iron Maiden are the greatest Heavy Metal band in the world.  Ever.

If you disagree, you’re wrong.  It’s as simple as that.  Full marks.  Album of the fucking DECADE.  UP THE IRONS!

For those of you whose musical orbit does not land in Maiden Land, this may NOT be for you.  However, for those of you who are about to Rock, as we all do from time to time, this is the stuff right here!  I am in complete agreement with my cohort, Suzi – at the very least, highest marks with two thumbs straight the hell up!

(P.S Maiden for Bloodstock 2016 alright? Please don’t let them Download, I don’t want to deal with the tweenagers)



Resin – Persecution Complex



Review by: Cat A

It’s been a while since I wrote a review, so when I put a call out on social media for a review suggestion I got my hands on Resin’s upcoming EP Persecution Complex.

You may have heard of Resin from the 2014 Metal 2 the Masses competition to play that year’s Bloodstock, and for very good reason as they won the thing and treated the New Blood Stage to a fantastic show, then went and totally owned the Jagermeister stage with an acoustic set. With tea and biscuits. There was a single release, there were some gigs, and then there was an awful announcement that the band was to be no more, even following all the success of the year.

But you’re writing about a new EP!” I hear you cry, and yes indeed I am. The vacancies were filled and a new look Resin were announced in February. More gigs, festivals and then the eagerly-awaited new music from the revamped band followed.

Okay, okay I’ll talk about the music now.  Persecution Complex opens with an irritatingly catchy riff (ie it’s got stuck in my head) as the introduction to Open Heart Trauma. It’s bluesy, it’s grungy, it’s one you can actually dance to. There is something about this track that gives me goosebumps with harmonies that get right to the heart (no pun intended). In fact I have just put it on again. For the fourth time in a row. You can have a listen to a bit of it yourself in the teaser below.

Following that is something of a darker feel . Printing Money sounds to me like something that should be played over a melancholic movie montage, when everything has gone awry for the protagonist and they’re sat in a bar wallowing.  Angel, the final track of Persecution Complex, is powerful. If you want a description, it’s like the best of 90s grunge. Again there are shivers and goosebumps as the lyrics “what have you turned me into?” are sung out in a gravelly tone that takes me right back to my college years. There’s a dark beauty to the song that can stir up emotion, so maybe it’s not one to listen to before a night out, but it sure as hell is one that I want to hear live.

Should you buy this EP? Well I would. Then I would make sure I’m at the front for one of their gigs, and then I’d go and buy a shirt or two. Music doesn’t have to be melt-your-face brutal to totally rock, and Resin in their latest incarnation are stepping up to the plate to show the rock and metal world that great things can come from what seems to be a dreadful situation. It’s difficult to believe that in the space of 6 months a lineup can come together and create an EP with as much power as Persecution Complex. Well played Resin, keep it up.


Chaos Frame – Paths to Exile


Nightmare Records

Review by Rick Ossian





Chaos Frame comes to us via the windswept prairie of the midwestern United States; St. Paul, Minnesota, to be more precise.  They have dubbed themselves ‘regressive‘ metal, which may seem contradictory to most, but to me it makes perfect sense.  After all, everyone else in their ‘genre’ seems to be satisfied with being referred to as ‘progressive‘ metal.  Well, either would seem appropriate in today’s genre-happy mixed up musical world.  Perhaps by being regressive CF are just making light of the whole situation. Who’s to say?  Let us move on to the important stuff, shall we?

Chaos Frame are about as regressive as it gets, and they have one powerful message to give to us.  Vocally, they have a sonic powerhouse in the shape of one Dave Brown.  Dave not only lets rip vocally somewhere in the sky next to the kings of the falsetto – he also brings it home and back down to the ground when the music calls for it.  Most of the time he is in the stratosphere, but then isn’t where a regressive metal vocalist should be?


