Friday, February 16, 2018

INTO THE FIRE with James At 15, The Best of MONTROSE

James At 15 is the singer, record breaker and fire breathing frontman for the punk/metal hybrid band KNOWLEDGE IS FOR FOOLS (aka: KIFF). James has previously shared some of his thoughts on ACDC and KISS. Now he takes on MONTROSE. 

MONTROSE - MONTROSE Remastered/Reissue CD

Finally ! Late 2017 saw the re-release of one of the 70s best American Hard Rock / Heavy Metal Classics. The debut album of Montrose.  Ronnie Montrose was a early 70s. Guitarist who had done studio work. And had played for people like Van Morrison & Edgar Winter. In 1973 He formed his own band.  And recorded this album.  A instant classic! These days its mostly remembered as the album. That gave the world Sammy Hagar. Ha that's true. And its also mostly true. In My opinion. as the best thing Sammy Hagar ever did. Probably the best thing Ronnie Montrose ever did too. While this album was just a few years before My time. I was already a Sammy Hagar fan when I became aware of it. I had a few of His pre-I Can't Drive 55 solo albums. And thought they were decent. A teenage hoodlum friend of Mine. No names mentioned. But if this piece winds up on Facebook. He might be reading this ha ha ha. Remember when ?  Anyway I went over to His house one night. He had just returned from stealing some 8-tracks out of somebody's car.  We were listening to them.  When We popped in this classic album. Second song in. Bad Motor Scooter!  Hey that's a Sammy Hagar song I thought. It had also appeared on one of His early live albums. And I had heard and liked it on the radio. Now I was realizing where it came from.  Other songs Rock The Nation, Space Station #5, Rock Candy and My personal favorite I Don't Want It !   This album is full of classics. Pretty much every song is great.  Pure solid hard hitting heavy rock.  Critics at the time. Dismissed it as a American Led Zepplin rip off. But for My money. I'll take this album over ANY Led Zepplin album. That's not to say Zepplin was that bad. Its just to say. that this album is that Good! Tons of guitar god shredding to influence guitar heroes for years to come. I heard it said. That this was a teenage Eddie Van Halen's favorite album ever. And You know where that led to.  So anyway. I have been a huge fan of this one since like age 14. Here We are all these years later. The reissue includes a cool booklet.  Tells the story of the album & band at the time. A few cool pictures. And a 17 song bonus disk. Demo tracks, Live stuff. And Even a song that for whatever reason. Was never released. The song Shoot Us Down was recorded for this album. And was never released. Why? Who knows. According to the liner notes. Sammy Hagar Himself loved the song. And has no idea. why it was not included on the original album. Great stuff. I had some of the live stuff previously on a bootleg cd. But its great to have it official now. Complete and remastered sound quality. So to those of You reading this. If Your old enough to know. Then You know. I don't have to tell Ya.  Those of You too young to know. Or only know Sammy Hagar from the horrific Van Hagar years or the crap cornucopia of His I Can't Drive 55 years. Dig up on this album. Its a must own classic. Of early American heavy metal / Hard rock guitar hero greatness. 

