• 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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Gamma Ray - EMPIRE OF THE UNDEAD

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

MP3
CD

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

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