Instrumentally, we have two duelling guitars that scream and wail, oftentimes in unison, though perhaps slightly disjointed.  Many times they both go off in search of the ultimate shred together, one taking a lead while the other rests/riffs, then swapping spots at the drop of a hat.  The guitarists in question are Matt Hodson and Andy Xiong.  Ably backing this dynamic duo are Aaron Lott on the bass guitar and Steve Bergquist on the drums.

Our first track up is Painful Lessons.  It opens with a lead jam, then some vocal effects.  This is very proggy, but let’s not forget that we’re trying to be regressive.  Just whose leg do these chaps think they’re pulling, anyway?  I smell PROG.  Energy – check.  Urgency – check.  Wicked vocal hooks – check.  Then, at about a minute in, the main riff/jam kicks in.  When the vocals return, Dave exhibits his range in the way that only he can – sky one moment, then grounded the next.  The lead guitar work seems to be part of the ultimate refrain, which is refreshing.  We do get brief bursts here and there, but nobody seems to be leaning on the shredding – also refreshing!  This is a powerful tune, and a good choice for an opener.  There is even a little lead at the end!

The title track, Paths to Exile, is up next.  This one is a real barn-burner, but a long epic to boot.  The intro is a thrashy double-thumping slam to your senses, and I’m digging the main riff with the sky vocals mixed in.  This is great stuff, with the energy just barely in check again.  I think one of the reasons I’m liking these guys so much is that, at the risk of sounding like so many others, they pour some extra passion into the mix and come up roses!  They could be Dream Theater, they could be Pagan’s Mind – they could even pose as my beloved Symphony X – but they are, instead, a big pile of heaping Chaos Frame – and that should be enough for all of us.  Vocally, Dave exhibits controlled righteous anger – but only just – he sounds like he could be threatening to let rip (literally) at any moment!  There are several guitar solos here, but as before they can be brutally brief.  Short but sweet, as we Americans are so fond of uttering.  The first is mixed with a sort of instrumental breakdown with HEAVY double-bass drum usage (4:15).  Then their is another (4:53).  Then, at about 5:50, there is a longer, shreddier, if you will, one that’s laid down very nicely.  At six-and-a-half minutes in we get an all-out jam, then another solo at 6:50.  The shift to the refrain at the close seems a bit disconnected, as the lyrics let on.  This track is nothing short of brilliant.  Small wonder it is the title tune!

Derceto must be some sort of prog-monster/demon, or something, as is evidenced by the mix of Cookie Monster vocal FX with the straight vocals – something, by the way, that I would NOT recommend.  Perhaps it is just me, but as I’ve mentioned before, I like to hear my vocalists actually SING, thank you very much.  I realize that I waffle considerably on this particular issue, and today I happen to be on the side of the fence wherein the straight singers reside…no offense to the growlies, of course!  The triumphant keys on here make me wonder if there is, indeed, a keyboard player – after all, there are only guitars, bass and drums listed as the main source of instrumentation.  Perhaps there is a bit of keyboard thrown in here and there…only the CF blokes know for sure!  This is thrashy prog, and the above-mentioned growls are indeed well done, but the straight vocals are better, in my opinion.   There is also the obligatory guitar solo at about three-and-a-half minutes in, but instead of remaining a mere shredding exercise it goes into vista-sky style (sorta bluesy).  The vocals at four minutes in remind us of Dave’s inimitable powers, and he throws in a scream at the outro, to remind us – as if we needed it!

Terra Firma also features a thrashy/proggy intro with heavy riffing and busy double-bass drumming.  Then things are airy, then power riffing with vocals.  There are several shifts here, and that is just within the first minute or so.  There is a shreddy lead solo at 3:40, and an instrumental breakdown of sorts at four-and-a-half minutes in.  Vocally, World Trade and TNT came to mind whilst I was listening.