Warner Brothers / Rhino records 2017

MONTROSE - Paper Money Remastered/Reissue CD

The second Montrose album. Like the first classic album. Rhino has reissued it. With some great pictures and liner notes. And a full bonus disk of great sounding live stuff from the time period.  While this was a great album. It was never the mandatory classic the first Montrose album was. But if You are like Me. And You loved that first one so much. Then You will wind up owning this one too. sooner or later. Sadly only two songs.  I Got The Fire and the title song. Paper Money equal the greatness. of anything on the first album. Spaceage Sacrifice is a pretty cool song too. The rest just filler really. Kinda boring. And really would probably only interest guitar freaks. Who enjoy nerding out on Ronnie's brilliant guitar work.  Some metal heads. May remember the classic I Got The Fire. From one of those classic early 80s Iron Maiden B-Sides. Where they did a ripping cover of it.  This was the last album & tour of the original Montrose band. Hagar went on to solo stardom. He took bassist Bill Church with Him. Drummer Denny Carmassi. Went on to play with Whitford St Holmes , Ted Nugent, Coverdale Page, Heart.  Even recorded a album with Joe Walsh. As well as bouncing back and forth between Sammy Hagar & later versions of Montrose & Gamma over the years.  Ronnie Montrose continued on with various other versions of Montrose. Never as good as the original. But always decent quality hard rock with fantastic guitar. He also formed a band called Gamma that was sort of a harder rocking prog band. A couple of those albums are worth tracking down. Personally I would avoid the hell out of his jazz rock solo instrumental stuff.  Guitar nerd musician types. Can certainly find something to enjoy. On anything with Ronnie Montrose's name on it. He was a innovator of electric guitar for sure. For Me I've always been more of a straight ahead rock fan.  Still Paper Money has enough punch to keep Me interested. 

Warner Brothers / Rhino records 2017

Ronnie Montrose - 10 X 10 CD

So what this actually is. The last 10 songs. ever wrote & recorded by Ronnie Montrose.  He was recording this stuff. When He died in 2012.  It sat unfinished. Until His widow. Got intouch with Ronnie's friends & band that was working with Him at the time. To finish it. And came upon the idea to finish it as a tribute to Him. So You have KISS's drummer Eric Singer.  And Ricky Phillips of Styx & the Babys on Bass. Who were both good friends and were recording with Him when He died. Along with 10 different vocalists.  And 10 different guitar players. Each playing on a song. Too many greats on this to list em all. But the musicians include. Tommy Shaw, Mark Farner, Glen Hughes, Rick Derringer, Brad Whitford, Dave Meniketti, and of course Sammy Hagar.  Musically its mostly what You would expect. Solid hard rock. Played by very talented professional musicians.  No its not the raw intense hard rocking Montrose of 1974.  But its loud enough to keep Me interested.  A few of the tracks that stood out to Me. Colorblind with Sammy Hagar & Steve Lukather (Toto).  Strong Enough with Tommy Shaw is pretty cool. And rocks hard. Any Minute with Mark Farner is weird prog rockish. But I like it.  All and all I would say. This release would mostly be. For Ronnie Montrose superfans. And or completists Of Ronnie or any of the tons of musicians who played on it.  Serious musicians & fans of polished melodic hard rock. Are gonna find a lot to love on this one too.

Rhino Records 2017

Thursday, February 15, 2018

TORTURE SQUAD - Far Beyond Existence review

TORTURE SQUAD - Far Beyond Existence

Brutal Records

Just from their name I thought that I may have written about this band in the past. After checking the archives from my previous site I figured it was a different torture named band. This TORTURE SQUAD hails from São Paulo, Brazil, started out in the early 90's and has a bunch of recorded material out. My loss because this is my first exposure to em. 

But that was then because this is the new era of TORTURE SQUAD. While the bassist and drummer are long time members, the band has a new guitarist and lead singer who by the way is a woman with a wicked vocal range. Both of them have been with TORTURE SQUAD since 2015. Like I said earlier I never heard this band's previous line-up material but what I'm hearing here is pretty damm good.

Musically TORTURE SQUAD are nineties era death thrash but with some interesting tweaks. First off the bass is placed prominently in the mix. But hey if I was playing bass in a band for twenty five years I'd make sure my sound was not fucked with especially on my eighth full length. The drum work, as far as this recording goes, is something I have a problem with. Nothing against the musicianship it's just at times it has that banging on tupper-ware sound on a few songs. Although for the most part it's a raging machine of beats keeping the aggressive tempo.

As far as the guitar work, well since the bass takes an up front approach the guitar is mostly low sounding as far as prominent riffs go. The man does have his moments but it's when the guy kicks in with a solo then things change. You'll be listening and suddenly a door kicks open it's face ripping time. It's one of my favorite parts to this release. Finally there's the vocals and they're cool as fuck. This woman mainly pushes a feral witch voice but then will lower things to the guttural but can also put out some beautiful clean vocals.

