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.
For the purists out there, this version of Fear Factory that only features original members Burton C. Bell and Dino Cazares just doesn't measure up as the "real deal". To those people, I hope you enjoy missing out on one of the greatest resurgences in all of heavy metal. Without question, Fear Factory was at a point where it was time to give it up and do other things. Albums like ARCHETYPE and TRANSGRESSION were just shells of the former intensity that the band had possessed, and most thought these guys were done. Still, Bell rekindled his relationship with Cazares, pushed aside other original members, and forged ahead. If it did nothing else, the extremely solid MECHANIZE proved that the fire in the band was always spawned from the riffs of Cazares and the voice of Bell. With THE INDUSTRIALIST, they have seemingly taken it all the way back to their best era of the band.
FIRE & DAMNATION
How can a band that openly acknowledges their influence as Slayer be bad? Obviously, it could be, but it certainly isn't here. Having not released an album since 1987, Exumer storms back onto the scene with a killer collection of Thrash that will have fans of everyone from Slayer to Havok moshing around in ecstasy. FIRE & DAMNATION is a seriously punishing thrash album powered by ripping riffs and chord changes that the mighty Slayer would be proud of had they written them themselves.
This is a release I’ve been waiting for a long time, and it seems like a fast one has been played on us all. Last May, it was reported that Dan Spitz of Anthrax fame had teamed up with Megadeth leader Dave Mustaine to create a new project called Red Lamb. The prospects of that were great – two riffmasters that basically built the thrash scene playing together in a new project sounded terrific. That’s not what we got though – not exactly. Instead, what we were delivered was an album WRITTEN and PRODUCED by Spitz and Mustaine, but not featuring Mustaine’s musical chops on the disc.
THE ELECTRIC AGE
If you are a fan of most of the big name metal bands and have been for 20+ years as so many of us have been, then you have really lived through ebbs and flows in their careers. For most of them, they are simply not as good as they once were. Sure, we still like what they do and support it, but let’s be honest about it. We do so out of respect for the past brilliance, and not because today’s stuff is of the same caliber. Pick a band – Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, Anthrax, Exodus, Testament – some have put out strong releases, but can you say that their career in the last 15 years has been as strong as the first 10-15? Probably not. In my eyes, only one band of that ilk can say they are as strong, and I would argue they are stronger. That band is Overkill. While every album hasn’t been a home run (IMMORTALIS was kind of lacking), it’s pretty hard to argue that albums like FROM THE UNDERGROUND AND BELOW, IRONBOUND and NECROSHINE aren’t as strong or stronger than the classics like TAKING OVER or UNDER THE INFLUENCE.