Paper Sun features yet another heavy-as-fuck opener riff, with the killer vocal imprint all over the proceedings AGAIN – doesn’t Dave get tired of kicking ass?  It also includes a sort of keys solo at 4:20 that morphs into a saxophone, somehow – either that or these old ears are playing tricks on me.  There is a nice little shredding also at 4:40.  Lyrically, I was briefly captured aurally by this couplet: “Since you’ve been gone/ I wander the roads where you left me“.  Profound, right?  Romantic, no?  Perhaps.

Giantkiller is another lengthy, epic-y production with a classic prog-rock opening.  Everything is here again, by the way – the urgency, the energy, the brilliant, powerfully sky-rocketing vocals.  This bloke is obviously of hero status, as well.  Just check the lyrics if you don’t believe me: “For justice and the helpless/He’s the man who walks among the giants“.  At the 3:45 mark there is an instrumental breakdown that shifts slightly into a brief lead guitar bit, then there are more prophetic lyrics: “The only way to win the war/Straight down into the planet’s core“.  By the way, the drums are again very busy on this particular tune, and we get another couple of lead pieces as well.  Some shredding (4:15), plus riffage, and at 5 minutes in, more shredding that leads to traveling bluesy/rocky leads and riffs, then a lovely instrumental breakdown from around 6:45 to the close.  Absolutely brilliant.

Doomed starts out a bit doom and gloom (hence the name, right?), almost reminding one of Sabbath-esque riffing.  There is some seriously shredding riffage here again, and some wicked cool powerful vocals as well.  At 2:40 we hear yet another breakdown/shift of sorts (with vocals), an instrumental version at three-and-a-half minutes in, then a shred-fest with both guitars at the 4:20 mark.  How appropo!

At long last we arrive at the closer.  It has been a considerably long journey.  I would not deem our proceedings arduous, however.  I have thoroughly enjoyed this ride.  It seems only fitting that this, our last number, is the longest of the batch.  At almost 8 minutes, in length, one would be tempted to dub The World Has Two Faces as an epic.  It IS very tempting, because it is nothing if not an epic, musical journey.  We start out with keys/guitars PLUS drums and bass doing the heaviness-and-airiness at the same time thing…not sure how on earth they do that, but CF do it WELL!  The main riffing that comes in about 1:45-2:00 is heavy as fuck (again), and the doom factor creeps back in at about 3:20.  Busy drums – did I mention that?  At three-and-a-half minutes in there is a nice lead guitar bit.  At 3:50 they falter only slightly with some chanting/whoa oh oh’s (I like the 60’s/70’s as much as anyone, but I’m not sure this is the place for that).  It is repeated again at the 7-minute mark, oddly enough,.  At 4:20 there is something you don’t get to hear often in prog metal – we get spatial FX – guitar riffs moving from speaker to speaker – and if I can detect it on a little ol’ PC, just imagine how groovy it will sound on your stereos!  Both guitars positively shred at the 5 minute mark. Some proggy keys are happening at 5:20, and some nice vocals plus riffs at the 6-minute mark. There is an instrumental breakdown (broken record, Rick!) at 6:45.  Let’s see, does that about wrap it up?  Indeed it does!

Upon consideration of adding this piece to your listening library, do not focus strictly on what I have written.  It may indeed influence you to go out and purchase it instantly!  I have already decided to purchase my own copy to support these deserving blokes.  However, I think you should hear some first!  So, go to YouTube, punters!  Go to Facebook!  Go to your record store!  Just go, I tell you! Hear Chaos Frame, they will make you want to stand up and rock!



Pyramids on Mars – Echo Cosmic





Review by Rick Ossian

For those of you who did not know (myself included), Pyramids on Mars is a one-man operation.  Kevin Estrella, of Hamilton, Ontario, is the sole owner, operator, player, and evidently distributor of the brand as well.  He plays all guitars, basses, keyboards, drums, programming and FX.  He labels himself as ‘melodic instrumental rock, and that is exactly what he is.  However, for those of you who are thinking ‘oh there’s enough of that on the market already‘, perhaps you are correct.  I, for one, have heard some but would dearly love to hear more!  I highly recommend POM for anyone interested in listening to some pretty decent ‘cosmic’ widdling.  To even further clarify, if you like Joe Satriani‘s instrumental work, or can imagine, say, Steve Vai or Yngwie Malmsteen sans vocals, then this is for you!

