• 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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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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