THE ULTIMATE DECEPTION
Not being the biggest fan of death metal hybrid bands of any kind, let alone bands that try to fuse black metal and goth together, I didn't have a whole lot of great expectations for THE ULTIMATE DECEPTION by long time Florida metallers Wykked Wytch. To be honest, I wasn't really looking forward to listening to it. To be even more honest, the only reason I decided to listen to this was because of the lineage of the past members of the band. This band has seen some great musicians come through it - especially on drums where both Kevin Talley and Richard Christy have chaired the kit at some point. Imagine my surprise when this release turned out to be pretty much an unstoppable brutality train.
WOLFSBANE SAVE THE WORLD
I've been disappointed with many releases over the years...and this is one of them. Clearly one of my favorites, I expect better from Blaze Bayley. To be clear, I've thoroughly enjoyed almost all of his solo material. SILICON MESSIAH is one of those albums that I ensure never leaves my IPod, my phone and whatever other listening device I might use when I leave the house. While I didn't care for his Iron Maiden stuff (like, well, everyone else), I have always thought it was just a bad fit for his style.
THE AGE OF REMIX HELL
I like Mark Hunter. I consider him a friend, and I'm pretty sure he considers me as a friend as well. That said, "what the fuck, bro?"
Maybe I'm just getting old and am no longer in tune with what the kids want to hear today. I get that. I understand that this whole Dubstep crazy is in right now. I get that today's kids are just as content to listen to the work of a DJ that never touches an instrument as they might be to an actual band that plays their instruments and creates their music organically. I get all that. I just don't get why.
XI: THE DAYS BEFORE TOMORROW
To say the least, Lillian Axe continuing on must just be the mission of guitarist Steve Blaze. Certainly, even he would have to admit that the band has suffered it's share of setbacks over the last few years. With five years of seemingly a new vocalist fronting the band for each release, it's just been tough to get continuity as a band for Blaze and company. For THE DAYS BEFORE TOMORROW, they even had to switch albums mid-cycle when former Metal Church vocalist Ronnie Munroe left the band. Still, they have carried on.
When it comes to power metal bands out there that a lot of people don't know but should, Mystic Prophecy jumps right to the top of the list. Their albums are consistently excellent, with their SATANIC CURSES being a tremendous effort that's still in steady rotation in my IPod almost 5 years after it was released. With every band though, when you set the bar extremely high, you have that moment where you fall back a little bit. Being fair here, I do really like RAVENLORD, but it's simply not as good as their past releases. It's solid, but probably the worst of their catalog.
A EULOGY FOR THE DAMNED
It took five long years, but seemingly those years were well spent away by Orange Goblin. Since HEALING THROUGH FIRE came out in 2007, the band has seemingly rediscovered themselves, which is a very good thing. That last album was almost the death of the band, as they nearly completely abandoned their stoner metal heritage and dumbed down their sound to become a typical metal band. Thankfully, those five years since then have seemingly reminded these guys of their roots. They are back with what might be the strongest album of their career.
Unlike most metalheads, I think I'm somewhat sacrilegious when it comes to my non-appreciation of Venom. They are one of two acts that I know are just worshipped in the metal community, but I simply do not get the appeal at all (the other being King Diamond). That being said, I had very little expectation for a new Venom release, and yet, they came though with what is a fairly solid effort.
LAND OF THE CRIMSON DAWN
One of the most difficult things there is to do when reviewing power metal bands is to find the slight variations in the sound from band to band. While I'm definitely a fan of the genre, it is the most defined sound of all the subgenres of metal. Let's face it - each and every song has a fast drum beat that rides underneath fast riffs which create a galloping sound to the music. In short, if you can listen to a power metal album from start to finish and you never tap out the "da da dum da da dum" beat on the table in front of you, then the music is probably not very good.