• Wretch - WARRIORS

    Image: Wretch, Warriors, Review, Power Metal, Chris Akin, Pitriff Wretch


    There's an unwritten rule that I rarely follow here in Cleveland. That rule is that if a band is from Cleveland, I'm supposed to write all glowing things or else be called a hater by the local community. It's sad that it's like that, but the truth is what it is. For years I've lived with that stigma, to the point

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  • Machine Head - BLOODSTONE & DIAMONDS

    Image: Machine Head, Bloodstone & Diamonds, Pitriff, Review, Thrash Metal Machine Head


    What happened to Machine Head really is a crime. Unfortunately for them, it's a crime they perpetrated upon themselves. With a mistake so many made in their youth, this band singlehandedly torpedoed themselves from ascending to the heights in metal held by only the select few like Metallica and Megadeth before them. After THE MORE THINGS CHANGE came

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  • Nashville Outlaws - TRIBUTE TO MOTLEY CRUE

    Image: Nashville Outlaws, Motley Crue Tribute Nashville Outlaws


    With the music industry pretty much dead anymore, nothing really comes off as shocking. After all, you have very desperate companies trying to hang on and make money from an industry that has about as much relevance today as the typewriter ribbon makers of the world still do. The current trend for the last half decade

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  • Texas Hippie Coalition - RIDE ON

    Image: Texas Hippie Coalition, Ride On, Heavy Metal, Hard Rock, Review, Classic Metal Texas Hippie Coalition


    I tell this story often, but it's one of my favorites of the past year. I had the chance to interview the Texas Hippie Coalition earlier this year at Rock On The Range in Columbus, Ohio. I was in a small tent with a bunch of photographers. The tent was fairly quiet really, as the much bigger adjacent

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  • Sammy Hagar - LITE ROAST

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


    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


    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


    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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Icarus Witch - RISE

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

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

Image: Cause/Effect Metallica, Chris Akin

A look at one of the most polarizing, iconic and best selling albums of all time from author, rock critic and shock jock radio host Chris Akin.


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The shockingly honest and emotional first book from radio personality and rock critic Chris Akin.

CLICK HERE to learn more about LITTLE VICTORIES.

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Available January 13th in Paperback and Digital Formats on Amazon and iTunes.

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