Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Eden's Curse, 'Live With the Curse', CD Review


Eden's Curse 'Live With the Curse' review:


I've been a little pre-occupied these past few months and neglecting my love for music and writing. Luckily for me, the 'Powers That Be' at Decibel Geek, were about to inspire me once again. I opened my computer and the first post I read on our staff page and it was FULL of CD's up for review. Eden's Curse 'Live With the Curse' jumped right out at me so I snagged it immediately.  I'm kicking myself now, because I've been caught up in my own little bubble for the last couple of months, not heeding the advice of my friend Amanda. 'Eden's Curse,' she said, (she actually insisted) 'You have got to listen to Eden's Curse'. It wasn't that I didn't trust in her opinion. Her taste in music is impeccable. I just never got around to actually pulling the trigger and pressing play.
This morning that all changed. I downloaded the album that's up for review and a couple more so I could have a good frame of reference and I was off!! Well guess what folks?! Yeah...turns out Eden's Curse are right up there at the top of my musical taste meter!! So let me tell you all about the brand new, double LIVE CD and also, a bit about the band. 

Eden's Curse are an European melodic metal band who were born in 2007. Initially an internet project to expand upon musical ideas with a few friends, this multi national melodic metal group soon saw a foundation to build upon.  With five members spanning five countries, they burst onto the scene with their first of four fantastic studio albums, the self titled 'Eden's Curse'.  After nine years, (and a few mostly amicable, but some slightly more controversial  line up changes), the time was right to answer the call of their devoted fans for a live CD. In November 2014, Live With the Curse was recorded and released in March 2015. 
Hugely respected by their fans and fellow musicians ( Bruce Dickinson from Iron Maiden and James LaBrie from Dream Theater, to name just a couple of heavy weights), they spent some time on the road with Stratovarius and opened some huge shows for Dream Theater, and then embarked on their own seven date headlining tour, where they recorded the new double CD in Glasgow at The Classic Grand.
Fans from all over Europe and even Japan travelled to Glasgow for this long awaited event. The sound quality of this production nicely highlights the dynamic talents of the band's long time sound engineer, Dennis Ward (Pink Cream 69).  The production quality on 'Live With the Curse' reminds me of Queensryche. In 1988, I saw the Operation: Mindcrime tour and it wasn't until that day that I realized a band could sound that incredible - LIVE.   It changed the way I saw live music.  Nowadays, bands are so pumped up with pro-tools it's  hard to decipher whether it's really them at all, but Eden's Curse doesn't  leave any question.  The musicianship and production quality are both limitless. All 18 songs are pure perfection.

Let me break it down...

1.Symphony of Sin.
This was the first song I heard by this band, so for me it is the perfect  song to come out with guns blazing. Hard and heavy but with all the added elements to make the perfect melodic metal offering. I was blown away by the studio version and possibly even more by the live.  Still
My fave.

2. Break the Silence.
I love the guitar in this song and the vocals are killer. There have been a number of lineup changes over the lifetime of Eden's Curse, but the talent has always been phenomenal. New singer, Nikola Mijic is no exception, taking over the vocal reins with the release of Symphony of Sin, and proving to be a perfect fit.

3. Masquerade Ball.
The drums and guitar are crazy awesome on the intro to this song.
Oh how I love this band!!!!!

4. Black Widow.
Melodic metal at its best. My breakdown is starting to be very repetitive. There are only so many ways to describe perfection!!
The first CD follows through with Trinity, Fly Away, Just Like Judas, Fallen From Grace, Jerusalem Sleeps, and then a completely kick ass guitar solo at the hands of Thorsten Koehne, which can only be described as tasty, flawless shredding. There's nothing quite like a rock solid, melodic metal guitar solo to take you to that magical place where your head and your heart mesh together to remind you why it is that you love this stuff so much!!

Number 11, and the last song on CD One, is  Time to Breathe, and of course, like the rest of this epic offering, it's outstanding.

CD Two goes like this:
12. Rock Bottom
13. Devil in Disguise
14. Wings to Fly
15. No Holy Man
16. Unbreakable.
17. Judgement Day
18. Band Introductions
19. Evil and Divine.
20. Angels and Demons

All amazing!!!
The setlist contains favourites and classics from all four Eden's Curse albums. 'Eden's Curse' (2007), 'The Second Coming' (2008), 'Trinity' (2011), and the most recent studio album, 2013's 'Symphony of Sin'.

At over 100 minutes of play time and 18 songs, this epic live album is a pure masterpiece.
If you're a fan of hard driving, melodic metal with killer players knocking it out of the park on every song, then set yourself aside a couple of hours and get down and Live With the Curse. 

Today, April 14, 2015, you can watch their NEW video of Unbreakable (from this LIVE cd) on this provided link.  It's a bonus for their North American release of Live With The Curse.  Enjoy. 