All in all Far Beyond Existence is a great release with four very talented stand out performers all in sync to create a different approach to a sub genre that surely needs a kick in the ass. I listened to this over four days and each experience had me catching a newer enlightenment. Also I ended up going wow that's fuckin cool for examples the title cut with enough tempo changes that'll snap necks. Then there's the Eastern flavored "Blood Sacrifice" which kinda stops ya because this band is from Brazil. Also "You Must Proclaim" with it's Michael Schenker like 80's Metal uncanny solo which just kills ya. The promo info calls TORTURE SQUAD Incendiary Brazilian Extreme Metal. I agree.



Ah yeah can I just get a fuckin WOW or maybe a HOLY SHIT? Seriously! OK so it's obvious that you're captivated by the woman in the baby doll dress ripping apart your sonic senses on that B.C. Rich Warlock. Her name is Kuzuha. The vocalist is Kubine and the drummer is jiro. 

Their latest album is Wounds from 2016.

Ya know as you watch the video you see someone who looks like KING DIAMOND in the crowd.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

VOLITION - Visions of the Onslaught review

VOLITION - Visions of the Onslaught

Brutal Records

Oklahoma where the thrash metal comes sweeping down the plains. Yeah I know kinda fucked up opener sentence but I had to. Basically it's a tweak to set the mood since serious thrash is the case here. Remember when you had all those top tier thrash acts but you were inclined to liking the bunch on the second tier? I'm addressing the older crowd who read this blog by the way. Well VOLITION are that type of band. 

This is the debut full length by VOLITION, which actually came out in the Fall of 2017 but is worth a look at in 2018. This four piece act started out in 2013, hails from Tulsa, Oklahoma and plays some damm cool evil sounding thrash. Now I've said it many times but I'll repeat it. A decade ago I supported the thrash revival. I thought it was cool and admit that many of the bands relied heavily on SLAYER / EXODUS influences. 

Fast forward to now, VOLITION don't do that. Instead they push their brand of thrash to the more brutal side of the genre that pushes into the direction of death metal. They have these fist raising riffs, I'm talking angry sounding stuff. The guitar work is face shredding. None of that happy camp thrash junk. The nine cuts on here give off a very negative feeling. It's got that slash and burn atmosphere. The vocals have that blackened venomous tone but musically the band steers clear of that genre.

The bottom line here is if you're a thrash fan sitting there starring at your original copy of VIO-LENCE's Eternal Nightmare. And you're wondering that modern day thrash has gone on to the predictable silly side. Or worse, has taken a collective progressive nose dive up a hipster's ass then hey VOLITION is a band you should check out. After a few listens you'll think there's still hope out there.

TERRORHAMMER – In the Name of Hell review

TERRORHAMMER – In the Name of Hell

Dying Victims Productions

Personal preferences, these days I'd rather hear blackened thrash in small formats like this one here which is a CDEP. I know years ago there were some great full lengths by SODOM, DESTRUCTION and AURA NOIR to name a few. But to be fair they each had two good ones and the rest could be cherry picked for cuts worthy. Fast forward to now and I'll tell ya at times I think three quarters to half of what I hear from a blackened thrash act is fine but the bands are adding filler. Just for the record TERRORHAMMER's previous release was a full length.

OK so as far as this release goes there's no filler here from TERRORHAMMER, a two piece act hailing from Serbia. In fact there are five cuts on it and even the short opener is pretty cool. Then there's the cover of the KORROZIA METALLA (a long time running Russian thrash act) song "Black Terror". Hey that's a shocker and shows that this band knows good stuff from their area of the world as opposed from pointing westward. 

TERRORHAMMER are not trying to re-invent the blackened thrash genre, thankfully. No what they produce on here is on point and yeah it's perfect. It's a straight up VENOM meets MOTORHEAD take with headbanging riffs, sick vocals and pure rhythm to carry you through till the solos slice. It's a classic sound one that MIDNIGHT rules at.

