• Texas Hippie Coalition - RIDE ON

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

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    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
    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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Benedictum - OBEY

Images: Obey, Benedictum, Heavy Metal, Hard Rock, PitriffBenedictum
OBEY

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Some bands just don't get the love they deserve from metal fans around the world.  One of those bands is Benedictum.  In a large way, I put them in the same bucket as an artist like Jorn Lande.  Musically, they are continually stronger than most of the trendy dreck that's out there, but they are constantly overlooked for reasons that are just not fair to them.  With Lande, he's got the stigma of sounding like Dio (which, to be fair to the metal fans out there he helped to perpetuate) which has led people to not take him as seriously as an individual artist as his music demands.  With Benedictum, I'm quick to believe that the imagery of the beautiful and voluptuous Veronica Freeman does more harm than good, as the dumb metal stereotype of "chicks don't rock" will cause some to not give Benedictum a fair shake.  For those metalheads, I can only say, "your loss, dumbass".  As a band that simply gets better with each and every effort, Benedictum has created their best release yet with OBEY.  Full of speed, heaviness and frenetic energy that is far above their previous releases, OBEY has high jumped the bar the band previously set with DOMINION, and cleared it by a mile.

While most focus on vocalist Veronica Freeman when talking about Benedictum (with cause, she's not only the leader of the band but also amazingly talented in her own right), the focal point of OBEY is guitarist Pete Wells.  While playing without the false benefit of downtuning to make him sound heavy, Wells is a behemoth on guitar throughout OBEY.  His riffs on the title track are blasting.  On "Fighting For Your Life", Wells' riff drives the song as it interweaves old school thrash with a bit of more modern metal changes in the bridges of the song.  It's subtle in the way he does it, but it's one of the most recognizable signatures of not only this song, but of Wells' overall style.  It's clear the guy grew up listening to the greats, but unlike so many, he didn't stop growing as a player in 1990.  His work on OBEY is amazing.

The band plays an equally impressive part supporting Wells.  Bassist Aric Avina and drummer Rikard Stjernquist are the basement of this band; a rock solid foundation that does far more than just drive each song forward for Wells and Freeman.  They sound great on OBEY; specifically Stjernquist who takes songs like "Scream" and showcases both a soft, subtle beat at time and a titanic sized thump when the song gets cranked back up.  He and Avina team throughout and play brilliantly off each other.

This leads us to Freeman.  Knowing that she was working on a solo album at the same time she was crafting OBEY, it's not surprising that she comes to the table this time with some new vocal ideas.  Songs like "Fighting For Your Life" and "Fractured" find Freeman trying sounds other than her fiery deep vocals and patented screams.  There are times when Freeman is a bit softer in her delivery throughout OBEY, although I would not say there's a moment where you'd mistake her vocal sound as "going soft" or overly feminine.  To be blunt, you won't be mistaking anything here on OBEY for music by Kesha or Lady Gaga any time soon.  She's still all metal, and songs like the biting "Evil That We Do" or the interesting duet with ex-Black Sabbath vocalist Tony Martin called "Cry" will convince you of that.

More than any other release in this band's career to date, OBEY is not as much about the parts as it is about the collective sum of the individuals in the band.  In short, they simply wrote better songs than in the past.  "Retrograde" is, without question, the very best song Benedictum has crafted to date.  I'll compare it to a song that only you hardcores will even know and only about half of you will appreciate, but this song reminds me of "The Raging Storm" by WASP from their NEON GOD, PART 1 release.  It does so not so much in the overall sound (ultimately they don't sound the same), but in the way it builds up and explodes with emotion and pain.  "Retrograde" has this same characteristic.  With most of the other material on OBEY, the impact is more direct and fast, but with "Retrograde", you get the biggest example of their growth as songwriters as a band.

PITRIFF RATING - 94/100 - Definitely a contender for the top spot on my Top 20 list their year, OBEY continues to improve on the winning formula that has made them one of the best, and yet completely unheralded, bands out there today.  Benedictum is a band that many have yet to discover.  All I can offer to you if you are one of them is, "stop waiting and get it."  There;s too few great bands out today to miss the really good ones.

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.

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Read Reviews and Excerpts from LITTLE VICTORIES: A TALE OF DIVORCE, DEBAUCHERY AND FINDING HAPPINESS HERE!

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