Saturday, October 21, 2017

Bandcamp Bonanza – Deep, Fat, And Fuzzy

Sorry for failing to avoid the fat riffs and deep grooves that have been invading my bandcamp lately. It’s become not only an ongoing problem, but a first world problem that I cannot live without. I say you cash your paycheck at paypal via bandcamp this week and sit back and let the power of the riff compel you. Holy smokes do we have a treat for you!

Ignu – Lightningflash Flintspark
The deep, slappy bass line rumbles against a proto-tinged psychedelic flair with shades of acidic 70s underground. Riffs baked with sun fried fuzz distort above the land called ‘Warsaw’ as a disturbingly pleasant groove fills the stage with a killer Polish accent. Btw, how cool of a name is Warsaw? Thanks to Jonny P. for this stunning find. Favorite track: 07 - Endless Rift.

Spacelord – Spacelord
What we have here folks is a huge slab of stoner madness. Repeat plays are mandatory and invigorating. Push play and listen to what the hard rock is cooking.
Just when you thought we couldn’t have another Sabbath inspired hard rock band come in and sweep us off our feet, Spacelord hits us with a dazzling output of warm, fuzzy hooks, piercing vocals, and heavy blues infused stoner rawk riffs. Equal amounts of Zeppelin influence to Sabbath buzz. Huge infectious groove through and through.

Gypsyland - Gypsyland
The backstory behind this album is enough to purchase without even hearing it. After listening, its clear that the music is even better than the backstory. With their 90's grunge roots rolled in their sleeves, Gypsyland pack a kick-ass progressive flair of grooving riffs ranging from arena-tinged arena anthems to deeply intricate, well written rock and roll compositions. It would be a shame for this to go unnoticed.

Angus Black – Angus Black
This one was super fun to review as by the time I was ready to contribute my turn, the fans had already started an AC/DC tribute obviously in reference to the band name. Of course we all know Angus Young and these guys sound nothing like him, other than they kick some major doom ass in a similar fashion. It’s unknown at this time if the guitarist is decked out in schoolboy attire, but regardless the riffs are trippy and groovy as shit.
FDJ and Paul Rote have some BIG BALLS making those AC/DC jokes. A TOUCH TOO MUCH if you ask me. While Pepe Roni cuts the cheese with the much more apt Uncle Acid comparison I couldn’t pass the opportunity to join in on the fun. It's gonna take a WHOLE LOTTA ROSIE to yank this fuzzed out stoner doom from my speakers. Favorite track: I'll Guide You Home.

Deep – Deepkvlt
The groove runs DEEP with soaring psychedelic grit, progressive stoner riffs and titilating fuzz. Take a look into her eyes and tell me what you see. Favorite track: Mind Control.

Deadly Vipers - Fueltronaut
Wow, not much else to say as just WOW. At this moment in time I only have one listen in and am gasping for a breath of air. I feel like I’ve been drifting
Deadly Vipers strike with a venomous attack of space-age desert rock preaching the gospel of Kyuss at the altar of Truckfighters. The lethal vocal chops gnaw away with relentless hooks, low end rhythm and addictive solos.

Gods & Punks – Into the Dunes of Doom
The Brazilian doomers are back at it with an enhanced output of grandious fuzz. The journey takes us into the Dunes of Doom by way tranquilizing blues buried in psychedelic doom.

The Age of Truth – Threshold
Since we’re talking the truth I’ll be honest, Ripple Music would have signed these guys had we been in tune earlier on in the game and with adequate time to prepare for a proper release on the roster, which is packed in case you haven’t been paying attention. Have no fears though cause the Ripple equivalent across the pond, Kozmik Artifactz signed a deal to release on their killer tribe of bands. This is an absolute beast of a hard rock album and down to earth guys to boot. Prepare to be riffed to pieces by the debut into the heavy underground family via Threshold.
Truth be told, Threshold slams groovy riffs down harder than a lie detector test on on the mainstream media. The vocals ooze with masculinity as the guitar strokes us with breakneck precision guided by tight brooding rhythm. Stadium rock for the underground masses! Ripple Music approved, Kozmik Artifactz tested, pick this up today and save the lies for tomorrow.

-The Huntsman

Thursday, October 19, 2017

MORBID ANGEL To Release New Album Kingdoms Disdained This December Via Silver Lining Music; New Track Playing + Preorders Available

Legendary death metal unit MORBID ANGEL will unleash their ninth studio album on December 1st via Silver Lining Music and JVC in Japan. Titled Kingdoms Disdained, the record reunites founding guitarist Trey Azagthoth with bassist/vocalist Steve Tucker.

Just one play of MORBID ANGEL's searing Kingdoms Disdained, and you'll realize that this is the only true current aural document of a world sinking into uncharted despair. "The album title says it all," says Tucker, "everybody's fed up and nobody can figure out how to fix it. We've got all these miniature wars in neighborhoods, cities, countries, and we've got people with varying opinions causing chaos, yet everyone is doing what they feel is right. Which all makes it feel like the world has reached a point of utter madness and confusion."

As if fate constructed the moment, these forefathers of death metal found themselves witnessing the storm's eye as they prepared to create Kingdoms Disdained, deciphering it with their ferocious music via long-held Sumerian-based beliefs. "It's been written but nobody pays attention, because we erase our history," furthers Tucker. "We don't understand much about the Sumerian texts because things got erased, buried, and broken up. And for years, Trey and I talked a lot about the idea of those Gods waking up and coming back to show us that they're angry."

