DARK ROOTS OF EARTH
Without question, Testament is one of my favorite bands of all time. In my mind, they really are yet to do a bad album, even in the wake of health scares, hiatuses and a seemingly endless see of lineup changes. While they have missed the mark on occasion (ELECTRIC CROWN, DEMONIC), their bad albums are still a quality listen! As for their great ones, well they are as good or better than anything in the history of Thrash Metal. A few years ago, they stormed back onto the metal scene with the brilliant release THE FORMATION OF DAMNATION, and for that reason alone, expectations were sky high for this new disc. For the most part, they deliver once again...although without the immediate punch that past records have featured from the opening seconds of a listen.
A GIRL CALLED CERVEZA
As a thrash fan, I always try to give all these bands the benefit of the doubt. Tankard is one of those bands that has just never done enough to grab me though. I don't know why. I don't know if it's the silly imagery, or the fact that they really don't write much more than silly, frat boy thrashers or what, but for whatever reason, this band has never caught fire with me.
A GIRL CALLED CERVEZA doesn't change that one iota. Listening to this release does pretty much what every Tankard release does to me - it forces me to think about a lot of better bands of the same genre and wish that I was listening to them instead of Tankard. Songs like "Witch Hunt" are a prime example. Technically, all the elements of a good thrasher are there, but the riffs just sound tired, as do the vocals of Andreas Geremia. For me, Geremia is a big part of the problem. His mish mosh vocals just don't have the fire of a Blitz Ellsworth, Tom Araya or even a Rob Dukes for that matter. They just lay there over song after song, which makes a full trip through A GIRL CALLED CERVEZA a struggle of epic proportion.
Creating the magical moment in a band's history can certainly be a blessing. it can also be a curse though. Throughout the history of recorded music, most long term bands have created their "epic moment", and then followed it up (generally unsuccessfully) for the next several decades trying to recapture that moment once again. While I'm sure people will question the band's apex moment, I'll state that ENDLESS PAIN (and specifically the brilliant track "Flag Of Hate") was Kreator's grandest moment. While they have been one of the more excellent thrash bands since then, they never really lived up to that album...until 2009's HORDES OF CHAOS. There was a level of brilliance with that release that most didn't think these guys had anymore. That was the blessing.
POINT OF NO RETURN
The single hardest working new thrash band in the world has returned with a quick four song EP that is designed to do one thing and one thing only - give them a reason to stay on tour! Mission Accomplished.
Since this is a four song EP, there's not a ton to write about. POINT OF NO RETURN featured two new songs and two covers. Starting with the new material, this stuff has to be material that didn't make TIME IS UP. I have no idea why.
BIG BLACK BUS
I'm one of those music snobs that doesn't like the "known" music nearly as much as the stuff that flew under most people's radar. That said, there was a band that came and went in that I loved in the late 90s called Boiler. While I'm sure most of you don't remember them, I do. Two brilliant CDs and an EP...THE NEW PROFESSIONALS, COW TIPPIN' IN C SHARP and YEEHAW...three releases that have found permanent residence in my music collection, and three that still get played a lot. Boiler was one of those bands that you could always put on to give you an energy boost as well as a shot of attitude along the way. Songs like "Railroaded" or "Stegasaurus" are addictive as Hell.