• Sammy Hagar - LITE ROAST

    Image: Sammy Hagar, Lite Roast, NonMetal, Review Sammy Hagar
    LITE ROAST

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    I get it. You are Sammy Hagar. You've seen huge success in virtually every world you've entered. In music, he was the main focus of Montrose. He parlayed that into a very successful solo career. That wasn't enough, so he joined the world's largest band at the time (Van Halen), and took them to commercial heights that even they

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  • Cavalera Conspiracy - PANDEMONIUM

    Image: Cavalera Conspiracy, Pandemonium, Pitriff, Death Metal, Review Cavalera Conspiracy
    PANDEMONIUM

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    There's always good news and bad news whenever Max Cavalera gets busy with new music. The good is that you get a whole lot of new music, seemingly all in a very short time. The bad news is it's generally spotty at best, because he simply writes and releases too much music at the same time. His band Soulfly released

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  • Slipknot - .5 THE GRAY MATTER

    Image: Slipknot, .5 The Gray Matter, Pitriff, CD Review, Modern Metal Slipknot
    .5 THE GRAY MATTER

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    With a ton of speculation and even more wonderment on this band's ability to continue on without founding members Paul Gray and Joey Jordison, Slipknot has returned after far too long of a layoff with .5 THE GRAY MATTER. I've listened to this release multiple times a day for the last week or so that I've had it,

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  • Opeth - PALE COMMUNION

    Image: Opeth, Pale Communion, Pitriff, Review, Progressive Metal Opeth
    PALE COMMUNION

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    Opeth simply fails as a band, at least to me. While I'll admit to never fully understanding the amazement and awe so many have for this band, I've appreciated them from afar. I've listened, and I've at least wrapped my head around what they were trying to do. Their fusing of death metal with progressive elements always made for an

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  • Cannibal Corpse - A SKELETAL DOMAIN

    Cannibal Corpse, A Skeletal Domain, Review, Death Metal Cannibal Corpse
    A SKELETAL DOMAIN

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    So really, what does anyone expect when you get a Cannibal Corpse release handed to you? Ballads, love songs and fun? Not hardly. There's an expectation of severe brutality which the band delivers time and time again. Certainly, it comes with different levels of acceptance to one's ears, but ultimately the only thing that matters if it says

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  • Exodus - BLOOD IN, BLOOD OUT

    Image: Exodus, Blood In Blood Out, Pitriff, Review, Thrash Metal Exodus
    BLOOD IN, BLOOD OUT

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    Unless you call Testament a "thrash band" (which I don't personally), Exodus would rank as my favorite true Thrash band of all time. They have had good times and bad. Occasionally, like on FABULOUS DISASTER, they have misstepped along the way. But overall, they are one of the true powerhouses in the history of thrash metal. Since 2004

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  • Mr. Big - ...THE STORIES WE COULD TELL

    Mr. Big, The Stories We Could Tell, Reviews, Classic Metal, Chris Akin, Pitriff Mr. Big
    ...THE STORIES WE COULD TELL

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    As a fan of Mr. Big, I can't honestly say that many people thought that their reunion was much more than a cash grab opportunity for the guys in the band who, while immensely talented, failed to find solo success to match their collaborative efforts. It was never a question of if they could still play.

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  • Slash - WORLD ON FIRE

    Image: Slash, Myles Kennedy, Conspirators, World On Fire, Pitriff, review, classic metal Slash
    WORLD ON FIRE

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    Hey Gene Simmons. The corpse of rock n' roll just had a baby. That baby is not an average baby at all. That baby was not stillborn, but came out kicking and screaming with an intensity rarely seen. This baby is destined for greatness. This infant is out to prove you wrong. While your days of spitting fire and

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  • Davey Suicide - WORLDWIDE SUICIDE

    Image: Davey Suicide, Worldwide Suicide, Pitriff, Reviews, Modern Metal Davey Suicide
    WORLDWIDE SUICIDE