Recorded at Mana Studios in St. Petersburg, Florida and produced by MORBID ANGEL with Erik Rutan (MORBID ANGEL, Cannibal Corpse, Hate Eternal, Six Feet Under, Belphegor), Azagthoth, Tucker and drummer Scotty Fuller (Annihilated; former Abysmal Dawn) created eleven pieces of devastatingly dynamic death metal. Compositions such as "Garden Of Disdain," "Architect And Iconoclast," and "The Pillars Crumbling" supremely illustrate Azagthoth's incredible creative alchemy with Tucker as well as his own incomparable guitar work.

"We're always trying to paint pictures; to create images," notes Tucker, "and I think this album is a fair image of the world today, but taken from a different perspective; the perspective of those Gods who built this, who may be resting now but are starting to wake up."

Kingdoms Disdained also features artwork courtesy of Irish mixed-media artist Ken Coleman, who created a series of pieces that further augment the stories being told. Don't walk meekly around the edge of Kingdoms Disdained, go all-in on the journey and MORBID ANGEL's intense importance to these times will be crystal clear.

MORBID ANGEL's Kingdoms Disdained will be available on CD, vinyl, and digital formats. Preorders are currently available at THIS LOCATION where you can also hear opening track "Piles Of Little Arms." A special-edition boxset will be available to order shortly.

Kingdoms Disdained Track Listing:
1. Piles Of Little Arms 
2. D.E.A.D. 
3. Garden of Disdain 
4. The Righteous Voice 
5. Architect And Iconoclast 
6. Paradigms Warped 
7. The Pillars Crumbling 
8. For No Master
9. Declaring New Law (Secret Hell)*
10. From The Hand Of Kings
11. The Fall Of Idols 
*(Not available on the vinyl format.)


Formed in early 2015 in a dark cavern beneath the streets of old Edinburgh, a lead-heavy brew of old school Metal and the meatiest of 70’s classic rock emerges in the form of KING WITCH.

Drawing comparisons ranging from Black Sabbath and Candlemass to Mastodon and High On Fire, the band’s debut EP, “Shoulders of Giants” quickly earned them a fanbase and saw them touring the UK and Ireland as well as playing festivals in Europe including the prestigious Sweden Rock Fest.

The powerhouse vocals of Laura Donnelly give KING WITCH an unmistakable sound, while Jamie Gilchrist (guitars), Joe Turner (bass) and Lyle Brown (drums) provide a rock-solid and experienced backbone.

The band’s debut album, “Under The Mountain”, will be out via Listenable Records scheduled for a February’s end release .

It is a record packed with slab-heavy riffs and Joplin-esque vocals that should see the band securing their place in the heavy music scene.
More infos on 'Under The Mountain' coming shortly.

“Best new band / song I have heard in ages. Great playing, cool riffs, awesome vocals and heavy as f**k!!”
(Martin Forssman, Promoter and Vice President, Sweden Rock Festival)

KING WITCH Video Links :

Shoulders Of Giants:
War Pigs (Black Sabbath Cover):

KING WITCH Social Media / Web :

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Iron Maiden – An Apologetic For Post Millennium Maiden

I have a confession to make…I’m a Maiden fanatic.  Iron Maiden Fanclub member and all that stuff.  Got my membership card and everything.  Seen them over 15 times (which is NOTHING by-the-way compared to some fellow FC’ers I’ve met who’ve seen them literally hundreds of times), from the rafters of the L.A. Forum to the barrier in Dallas in 104°F Texas heat, from a night in May of 1987 when I was 16 years old to this past July in Oakland at 40-something, and I’m here to tell you one thing:  they’ve still got it.  The hardest working big-name metal band around that still puts out new music every several years (I’m looking at you Metallica!…9 frigging years for a new album…what are you Boston fer cryin’ out loud?!?...but that’s a different article…), they recently wrapped up touring in support of 2015’s amazing The Book of Souls album.  I can honestly say, in many ways they’ve never sounded better, and they have as much energy or more than most bands half their age, but in the wake of an amazing show I heard the naysayers and detractors cropping up even amongst some of my circle of friends with comments like “they were good but the setlist was weak” or “they played too much new stuff”, as if they weren’t doing tours in between the album tours where they featured almost exclusively songs from their earlier eras.  I don’t take it personally, but it does sort of irk me that a lot of fans don’t really appreciate that these 6 musicians, who have not a damn thing to prove, choose to continue making music from their hearts and touring their asses off jetting around the world where they routinely sell out soccer stadiums to the gills in Europe, Asia, South America and Australia before grinding away on the road in amphitheaters and hockey arenas to a somewhat blasé North American fanbase, only to be met with “meh” reactions from a percentage of those in attendance.  Obviously, not everyone is as fanatical of a fan as myself or some of my fan club acquaintances, but I think this reaction in many cases has less to do with what songs are on the setlist for a current tour, and more to do with people living in the past and the rose-colored glasses that filter their memories of Maiden shows “back in the DAY!” in the 80’s.  Now there is some validity to the criticisms that some fans have voiced regarding Maiden’s penchant toward longer format songs and progressive rock influence on the songwriting, and I understand that many people didn’t grow up on 70’s Rush, Yes, Peter Gabriel-era Genesis and Pink Floyd like I did (thanks to my older brother’s exhaustive record collection), but I think often people tend to dismiss their more recent output rather than really sit down and dissect it like a good metalhead should.  So, I got to thinking, “why don’t I do up a little primer for post Y2K Maiden?”  Plus, I’ve been avoiding the Rock Loft at Riff Manor for months because it’s been like 1000°F up here for most of the summer with all the hot frigging weather and I haven’t been writing anything, and I’m a little afraid Racer and Pope may rescind my standing among the Wavewriters (see what I did there? Haha!!!) if I don’t start contributing again soon.  So here goes, diehard Maiden disciple or not, whether you up your irons or don’t, hopefully you will find this informative, entertaining, or it at least consumes 5 minutes while you’re waiting in line at the DMV.