Many of the tracks contained herein are merely exercises in six-string masturbation.  There are some that involve massive shredding, and there are those who merely noodle away ad nauseum.  There is even one track that is presented twice (I’ll never understand why artists insist on doing this).  The offending article here is the lead-off track, Dream Division, and for it’s second go-round we get to hear the ‘radio edit’ version.  Those of you who find yourselves already disgusted may as well shove off.  Things do get better, but patience is required… As Mr. Estrella explains in his description of himself and his tunes, this is very melodic.  It is also pretty heavy at times, and VERY shreddy (is that even a word?).  Any aspiring guitar players will probably really enjoy this stuff, until it comes time to map out the solos!


I was absolutely transported by this particular track, and several others, as you will hear/read if you choose to continue.  Whether or not one could be transported to Mars is entirely up to your own sets of ears.  Dream Division is entirely listenable, as are the rest of the tunes on offer, but only if you are into ‘melodic instrumental rock’.  By all means, please continue at your own risk.  This is Mr. Estrella‘s second effort, by the way, having released his eponymous debut in 2013.  I can only assume it contains more of the same.  Those of you who are interested are whole-heartedly invited to seek it out.

Battle For Rome is up next, and assaults our ears with a bass solo intro of sorts before delving off into a spacey keyboard-laden jam.  Synthesizers are not the order/instrument of the day, however, so don’t be disheartened if you are a 6-string (or 4-string) fanatic.  Estrella gets back to the string bending soon enough.  In fact, on most of the tracks here, the keys seem to be an ancillary instrument.  They decorate, they enhance, but they do not lead.  That duty is left to the guitars, of course.  BFR is, again, another shred-fest, as are all of the tunes on board.  Do not be dismayed, there is more…

Death Valley Driver starts out life as a helicopter/airplane FX vehicle (see what I did there?), then kicks into the drums and guitar.  The guitar could definitely be construed as heavy metal and/or hard rock, and, again, is entirely listenable, especially if one is into melody.  This particular track is more of a Star Wars/Star Trek sound-trek, if you will.  The lead guitar work goes way up high, into the sky, but I’m not sure if any of the work here could be deemed ‘guitar solo(s)’, as most of it IS a solo.  Pretty much every track starts out with Estrella soloing, and ends in the same manner.

Tribute starts out slow and mellow, almost dirge-like, in fact.  This is another exercise in shred, and is bluesy for the main part.

Heaven’s Gate features a heavy riff introduction, and is largely repetitive, particularly the rhythm(s).  This track, for me at least, smacked of Satch’s Surfing With the Alien period.

Sailing the Oceans of Neptune begins with what sounds like waves, then drums, then more heavy riffing at the outset.  This track is, like most of the others, one long solo.  Not that that is a bad thing, necessarily – just thought I would let you in on the ‘secret’.  There is some wah/crybaby on board here (yay!), and proceedings are more doom and gloom then before.  It is still pretty good, and one thing I noticed that, for some reason, the rhythm riffs kept threatening to lead up to Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Oh, Well’.  Perhaps Estrella really likes that one!

Spectre of Orion begins with more synths and a slashy slide guitar intro.  The synths actually pervade things here, which is a refreshing change.  More nice, heavy riffing at the outset, and again another shred-fest in the mid section.  This is sort of a spacey journey with lots of leads, for lack of a better description.  More riffing and synths at the close remind us that there is not a lot of variety in the general attitude of the music.  This could be considered derivative or repetitive, unless one is aurally inclined to groove on melodic instrumental stuff.

