• Blues Pills - BLUES PILLS

    Image: Blues Pills, Blues Pills, Stoner Rock, Pitriff Blues Pills
    BLUES PILLS

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    It's not a secret that this whole retro movement in the worlds of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal has been an absolutely God sent for my musical palette. For so many years now, probably 20 or more, the ONLY band I've had to hold onto when I wanted new music from a band who's influences were steeped into the

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  • Unbreakable - KNOCKOUT

    Image: unbreakable, knockout, review, classic metal, pitriff Unbreakable
    KNOCKOUT

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    Retro has become in these days, and there are more and more bands creeping up that have harkened their sound back to a time that left well over 30 years ago. The last 2 years have seen an influx of bands reaching back to the '70s. Bands like Blues Pills, Vista Chino, Scorpion Child and Rival Sons have all emerged with

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  • The Treatment - RUNNING WITH THE DOGS

    Image: The Treatment, Running With The Dogs, Pitriff, Classic Metal, Review The Treatment
    RUNNING WITH THE DOGS

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    Admit it: you've just about given up on England when it comes to producing quality rock 'n' roll. The land that brought us the Beatles, the Stones, Zeppelin, and of course the revered NWOBHM--in the past twenty-five years, what have they given us? The Wildhearts? Come on. The Darkness? Come the fuck on!

    The Treatment are a

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  • Arch Enemy - WAR ETERNAL

    Image: Arch Enemy, War Eternal, review, death metal, kip massey, pitriff Arch Enemy
    WAR ETERNAL

    The big story surrounding Arch Enemy's ninth studio album is that the band has done the impossible. They replaced their lead singer calmly, quietly, and without anybody knowing about it until it was already done—and somehow didn't miss a beat in the process. It's hard enough to replace a singer just once, but Arch Enemy has done it twice, and while

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  • California Breed - CALIFORNIA BREED

    Image: California Breed, Pitriff, Non Metal, Review California Breed
    CALIFORNIA BREED

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    It definitely sucks when you watch a band that you are REALLY a fan of implode. For me, that's just what I had to do with Black Country Communion. As the band that I think a lot of people compared head to head with Sammy Hagar's supergroup Chickenfoot, BCC stormed out quickly and recorded three tremendous releases. Still, as

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  • MuckRaker - KARMAGEDDON

    Image: Karmagaddon, Muckraker, Pitriff, Stoner Metal, Review MuckRaker
    KARMAGEDDON

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    One of the hardest things I'm tasked to do when reviewing bands is to look past the individual history of the members when a new project pops up. Many times, you really can't help but to think about a guy's past work in another band. That's especially true when the guy is the singer. MuckRaker is one of those bands for

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  • Judas Priest - REDEEMER OF SOULS

    judas priest, redeemer of souls, power metal Judas Priest
    REDEEMER OF SOULS

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    Judas Priest has a lot to atone for in the eyes of all fans except for Jim "Nostradamus" Bartek. Given the fact that Bartek's 524 day listening streak to NOSTRADAMUS probably doubled the count of the rest of the Priest fanbase combined, it's clear that the once Mighty Priest needed to do something very, very metal this time

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  • Quiet Riot - 10

    Image: Quiet Riot, Jizzy Pearl, 10, Pitriff, reviews Quiet Riot
    10

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    I'm generally excited when Jizzy Pearl fronts any band. He's one of my favorite singers out there from the classic metal era; a distinct sounding guy who has proven to be a chameleon while maintaining a sound there is no mistaking. Jizzy joining Quiet Riot was a welcome thought to me, personally. While I've never been a huge Quiet Riot

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  • Black Stone Cherry - MAGIC MOUNTAIN

    Image: Black Stone Cherry, Magic Mountain, Classic Metal, Review, Pitriff Black Stone Cherry
    MAGIC MOUNTAIN

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    Well, they finally did it. After nearly a decade of being hailed as the new kings of southern rock, and receiving favorable comparisons to Zeppelin and Skynyrd, western Kentucky's Black Stone Cherry have released an album that's worthy of all the praise.

    I've always liked the IDEA of Black Stone Cherry. I mean, what's not to like about

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  • American Dog - NEANDERTHAL

    Image: Neanderthal, American Dog, Classic Metal, Pitriff, Review American Dog
    NEANDERTHAL

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    God bless American Dog! For fifteen years, a bunch of blue-collar working stiffs from Columbus, Ohio have been churning out their brand of greasy, grimy redneck metal, and doing it all themselves. You gotta respect a band with American Dog's tenacity, toiling away in obscurity while other, much lesser bands soak up the major-label success. Oh yeah, and the tunes

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  • Hurtsmile - RETROGRENADE

    Image: Hurtsmile, Gary Cherone, classic metal, review, pitriff, chris akin Hurtsmile
    RETROGRENADE

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    For so many people, they hear Gary Cherone's name and immediately think about the failed Van Halen album III that he fronted. I get it. How can you not? It was such an unbelievably bad effort, and really should never have had the Van Halen name on it at all. Unfortunately though, Cherone has always been the blamesake of that release,