The Line Up:

Nikola Mijic - Vocals 
Thorsten Koehne - Guitars
Paul Logue - Bass
Steve Williams - Keys
John Clelland - Drums

Twitter: http:/twitter.com/edenscurse

Also on Facebook, their fan admins run the following OFFICIAL pages:
NA Cursed Souls - Eden's Curse Fans North America  https://www.facebook.com/cursedsoulsna
EU Cursed Souls - Eden's Curse Fans Europe https://www.facebook.com/cursedsoulseu?fref=nf
JP Cursed Souls - Eden's Curse Fans Japan https://www.facebook.com/cursedsoulsjp
All pages on Facebook are officially endorsed by Eden's Curse. 
Feel free to sign up at any and all these pages to show your support of this AWESOME band.

Last but definitely not least, much credit and huge thanks to my amazing friend and editor, Amanda Schumacher, for all of her endless help. I love you, babe!! You ROCK!!!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Brand New Decibel Geek Website


And just like that....everything changed. Ladies and Germs, we very proudly present to you the BRAND NEW version of the Decibel Geek website. A new platform, a new, responsive design, and A LOT more!
Easy navigation so you can get to exactly what you want. Categories are broken down for you. Want to just listen to the Radio Sucks shows? There's a section for that. Just want the Year in Review shows? There's a section for that. Sections for everything else too including Interviews, KISSMAS in July, even the Vinnie Vincent Specials; it's all in there!
All of our destinations are also there including our Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube channels; not to mention tons of great articles and reviews from our ever-growing staff. So, take a moment and give the new site a test drive and let us know what you think. Special thanks to Steele Technologies, Prime Web & Graphic Design, and Superlinx for assisting in the site build and special thanks from me to Rich "The Meister" Dillon for his tireless work in this build as well as Patrick Johnson for his amazing work on the 4 Year Retrospective Video that's available on the front page.
Check that out. You might just be in it! wink emoticon Cheers! (Chris)

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Kiske/Somerville's City Of Heroes-By Shawn "Animalize" Irwin


Kiske/Somerville - City Of Heroes 2015

The long awaited second project from Kiske/Somerville, titled City of Heroes will finally be released April 17 (in Europe) and April 21 (in North America). This new release brings us 12 new songs.

As a big fan of Amanda Somerville's work with Avantasia, and Michael Kiske's Place Vendome, and Unisonic, I am really excited to hear these two talented artists work together again. Joining them on this new release are Magnus Karlsson from Sweden on guitar and on bass is Matt Sinner of the band Sinner, Primal Fear, and Voodoo Circle. On drums, we have someone new to me, the much talented Veronika Lukesova. Matt Sinner and Jacob Hansen both produced this long awaited release.

1. "City Of Heroes" -  The first single and video which starts the cd with a bang! Kiske starts out the song with Somerville flowing seamlessly with this duet team. The drums stand out perfectly and the guitar work of Karlsson makes this a memorable piece of music. A very catchy tune that has me singing along.

2. "Walk On Water" - This is the second single and video which is like most songs on the CD, catchy and easy to sing along with in the chorus. More mellow than the first single but well orchestrated with a short but sweet guitar solo to tie it all together. Overall a remarkable song which showcases the musicality and synchronicity of these two vocalists.

3. "Rising Up" - With a little more keyboard standing out from the chorus, it just makes you want to crank it up and sing along with the vocal talents of Somerville. A little more guitar gives a heavier edge and saves it from sounding more like a pop song. Like most of the other songs, the lyrics flow with the melodic tempo of this song.

4. "Salvation" - The longest track on the CD but a story that has me wanting more. The first minute without vocals just builds up until Kiske starts singing and Somerville continues it up right into the powerful chorus. Some heavier riffs from Karlsson which suits me perfectly as I love his work.

5. "Lights Out" - Another chorus that gets you singing with Somerville's vocals that all just flows together. Karlsson shines again with his work on the guitar.

6. "Breaking Neptune" - This is the only song not written by Sinner and Karlsson.
Amanda Somerville and Sander Gommans co-wrote this track. Somerville's voice is just magic on this track and shows why these two work so well together.

7. "Ocean Of Tears" - The slowest song on the CD which may outshine all of these great songs. This song truly shows what these two can do as they beautifully step up their vocals together. I normally like the heavier styles Kiske does, but this is a masterpiece of songwriting, musicality and vocals that make this connection such a wonderful piece to listen to.

8. "Open Your Eyes" - I found this switching to more progressive with a faster sound.  Somerville's voice is smooth as silk as Kiske joins in for more of a rocking heavier edge. Put that all together with the talents of each band member and sounding different than the other songs on this CD which I found makes it a pleasant surprise.