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    I had the pleasure of working directly with Davey Suicide as he prepped his debut release a few years ago for release. I got to work with him on some promotional stuff, some publicity stuff, his website and a lot more of that kind of stuff. In that work, I quickly found him to be far more than the

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  • Ministry - LAST TANGLE IN PARIS

    Image: Ministry, Last Tangle In Paris, Pitriff, Review, Industrial Metal Ministry
    LAST TANGLE IN PARIS

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    Al Jourgensen of Ministry has been threatening to take his ball and go home for a long time now. Quite frankly, I'm not sure I believe that he'll ever retire. Every time he says he's retiring, he seems to come right back with more music that's stronger, meaner and just better than anything in his past. Being quite

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  • Kix - ROCK YOUR FACE OFF

    Image: Kix, Rock Your Face Off, Classic Metal, Pitriff, Review Kix
    ROCK YOUR FACE OFF

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    Kix might just be the last of the '80's bands to release new material. By now, it seems like everybody else you could name from the glory days of yesteryear has made a stab at making music in the new millennium. Of course, a lot of them, we wish they hadn't, and just left us to our misty-eyed

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Ugly Kid Joe - STAIRWAY TO HELL

Image: Ugly Kid Joe, Stairway To Hell, pitriff, interview, cd review, news, heavy metalUgly Kid Joe
STAIRWAY TO HELL

Ugly Kid Joe was one of my very favorite bands of the later hair band era.  They got massively popular off a song that, to me anyway, wasn't very good ("Everything About You"), but they backed it up with three albums that really kicked ass (AMERICA'S LEAST WANTED, MENACE TO SOBRIETY and the hugely overlooked MOTEL CALIFORNIA).  With much better than average musicianship, and attitude filled lyrics that were literally spit at the listener, Ugly Kid Joe were the original "anti-hair band" hair band of the era.  It didn't last too long though, and before we knew it, they were gone.  Vocalist Whit Crane bounce around in bands like Life Of Agony and Medication, before joining up with former UKJ bandmate and drummer Shannon Larkin in Another Animal.  Larkin also found a career in a little band called Godsmack.  Dave Fortman put down his guitar and put on his producer's cap, working with tons of bands from Superjoint Ritual to Otep, among others.  In short, their youthful success led several guys to other careers in music.

That said though, they have reconvened Ugly Kid Joe for a project that, ultimately, kind of proves that you can't go back to your youth when you've changed everything that you do since then.  To be very clear here, STAIRWAY TO HELL is not a terrible EP on any level at all.  The songs are cool, and it's a pretty good listen.  But it's not the same band...not even close.  These guys today are not nearly as focused on thumbing their nose at authority as they used to be.  To be honest, they just sound different too...every different.  Most of this material sounds closer to the Another Animal disc than it does to any of the old Ugly Kid Joe music.  Crane has developed tenfold as a singer, and that results in a vocal performance that doesn't feature a ton of the snarling sound he had in the old days.  The only song that truly sounds like the old Whit is "You Make Me Sick", where he snarls through the entire track.  For most of the material though, Crane utilizes more of a clean vocal that he showcased in all his other professional projects.  He does revisit the old sound in the chorus of "I'm Alright", but it's bookended again by the clean vocal.

The same can be said about the music.  While certainly a lot has changed in the musical landscape since their heyday, this material is just outside the style that most people would expect from Ugly Kid Joe.  The performance is a LOT cleaner than the dirty raw sound the band was known for.  That probably has a lot to do with Fortman's extensive studio know how and the clean, modern studio experience that Larkin brings to the table after a decade in one of the world's most successful rock bands.  Still, it leaves a project that simply doesn't feel like what you would expect to find with the "Ugly Kid Joe" name on it.

PITRIFF RATING - 72/100 - I really wanted this to be better than it is.  Instead, Ugly Kid Joe prove that time and life apart completely changes the chemistry of a band.  Definitely not a bad release, but certainly this doesn't feel anything like the band that brought such attitude filled songs like "God", "Sandwich"  and "Neighbor".

Chris Akin

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