• Wretch - WARRIORS

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

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    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
    BLOODSTONE & DIAMONDS

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    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
    A TRIBUTE TO MOTLEY CRUE

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    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
    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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Review - Jeff Loomis

Image: Jeff Loomis, Plains Of Oblivion, Pitriff, heavy metal reviews, newsJeff Loomis
PLAINS OF OBLIVION

It didn't seem like a coincidence that after the critical praise Jeff Loomis received from his last release, ZERO ORDER PHASE, that he left his main project Nevermore shortly afterward.  Admittedly, I have no idea how the story goes.  I don't know if Loomis was unhappy in Nevermore and was feeling out his options outside of the project, or if he just did a solo album and saw he could have success outside of the band.  To be fair, it might just have all fallen into place without either of those two scenarios playing out.  Whatever the case, Loomis left Nevermore a while ago, and now that puts all the pressure on his latest album, PLAINS OF OBLIVION, to launch his new career past the great band he was once a member of.

To be clear here, it can be argued that Jeff Loomis is the very best modern guitarist out today.  Sure, some will argue that point, but there really is no denying that Loomis' skills are about a zillion times more profound than 99.99% of the players out there today.  That said though, great guitar players don't always make great albums.  You need to look no further than Yngwie J. Malmsteen's career to see that firsthand.  Loomis though, at least on PLAINS OF OBLIVION, has created one of the single most monumental guitar-focused albums I've ever listened to.  PLAINS OF OBLIVION is a literal clinic of guitar perfection.

I think what makes PLAINS OF OBLIVION so much better than the average album from the virtuosos out there (Satriani, Vai, Johnson, Bonamassa, etc.), is that Loomis has not given up any of the heavy, thick sound for which he's so well known.  In short, a lot of the riffs you hear on PLAINS OF OBLIVION could easily have been the underpinnings of Nevermore songs, and some parts are even heavier than the framework that band defined for Loomis.  To listen to songs like "Escape Velocity", the bulk of the song feels like a Nevermore track.  That is, until Loomis replaces the vocal track with some of the single most blistering guitar work he's ever played.  This song also features a great near acoustic interlude in the middle that separates the two halves of intensity that could stand as the most proficient playing in Loomis' entire career.  To say Loomis' playing is masterful throughout is the equivalent of saying that the sun might keep you warm.  Tracks like the vocally led "Tragedy and Harmony" would have, without question, converted nicely to his old band's music.  The dichotomy of Loomis's soloing between the female vocals provided by Christine Rhoades and Loomis' raging guitar is incredible.

PITRIFF RATING - 98/100 - Without question, this is the single most masterful exhibition of guitar playing I've heard in years.  Being a Nevermore fan, I had high expectations for PLAINS OF OBLIVION, but seriously didn't expect anything close to this level of potency.  People always seem to throw bigger names into the equation when talking about the best guitarists out there, but it's nearly impossible to say that Jeff Loomis is ANY less unbelievable than any Satriani, Malmsteen, Wylde, Friedman or Vai out there.  I don't even like guitar albums much to be honest, but PLAINS OF OBLIVION is on a far different level of musicianship than anything else out there today.  Masterful.

Chris Akin

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