9. "Last Goodbye" - Kiske starts this track again with an even heavier sound. Sure makes me hope this is really not the "Last Goodbye" from these two artists and this band. The band is synced very well and keeping the CD in the roots of a great rock release.
10. "After The Night Is Over" - The second slow song on this release I had to listen to it a few times and found it to be a story that you feel you are a part of, and when it finishes, you realize how a song can get you wrapped up in the music.

11. "Run With A Dream" - With a combination of softer to a heavier sound, this track has everything you have come to expect from this collaboration of musicians. It really inspires you to really run with your dreams.

12 - "Right Now" - Nothing too heavy here - just a nice melodic ending to a great CD. Great solo from Karlsson and with Kiske & Somerville - the voices of two shining stars brings us to a close. A treat to my ears, and hopefully it won't be another 5 years until these two extremely talented artists meet again.

Overall this new release has been well worth the wait and I can't wait to get the actual cd in my hands!

Shawn "Animalize" Irwin

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Meister Goes Shooting Angels

***Please visit this post on our new website: Shooting Angels Review ***

"Apocalypse is finally here, the end of the world and humanity is condemned, angels are coming down to earth to kill us all and send us to hell. So, you load your shotgun and prepare yourself to hit the road and start some angel hunting. Before this, you need to find the perfect music to join you and motivate you through the journey, fulfilling you with energy, power and "let's rip some fuckin' wings" attitude. Well search no more, you just found Shooting Angels."

Shooting Angels was born in Switzerland in 2014 as a result of a night spent by drummer Alex "Black Cat" and guitarist Lee "The Kid" in a strip club after their jam session. The concept presented to them in their drunken stupor in the form of a hot stripper spewing off pothead talk about the end of the world with the "skies opening up and the angels coming down to earth to kill every human, eating them alive and releasing their souls to hell". And so the band concept was born. Many male singers were auditioned for the position, but it was the kick ass-ery of female vocalist Lola Van Loo that won out to front Shooting Angels. February 2015 saw the release of the Deal With The Devil EP which was recorded, mixed, mastered and produced by Federico Truzzi and shortly afterward guitarist Fabian joined the trio. Now Shooting Angels and their Deal With The Devil EP have found their way to The Meister!

The EP begins with the ominous thunder and rain intro to "This Is War" and this track has a straight ahead rock feel to it with a harmonic, leaning towards symphonic, chorus that becomes quite catchy. Loo shows that she possesses the dulcet tones of the very angels the band is hunting (according to their little bio) at the outset of "Mirror, Mirror" before the rest of the angel hunters join in. The band's title song, "Shooting Angels" is up next and seems to follow the little back story from the band's bio about just what the title suggests. Featuring an insanely memorable chorus that rolls around in my head days later, this is the gem of the assemblage for me. The four song EP wraps up with the title track "Deal With The Devil", another solid composition. All four tracks are available on the Shooting Angels YouTube channel and I have included the links below.

I can't help but picture the American TV show Supernatural with characters Dean and Sam Winchester, for those familiar with that program, when listening to these four tracks thanks to the backstory behind the band. The Shooting Angels EP came to me through the band's drummer Alex "Black Cat". I had previously done a review of Alex's other band Mortician and their Shout For Heavy Metal album (These Austrians Shout For Heavy Metal). While both bands possess a difference in styles, I highly recommend giving both a shot. The only thing left for me now is to hope that they will be playing a gig during the time that I'm over in Europe in June 2015! I'm off to load my shotgun.

The Meister

The Meister on Facebook / Meister on Twitter / Email

PHOTO CREDIT: Shooting Angels Press Kit 2015

Shooting Angels Website / Shooting Angels Facebook / Shooting Angels YouTube / Shooting Angels Bandcamp

Sunday, April 5, 2015

2001 Year in Review Part 2 - Ep183

Aaron and Chris return this week to cover the second half of a very dark year in music and history. 2001 Year in Review part 2 features more discussion of the pop culture, people, events, and music of July-December. In this hour-plus episode, you'll get discussion of the unveiling of the first iPod, the end of Napster, and the 9/11 terror attacks. You'll also get more classic commercials and tracks by artists including Saxon, Judas Priest, Mr. Big, Danger Danger, Beautiful Creatures, Gamma Ray, Bruce Kulick, and many more.

