• 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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  • 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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Black Label Society - CATACOMBS OF THE BLACK VATICAN

Image: Black Label Society, Catacombs Of The Black Vatican, Pitriff, Review, Classic MetalBlack 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 of the world of guitar playing.  If Zakk has a habit though, it's to release an album that's dull every once in awhile.  It doesn't happen all the time, but it certainly has been known to happen.  SHOT TO HELL was pretty lame, and 1919 ETERNAL was a little too full of concept instead of substance.  Still, the last two releases, ORDER OF THE BLACK and the acoustic THE SONG REMAINS NOT THE SAME left me thinking that Wylde was back to his creative best, and caused a lot of anticipation for his latest.  Unfortunately, CATACOMBS OF THE BLACK VATICAN just doesn't measure up.  Slow, plodding and mid-tempo, the word that comes to mind throughout is boring.

If you are a BLS fan as I am, you won't hate this release.  All the elements of a traditional BLS release are here.  Zakk sings as he always does (although it's really time for him to stop singing through his nose and get back to the more gritty vocal style from the beginning of his career with BLS).  The songs are all melodic and simple.  The guitar playing?  As always, it's great with some truly standout solos mixed in here and there.  Without question, this release's best track is "Believe"; a midtempo rocker that's not only cool, but contains one of those trademark Wylde guitar blasts in the middle for good measure.  Other songs, like the first single "My Dying Time" will probably surprise a few people with the fact that there are no pinch harmonic squeals anywhere in the song (which, by my count, is the first time EVER on a studio track from Zakk in BLS or Ozzy).

Unfortunately though, that's really where the good words have to stop.  Not that there's any truly "bad" songs on CATACOMBS, but there's just nothing much that stands out at all.  So much of this release is midtempo and boring that it's just not a lot of fun to listen to.  It seems like since the success of "In This River", Wylde goes back to that writing well over and over again with further degraded results every time.  Listening to songs like "Angel Of Mercy", you just hear it as a b-version of "In This River".  Again, a great guitar solo in the break, but that's about the extend of it's goodness.  Further CATACOMBS just doesn't have enough ragers on it.  Songs like "Heart Of Darkness" try to be, but they never get all the way there.  The pace is just too slow.

PITRIFF RATING - 50/100 - Definitely a disappointment coming off of ORDER OF THE BLACK to say the least.  CATACOMBS OF THE BLACK VATICAN is one of those releases that you might give a listen every now and again if you are a fan of Black Label Society, and it's not likely to chase any fans away.  At the same time though, it's not going to really serve to feed those current chapter members of the SDMF.  There' a lot of great soloing here, but it's mixed into some fairly dull music.

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

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