• 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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Icarus Witch - RISE

Image: Icarus Witch, Rise, Pitriff, Heavy MetalIcarus Witch
RISE

It's been a decade of growth, development, change and experimentation for the guys in Pennsylvania's Icarus Witch.  The band that exists today simply would not have written albums like CAPTURE THE MAGIC or SONGS FOR THE LOST.  Being completely honest, it just seems like a completely new band.  Not only has this band gone through numerous member changes (I think they are the modern day Spinal Tap as I believe they are on drummer #5), but those new members have all instilled creative changes to where the music is different from what was first experienced.  If your first taste of Icarus Witch is RISE, you would never suspect that this was once a traditional metal/power metal band only a few years ago.  That said, it's doubtful you'd be disappointed either.

RISE is, by far, the most commercially friendly and accessible release that Icarus Witch has ever written.  The reasons for the more commercial sound are many, but they start with new vocalist Christopher Shaner.  Where their previous singer was decidedly old school in every way (delivery, actual voice...even his look), Shaner is a much more modern looking and sounding vocalist who has seemingly taken Icarus Witch to a new place.  Not that their old singer couldn't sing, but Shaner simply has a more "ready for the big time" sound to his voice.  To me, he sounds like a very polished version of Tom Englund from Evergrey.  Hearing him sing on songs like "Coming Of The Storm", you can't help but think this song would play well on commercial radio.

Shaner is hardly the only difference maker on RISE.  Guitarist Quinn Lukas sounds like a completely different player on RISE.  Gone are the big, flailing power metal riffs.  They've been replaced with a more blues oriented, arena-like crush.  Tracks like the moody "In The Dark" showcase a whole new side of both Lukas and this band.  Along with fellow guitarist Dave Watson, the guitar sound on RISE is greatly improved over their previous work.  While these guys can't ever seem to keep a drummer, they always find a way to keep the bottom end strong.  Bassist Jason Myers and drummer Tom Wierzbicky lay down a thick, driving foundation on songs like "Last Call For Living" and "(We Are) The New Revolution".

Musicianship is easy to write about, but the difference between the band's past work and RISE has little to do with the skill of the performances.  To the contrary, it has everything to do with a decided growth in the songwriting within the band.  Icarus Witch has grown by leaps and bounds since 2010's DRAW DOWN THE MOON was released.  Hearing songs like "Nothing Is Forever", you realize that there's a certain amount of grace and development that simply wasn't there on previous efforts.  Song-wise, RISE is a monumental step forward for these guys.

PITRIFF RATING - 92/100 - RISE is, without question, the most challenging release Icarus Witch has produced to date.  My bet is that it will put off some of the old schoolers that keep the band in heavy rotation between Symphony X and Dokken in their iPods, but the band had to pretty much be ready for that by trying something so decidedly different from their past efforts.  Could this be the release that breaks this band?  It definitely could.  The songwriting is strong enough, and the musicianship is stonger than they've ever shown.  Icarus Witch is definitely on the rise with this release.

Chris Akin

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