Geeks of the Week

Devin Fox, Bakko, Anthony Pool, Joseph Ciambelli, Kal Hinz, David Alpizar, Wally Norton, Derik Novak, Jeff Hogland, Paul Korn, Mike Blount, Ian Wadley, Robin Bennett, Colin Francis, Justin Hayes, Joe Lascon, James Brendon Dunn, Dan Chuput, Billy Hardaway, Joe Royland, Rob Harris, Warren Money, Matt Syverson, Brent Walter, Marc Alden Taylor, KISS Army Omaha, Dave Shirt, Mike Stewart, Chad Pollock, Rodney Dickson, Wayne Newburn, Sit and Spin with Joe, Brian Knapp, Faces Rocks Magazine, Loudmouth, Hot Metal Magazine, RAW Magazine, PodcastsAretheBest, Daniel Lee, Hoops, Stephen Atchison, The Mooger Fooger

Buy Music!
(click artist name to shop)

Jimmy Eat World
Judas Priest
Mr. Big
Danger Danger
Beautiful Creatures
Gamma Ray
Ozzy Osbourne
Bruce Kulick
Glenn Hughes

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ANGUS is Back! A Review Of Both Reissued Albums


Dutch legendary heavy metal band Angus finally gets both their albums reissued on CD with plenty of bonus material thanks to Sonic Age Records and their subsidiary Cult Metal Classics. Both albums got released in the mid 1980´s on a small label with very limited distribution. Sentinel Steel Records reissued both albums on one CD in 2001, but this is the first time they get issued on individual CDs with plenty of bonus material (including their first 4-track demo from 1983). Many fans of this kind of classic heavy metal never even knew these albums existed (including myself!). They prove to be a great find now that they are available again.

Angus started in the spring of 1983 when four friends started to rehearse in the attic of an old canal house in Amsterdam, Holland. They played as fast and as loud as they possibly could. The four friends were Ed Sprey on guitar, Ed Lois providing lead vocals, Gerard Carol on bass and finally William Lawson on drums. Sprey described their music as "rugged" like a Scottish bull. That particular type of bull is called Angus which was also the first name of one of his favourite guitar players, Angus Young of AC/DC. It proved to be a perfect name for the new band.

Original Angus line up.
Picture courtesy of Jolly Jokers Ohrenbalsam
The Dutch metal scene in the early 1980´s was dominated by bands that combined speed and melody. The initial Angus sound was based on classical musical structures which was quite different from most other bands of the era. That combination of uptempo metal guitar riffs, classic etudes and fast double bass action made the material unique and stood out from the rest. The band recorded a 4-track demo after just a couple of months as an active band and started to play gigs around the Amsterdam area. In 1984, they launched their first national tour of Holland. The first line-up changes occurred when Sprey was replaced by Bert Foxx, taking over the guitar duties. The first opportunity to commit some of their songs to vinyl came in the summer of  1985 when they recorded two songs for The Heavy Touch compilation ("Lonesome Fighter" and "Aliens"). Together with five other Dutch metal bands on the rise Angus went on tour throughout Holland once again. The compilation album got a lot of positive press and the album sold well.

The compilation album brought Angus to the attention of Boudisque Records subsidiary Megaton Records which signed the band.  The debut album called Track Of Doom was recorded and released in 1986. This album was filled with great classic heavy metal and was produced by the band themselves. The result was really impressive with Lois' mighty vocals and a really tight band that had crafted a bunch of really strong songs. The album was played on national radio stations and on TV channels in Holland. Track Of Doom also made it into the top 20 in the Polish metal charts. Poland was at that time a socialist country behind the Iron Curtain so that was no small achievement. The record sales were promising and the album got a lot of positive reviews from the press. Track Of Doom was released in the US in early 1987 on Restless/Enigma Records which also handled bands like Poison and Stryper.

Cover of 7" single Papa Don´t Freak
Picture courtesy of Jolly Jokers Ohrenbalsam
Before work on the follow-up started the band re-worked the epic Madonna hit "Papa Don´t Preach" into a metal setting  rebuilding, rewriting and renaming it "Papa Don´t Freak" which was released as a single. The cover of the single shows the band members in women´s underwear in front of a peep show shop in Amsterdam´s famous red light district. It was another unusual move by Angus and the result was the media renaming their music as "Sexmetal".

In the summer of 1987 the band entered the studio to record their sophomore effort with British producer John Tilly. Production wise the album was recorded with the latest studio and computer technology of the time. During the recording bass player Gerald Carol had to leave the band due to medical complications so studio bass player Andre Versluys laid down the basslines on Warrior Of The World. The album was released in 1987 and on the live dates that followed Mike Shultz played bass. The album shot Angus into the top league of Dutch heavy metal with its pure classic heavy metal sound coupled with strong melodies. Music Maker Magazine named it heavy metal release of the year in Holland. Warrior Of The World was definitely a huge leap forward for the band who supported the album with another national tour. Unfortunately, the band broke up when the driving force of drummer William Lawson left the band after a disagreement with Megaton/Boudisque Records and their management in 1988.