Brave New World – 2000

I remember sitting in the living room at my main brother-from-another Jim’s apartment when he told me “dude!  Bruce and Adrian are back in Maiden!”  I was dumbstruck.  “WHAT?!?...NO WAY!”  It was 1999 and like many fans I’d kinda lost track of Maiden after 1990, when I picked up their then new album “No Prayer For The Dying” only to find out my favorite member of the virtuoso guitar duo of Dave Murray and Adrian Smith, had departed the band following the “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son” album, a landmark album in my opinion to this day.  To my disappointment, gone was the layered songwriting and textured sound, and complex storytelling of “Seventh Son”, eschewed for a more stripped-down approach and a frankly drier sounding album in No Prayer For The Dying.  Combined with the almost total meltdown of mainstream AOR rock and metal with the onset of the retro hard rock movement (I refuse to call it “grunge”) in heavy rock and the coinciding downhill spiral of MTV, Maiden, like a lot of the 80’s metal titans, were put on the back burner here in the U.S.  Though the classic discs remained in heavy rotation on my personal radio station (my car stereo), I admit I lost interest in the newer material.  I didn’t find out until much later that Bruce had eventually left a couple of years later to be replaced by the somewhat much-maligned Blaze Bayley, who has gone on after his stint in Maiden to a solid solo career and is well-respected by many for his efforts to fill those gigantic lead vocal shoes.  Ok, history lesson over!  Fast-forward back to 1999, a tour is announced and Jim and I obtain our tickets and wait with baited breath.  The day comes, we drive downtown towards the San Jose State Event Center where we are greeted with a sawhorse at the freeway offramp with a notice on it saying in effect “Iron Maiden Concert Canceled” …we were crushed!  How could this happen?!?  We proceeded to pick up a 12-pack of Heineken and which we promptly destroyed in our sorrows.  (We found out later that the third member in the now “three amigos” of Maiden guitarists Janick Gers, had fallen onstage and broken a finger on his fretting hand the night before in L.A. forcing the cancelation.)  Fast forward several more months, we discover the news that a new album is in the works and due to drop in several weeks!  A new Maiden album?!?  “NO WAY!”  In a way, the anticipation for this album was something I hadn’t experienced in many years at that point, not since I was a teenager in the 80’s had I been so excited for a new album release.  I acquired my copy from Tower Records (remember how great Tower was?...R.I.P.) and got home and listened to it once.  Hmmm… Twice… Hmmm… Thrice… Hmmm… Holy crap this album was phenomenal!  Every song was unique but so completely MAIDEN.  Bruce’s voice was a little deeper, his vocal approach a little more melodic and controlled than his wilder, more haggard sounding voice on the last two albums prior to his leaving in 1992 (touring two years straight on the World Slavery Tour seemed to have taken the biggest toll on Bruce, as would come to light in later years in various biographies of the band).  Back was the layered sound, the complex songwriting, and most of all the killer guitars!  Steve’s galloping thunderous P-Bass, Nicko’s fantastic drumming with just the right amount of flash…it was all back!  I was like the proverbial kid in the candy store!  Shortly thereafter they were back in person headlining the Shoreline Amphitheater with Motorhead and Rob Halford (what a monster show that was!), and let me tell you, the Beast was BACK!!!  Oh yeah, the album…”Brave New World” is, in my opinion, an 11 out of 11 on the Riff-ter Scale.  Shorter uptempo songs?  Check.  Album starter “The Wicker Man” is a prime example in the vein of classics like “Flight of Icarus” and “Aces High”, and tracks like “The Mercenary”, “The Fallen Angel” and second single “Out Of The Silent Planet” are all solid examples as well.  More complex medium length tracks such as “Ghost Of The Navigator”, “Blood Brothers”, and the title track are more moody, melodic and even somewhat haunting, yet contain moments of sheer beauty, while longer more epic tracks “Dream Of Mirrors”, “The Nomad”, and album closer “The Thin Line Between Love And Hate” carry the listener on journeys through light and darkness, changes in tempo and mood, with the latter track ending the album with a beautiful melody behind some of Bruce Dickinson’s most soulful vocals ever laid down on a recording.  Rating 11/11