AGRIMONIA - Awaken review


Southern Lord

The first time I listened to this was late night after work. I wasn't captivated enough to keep it going so instead I went on a film noir of Vincent Price movie binge for two days. I've seen all of those flicks before but hey some are good while others lack enough Price and the seem boring. Which brings me back to this release. I've heard this all before and while some things are decent there still a boredom factor to contend with.

AGRIMONIA are not a new band in fact they've been around for a decade (although it's the first time for me hearing em) with a handful of releases under their belt. They're basically a side project from Gothenburg, Sweden featuring one guy from AT THE GATES and two guys from MIASMAL plus two other people one of whom is their female vocalist. Since the guys in AT THE GATES and MIASMAL have decent enough death metal day jobs I can see why this band has a sporadic time table for releasing material.

As with many side projects the idea behind them is to get together to create music different then what they usually do. In AGRIMONIA's case they answer the question what if ARCH ENEMY went full on melodic death doom and added flourishes of post metal something or other in order to fill gaps and extend length of songs. The vocalist, Christina Blom, utilizes a decent feral blackened growl throughout. Unfortunately that's all she's got as far as a vocal delivery. No variations what so ever emanate from her fried vocal chords. In an era where female vocalists in extreme metal are not new and display plenty of variety and talent you'd expect more.

Now with all that said this third full length from AGRIMONIA is not just a package of microwave Swedish meatballs (aka: looks great on the package but tastes bland). The band has some good material on this six song package. "Withering" is an absolute masterpiece with KATATONIA death doom sorrow, old fashioned hardcore rockin and progressive moments of filler. I'd say Christina's style of singing works best on here. Also there's "Foreshadowed" which is another cut featuring some intricate guitar work opening the cut before the melodic death rhythms kick in. In the end it's a decent release.

Monday, February 5, 2018

LORD OF PAGATHORN - Daimono Philia review

LORD OF PAGATHORN -  Daimono Philia

Woodcut Records

Who can judge what is sane or insane in this insane world. Years ago this hipster scribe who worked for Pitchfork told me "Black Metal needs to progress in order to stay relevant." I told him relevant to who, you? Hey pal fuck you! The guy was a trendy douchebag in the first place. But seriously regardless of music genre, what if you're passionate about a certain style of music and you just like creating it. Better yet what if you were good at it before and just want to do it again.

Case in point, here we have the Finnish black metal band LORD OF PAGATHORN who started out in 1992. They existed for a few years putting out two demos to their credit. But then they called it quits for reasons of their own. Then in 2010 the band resurfaces and sporadically puts out some releases (ie: a demo, EP and a full length). Now here we have their latest and damm if it doesn't sound like something from the 1992-95 era of black metal or earlier. To me that's a good thing.

On Daimono Philia this trio keeps things in the harsh black metal of old template. Musically it's plenty of basic riffs and at times in a thrash or even death metal vein. Although the band does kick into the black metal song structure basics on a few cuts. Basically it just sounds ominous as hell as opposed to tremolo picked madness all the time. Another thing interesting is that you can actually hear the bass. The drumming is organic and supplies variation throughout the songs. The vocals, which are on the higher end of the harsh rasp meter, make things blackened to a crisp.

Song wise speaking and with all of what I've already said this is incredible. LORD OF PAGATHORN makes great use of varying attacks whether it's galloping rhythms or drawn out tones of pain. Ya know for a Finnish band they do sound influenced by a few well known Swedish BM acts. First and foremost is  BATHORY and also DISSECTION. Then again they do add some symphonic touches which brings them back home to the likes of Finland's classic BARATHRUM.

I've listened to this every night after coming home from work, by the way thank you. Listening to this reminds me of the days when I'd just blast early black metal and drink a few beers just to relax from the bullshit late at night after work. When I first played it I liked it for it's significance. Afterwards it was for pure blackened enjoyment and now it's a favorite. The passion which goes into this material is why old fucks like me still listen and don't care about progression or what the hipster kids think. Here's another great release for 2018.