Order of the Freemasons is a whopping epic monster at just over eight minutes, and contains more of the same.  There is another synth-y intro, and portentous of doom and gloom.  There are monks (or demons?) chanting in the background, and other voices that chat at us briefly here and there.  There are also lots of leads, lots of cool riffing, and a general heaviness overall.  At the close we are asked; “Do you understand me?” by whom I can only assume is the protagonist.  There is more spacey percussion at the fade-out, and before you can say ‘bob’s your uncle’, we again find ourselves at the end of another track!

Occam’s Razor features more heavy-as-fuck riffing, a cool break beat on the drums, which kind of surprised me being placed where it was, but what the hell, right?  OR is spacey and melodic – starting to see a pattern developing here.  It is also heavy with riffing and we get a bass solo thrown in for good measure.

The closer, unless you include Version #2 of Dream Division, is the title track.  It is more of the same, although a bit drowsy compared to its predecessors.  There are voices assaulting us again, but there is still lots of shred to absorb, and it is still very good music.

In short, Echo Cosmic will delight your ears – but ONLY if you are into ‘instrumental melodic rock’.  That is all!


Symphony X – Underworld


Nuclear Blast Records

Review by Rick Ossian

Any of you who have already heard these cats KNOWS what they are capable of, so it should come as no surprise when I tell you that I was duly impressed by their latest release.  If you are a fan of the grandiose, the spectacle, the bombastic stuff – then ye need seek no further.  Symphony X are the epitome of the prog metal genre in my humble opinion.  They eat Dream Theater Crunchies for their morning tea, folks.  These blokes are NOT messing around, they seriously mean business!  Upon my hearing the first ‘single’ for release, Nevermore, I knew that the wait had been worth it.  It was in these very pages where you must surely have read my musings on their previous release, Iconoclast.  They have stepped up their game even more, which probably should have come as a surprise, but alas – it did not!  Paradise Lost was also a gem, but we are not focused on that particular rock at the moment.  Today we focus on the Underworld


The second ‘single’ release, Without You, is more of a ballad-style piece, but it also has its anger appeal factor, as we are blasted about midway through the track by a lead guitar solo par excellence from fretmeister Michael Romeo.  By the way, since we are doing a bit of name-checking, let us stop briefly and introduce the other key members involved here, shall we?  Those of you who are familiar with the Adrenaline Mob know of Russell Allen, who is the man behind the pipes.  Seldom have I heard a vocalist with such exuberance and skill(s) to match.  He is ably backed by Michael Lepond on bass and Jason Rullo on the drums.  The man tinkling the ivories is one Michael Pinella, and while not necessarily a Wakeman or Emerson, he is clearly in possession of some of the most innovative keyboard techniques I’ve ever heard.  The fellows who call themselves Symphony X are from Middletown, New Jersey.


Also on our listening list for this endeavour are the epic title track, not to mention seven other worthy titles; Kiss of Fire, Charon, To Hell and Back, In My Darkest Hour, Run With the Devil, Swan Song and Legend.  We also have the Overture at the beginning, which is mainly drums and monks chanting (of course), but there are also horns and violins and that sense of creepy cool on the synths that always makes people want more, you know.  At about the one-and-a-half minute mark the gents really rock out.

The title track is quite possibly the best example of trip-hammer drumming and double-time Maiden gallop I’ve heard in some time.  The main riff is a wicked one, and the vocals really don’t make their presence known until about a minute in.  At 4:20 all hell breaks loose musically, and then at 5 minutes in they go back to the main riff.

Kiss of Fire features more of the monks and drums, but a minute in and the gents are off to the races again with the main riff.  There is also a big riff at the intro, and more enormous riffage throughout.  At five-and-a-half minutes in there is a wickedly cool lead guitar solo.  It also seems that the bass, guitar and drums are busy as fuck!  The only thing that makes me wonder is what the hell are five schmucks from Jersey talking about the Winds of Charon for?  Oh, crap there I go profiling again!  After all, there ARE some smart folks in Jersey, right?  Just busting your balls, guys!