Dance of Death – 2003

And so it came to pass, that a few years later another new album was spawned, 2003’s Dance of Death.  I remember distinctly for the first time in some years, going down to the same Tower Records to pick up my copy at midnight on a Tuesday “new release day” to pick up my copy (anybody else remember doing that?).  I popped it into a disc player and listened to it all the way through.  I think it was about half way through the title track “Dance Of Death” that I said to myself “holy Eddie they’ve done it again!”  Opening track “Wildest Dreams” is another short head bobber of a track, a decent album opener, followed by a great shorter up-tempo melodic track “Rainmaker” featuring some especially fantastic guitar fills from Dave Murray throughout and a very sing-along-able chorus.  The moody “No More Lies” builds with a melodic guitar and bass melody backed with synth orchestration under Dickinson’s melodic singing before erupting into a galloping mid-tempo stomper.  “Montsegur” is a headbanging tour-de-force from the start, raging and surging from start to finish with some interesting guitar and vocal harmony lines from Janick Gers and Bruce Dickinson in the bridge sections from the choruses back to the verses.  Up next, title track “Dance Of Death” begins with a waltzing melody with bass guitar doubling acoustic guitar with a quality not unlike a lullaby as Bruce tales a tale of stumbling upon an unholy ceremony with dancing dead.  The tempo shifts as the melody switches to strummed chords and continues to build as orchestration and drums join in, then abruptly the tempo switches to a gallop with a guitar melody that is at once both maddening and mesmerizing.  This evil lullaby keeps dancing on as all three guitarists take fantastic solo breaks spelled by verses as this epic 8½ minute tale unfolds and ultimately simmers back down.  The shorter mid-tempo “Gates Of Tomorrow” a steady driving tune follows and is then followed by the up-tempo chug of “New Frontier” another great tune, but really all of this is just building up to something really special.  A haunting melody begins the awe-inspiring “Paschendale”, a tale of the horror and hopelessness of trench warfare in World War I.  This is no ordinary long progressive rock inspired Maiden song, this is perhaps one of the greatest Maiden songs ever laid down, hell, it is perhaps one of the greatest metal songs of all time.  “Paschendale” not only tells the story of the horror and hopelessness with the lyrics, you can feel it in the music, in much the same way that Black Sabbath’s “Black Sabbath” scares the hell out of you, and in the same way that Metallica’s “Creeping Death” sounds like the angel of death descending upon Egypt in divine judgement, “Paschendale” evokes the very feeling of hopeless despair the soldiers must have felt in those horrible trenches, that they would all die there and never see their homes and loved ones again.  “Face In The Sand” and “Age Of Innocence” are fine mid-tempo rocking tracks that lead to the final hidden gem on this album, “Journeyman.”  A wholly acoustic track with orchestral backing and featuring Bruce Dickinson’s most soulful vocals on the album, Maiden find a way to create a track with the same depth as their most metal classics with acoustic guitars and melody instead of shredding and raw power.  Rating 10/11 (Would be a 9 but the strength of the title track, “Paschendale” and “Journeyman” alone merit a full point increase.)

A Matter Of Life And Death – 2006

Up next is one of Maiden’s most ambitious from a songwriting standpoint, and in some ways controversial albums.  A Matter Of Life And Death is a dense album full of longer tracks with all but three clocking in around 7 minutes or longer.  Consequently, my inner prog-rock fan thinks it is one of their strongest albums.  Opener “Different World” is a standard shorter uptempo number that is solid, not mind blowing, but solid.  “These Colours Don’t Run” begins with a lamenting melody before jumping into full mid-tempo gallop as Bruce tells the solemn tale of the soldier leaving behind his family and friends to serve his country in the fight for freedom on foreign soil, in a moody and brooding track that goes through several time changes with tasty soloing from all three guitarists throughout.  “Brighter Than A Thousand Suns” the first of several absolute gems on this album, ebbs and flows alternating between headbanging heavy sections and more brooding lighter sections but always continuing to build upon itself.  Nicko McBrain really shines here with endless spot-on drum fills and multiple time changes.  “The Pilgrim” is an uptempo number with some of Steve Harris’ best flying bass fingers rhythms and some very Kashmir-esque melodies in the choruses and a solo from Janick Gers where he seems to channel Ritchie Blackmore.  “The Longest Day” begins brooding and steady chugging forward as the tension builds and builds like the P/T boats carrying the Allied soldiers toward the Normandy Coast on that fateful day in June of 1944, telling the story of the D-Day invasion in gritty detail.  “Out Of The Shadows” is a more melodic shorter track in the vein of the classic “Children Of The Damned” with arpeggiated melodic verses building into heavier choruses with tasty lead guitar fills from Dave Murray interspersed throughout and some soulful solo work from Adrian Smith.  “The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg”, released as the first single from the album begins with a moody almost haunting melody before breaking into a driving mid-tempo riff-fest with some tasty guitar fills throughout from Dave Murray.  The epic 9-plus minute “For The Greater Good of God” wanders through multiple time and mood changes punctuated by stunning solos from all three guitarists in a massive guitar breakdown in the middle.  “Lord of Light” features some of the most Sabbath laden riffs to ever grace a Maiden recording in the main verse and the only minor complaint I have is that after the chorus and middle break that great verse riff doesn’t come back!  Album closer “The Legacy” features probably my favorite moment of the album, beginning with an acoustic guitar and vocal intro with the quality of a frightening lullaby before picking up tempo followed by strummed electric guitar chords over the top of orchestration that I can only describe as sounding like a pipe organ on steroids.  It picks up into a mid-tempo driving head-bobber as Dickinson rebukes the world leaders and powers that be summed up by the accusatory “…just think what a legacy you now will leave!”  Rating 10/11

