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.

“Unleash The Fury” by Yngwie Malmsteen

Artist: Yngwie Malmsteen
Title: “Unleash The Fury”
Label: Spitfire Records
Release Date: 7/26/2005
Genre: Heavy Metal
Rating: 8/10

Yngwie Malmsteen is clearly a legend in the guitar world and with very good reason. His level of play has never faltered and with Rising Force he has released perhaps his finest work to date as far as Heavy Metal goes. “Unleash The Fury” comes to us care of Spitfire Records home to other Metal luminaries such as Twisted Sister and Overkill and this release is truly loaded from top to bottom. A guitar players fantasy comes true on this release for it contains a full 18 tracks. Truly taking advantage of the time allowed on a CD medium. No such thing as a 30 minute CD release from Yngwie (a welcome change I admit from the norm).Solid Metal content that brings me back to the early days of his playing and a foursome of instrumentals that will please fans of his classical metal styling and musical education. All across the scope of the CD, Yngwie’s playing reminds you of why he has achieved the acclaim he has received for so many years. His fluid solos make it sound so easy, but in truth the execution of this is borderline genius. He has gotten better as time has marched on, and this will be some 21 years of Malmsteen as a solo artist (older fans might recall he was in Alcatrazz and Steeler at one time in his youth). The production on the CD is stellar also, and believe it or not you will find all instruments of equal mix. Malmsteen does not overshadow the members of his band instead choosing to let them compliment his work and that’s how it should be.
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“Black Empire” by Force Of Evil

Artist: Force Of Evil
Title: “Black Empire”
Label: Escapi Music
Release Date: 3/29/2005
Genre: Heavy Metal
Rating: 8/10

The Force Of Evil has returned with yet another tasty piece of metal for the hungry masses. One wonders if the infamous “sophomore curse” would come into play on the bands second outing, yet this group has worked together before in other projects. It should only be considered the second chapter in a new book and this book is one that would seem impossible to put down. Lead guitarist and founder Hank Shermann truly knows what works in a metal group and clearly his years of work alongside King Diamond and Mercyful Fate has made him among the most creative forces in the genre. There is a lot of heavy duty metal on this release and “Black Empire” follows a horror theme. I discovered that this was due to Martin Steen’s love of the Horror Movie genre and when he presented the idea to Hank he was all for it. This was a smart choice for it also works along with the premise under the bands name. Evil and Horror often go hand in hand.
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“Robot Hive/Exodus” by Clutch

Artist: Clutch
Title: “Robot Hive/Exodus”
Label: DRT Nitrus
Release Date: 6/21/2005
Genre: Hard Rock
Rating: 8/10

With the release of “Robot Hive/Exodus” the band Clutch is on a path to Hard Rock dominance. On their third release the group truly stands apart from their peers and bring to the listener somewhat of a return to a more classic sound. When you begin playing this CD get ready for both something different and yet familiar at the very same time. There is such an amount of good stuff on this CD and I found it all a welcome change from the scores of Metal pieces that have been coming out. I love the genre and please don’t take this the wrong way, but so much of it of late has sounded exactly the same and if bands don’t take the chance to mix it up a little bit we stand to lose it as a valid form of music. The guys in Clutch are 100% in tune with this need and have served up an excellent piece of music with “Robot Hive/Exodus”. The entire CD holds a big and heavy sound that might be better envisioned in the 1970’s and I think a large amount of this lies in the guitar riffing of Tim Sult the stellar keyboard work of Mick Schauer. Schauer actually uses a Hammond on the album and even makes sure to bring it along for live performances. This is capable of making a world of difference on tracks like “Never Be Moved” and “Gullah” most specifically.
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“Monolithic Baby” by Monster Magnet

Artist: Monster Magnet
Title: “Monolithic Baby!”
Label: SPV Records
Release Date: 5/24/2004
Genre: Hard Rock
Rating: 8/10

Bringing back a hard rocking sound that has been gone far too long is Monster Magnet with their release “Monolithic Baby!” There is nothing like a return to the 1970’s heavy rock vibe every now and again when you are sick and tired of DJ Mixes and raps in your Metal music. Sometimes it is just that you have grown bored with all the arias that are prevalent in the European stuff that has been coming out. If anything like that describes your predicament then this CD by Magnet is just the remedy for you woes. This is pure balls to the wall hard rock and roll delivered by “Dangerous” Dave Wyndorf and his fellow band mates. SPV Records seem to be the perfect label for this group as they offer a wide variety of musical flavors for fans of varied genres to enjoy. The CD begins in overdrive and very rarely slows down the mental assault you will get from the guitar work of Ed Mundell and Phil Caivano. The pair delivers very well under the vocal powers of Wyndorf. Lyrically this is a very smart record and also a lot of fun to listen to. Musically it sets the expectations you might have of it, and raises the bar just a little higher.
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“Monolithe II” by Monolithe

Artist: Monolithe
Title: “Monolithe II”
Label: Candlelight Records
Release Date: 6/28/2005
Genre: Gothic/Doom Metal
Rating: 6.5/10

While I will admit it can be a tad difficult to review a CD that has too many tracks, the same can be said when the CD includes only one track. That is the case with the group Monolithe and their CD release of “Monolithe II” courtesy of Candlelight Records. The track runs a full 52 minutes and there is limited change in the piece. It is a Doom filled trek across the tune and I enjoyed it to a degree but would have liked to see more changes introduced over the span of the piece. Recently, Meshuggah released “Catch Thirty Three” on the world and it was also one long song. However, Meshuggah made sure to divide this epic into segments and offered more interesting changes. I felt the guys in Monolithe could have served their needs better by doing the same thing. Without suggesting they copy the guys in Meshuggah, I fear that this release as a result will appeal to only a select few people. I agree with some other reviews I observed on this French group that there is a certain vibe in this piece that will appeal to those that enjoy groups like My Dying Bride or Anathema. The group was founded back in 2001 by Sylvain Begot.
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