Reunited Angus. Picture courtesy of  Heavy-Metal-Gems.com
In 1999, Denis Gulbey of Sentinel Steel Records contacted William Lawson and they started to search for old Angus material. The master tape for Track Of Doom was found in the vault of CBS Records in Los Angeles. The album was remixed and mastered for a re-release. Lawson re-formed Angus with a completely new line-up in 2011 and the band has started to write songs for an all new Angus album. The current line up includes Nico Perreijn on lead vocals, Pat "the Axe" on guitar, Rene "Basbeer" Bouwer on bass and of course William Lawson on drums.

Track Of Doom 
Time to spin the debut album a couple of times. The album starts off very unconventional with an instrumental track called "The Centaur" which to me is a very strange opening track. I think the album would have benefited greatly by using a track with lyrics as an album opener. It is followed by "When Giants Collide" which starts with a fast guitar riff that transpires into metal groove when bass and drums join. Then a short stick and some double bass drumming as the song kicks off for real. This song features a very strong vocal performance from Ed Lois whose vocals on this song very much remind me of the great Steve Grimmett of Grim Reaper/Lionsheart fame. Lyrically it's a song about the Gods fighting for fun and it sounds like a giant collision. Up next is the title track "Track Of Doom" which starts out with a great guitar riff and a nice and melodic verse. A mid-tempo rocker with a great guitar solo from Bert Foxx making it one of the strongest songs on the album. The song also has a couple of interesting tempo shifts and it's a tune that deals with the threat of a nuclear war. Next is "Heavyweight Warrior" which starts with an ultra fast riff and continues in an up-tempo beat  throughout
Original LP of Track of doom
Picture courtesy of Play it loud forever.
 most of the song. A tune about an undead army waking up at sunrise to steal your soul. Up next is "Finally Out" that starts with an acoustic intro which then fades out and the heavy and fast riffing takes over again with some really fast drumming from Lawson. "Finally Out" has one of the best and catchiest choruses and some of the strongest melodies on this album. A great heavy metal song about love gone wrong. It ends with another acoustic outro. It is followed by "The Gates" which starts off with a Priest-like guitar riff from Foxx that naturally drives the song forward. A memorable and punchy chorus and this great riff makes this song one of the top picks of Track Of Doom. The song is simply about the Heaven's gates being open for you and me to enter. Once there its time to let the rage begin.

The latter half of this remastered CD (including bonus tracks) starts off with another fast paced instrumental song that is somewhat of a filler called "Dragon Chase". A song to skip with the remote. The mighty voice of Ed Lois is back again on "Lost Control" which is also the last song on the original vinyl album which contained only eight songs. It starts out with a strong groove and a couple of really nice guitar harmonies/solos from Foxx. A couple of nice tempo shifts with the odd acoustic guitar adds more value and keeps me interested throughout the whole song. Then the four bonus tracks from the first demo take over with original guitarist Ed Sprey handling the guitar. The first song is "Night Fight" which starts with a slow, almost ballad like, intro which then turns into a fast paced song. The chorus features some falsetto screams from Lois that is not my cup of tea. You can hear this is a band in the early stages of development and the lyrics sometimes do not follow the English grammar. The song is about a killer stalking at night and you have to try to stay alive. The tempo changes again for a slow outro of the song. The CD continues with track no 10 which is "Keep On Shouting"  and it  is a much stronger song than its predecessor. It starts with a nice riff from Sprey and this mid-tempo rocker has a decent chorus and a melodic hook to go with it. A song about dancing, shouting and partying. Up next is "Virgin Girl" which is a nice mid-tempo rocker with a distinct chorus. A drum intro is joined by a heavy grooving, almost Sabbath-like guitar riff. Definitely the strongest song off the first demo and would easily have made the album in my book. The CD ends with "Leading You Back" which is another groovy and heavy song about leading you back to the place where you were born and where you belong. It's easy to lose your way.

Picture courtesy of  Jolly Jokers Ohrenbalsam
Track Of Doom is a little bit speedier than the sophomore effort Warrior Of The World but still within the formula of classic heavy metal though. The band bio presents it as a speed metal record, but I would not label this as speed metal. More of a traditional heavy metal record with a few faster songs. The production is a little bit rough around the edges. The music reminds me quite a lot of The Rods, Picture and at times Manowar. What really strikes me is the very strong vocals from Ed Lois who sometimes sounds like a dead ringer for Steve Grimmett and at times, as fellow Dutchman Shmoulik Avigail (The Rods). The songs are great heavy metal songs and the musicianship is top notch. but lack some of the direct impression a great chorus can have. My top picks from this album would be "Track Of Doom", "Finally Out, and "The Gates". The bonus material from the first demo is a nice addition and an important historical document in the Angus history. The sound quality and the production is of course dated but if you can live with that you will find this to be a great bonus. I reckon many fans of Heavy Metal/Hard Rock had not even heard of this band before (including myself) and most of you will find this a great find if you give it a couple of spins. The original vinyl hardly made it´s way out of their origin country of Holland (Poland being the exception) so now it´s time for the rest of the world to discover Angus thanks to the guys at Sonic Age Records.