The Final Frontier – 2010

One of the more divisive post 2000 albums, 2010’s The Final Frontier drew both praise and criticism from the Maiden minions upon its’ release for everything from the lengthy “Satellite 15” intro to the opening title track to the very distinctly un-Eddie-like mutated Eddie resembling a cross between the Predator alien and the classic xenomorph alien from the Alien movie franchise (yes, people take album covers really seriously in the Maiden-verse…).  The aforementioned “Satellite 15” drew criticism from some fans for its’ lack of live drums, having been written and recorded by Adrian Smith in his home studio over a drum track which the band liked as-is only adding Dickinson’s vocals to finish off the track.  Many fans felt the track was mere album filler and disliked that it was combined with the title track into a single track which couldn’t be skipped over without skipping the title track.  Personally, I kind of dig the intro and think it’s cool, but many didn’t…whatever.  Let’s talk about that title track, a cracking mid-tempo shorter album starter (not counting the intro…) with a catchy simple chorus that begs to be sung along to and some quality solo work from Mr. Smith.  “The Final Frontier” winds down into a “thank you Detroit” style ending that flows directly into first single “El Dorado”, another mid-tempo headbanger  featuring the trademark Maiden gallop and some huge sounding drum work from Nicko McBrain.  The solemn “Mother of Mercy” tells the sad tale of a war weary soldier struggling to cope with the things he has done and seen, over a heavy driving rhythm featuring some drop-D tuning from Adrian Smith (apparently Murray and Gers won’t drop down to D on their Strats…I say they’re missing out.  ”Drop the E string mates, you’ll love it!”).  “Coming Home” is a great Dickinson/ Smith penned ode to tour life and Dickinson’s other role as pilot and captain of Ed Force One, the band’s airborne tour bus.  Very much in the vein of the classic “Wasted Years”, “Coming Home” features awesome soulful solo work from Smith and Murray and a singalong chorus begged to be backed by tens of thousands of backing singers in a live setting.  “The Alchemist” is an uptempo gallop telling the tale of Elizabethan era mysticist John “Doctor” Dee, a theme very popular in Dickinson’s later solo albums.  The atmospheric and driving “Isle of Avalon” weaves a musical tapestry of layered guitars that pulls the listener into the grip of a Celtic spell in what might be the most ambitious use of the three-guitarist lineup yet to date, with each guitarist playing different parts in the rhythm sections rather than just doubling harmonies.  Smith’s solo fills and his massive solo break here is some of the finest work in his Maiden career in my opinion, and Dickinson’s delivery and phrasing are spot on.  The complex “Starblind” features an odd time signature and some tricky riffing while the drum work is McBrain-bendingly good.  The solos and fills from Smith and Murray are particularly tasty.  At over 9 minutes long, “The Talisman” is up next, another epic tale beginning with a lullaby-like acoustic guitar intro with Dickinson singing a very English sounding lilt before the song erupts into full force, as the tale unfolds of pilgrims sailing from England with hopes of religious freedom in the New World only to be caught in the jaws of a maelstrom.  “The Talisman” features another fantastic Gers solo fraught with chaos echoing the fury of the storm.  “The Man Who Would Be King” is another 8-plus minute mid-tempo epic and dense track with some beautiful guitar work and orchestration in the beginning and a lush middle section featuring a Murray solo break that builds and builds soaring higher and higher before another tempo shift featuring the trademark harmony leads takes the listener back to the verse.  Album closer “When The Wild Wind Blows” clocks in at over 11 minutes long and tells the melancholic tale of a man who fearing nuclear annihilation shuts himself and his wife into a fallout bunker.    A somber guitar intro over Harris’ arpeggiated bass chords leads into a mid-tempo verse before the song breaks down into a half-time feel as the sad tale of life in the bunker unfolds into a massive solo break featuring all three guitarists punctuated by sections of guitar harmony leads, then the song switches gears once more into a bridge featuring another great Gers solo before the tale concludes repeating the intro melody.  The Final Frontier is ultimately a terrific album that in my opinion suffers a bit from the track order at the end of the album.  While phenomenal tracks in their own rights, the combination of three very densely layered songs of over 8 minutes long consecutively at the end of the album seems to make the album drag to the finish line a little bit.  Still, the payoff is worth the wait.  Rating 9/11

