All posts by Ken Pierce

Ken Pierce is an NYC based Music Journalist and the Editor In Chief of; He's been documenting the live Metal and Rock scene of the Big Apple since 2003 and believes that there is always something exciting happening in this Metropolis.

“My Darkness” by Before The Dawn

Artist: Before The Dawn
Title: “My Darkness”
Label: Locomotive Music
Release Date: 4/1/2003
Style: Gothic Metal
Rating: 9/10

This CD would be my introduction to Before The Dawn and like most listeners these days I approach new things with equal levels of curiosity and hesitation. When I find a band that I have never heard of before I am sometimes afraid of what will be discovered when I play the CD for the first time. However when I placed the copy of “My Darkness” in the changer this was not to be the case. Beginning with a slight intro piece the groove laid out in “Unbrakeable” just hooked me instantly. When the dirty growls of Toumas Saukkonen came in I was sold. The CD has many different things going on in its favor. They use both styles of singing mixing the clean with the dirty to some effect. Most of the instrumentation is programmed and under the direction of Saukkonen making this project pretty much under his command almost like Trent Reznor would do with his group Nine Inch Nails. While this tended to lean towards the Gothic end for me, I felt a lot of Doom mixed with Black was an inspiration as well in its composition. The riffs are nice and heavy and the drumming solid throughout this mostly catchy CD (but the drums are programmed). I felt compelled to listen to the whole CD a few times before I could come up with words on it and key tracks for me were “My Darkness”, “Unbrakeable” and “Take My Pain”. I do admit a sense of lying to readers though since I pretty much enjoyed the whole piece more than just a few referenced tracks.
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“Touched By The Crimson King” by Demons & Wizards

Artist: Demons & Wizards
Title: “Touched By The Crimson King”
Label: SPV Records
Release Date: 6-28-2005
Genre: Heavy Metal
Rating: 8/10

Taking the creative minds of Jon Schaffer and Hansi Kursch is certainly going to give you a unique Metal experience and with “Touched By The Crimson King” these two Legends certainly deliver. Given their already well-known work in Blind Guardian and Iced Earth it is pretty much expected for the combined efforts of Demons & Wizards to be nothing short of exemplary. The group also does not suffer any lag time with this second release from the project as each tune is fresh and very well put together. Originally I felt this record had more of a Blind Guardian feel to it, but lost that quickly after a few more listens. It is very important to note that this mindset of expecting either Blind Guardian or Iced Earth should be lost in order to fully appreciate this music. Use it as a frame of reference but enjoy the exponential growth this is able to offer you. Starting off the release is the title track “Touched By The Crimson King” and this is one rousing number. It also showcases the ever exciting drumming of Bobby Jarzombek (Iced Earth, Halford, Riot) who is a welcome addition to this group in my opinion. Thinking this is impressive in terms of drums will quickly have you second guessing when “Terror Train” begins. This is a blistering track and the guitar and drum feel that encompasses it speeds by you and yet is also very well laced with a technical flair. Hansi’s voice is on point for the whole record as he showcases both his powerful side on numbers that dictate this be so as well as the softer side on the ballad type numbers. As I enjoy Metal ballads I found particular interest in the ones they did on this release. “Seize The Day” and “Wicked Witch” are great from a ballad standpoint.
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Powerman 5000 @ B.B. King Blues Club (7/17/2005)

Logo - Powerman 5000

Artist: Powerman 5000
Venue: B.B. King Blues Club – NYC
Opener: unknown
Label: Megatronic Records
Date: 7/17/2005
Genre: Heavy Metal

Powerman 5000 rolled back into New York and it was to be an interesting night to say the least. The return by Rob Zombie’s Brother Spider One would the first show in the City after a reasonable absence from doing so and it was to be held on a sweltering humid and rainy Sunday. As one walked in (which we did pretty close to Showtime) you could see that this appearance did not have a massive overall draw. If 150 people were there it would be a surprise. However, given the weather conditions and the fact that this was a Sunday evening in the middle of vacation months I felt this was the larger culprit at hand. When you add to the fact that the group is no longer signed to a major label, drawing over 100 people is still very good. I walked around the room as I am apt to do to see the scope of people who attend these things. One person way up front explained he felt there was no one here because these people don’t care about Rock and Roll anymore. “Too much nonsense is on the radio and its killing good music” he said. I am apt to agree with some of that, but still felt that everyone in the place was a diehard 5K fan.
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“Vinland Saga” by Leaves Eyes

Artist: Leaves Eyes
Title: “Vinland Saga”
Label: Napalm Records
Release Date: 7/19/2005
Genre: Atmospheric/Gothic Metal
Rating: 8/10

The Atmospheric/Gothic Metal band Leaves Eyes has followed 2004’s “Lovelorn” with “The Vinland Saga” and as soon as it began I felt it would be something special. Right off the bat you are brought into the tale of Nordic Sailors leaving their home Country in search of New Land. The first two tracks line up the story and do it very well. I also noticed that this time around the release would be a little bit heavier than the last. While I enjoyed “Lovelorn” I felt that it let me down as far as the heavy factor went, and “Vinland Saga” clearly makes up for it. Singer Liv Kristine Krull has one of the most beautiful voices I have ever heard in a Metal sense and while she does not scream, her melodies cut through the music like a knife. Liv also brings a little ethnic flair to the table by singing in her native language during a couple of the tracks. In addition to this, we have the mixture of some of the Black vocals courtesy of her husband and guitarist Alexander. The rest of the lineup remains the same as on the previous record. The mix of Black/Melodic vocals are best experienced in tracks like “Solemn Sea” and “The Thorn”, both should be played very loud for maximum enjoyment.
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“Forever Wild” by Sebastian Bach

Artist: Sebastian Bach
Title: “Forever Wild”
Label: Eagle Vision
Release Date: 6/15/2004
Style: Heavy Metal
Rating: 6.5/10

Taking portions of the VH1 show that held the same name “Forever Wild” and combining it with live concert footage we get this release from Sebastian Bach on Eagle Vision. It took a couple of views for me to come up with the proper opinion of it. While I have been a fan of Sebastian and his efforts for Metal and Hard Rock I found this DVD a little on the confusing side. For those that are unaware VH1 had a short-lived show bearing this name and it was dreadful if you asked me. The show was Sebastian pretty much running amok and they periodically showed videos. They also would place him in some odd situation on his own or with another rocker. It was almost like a “lets make a reality show about Sebastian Bach and how wild he can be” but never really followed any sort of scripting. I felt they should have either made a normal reality show about his life, and his band and touring and all or just done a Metal and Rock videos show with him as the host. I think the indecision of Network Executives is what endangered this show and made it so scattered. It was almost as if the creators were not placing so much attention in it. Over time this could have been developed into something a lot more interesting. Which brings us to this DVD.
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