BLOODSTONE & DIAMONDS
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 out, they were on the cusp to be the predecessors to Pantera atop the heavy metal landscape. Low and behold though, they killed that dream by trying to incorporate a bit of trendiness to THE BURNING RED, and it killed that momentum completely. The followup SUPERCHARGER was a bit better, but still wasn't good enough to prove THE BURNING RED as an anomaly. That was the point that a lot of people jumped off. Sucks to be them really, because the last three releases, THROUGH THE ASHES OF EMPIRES, THE BLACKENING and UNTO THE LOCUST have all been as good as any metal album released in the last decade or so. Too little, too late I suppose.
BLOOD IN, BLOOD OUT
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 when they put the band back together, they have been far stronger than at any time in their career. For the last decade, it has been the polarizing Rob Dukes leading the band vocally. He was replaced earlier this year by the again returning Steve "Zetro" Souza; a move that has found both praise and criticism amongst the hardcore fans of the band. It makes sense, really. With Dukes, the band simply got heavier and more vicious. This leaves people to wonder what would happen with Zetro returning to the band. Well, they certainly didn't slow down. BLOOD IN, BLOOD OUT is as heavy as anything the guys have done to date.
WHITE DEVIL ARMORY
Holy shit! Who saw this coming? In an astonishing detour off the band's well-trampled musical path. Their latest album ventures into heretofore uncharted territories, embracing such unexpected sonic offshoots as Eastern-tinged black metal, polka-dotted folk-metal, and, in what is sure to be a harbinger of trends to come, Tuvan throat-singing.
Nah, just fuckin' with you to see if you were paying attention. This kind of journalistic red herring is second only to starting off an Overkill review by talking about the band's remarkable consistency.
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 that inconsistency really can't be blamed on Munroe. Having seen him a couple of times with Metal Church, he honors the work of Both David Wayne and Mike Howe without being a mere copycat clone of either. In short, he's taken the reigns of a legacy position and rode it ably into the future. Still, every time Munroe opens his mouth, there's some assclown on Blabbermouth screaming that he's not Wayne or Howe. No shit, Sherlock! His solo efforts though have been his places to shine on his own, and he's been especially strong there. ELECTRIC WAKE is definitely a strong metal effort. While not the best thing Munroe has done, it's a far cry from the worst.
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 completely compelling. And all of their releases are themed around drinking, beer, drinking and drinking. If this band was renamed "The Chris Akin Experience" is about the only way I could like them anymore. For the last several years, Tankard has been cranking out some of the best music of their career at a furious pace. In fact, they have had a new release out every 2 years since 1998! That's golden if you are a fan of any band. Tankard simply gives you enough time to digest the last one before coming forth with a new dose of drunken debauchery.