• Black Label Society - CATACOMBS OF THE BLACK VATICAN

    Image: Black Label Society, Catacombs Of The Black Vatican, Pitriff, Review, Classic Metal Black Label Society
    CATACOMBS OF THE BLACK VATICAN

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    When Zakk Wylde decides to release new music, the metal world definitely stops for a moment and listens. They may not like it all, but they do listen. It's a testament to how unbelievable the man is on guitar; a true legend who stands shoulder to shoulder with the Eddie Van Halen's and Dimebag Darrell's

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  • Lacuna Coil - BROKEN CROWN HALO

    Image: Lacuna Coil, Broken Crown Halo, Review, Modern Metal, Pitriff Lacuna Coil
    BROKEN CROWN HALO

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    It's not really much of a secret that two of my favorite bands out there today are fronted by ladies. Those two bands are Halestorm and Lacuna Coil. While it took me awhile to latch onto Halestorm, Lacuna Coil was a band that I latched on the very first time I heard them. I remember getting a sampler

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  • Sevendust - TIME TRAVELERS & BONFIRES

    Image: Sevendust, Time Travelers & Bonfires, Review, Modern Metal, Pitriff Sevendust
    TIME TRAVELERS & BONFIRES

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    Sevendust are really a band for the fans, and the fans are definitely always there for the band. Case in point - their latest release TIME TRAVELERS & BONFIRES. This release is one paid for by the latest trend hitting the music business, pre-funding by the fans to pay for a project. The band asked for a lot for

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  • Various Artists: Ronnie James Dio - THIS IS YOUR LIFE

    Image: Dio, This Is Your Life, Pitriff, Review, Classic metal Various Artists
    RONNIE JAMES DIO: THIS IS YOUR LIFE

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    As much as I want to take this at face value, it's hard to not at least wonder just how many times Wendy Dio is going to visit the Dio well and mine more material culled from his past work. There's already been multiple live releases, deluxe reissues, an officially sanctioned band playing the

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  • Red Reign - CHASING SHADOWS

    Image: Red Reign, Chasing Shadows, Pitriff, Review, Classic Metal Red Reign
    CHASING SHADOWS

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    It's not very often that a band that has zero backing behind it sweeps in and just monopolizes my listening time. Generally, bands like Red Reign get 30 seconds as I quickly scan through their music and I'm on to something else that I'm getting pressured to review by a publicist. For Red Reign, I was asked to review

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  • Steel Panther - ALL YOU CAN EAT

    Image: Steel Panther, All You Can Eat, The Classic Metal Show Steel Panther
    ALL YOU CAN EAT

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    They certainly are the joke that just keeps on being retold and being funny, now aren't they? I'm sure there's a lot less people that remember them as Metal Shop, Metal Skool or even way back to the Danger Kitty days, but a whole lot more people have discovered this band since they adopted the name Steel

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  • Sebastian Bach - GIVE 'EM HELL

    Sebastian Bach, Give 'Em Hell, Pitriff, CD Review Sebastian Bach
    GIVE 'EM HELL

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    It seems like every time Sebastian Bach releases new music, the first thought that comes to my mind is "this dude comes off like a douchebag ALOT in interviews, but he just kicks ass musically." Amazing how that comes back around. Baz is back, and he's been saying some interesting things in recent interviews. Yet, just ignoring that

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  • Gamma Ray - EMPIRE OF THE UNDEAD

    Image: Gamma Ray, Empire Of The Undead, Pitriff, CD Review, Power Metal Gamma Ray
    EMPIRE OF THE UNDEAD

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    My affinity for Gamma Ray really predates the band itself, as it's much more of an appreciation for the vocal work of singer Kai Hansen. Be it with Gamma Ray or his legendary work with his previous band Helloween, Hansen has always been not only one of the most elite vocalists in power metal in my eyes,

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  • Vandenberg's MoonKings - VANDENBERG'S MOONKINGS

    Image: Vandenberg's Moonkings, Pitriff, Classic Rock, Classic Metal Vandenberg's MoonKings
    VANDENBERG'S MOONKINGS

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    Adrian Vandenberg and Jake E. Lee have seemingly the same career path. Both were great in super huge bands (Vandenberg in Whitesnake, Lee in Ozzy), recorded even better material when they broke away (Lee with Badlands, Vandenberg with Manic Eden), and then both walked away and just left music behind for awhile. Now, both are back. Lee's Red Dragon

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  • Pilgrim - II: VOID WORSHIP

    Image: Pilgrim, Void Worship, Pitriff, doom metal, review Pilgrim
    II: VOID WORSHIP

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    In the epic world of doom metal, there are a lot of pretenders. There are only a few that are truly authentic though. Pilgrim is one of the most authentic I think I've ever heard. Their grinding, slow moving sludge is such from which legends put on this Earth to slay anyone or anything in it's path. Made up

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  • Hatecore Inc. - NO HOPE, NO ESCAPE VOL. 1

    Image: Hatecore Inc, No Hope, No Escape Vol 1, Pitriff, Review Hatecore, Inc.
    NO HOPE, NO ESCAPE VOL. 1: WELCOME TO MY WAR

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    Being from the Cleveland area, I've seen a lot of bands get ignored for whatever reason. On the national side of things, most people look at bands north of Columbus as being from "Cleveland". Unfortunately though, that's not how it works. For as long as I've been in this scene, there

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  • KXM - KXM

    Image: KXM, George Lynch, Dug Pinnick, Ray Luzier, Pitriff KXM
    KXM

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    Some points of clarity before I write a single world about the new project KXM, in order that this review is understood and evaluated fairly by anyone reading it. This project features three guys - Dug Pinnick of King's X, George Lynch of Dokken and Lynch Mob fame, and Ray Luzier who is currently the drummer for Korn. Out of fairness, I'll

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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.

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