Warrior Of The World
Warrior of the world original vinyl press
Picture courtesy of popsike.oom
Angus' follow-up album was recorded with a proper producer (John Tilly) and the latest studio technology and you can clearly hear the sonic evolution as well as improvement in the songwriting department. Warrior Of The World starts out with the title track which is a strong heavy metal song with a catchy riff and a driving melody. Ed Lois' vocals are more polished which I decide is a good thing. What is the song about? This short line in the verse says it all: "We are here to steal your soul with metal rock n roll" - priceless! My head starts banging immediately and involuntarily so I guess that means they stole my soul. "Moving Fast" is up next and this song is literally moving fast. With a riff and hook that is repeated one too many times this is not the strongest song on the album. The lyrics deal with living fast - dying young which is somewhat of a classical theme for a rock song. Song number three on the album is "Leather And Lace" yet another typical cliche lyric of a rock song but with Angus you wouldn´t want it another way, would you? It starts off with another catchy and driving riff from Foxx that carries the song onward. A strong song but somehow lacking that big chorus you are waiting for. Sadomasochism is the theme of this song. "Money Satisfies" starts off with double bass drumming and it is an upbeat metal song with an interesting chorus that stands out a bit from the rest. All this makes it one of the most interesting songs on the album. It's a song about seeking fortune, how money can make you feel good and working really hard to succeed. Then it is time for one of the albums faster songs called "Black Despair" which is an OK fast paced rocker with some nice guitar work from Foxx. A song about lying in your bed trying to sleep when depression takes over. A situation many of us can relate to I guess. Then we have the epic and long "2086" which has got a lot of progressive elements and tempo shifts. It also deals with heavy issues as destroying ourselves in an apocalyptic war with aliens and returning 100 years later (in 2086) to see that life is slowly coming back once more. A song that does not hit you instantly in your face but grows the more you listen to it. A very complicated song texture makes it harder to easily dig into. Definitely something new from Angus but also a song without a memorable chorus line. After that treat, its time for another straight ahead rocker in "Freedom Fighter" with  a great melody pulsating throughout the tune and a cool bassline from Andre Versluys forms a great background. A song about fighting for your freedom and your right to choose the way you live.

Angus bull with logo
Picture courtesy of Metal-archives.com
The second part of the CD starts off with the first and only ballad ever from Angus and it's a really good one; "I´m A Fool With Love". It starts with a beautiful acoustic guitar from Foxx and some nice keyboard harmonies building a delicate background. A great vocal from Lois and a nice guitar solo from Foxx makes this one of the highlights of the album. An attempt to gain some radio play and write that power ballad that turned out really nicely. Then it´s time for the song with the longest title and the very last song on the original vinyl album; "If God´s In Heaven (Why Is There Hell On Earth). This song is carried by another great and melodic riff and a nice vocal from Lois. That question in the title of the song very much sums up what the song is all about lyrically as well. This song has got a really strong chorus. The bonus material starts off with "Lonesome Fighter" from the compilation album The Heavy Touch from 1985. Again Gerard Carol handles the bass on all the bonus tracks as they all were recorded prior the Track of Doom sessions.The sound quality and production is not as good as on the album but it is a great up-tempo song with a really strong chorus that you can easily sing along to when taking a shower. A song about having to fight for your life in the night although you are not a killer or a criminal. You can be attacked anyhow by some shady figure. Definitely a great addition to this CD reissue. The liner notes say this was the strongest song on the compilation and I can certainly understand that. Up next is the second song from Angus on that compilation called "Aliens". It starts off with some fancy stuff from Foxx on the guitar and continues on in a furious tempo. Not as strong as the previous song and a song about having to leave earth that has been invaded by "Aliens" who no longer had air on their home planet. Now we are fleeing from the "Aliens" from star to star. The next song is "Ruthless Men" which is a pre-production demo that in the end did not make the album Warrior Of The World. It seems to me to be an earlier version of "Warrior Of The World"- the melody for the chorus is the same just the lyrics are different. Up next is an unrecorded and unreleased song called "Men of Hades" and the below par and bad sound quality becomes almost unbearable. I guess it was included for historical purposes. It´s a song with another apocalyptic message which the band seemed to be heavily into at the time. The CD then rounds off with the cult single and remake of Madonna's super hit "Papa Don't Preach". In the Angus world, the chorus has been re-written to "Papa Don´t Freak". This single's cover art also sported the band in women's underwear and they were labeled as "Sex-metal" by the media.  Hilarious! It starts out with the band singing acapella and they have really given it the Angus treatment with a heavy guitar riff and thumping bass. A great addition and bonus material! My top picks from the album would be "Warrior Of The World", "Money Satisfies", "I´m A Fool With Love" and "If God´s In Heaven (Why Is There Hell On Earth)".


