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Revisiting “Metal Edge” Magazine: The CD Reviews – Part 5

These album overviews were originally written for Metal Edge Magazine when I was a contributor to their “Hear Us Out” CD reviews section back in 2006-2007. With the magazine wrapping up publication a few months ago, I decided to add them to the context of our PiercingMetal presentation. I felt that by doing this I would not only be raising the horns in remembrance of the magazine but would also be able to showcase just how different writing for a major publication was when it all came down to it. Since “Hear Us Out” notations were usually “100” words in length, these posts will feature several reviews each until we run out of them. The freelance writing tenure at Metal Edge Magazine was discussed on THIS LINK so please check that out when done. Here are the reviews, so “Hear Us Out”.

Gilby Clarke: “Gilby Clarke” (Spitfire Records)

For those of you who only know of Gilby Clarke’s name from the blockbuster television show “Rockstar: Supernova” then this CD offers you the perfect chance to see just where the performer comes from and what he has brought to the table musically for many years. Clarke’s resume reads most prominently with his contributions to the music of Guns ‘N Roses where he replaced Izzy Stradlin while the group was on tour back in 1991. He left in 1994 and proceeded to record and produce on his own which brings us to this tasty compilation release. Musically the best way to define the songs that Clarke usually delivers is by saying its a little bit Black Crowes and a lot of Rock attitude. Listeners will find this collection as a cool treasure chest since it covers his solo releases (Pawnshop Guitars, The Hangover, Rubber, ’99 Live and Swag) which cover 1994-2002 along with some other trinkets. From start to finish, this is solid Rock & Roll and even if you were never a fan of his the diversity and groove of the tracks offers you the chance to try him once again. In 2006, Clarke was a prominent figure in the public eye as the guitarist for a Tommy Lee fueled show and band that would feature Jason Newsted (Metallica/Voivod) as well. The show was an instant hit as singers vied for the coveted position that ended up with Lukas Rossi winning out. Despite his winning, there was another worthy contestant in Dilana and she is featured on the song “Black”. It is a good track but far too Janis Joplin, as opposed to the unique style that she possessed on her own. Other treats here are selections from Col. Parker, the group he had with Slim Jim Phantom (Stray Cats). They were a good band that sadly failed to generate the interest that was deserved. Clarke is also a strong Producer who has worked with both L.A. Guns and Crash Kelly. The material on the CD finds its strongest tunes in lead track “Cure Me Or Kill Me” which while one of the oldest inclusions is still a fresh dose of Rock. As one of the core creators of the music of RSN, you can see the developments offered here that come to fruition on the new vehicle. This is a great sampler of a very productive career.

Grave Digger: “Liberty Or Death” (Locomotive Records)

For over two decades Grave Digger has continued to dole out Heavy Metal that is still pure, solid and delivers exactly what you desire of this music. The premise of the release is all battle related themes and the band charges through every track like heroic warriors that are certain of victory against staggering odds. GD plays Metal that many of us grew up on and yet manage to remain consistently interesting and not “dated” in any manner. The blood pumps with the drumming and the riffs hand out the air guitars as the listener joins the band in glorious combat.
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“There’s No 666 In Outer Space” by Hella

Artist: Hella
Title: “There’s No 666 In Outer Space”
Label: Ipecac Recordings
Release Date: 1/30/2007
Genre: Experimental Rock
Rating: 3/5

It’s interesting to find bands like Hella – for this is the kind of group that definitely shows a level of influence by bands such as Primus more than anything else you will find on the modern scene. It’s easy to notice this based on the level of heavy experimentation and complex time signatures that appear on every track on the album. There is nothing predictable about their sound, and while at times it looks to confuse – it is instead a very well-thought out mayhem. There are many who refer to this brand of music as Mathcore or Nintendo (which is a term I am still not catching at all) but I did feel that through it all there is definitely a lot of tasty rhythms and patterns that will impress any fan of that Avant-Garde/Experimental side of Rock. It takes a couple of listens to appreciate what is going on, but as a result you will find yourself getting a little more in sync with the guys. The band is comprised of Zach Hill, Josh Hill, Aaron Ross, Carson McWhirter and Spencer Seim. Zack and Spencer were band mates since High School and Josh is Zach’s cousin. The bands goal was to play a less conventional form of music and the name is simply a common slang term used in Northern California. Fans of bands like Mars Volta, System Of A Down and of course anything by Les Claypool should enjoy what Hella is doing.
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