To Hell and Back is a very large and beautiful ballad with a nice tight intro and another awesome main riff.  Three minutes in there is a lead guitar solo, and at 4:30 there is also an instrumental breakdown.  The lyrical couplet at 5:30 calling for ‘no quarter to be given‘ is very Westeros, but it is also very genuine.  These guys have grand ambitions, and it seems that their chops are, at last, on equal with their musical goals!  At 7 minutes in, there is another guitar solo – in fact, Michael Romeo‘s fretprints are all over this number.

In My Darkest Hour, at least compared to most of these numbers, is short but sweet.  There is a slamming double-bass drum-fuelled intro and a neat guitar solo at 2:45.  Run With the Devil is also a heavy slammer with the opening seeming to be the moment when everyone’s interest is captured.  After all, intros ARE important.  If they can’t grab you within the first 10 seconds of the tune, most punters will bail.  Trust me, if a song starts out stupid, nobody wants to stay on board for the whole thing…To be fair, there is a total jam at the four-minute mark!

Swan Song, another of the longer beasties, is mellower than most of the music recorded here.  It features some beautiful piano work, some nice lyrics (But now you’ve gone/ And the swang song echoes on), and some wicked shredding at about the four-and-a-half minute mark.

Legend is a closer, and again the shredding and the drums and the slamming take hold like a nice-fitting glove.  Any of you out there who are into Symphony X need to immediately discover this piece.  It will not disappoint you!





Palace of the King – White Bird/Burn the Sky


Listenable Records(EU/UK)/Devil’s Music Records










Review by Rick Ossian

Upon first listening to this recording, I marvelled at the fact that it is, indeed, a debut.  I was sceptical at first, as I am upon hearing most debuts.  How dare they?, I find myself asking – how dare they be THIS good on their first time out?  How is it possible?  Trust me, dear readers – it is not only possible – it is nigh on likely that you won’t hear a better debut this year.  If you like music that rocks, then this is the debut for you.  If you like music that is dance-floor, back-alley club funky, then this may just be the funkiest cuppa you’ve heard/drank all year!  I know I sound enthusiastic, and anybody who is used to reading my drivel can tell you that I get pretty excited when I hear something I like it.  Hell, I’d be the first one to admit it.  I am not only enthused by this group, I am going to champion them every chance I get!

Every track within is not only funky, it is HEAVY.  So, if you are into the heavy funk, then this is a must-hear for you.  Take the opener, Take Your Medicine, for example.  Maybe you like the bass guitar, you say?  Then you NEED to hear this tune.  It is old-school 70’s style heavy metal boogie.  Imagine some early Foghat or Savoy Brown tail-gating The Answer to a fireworks stand and arriving simultaneously with a blast of Faces or Beggars Banquet-era Rolling Stones!  If you can somehow summon a picture like that, then you’re getting close!


Most of the tracks herein can be described with equal enthusiasm.  If you dig the funk from up above, then the track Another Thing Coming (NOT a Judas Priest cover, by the by) should titillate and fascinate in equal measures.  This tune features a driving, pumping , THUMPING solid beat – a total funk metal groove.  Though it is not the Priest cover that I was fully expecting, it is every bit as good.  Throw in the obligatory guitar solo (2:30) and you’ve got the rock song in a nice neat little package.  Albeit of Ramones-style length (2:47 overall), it is short AND sweet. If you can imagine a funky wicked synth groove with a kick, then this is what you’re about to hear!