The Book Of Souls – 2015

Which brings us full circle to the most recent Maiden album, the double LP The Book of Souls.  When it was announced that the new Maiden album would be a double-disc (actually triple vinyl!) album complete with a full album-side 18-minute epic I was floored!  Once again, the most bad ass metal band in the world was upping the ante!  Some time before the album release date, the single “Speed of Light” was released on the band’s website complete with a groovy animated video.  CD singles were released in the U.S. in a groovy box with a limited-edition t-shirt, which I promptly snapped up.  “Speed of Light” is simply a cracking track, uptempo, with all the signature trappings that make Maiden great, galloping “Arry” bass, thunderous Nicko drums (cowbell even!), shredding guitars from the three amigos, and Bruce’s air raid siren vocals.  Then the waiting and waiting for the album release date to arrive…  Well weeks went by, I listened to “Speed of Light” about 1.5 million times, and arrive it did!  I picked up a copy and immediately popped it in the player in my truck and was instantly blown back in my seat by the trippy South American vibe of the intro to album opener “If Eternity Should Fail”, complete with haunting trumpet (ok, probably a trumpet patch on a synth) melody and shakers as Bruce sings “here is the soul of a man…”  Then the track explodes into full volume Maiden gallop as the surprisingly dark track thunders forward.  Apparently, this was a track Bruce had been working on as part of a concept piece intended for a future solo album, but ‘Arry heard it and immediately wanted it as a Maiden track.  Who could say no to Steve fricking Harris?!?  Nobody, that’s who!  A sprawling track with a double-time lead break and an outro with a sinister voice (Bruce’s voice with some weird effects layered over it) narrating over acoustic guitar that apparently was originally intended as part of the Bruce concept piece.  Up next, the aforementioned “Speed of Light” followed by the steadily driving and atmospheric “The Great Unknown”, a track that builds from a quiet bass and acoustic guitar intro over synth orchestration into a mid-tempo stomp punctuated by multiple guitar solo breaks from each guitarist, before crashing down into a repeat of the intro section to end the song.  “The Red And The Black” is a massive riff-fest of a track and goes through several structural and tempo changes throughout its’ 13-plus minutes, seemingly adding something new either musically or vocally with every verse and chorus.  (By the way, Bruce’s vocals throughout the album are fantastic and as strong if not stronger than they’ve been in years, no small feat for a man who is on the downward side of 50 years old and as it turned out was fighting and winning a battle with mouth cancer during the recording of the album!)  “When The River Runs Deep” is a shorter uptempo number that kick-starts the energy back up a notch leading into the monster title track.  After all those great riffs and solos and vocals and galloping bass and huge drums to this point, this, THIS is the track that absolutely wrapped itself around my brain stem and started squeezing the riff receptors!  Easily the most infectious of all the riffs on the album, the laid-back tempo of the main verse and chorus with a feel at once both South American and Native American makes the track seem even heavier.  As Bruce tells of the Mayan empire long dead except in the history books and their cities of stone, the song suddenly shifts into high gear in a double-time extended bridge with guitar breaks for all three guitarists as well as another vocal bridge with a riff bearing a striking resemblance to the classic instrumental “Losfer Words (Big ‘Orra)” from the classic Powerslave album, as it rises and rises to an epic conclusion in what seems to be way too soon for a track over 10 minutes long.  Thus ends disc one, or side three if you’re listening on triple black vinyl (which sounds fantastic by the way!...especially through a good set of big old-school headphones!).  “Death Or Glory” opens the second half of the album with a flash of bombast and a killer mid-tempo galloping riff as Dickinson’s ode to the World War I flying ace Baron Manfred “Red Baron” von Richthofen. “Turn like a devil, shoot straight from the Sun…climb like a monkey, out of Hell where I belong!” the bridge vocal inspired by von Richthofen himself upon his first flight of the new Fokker Dr.1 triplane of which he reportedly stated, “it climbs like a monkey and turns like a devil.”  (This of course became a bit of onstage comedy between Dickinson and the fans during the tour when fans would make climbing motions with their hands during the bridge, which Dickinson played up with a monkey hat and throwing bananas into the crowd during the song.  You have to love a band that still knows how to have a good laugh while melting your face off with their heavy metal assault.)  “Shadows Of The Valley” and “The Man Of Sorrows” are prime examples of great Maiden songwriting and “Tears Of A Clown” is a sober tribute to late comedian/actor Robin Williams’ battle with depression.  Which brings us to the grand finale, the final chapter so-to-speak, of The Book Of Souls, the 18 minute epic “Empire Of The Clouds”.  Recanting the true story of a post-World War I airship crash and featuring Bruce Dickinson himself on piano, composed by Dickinson aided by Steve Harris with orchestration that adds the perfect amount of ambience, this is some of the most outside-the-Maiden-box songwriting ever on an album with Eddie’s face gracing the cover, truly a departure from the kind of thing Maiden have been doing for over 35 years, but at the same time it is distinctly Maiden.  There is throughout The Book Of Souls a sense that each band member had a lot of input into this album, with their individual songwriting styles shining through.  This album is gigantic in every way.  Rating 11/11


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Wo Fat!! Live Juju: At Freak Valley and Beyond on sale now!

It's finally here!!  The all new, expanded version of the previously self-release Live Juju by the legendary, Wo Fat.  Now expanded to a 2xLP with an entire album of the never before heard "Live at the Double Wide" as a bonus!!  Gatefold with rare photos and a limited edition "Good Juju" multi-colored vinyl option.  Only 100 of these beauts were pressed. Black vinyl and CD available too!  Sale starts Saturday at 7 am PST - don't expect these to last for long.

“Wo Fat have cemented their status among stoner metal’s prismatic visionaries.”

We're thrilled to announce that Oliver Brewing Company will be releasing the Wo Fat Double IPA to celebrate tomorrow's release of the Wo Fat "Live Juju: Freak Valley and Beyond" 2xLP. Part of their ongoing Long Live Rock n Roll series of brews, you don't want to miss it if you're into beer. And Ripple is honored to once again be chosen for a beer. Thanks all at Oliver Brewing.  Follow them on facebook/instagram for all the details.
Burning of the Season, the new album by The Flying Eyes caught many by surprise.  By far, their most accomplished album to date, it's burned up the media with great reviews.  Now, we offer the last few limited edition "Pink Fire" LP's combined withe the North American Exclusive Ripple Music/H42 Records joint split The Flying Eyes/Lazlo Lee and the Motherless Children 7".  Exclusive white vinyl Ripple edition.   Not to be missed!

Talk about a surprise!  No one expected The Necromancers album.  Few even knew who they were, but wow, has this band taken off. Currently on tour in Europe, back at Ripple HQ we've completely sold out of black LP's and CD's (both being repressed). We have a very small handful of the limited edition, black smoke LP in the shop.  these won't last. Get one while you can.

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Xroadie Files

A Devils Den – One Hallucination Under God
David Lines – Guitar/Keyboards, Thomas Chollet – Bass, Dom Salameh – Drums

Eternal Now takes you on a trip back to the psychedelic 60’s of Pink Floyd and the Moody Blues just sit back close your eyes and trip along.  Brave New World is more late 60s hippy rock with lots of fuss and reverb.  Nearly Normal has a very Beatles meets the Amboy Dukes feel to the music.  Home continues the trippy hippy festival of sounds.  Who You Are starts with a very David Bowie Ziggy Stardust era sound slow and melodic then builds slowly very psychedelic at the end.  Where Do We Go has excellent acoustic guitar with bass that moves in and then the drums it has the feel of some of the early Uriah Heep progressive stuff.  One Hallucination Under God mixes King Crimson ELP and the Beatles in a strange and excellent sound.  Sea Of Time builds slowly with acoustic guitar and very psychedelic vocals then some very excellent guitar work.  Evolution ends the album with a Yes meets the Beatles song.