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  • U.D.O. - STEELHAMMER: LIVE FROM MOSCOW

    Image: Steelhammer, U.D.O., classic metal, review, pitriff U.D.O.
    STEELHAMMER - LIVE FROM MOSCOW

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    I really have no idea why U.D.O. is not a much, much bigger band than they are. Without question, everyone is all too quick to celebrate Accept, both with and without vocalist Udo Dirkschneider in the band. And yet, for all the love fans have for Dirkschneider's era of Accept, U.D.O. has really remained an afterthought instead of

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  • Ronny Munroe - ELECTRIC WAKE

    Image: Ronnie Munroe, Electric Wake, review, thrash metal, metal church Ronny Munroe
    ELECTRIC WAKE

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    One of the most disrespected singers in all of heavy metal, Ronny Munroe has more than ably fronted Metal Church for a decade now. Fronting Metal Church since 2004, the band has been a touch inconsistent (A LIGHT IN THE DARK and GENERATION NOTHING being great, WEIGHT OF THE WORLD and THIS PRESENT WASTELAND being a bit forgettable), but

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  • Vader - TIBI ET IGNI

    Image: Vader, Tivi Et Igni, Pitriff, review, death metal Vader
    TIBI ET IGNI

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    I could write all kinds of stuff about how Vader are the icons of Polish Death Metal. I could put all kinds of praise on them, and talk about how they and Behemoth are the trendsetters that allowed people to understand that Poland had some death metal brilliance coming out of their country. I could talk for a long

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  • Tesla - SIMPLICITY

    Image: Tesla, Simplicity, classic metal, review, pitriff Tesla
    SIMPLICITY

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    Even as a fan of Tesla, it's not hard to look at the band and find them to be somewhat less than energetic when it comes to putting out new music. They've now come forth with just their 7th studio album of new material since 1986. Let's be honest here, folks...that's not a lot of material over a VERY LONG period

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  • Tankard - R.I.B.

    Image: Tankard, R.I.B., thrash metal, review, chris akin, pitriff Tankard
    R.I.B.

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    I really don't think that, of all the bands out there, Tankard could ever do anything I don't appreciate in some way or another. Let's face it, if ever there was a "Chris Akin" band, Tankard would be it. They make the kind of metal that is closest to my heart - Thrash with just a touch of melody to make it

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Gamma Ray - EMPIRE OF THE UNDEAD

Image: Gamma Ray, Empire Of The Undead, Pitriff, CD Review, Power MetalGamma 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, but one of it's greatest writers. Recent releases like TO THE METAL really missed the mark for me, which is pretty surprising as much as I'm a fan of just about everything Hansen has ever done. with EMPIRE OF THE UNDEAD, the band has righted itself somewhat, although this is far from classic Gamma Ray material that you would want, or even expect.

The best thing about EMPIRE OF THE UNDEAD is that it's a return to the heavier, thrashy sound that seemed to have evaporated on TO THE METAL. Songs like "Demonseed" have some of the crunchiest guitar work ever shown off by the band, with Kai Hansen and Henjo Richter just slamming through the song with a thick, piercing aggressiveness that just makes the song sound epic and huge. Vocally, Hansen is at the top of his game throughout. He leads the truly brilliant opener "Avalon" with a soaring vocal performance that's as good as anything he's done in the past. The two players are perfectly complemented by bassist Dirk Schlachter and drummer Michael Ehre. They work brilliantly a cohesive unit on "Master Of Confusion" and the speedy, best track on the release, "Seven". For the most part, this is the Gamma Ray of old that I have loved for a long, long time.

While there's a lot of good here, there's some really clunky moments on EMPIRE OF THE UNDEAD. Songs like "Pale Rider" are a prime example of it. This may sound stupid coming from a person like me who's well known for profanity, but this songs use of profanity just feels forced. It's also beneath the more cerebral lyrical approach that he's highlighted throughout his career. In short, it just feels like the hook was too short so he threw it in to fill the rhythmic lyrical gap. It doesn't work here. Another song that really grinds me is "Time For Deliverance". This song almost sounds like a compilation of other songs and bands that are out there. I'm not sure if it's showing influences or just blatantly nicking parts, but this one is almost annoying. The song opens with a Y&T-like guitar open, before going into an Iron Maiden meets Queen sound that's really quite distracting. Listening to it over and over, I spent more time trying to figure out just what Queen song it the orchestration feels like, before settling on a close similarity to "We Are The Champions". Sadly, this is not the first time Gamma Ray has done this, as the Maiden sound has crept into several songs over the last few albums.

PITRIFF RATING - 81/100 - When it's good, it's about as brilliant as this band gets. It's diluted with some less than stellar moments, but it's hard to imagine any fan of classic, traditional power metal wouldn't be happy with this release. EMPIRE OF THE UNDEAD is a solid power metal effort with some truly great moments.

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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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