• Black Stone Cherry - KENTUCKY

    Image: Black Stone Cherry, Kentucky Black Stone Cherry
    KENTUCKY

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    This collection of southern boys are not the most original band in the world. They’ll never be accused of being the most musically gifted fellas in the world. Certainly, no one will ever listen to them and think, “wow, that’s really cutting edge music”. To the contrary though, release in and release out, the same thought comes to mind

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  • Zakk Wylde - BOOK OF SHADOWS II

    Image: Zakk Wylde, Book Of Shadows II Zakk Wylde
    BOOK OF SHADOWS II

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    Sequels to albums, at least in my listening experience, are generally poor. The two that immediately jump to mind for me are Rob Zombie’s HELLBELLY DELUXE 2 and Meat Loaf’s BAT OUT OF HELL 2. Both releases were pretty lame, and garnered attention solely because they were named after much more historic releases in their creator’s career.

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Dream Theater - THE ASTONISHING

Image: Dream Theater, The Astonishing, Pitriff, Chris AkinDream Theater
THE ASTONISHING

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So, Dream Theater is back with a release that many are calling their most in-depth, and yet polarizing release. Fair enough. With 34 tracks and clocking in at over two hours in length, it’s certainly the most challenging on a listener to fully grasp and comprehend. Along with THE ASTONISHING, you are expected to read the book of lyrics and visit the website to get a better grasp of the characters who are in play as part of the story. What does that translate to? Well, I’d imagine that translates to a full on progressive bliss of a time for a hardcore Dream Theater fan. I’d also think that for people less locked into the band, like myself, it translates to far more effort than you would ever want to put into a release in order to appreciate it. That is, by my account, the review of THE ASTONISHING.

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Operation: Mindcrime - THE KEY

Image: Operation Mindcrime, Geoff Tate, Reviews, Music, heavy metal Operation: Mindcrime
THE KEY

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Geoff Tate’s falling out and subsequent two years of lawsuits, multiple versions of the same band and overall craziness in the press definitely tarnished a legacy that once seemed untouchable. Think about it. Even with over a decade of arguably bad releases (Q2K, TRIBE, AMERICAN SOLDIER, DEDICATED TO CHAOS), it wasn’t until the now infamous spitting incident and the rumored knife attack that people really launched their full on hatred for Geoff Tate. Much like Def Leppard, the greatness of the early work was so overwhelming that fans stood by, waited and hoped for a return to form that never came with Tate in that band. Let’s be honest here, DEDICATED TO CHAOS and FREQUENCY UNKNOWN were abysmal. There were some moments on FREQUENCY UNKNOWN that made you think there could be someething good left, but that just didn’t get the job done. So Tate has left his legacy behind to start a new chapter of his career. It comes in the form of the uninspired group name Operation: Mindcrime, and in the tradition of Tate’s best work - a concept.

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Opeth - PALE COMMUNION

Image: Opeth, Pale Communion, Pitriff, Review, Progressive MetalOpeth
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 awkwardness that's rarely done creatively. While certainly not at all the same musically, that awkward allure has always been the draw to many to a band like Meshuggah (although again, not at all comparing the music they make at all). Still, it seems like Opeth just doesn't want to have that allure anymore. Instead, they want to be Pink Floyd. Well, in short, they aren't Pink Floyd, or King Crimson, or whatever progressive rock band they are taking influence from on PALE COMMUNION. While I'm sure this is inspired work where every note was scrutinized, it's a boring listen to people that make up the heavy music audience they once were playing to. Clearly that's not their focus anymore.

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Evergrey - HYMNS FOR THE BROKEN

Image: Evergrey, Hymns For The Broken, Review, Progressive MetalEvergrey
HYMNS FOR THE BROKEN

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In the world of progressive metal, there are exactly 2 bands which I worship. Those bands are Symphony X and Evergrey. Both bands are immensely talented, feature incredible musicianship, and come full of great lyrical and musical representations that tell amazing stories to the listeners. Following their last release GLORIOUS COLLISION, it really seemed like Evergrey may have hit the end of their run. GLORIOUS COLLISION didn't do especially well for the band, and they seemingly disappeared as soon as it came out. There's been a lot of rumors that they had indeed broken up. Those turned out to be untrue though, and back comes Evergrey with a revamped lineup and HYMNS FOR THE BROKEN; a release that could very well be the very best of their almost two decade long career.

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KXM - KXM

Image: KXM, George Lynch, Dug Pinnick, Ray Luzier, PitriffKXM
KXM

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Some points of clarity before I write a single world about the new project KXM, in order that this review is understood and evaluated fairly by anyone reading it. This project features three guys - Dug Pinnick of King's X, George Lynch of Dokken and Lynch Mob fame, and Ray Luzier who is currently the drummer for Korn. Out of fairness, I'll allow the following for this review. First, I'm not a fan of Dug Pinnick's music at all. I've interviewed him several times (I think five times, actually), and he's a super cool guy, but musically I've just never, ever gotten King's X as much as I've wanted to understand why so many just worship them. In many ways, King's X falls into that category that Dream Theater does for me - that I just don't understand the appeal of. As for Lynch, again putting it out there, I work for Dokken as their webmaster and also for current Dokken guitarist Jon Levin as his as well. That said, I think Lynch has the distinction of not only recording some of the best music of the "hair era and beyond (because LYNCH/PILSON was by far his best recorded work), but he's also recorded two of the worst albums of all time in my ears in Dokken's SHADOWLIFE and Lynch Mob's SMOKE THIS. I haven't liked much of Lynch's work in a long time, as Microdot, Souls of We and other stuff I'm sure I'm missing have just not been very good. As for Luzier, I think I met him once at a David Lee Roth show in the late 90s, enjoyed the DLR Band album he played on, like Korn, and also remember that he had some sort of association with Darren Householder from one of my favorite bands that never made it big, Love/Hate. So there, it's on the table.

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Image: Cause/Effect Metallica, Chris Akin

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.

CLICK HERE to learn more about CAUSE/EFFECT: METALLICA.

Buy Now:  Paperback    Digital

Image: Little Victories, Book, Chris Akin

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

CLICK HERE to learn more about LITTLE VICTORIES.

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Read Reviews and Excerpts from LITTLE VICTORIES: A TALE OF DIVORCE, DEBAUCHERY AND FINDING HAPPINESS HERE!

Available January 13th in Paperback and Digital Formats on Amazon and iTunes.

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