Archons -  Lords of Light And Thunder
Scott Driscoll – Drums, Chad Hartgrave – Bass/Vocals, Jeff Haynes – Guitar/ Vocals

Galaxians lots of feedback then a bass that grabs you by the throat and an excellent guitar riff with a very strange sound is what this song is all about with lots of tempo changes.  Red Lotus sci fi sounds shift into a heavy fast riff and rough vocals.  Red Shift Demons more feedback then a slow plodding Sabbath sound that slowly grows and punches you in the face.  Transmission lost in space and time then a riff from hell that plays till the end.  Dr Pain is just in your face gruff metal that continues to just kick you in the teeth and never let up.  Mysterians strange and trippy sounds slowly build with gruff vocals and heavy guitar riffs.  Kid Nitro kicks in from the very start with a punk meets metal feel.  Creature ends the album with a Sabbath style of riff and more rough stoner rock vocals.

Billy Boy In Poison – Invoker
Hjalte- Vocals, Alex – Guitar, Mikkel – Guitar, Niclas – Drums,  Troels – Bass

Absolution is just straight ahead in your face death metal that pounds you into the ground.  Iron Grip continues the onslaught of fierce death metal that just continues to pummel you.  Divided State Of Mind is a moshing fans favorite I bet the pit gets crazy.  Morcar has a slower Sabbath style of bass intro and solid beat that continues thru the song.  A Walk On Broken Bones is more of a mid-tempo crushing sound that kicks in and runs you over with its violence.  Exodus starts with acoustic guitar then a wall of sound hits you like a tidal wave.  Glaciers punches you in the face from the very first note.  Mara grabs you by the lower regions and just annihilates you.  Black Gold ends this sound festival of violence with another in your face shove down your throat musical journey.

Black Gremlin – The Fun Is Over
Cobra ChristoFory – Vocals/ Guitar, Narco Mainard – Bass, Mek Spazio – Guitar, Simple Matt – Drums

Refusing to Die is punk meets metal with some interesting sound.  Cobra Kai is sort of a 70s Hendrix sound with some excellent lead guitar that then kids back into a punk feel.  Vertical lips is a strange song with an interesting riff and vocals.  The Flame has a 60s feel that melds with punk and metal strange but good.  Parma Rock City continues the sounds of punk meets hard rock metal this song would be great for a pit.  Lone Wolf has a nwobhm feel to it with some interesting twists.  On The Steel Wings of Douchiness is a mix of Motorhead and punk.  Magnetic eyes is more of a Motorhead with punk vocals.  Not Like You has a great bass riff guitar intro that goes back and forth from metal to punk.  Party Crashers straight ahead riffs and punk like vocals with some excellent lead guitar.  Hangover Boy is fist in the air metal meets punk rock strange but it works.  Class of Nukem is more melodic at the start with duel lead guitars and an excellent bass along with some excellent drums and lead guitar work.


Sunday, October 15, 2017

Hungarian Rockers Ozone Mama Sign to Ripple Music, Announce New Album and Free Download Single

Ripple Music is proud to welcome Hungarian rockers, Ozone Mama, to it's growing family of best heavy psych, stoner and doom bands on the planet.

Cranking out a bristling brand of high-octane rock n’ roll, Ozone Mama hails from Budapest with a vintage sound reminiscent of the 60’s or 70’s yet swaddled in a modern vibe. With their debut album ('The Starship Has Landed') they won a Phonogram Prize in 2012 . Their second release, 'Freedom EP', released in 2013 received major play across European, American and Canadian radio stations and their song 'I Really Care'  was featured in Classic Rock Magazine .  While their 2016 release "Sonic Glory" was awarded the Fonogram Prize in the category of "Hard Rock or Metal Album of the Year"

Comprised of Márton Székely (vocals), András Gábor (guitar, vocals), Gergely Dobos (bass guitar) and Gulyás Máté (drums) Ozone Mama has shared the stage with International headliners such as Monster Magnet (USA), Airbourne (AU), The Darkness (UK) or Kamchatka (SWE).

Now joining forces with industry leading heavy rock label, Ripple Music, the new album "Cosmos Calling" is due to hit the streets in January of 2018.  As a prelude, Ripple is thrilled to release the special radio-edit version of the lead-off single, "High Ride" which is available as a FREE DOWNLOAD from the Ripple Music Bandcamp page and CD single/downloads at Ozone Mama Bandcamp

As the new album prepares to drop, look for the world to start talking about Ozone Mama
OM 2017 SINGLE FRONT RGB correct.jpg

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Bandcamp Bonanza – 10-7-17

It’s been a busy couple of weeks for me at work and this time of year in general is overwhelming at times. Bandcamp comes in handy for these situations, or it just makes them more overwhelming because a new variable is thrown into the mix being which albums am I going to listen to next, which ones are worthy of a vinyl purchase, and which child has to go without dinner tonight due to blown music budget and no money left. It’s okay, the following riffs are quite filling to quench your craving for pleasure.

Namazu – Works Cited
I’m really impressed with this new album by Namazu and its hard hitting, yet pop oriented groove going on. It’s really quite off the beaten path of what has been making headlines lately. I’ve listened to Works Cited more than average lately.
Oh man, such a refreshing listen in the world we live in nestled deep in the heavy underground. Combining the best aspects of sludgy hardcore and punk with a groove oriented rock n roll backbone, Namazu have cited a superior work of heavy music avoiding cliché trends and overused riff worship. Like they said, FFO Red Fang, Big Business, Torche, Coliseum....

Monarchus – Monarchus
This one is still buried in my growing wishlist. I’ve worn the free listens out on my mobile app, I keep scrolling across it when navigating my wishlist for next album to hear and there is something about it that keeps calling my name. Maybe it’s the multi-vocalists; maybe it’s the deep and sultry distortion, groove, or perhaps the dirty blues-based riffs. I don’t know, but I do know it’s pretty killer.