Both these albums contain great and surprisingly fresh traditional heavy metal the way it sounded in the 1980´s. I must give a great thumbs up to Sonic Age Records/Cult Metal Classics for a great packaging with 16 page full-colour booklet containing all the info you would need. You have got a band biography, all the lyrics reprinted and who plays what on every song in detail. The bonus material gathered for these re-releases are just fantastic and for the first time available to the masses. These releases must be the ultimate Angus re-releases making all prior ones obsolete. I have never been a fan of putting together two albums on 1 CD and the previous CD issue did not contain any bonus material. So even if you bought the Sentinel Steel reissue you will find plenty of reasons to buy this re-release.

When it comes to the music both the production and songwriting are better and more mature on Warrior Of The World compared to Track Of Doom. It, on the other hand, has got a nice rawness to it. My guess is that you never heard of Angus before either. In that case - do yourself a favour and pick up a copy right now. This reissue is limited and will not be available for a long time. Both these albums prove that Holland could produce great heavy metal and it was not only limited to Picture. I would give Track Of Doom a 7/10 rating and Warrior Of The World a 7,5/10 rating. Time to take the bull by the horn and spin it one more time!

The Lionsheart

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BUY Track Of Doom here! / BUY Warrior Of The World here!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Europe find their hard rock sound on War of Kings


Earlier this month the band Europe released its 10th studio album War of Kings.  Now if hearing the mention of the band Europe evokes memories of poodle haircuts, syrupy love ballads, or sugar coated pop metal then this is not your Europe. War of Kings is a solid collection of hard rock that is virtually ballad free. Gone is the keyboard driven song riffs of the 80's and in its place is a classic intertwining of the guitar and keyboards reminiscent of Blackmore and Lord in the glory days of Deep Purple. War of Kings is collection of solid hard rock that calls back to the days of the guitar driven sounds of the 70's. The band employed the talents of producer Dave Cobb to really mastermind this sounds as he did with last years Rival Sons album.

The album opens with the powerful title track, War of Kings. This song ebbs and flows with intensity throughout. One things I really like about this album is the diversity of the songwriting. On this album every band member gets a song writing credit.  Hole in My Pocket, the next song up, is the fastest on the album has singer Joey Tempest spitting out lyrics as fast as he can in the verses. The next two songs, The Second Day and Praise You, follow the same pattern of riding a groove throughout the song and great vocal melodies in the chorus. The song Nothin to Ya has the heaviest guitar riff on the album and is another mid tempo rocker. California 405 opens with a great Mic Michaeli organ part that blends seamlessly with guitarists John Norum's playing giving the song a great aforementioned classic Deep Purple feel. This song just a great vibe to it. Days of Rock n' Roll is okay, but doesn't do much for me. Children of the Mind gets the rocking going again with a great groove and a powerful chorus. The next two songs may very well be the best on the album. Rainbow Bridge with its epic organ riff and Angels(With Broken Hearts) with its simple blues riff that just grinds through the whole song- a perfect example of when less = more. The regular album ends with a fast paced rocker, Light It Up, and the deluxe edition ends with an instrumental, Vassatan, which ends with a reprise of the first song, War of Kings. I would recommend the deluxe edition simply for the packaging even if there is not a lot in the way of extra music.

If every song is worth one point, I give this album a 9.5 out of 10 and consider it a must buy for the summer. Good listening!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Viper Solfa's Carving An Icon Reviewed by Shawn "Short-Fuse" Carter


Carving An Icon – Viper Solfa – Album Review by Shawn Carter

I first heard Ronny Thorsen, frontman for the Norwegian gothic/symphonic black metal band, Trail of Tears was forming a new band, Viper Solfa about a year ago when I heard the first single, “Whispers And Storms” off of their debut album, Carving An Icon out March 31st. Since then I’ve been patiently waiting for more! Recently I got it. I received their debut album in my inbox last week and I couldn’t wait to feast my ears on the full-length. I was definitely not disappointed.

All the band members are from Norway, the birthplace of black metal and have all had previous band experience, making Viper Solfa a bit of a supergroup. Thorsen is joined by fellow Trail of Tears members, Bjørn Dugstad Rønnow on drums and Endre Moe on bass. On guitars, keyboards, orchestration and composing duties is Morfeus (Limbonic Art, Dimension F3H, Mayhem, etc.) and alongside Ronny Thorsen fronting the band is Miriam “Sphinx” Renvag (Ram-Zet).