I should probably put something in about your lovely lads before I go any further.  These Melbourne chaps are Tim Henwood (vocals, percussion), Leigh Maden and Matthew Harrison on guitar(s), Andrew Gilpin (VERY funky bass guitar), Anthony Troiano (drums) and Sean Johnston on keyboards.  As I mentioned earlier, this is, believe it or not, their debut LP.  Their bio says they are “steeped in bluesy swagger and riff-heavy psychedelia, this is rock and roll that leaves a trail of denim-clad soldiers and converted non-believers in its wake“.  Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Burn My Bridges brought the inherent excitement back to the fore again.  This is thumpity funking heavy again, this time almost grumpy, grungy, even doom and gloomy.  Kind of like a Sabbath/P-Funk slam at the intersection.  Nice riffs and a sweet, superfunky 60’s/70’s groove.  “I ain’t takin’ no more shit from you!“, bellows Tim.  We get the distinct impression that he means business.  This is some definitely Stoner-y stuff, too, featuring a psych breaking with a lead guitar solo AT THE SAME TIME!!  There is also a psych fade-out with feedback.  I would be willing to bet that you haven’t heard THAT for a while!

White Bird (Bring Your Armies Against Me) is another tune with a way cool riff intro and a solid rhythm pocket that keeps on kicking.  This track features a super-human stonking funky groove (AGAIN!), not to mention vocal and instrumental breakdowns and lead guitar solos – one even includes a marching drum roll (wow) at the same time.  About five minutes in they actually bring in a new riff after the breakdown, with another lead thrown in for good measure right towards the end.  What a great track!

Ain’t Got Nobody to Blame But Myself is yet another nut-busting, funkified power blast of a heavy metal groove.  I know, broken record Rick (right?), but I can’t think of a better way to describe it.  There is also some serious bad-assery going on in the bass guitar department, and oh yeah can’t forget the intro! If you like the old feel of a Hammond B3 organ ala Ken Hensley (Uriah Heep) or Jon Lord (Deep Purple), then you will absolutely dig this number!

Leave Me Behind is more of the same, only I would probably describe this as a mosh of several styles.  Namely, blues, rock, pop and heavy metal.  All at once, you might ask? Indeed, I would respond.  Tim keeps going on about how “I’ll be here in your rear view mirror“, but other than that lyrically not much to digest.  At 1:55 we get a brief saxophone solo, but we all need a little brass in our lives, right?

Devil’s Daughter is another super funky romp through some old heavy metal stylings.  This one also features nice and tight vocal harmonies (I was reminded of a track title in particular here, just for the overall feel of the tune – Good Rockin’ Tonight!).  This is bluesy rock with funky riffs, and also includes an instrumental breakdown about two minutes in.  Live, this track would be an absolute showcase for the bass guitar and the keyboards.  There is a lovely guitar solo at 2:30.  I was reminded of several acts here – the Answer in particular (again), Cry of Love and Tangier.

Get Back Up (Burn the Sky) is another healthy, funked-up riffy number.  There is a bluesy metal harmonica on board this one, and I noted to myself how this one would be another great showcase for the keyboards were it to be played live in concert.  Another funkified rock number very much in the blues/funk of the 60’s and 70’s.

If It Ain’t Broke featured a sort of back-alley beat/sweet intro à la Humble Pie or an updated Faces swagger (again I was reminded of The Answer as well).  “Don’t change a thing/why would you mess that up?” Tim asks us. Indeed, why?  One lead guitar solo (2:40) and an instrumental breakdown – mainly guitar – later, and we are almost finished.  This is a blues, barroom boogie style number, with the keys and the bass to the fore again.  We get to hear everybody jam on the fade out, which is a cool trick if you can pull it off.

No Chance In Hell struck me as an interesting tune – not only is it another funk-heavy beat boogie, it is about something we ALL go through during our primary years…I know I did when I was in junior high and high school.  This is about the one that got away, the one that we thought was out of our league…get the picture?  The models, the wannabe actresses, the ones they always feature in the underwear ads!  It is a heavy slammer, and I was reminded of Status Quo for some reason.  Probably the boogie aspect!  We get an instrumental breakdown again (of course), and the obligatory guitar solo (2:50), but that is beside the point!  What we get with this set of tracks is far beyond anything that I could tell you about – even as excited as I am- in a simple review.  This is one of those missives that BEGS to be heard – to be listened to!  Please do so, and you will NOT be disappointed! Enjoy!