Cardinals Folly – Deranged Pagan Sons
I’ve been a fan of Cardinals Folly for quite some time. With that said, I haven’t listened to them since their last album Our Cult Continues was making waves back in 2014. When I finally got around to giving Deranged Pagan Sons a good listen I remembered why I had fell for them a few years back. This is top grade doom. This is the kind of doom that keeps you on the edge of your seat and blows your mind with its intricate dynamics and powerful riffs.

Mountainwolf – Absinthe Moon
Absinthe Moon follows up the critically acclaimed debut The Silk Road in pure style. I was a huge fan of the Silk Road, enough to buy the digital first, and then rebuy when it came out on vinyl. Now I’m left with no money to order the new one Absinthe Moon. If they were side by side in the record shop and I could only pick one I would have to go with Absinthe Moon. Not because I already have The Silk Road, but because I think it’s a big step up from the debut, which I loved.

Motherslug – The Electric Dunes of Titan
These guys are doing it right. The pre-order is available and they’re actually incentivizing the pre-order by making it available for a discounted price. Half off to be precise. I’ve been saying this for years about the bandcamp pre-order. If you’re going to put the digital album up for pre-order you must give the supporter some kind of bonus for going out on a limb to support. Discounted price is probably the easiest option. So instead of the normal price of $6.66 you can snag the entire album which will be available to download the moment it’s released with a couple tracks now. Fortunately I received a promotional copy of the entire album and about lost my shit while I had my beats headphones bumping down the dog walking trail the other day. The Electric Dunes of Titan are well worth your time and don’t hesitate on that special pre-order pricing on bandcamp. You won’t be sorry when the melodic savagery overcomes your desire to head bang with a slow and heavy groove.

Black Road – Black Road EP
The moment we’ve all been waiting for has arrived. Chicago heavy blues rockers Black Road have just released their debut self-titled EP and it’s a barn burner. Equal parts slow and doomy atmosphere soaked in a sultry blues. The front man Suzi Uzi demonstrates her powerful croons and red hot swagger on 5-tracks of molten doomy blues. The album is being released by DHU Records on CD/vinyl, and I believe on Cassette Tape via another distro and you’ll be able to get copies from the band.  Keep your eyes out for these guys as they are a fresh entry into the heavy underground heavyweights.
Black Road leads us through a smoke-filled wasteland of riff crusted doom and fuzz tracked heavy blues. Suzi Uzi takes center stage with a red hot output of sultry croonage backed by throbbing bass, layers of guitar mystic and the hard rock polished production by none other than Tony Reed.

-The Huntsman

Friday, October 13, 2017

Bailjack - Show Me Your Heart

Formed after the sad demise of Trilogy, whose sole album was a scorcher, Bailjack is a whole different beast. And bloody great they are as well. In a way they carry on from where their predecessor left off but with two essential differences. One is the drumming has vastly improved with Andy Myers banging the skins and secondly, the members seem to have a blast playing together. This alone is a huge boost when making great music. Everything on 'Show Me Your Heart' is free flowing, unrestrained and groovy. Keeping focus on heavy rock and psychedelic jams, this quartet spares no punches telling tales of heartbreak, love, anger, frustration, disappointment and joy. You name it!

The solos, especially how Jason Barker and Blake Owens take turns and bounce back and forth, as in 'Show Me Your Heart', are fantastic. But that’s not all the things making the title track great. It weaves back and forth between tempos and emotions with such ease. In doing so Bailjack creates an amazing atmosphere of music from days gone by in a fresh, modern take. Aaah, listen to the opening riffs of ‘Sweet Harmony’, man. They send chills down my spine before the band hits a sweet jammy, yet heavy rock groove. Then everything explodes into a lead-heavy stomper towards the end guided by an amazing bass line and deep thunderous drums. Beautiful! ‘Chaos Wave’ is laidback, mellow and jammy but with sharp riffs and harmony vocals at the same time. Yet it is dark with a strong feel of Armageddon about it and I absolutely love it. Slowing down even further ‘Frown’ has a wonderful Allman Brothers vibe to it. But it is a somber feel throughout, a Southern darkness if you will, as impending doom is prevalent.

Oh yeah, a doomy groove appears in ‘Struggle On’. Reflective and moody a mesmerizing bass by Ron Fezzy McGinnis leads the way as the songs gradually builds up which wonderfully enhances the narrator’s plight. Again, the solos from Barker and Owens are on point and then some! Back to the Southern feel and the mighty Allman Brothers, ‘What’s Done Is Done’ tells it like it is. You can’t undo the past, no matter how you want to, right? Slow-ish with so much feel and excellent musicianship, Bailjack completely blows my mind! Closer ‘Rotten Already’ stomps and rolls and rattles like your demented cousin from the country wasted on pure Tennessee moonshine. The band goes full tilt and takes no prisoners. And yours truly? I’m headbanging and booty shaking to the best of my ability.

The king is dead, long live the king. I rejoice when something good springs out of a bad situation and Bailjack is a prime example of this. As I stated earlier, the band formed out of the demise of another. But personally, I believe the members of Bailjack are on to something much better. Just listen to ‘Show Me Your Heart’ and you'll know what I mean.

From what I hear a new album is in the works which I am looking forward to so much. Sadly though, drummer Andy Myers has amicably left the lineup. His replacement is Faith In Jane’s Alex Llewellyn, so the band is in good hands. So in conclusion, dear waveriders, check out this fantastic Maryland quartet and marvel at their debut until the sophomore release hits the airwaves. You won’t regret it!


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