The band has spent nearly a year compiling this album, working on a sound that they like to call “poison music,” and it seems to have paid off. I always like a real headbanger of a tune to start any album, I find it sets the mood for the rest of the album and with “Deranged” we certainly get that. I also got my first taste of what Miriam “Sphinx” Renvag brings to the table vocally as I have never heard any of her previous material besides the single released last February, “Whispers And Storms”. I have to admit, as a dude that doesn’t usually get into female vocals in metal, I think she sounds pretty amazing. Ronny and Miriam’s vocals work perfectly together, they create a really dark and evil but still beautiful atmosphere that really draws you in. Of course, the atmosphere can’t be solely created by the vocals. The music is as big if not a bigger contributor to the overall atmosphere a song has. I feel that this group of musicians with their different histories and experiences all bring a little something different to contribute to the overall sound this band has created. The level of musicianship each member has over their weapon of choice is clearly very high and with the production of the album being so clear you can really appreciate each member’s contributions.

The overall sound is very symphonic, full of epic, orchestral sections, blast beats and down tuned guitars. It’s not overly original but at the same time I think they have a distinct sound to them. Most of the tracks on Carving An Icon have a great flow to them with seamless tempo changes and smooth transitions. Songs like Vulture Kingdom,” “Whispers And Storms,” “Deranged,” “Shahanshaw,” and the title track “Carving An Icon” are all great examples of this. There are a few tracks like, “Funeral Of Kings,” and, “The Toxic Thousands” where I felt like the choruses seemed a little forced and the transitions weren’t as smooth, but even those songs have great elements to them and are certainly worthy of being included on the album. After all, to you those songs might be the best sounding of the bunch. Every song has a place on this album, there aren’t any songs that feel like filler songs to me, each song is part of the journey that Carving An Icon takes you on and it’s a journey I will most definitely go on again and again.

Overall I give Carving An Icon the debut album from the Norwegian, symphonic black metal band, Viper Solfa, 664 out of 666 horns. If you’re into epic, symphonic, black, power metal, or dark metal as some call it, or even “poison music” then don’t sleep on this album. The album is available through Massacre Records and features 10 tracks. Carving An Icon is in my opinion the best musical achievement I’ve heard come from any of Viper Solfa’s members. They have truly made something new to be proud of. Everything from the musicianship to the song structures, to the atmosphere of this album came out beautifully.

Rating: 664/666

Shawn “Short-Fuse” Carter

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Blackberry Smoke Are Holding All The Roses


I saw Blackberry Smoke open for Jackyl somewhere around 2003.  They did a cover of Molly Hatchet's "Flirtin' With Disaster"  and the following day so did my band.  There are elements of Southern Rock I really dig and some not as much.  But basically I love thick heavy Les Paul's played through JCM 800's with lyrics filled with wisdom so simple that it never ceases to be true. 
Blackberry Smoke has come a long way in developing their style and sound since then.  The band I saw over a decade ago was a loud beer guzzlers soundtrack to southern living.  Now they are all that with a little more nuance.  Their latest offering Holding All The Roses isn't a balls out rocker but it is filled with plenty of balls and plenty of rock.  The type that makes southern rock addictive even to those of us in the North Star state.
Brendan O'Brien produced and if you pay any attention to rock music that name doesn't need much explanation.  A-Y, he's worked with everyone from AC/DC to Neil Young and his production on this record doesn't disappoint.
The record opens with the foot tapping "Let Me Help You (Find The Door)" followed by the title track which didn't seem right to listen to without a beer.  "Rock N Roll Again" is sure to be a staple in their set list. "Wish In One Hand" is so southern it burned my neck.  It's so southern Neil Young just wrote a song about it.  It's so southern I voted for Huey Long after listening to it.  So yeah. Its pretty good.
While there are definite highlights I wouldn't say there's a bad song on the record.  Like all good southern rockers Blackberry Smoke has mastered the art of using cliché's without sounding cliché'.  There's a song called "Payback's A Bitch" for fucks sake.  And it kicks ass.  "Lay It All On Me" is probably the funnest song on the record for anyone who's a sucker for a catchy acoustic riff.  Not the most original composition but when it's this good who cares.   
So here's the thing.  Blackberry Smoke recently played my town.  In the middle of winter.  I have summered in Minnesota (where I live), Arizona, Texas, California, North Carolina, Maryland and Virginia.  And I don't mind saying.  As much as the Minnesota winter sucks it is hard to beat our summers.  In other words.  Bring your country asses back in July and play in my alley.  There is little doubt this record won't be the soundtrack of some weekend that finds me in my backyard smoking the tasty parts of a hog as I crack another beer and reach for my wife's ass.
Buy this record and see this band.  Don't forget to use the Amazon link and help keep Decibel Geek rollin'.    

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