All posts by Ken Pierce

Ken Pierce is an NYC based Music Journalist and the Editor In Chief of PiercingMetal.com; 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.

“Queensryche” EP by Queensryche

Artist: Queensryche
Title: “Queensryche”
Label: EMI Records
Release Date: 5/6/2003
Genre: Progressive Metal
Rating: 8/10

I clearly remember buying this EP on vinyl when it came out; there was a hefty buzz generating in the Metal world about this band from Seattle. According to magazines of the time (Hit Parader, Circus, etc.) the band had recorded their music on their own, presented it to a label, and were signed. While I never looked deeper into the story, there was no denying the impact on Metal music that this 4 song EP would have. With the opening track “Queen Of The Reich”, we are introduced to tasty Metal riffs and a banshee of a vocalist in Geoff Tate. The high notes that Tate achieves clearly seem to be able to shatter glass. Given its 1983 release, this is an album that has set the bar higher for bands who choose to blend power and progression with a little more melody. Developments in this genre will offer bands like Dream Theater and Fates Warning the ability to better follow their own unique paths. The remaster is superb since it also offers a great amount of live tracks that were recorded in Tokyo back in 1984. The tracks originally appeared on the VHS tape “Live In Tokyo” and as you listen you will hope, as I do, that the film resurfaces on DVD sometime in the near future. These live tracks are pretty clean considering the year and ability Queensryche had that early in their career. Tate announces to the audience that many tracks are from their forthcoming album “Warning” and from there the group delivers most of this album. It’s fantastic to hear a concert from this early in Queensryche history and I cannot see any fan thinking differently.
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“The Quiet Offspring” by Green Carnation

Artist: Green Carnation
Title: “The Quiet Offspring”
Label: The End Records
Release Date: 3/22/2005
Genre: Hard Rock/Progressive
Rating: 7/10

Green Carnation is an interesting band who when you begin to play their music will bring to mind a number of different Metal and Rock influences from across the gamut. Research into the band found me discovering that they seems to change their sound with each record and while that might not seem to be a smart thing it certainly allows for them to direct music at all levels of fans. It’s been written that a heavy amount of Progressive and Death has been done by Green Carnation yet on this album you will find none of this. Instead there is a level of Atmosphere in its Gothic Hard Rock and Roll with a couple of moments of speedy Metal riffs. Crafted well, this fourth album from the group might be their most effective since it has a larger scale of appeal in its overall style. “The Quiet Offspring” itself is a nice track with some interesting Purple-esque keyboard work that one does not always find in Metal bands. The use of this across the board might have led to the labeling of this as on the Gothic side. “Pile Of Doubt” races by like your classic 80’s Metal rocker while “When I Was You” comes off as something you might expect of Pink Floyd or The Gathering (it’s also the albums longest song at 7 minutes). Like I said, this was one diverse album with almost every track and this made listening to it something fun and interesting at the same time. The rocking is done early on and pretty much ends with track 9. We are then treated to moody and slower tracks as the album closes out. The piano work on “Childs Play Pt. 2” is excellent and just has such a quiet power to it. The end of this release will be a good lead in to their next album which is to be an all acoustic release. Readers who are finding this intriguing might be interested in knowing that the previous album “Light Of Day, Day Of Darkness” was one long 60 minutes song that was all Progressive and Progressive Metal.
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“Live Evolution” by Queensryche

Artist: Queensryche
Title: “Live Evolution”
Label: Sanctuary Records
Release Date: 9/25/2001
Genre: Progressive Metal
Rating: 8/10

With “Live Evolution”, Queensryche has given their fans the type of album that other artists would be smart to release. The album is not only a killer live recording, it is also a career expansive journey into each of their albums and features songs from the self-titled EP all the way up until “Q2K”. A companion DVD was released at the same time, which offers you the full visual of being present at a Queensryche show. I admit, I preferred watching as opposed to listening, since The Ryche is such a great band in concert. As on the DVD, the group sets the album up in sections that cover specific ranges of their releases. CD1 is the better of the two, in my opinion, as that is the earliest stuff from the self-titled EP until “Operation Mindcrime”. Given that it includes nine tracks from that album alone, you’ll find a nice comparison of how the band sounds several years after the recording of “Operation: Live Crime”. By that point in Queensryche’s career, the band had lost guitarist Chris DeGarmo. He was replaced with Kelly Gray. who did a fine job on the material. The rest of the original lineup remained strong with Tate, Rockenfield, Wilton and Jackson. CD2 is only half strong, as it includes music from “Empire” and “Promised Land” (their last decent studio release, in my opinion). The remainder of the disc features tracks from “Hear In The Now Frontier” as well as the dismal “Q2K” which was met with critical lambasting.
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“Live From The Dark” by Europe

Artist: Europe
Title: “Live From The Dark”
Label: Music Video Distributors
Release Date: 2/21/2006
Genre: Hard Rock
Rating: 8/10

I admit that when I covered the Europe appearance in New York last year that I was not sure what to expect. It was a band that I knew of mainly based on the radio hits and constant video on the once music rich MTV. I arrived to a capacity filled venue and experienced an evening of kick ass Rock and Roll that night and it made me smile when I read that the band would be releasing a live DVD based on this tour. To many people of the world Europe was considered “Hair Metal” and with their signature track “Final Countdown” the band found a comfortable home on radio, in video and at large sporting events. 2005 would mark the first time the band had toured since 1992 and not only did this serve as a reunion tour but it would also provide support for the surprisingly effective album “Start From The Dark”. The album featured a Europe that would take the dismissive listener totally off guard with its rich hooks and powerful vocal numbers. If you expected a milquetoast, keyboard laden CD full of sappy music you would be wrong and cheating yourself by passing on it. Instead the album rocks solid from top to bottom. The DVD was filmed on the final night of the bands tour at a sold-out Hammersmith Apollo Theatre and features a great number of their classics as well as a nice amount of tracks from the new album. The band is in great shape and while it’s a straight concert shoot with limited special effects I think most fans of the band would enjoy it. As someone who caught this reunion show I was especially impressed and reminded of how good it actually was to see them. Joey Tempest does not seem to have aged much since I last remembered seeing his videos and guitarist John Norum (recently returning from a stint in Dokken) proves that he is one of the better players in Rock and Roll. Mic Michaeli performs his magic on keyboards and when he begins the signature track as a closer it’s a response from the audience that most bands only hope to receive. Ian Haugland and Jon Leven keep the rhythm section in check but showcase the level of talent they possess as well. My favorite tracks fall to the hits that I know from years ago to the new material on the highly recommended “Start From The Dark” CD that is reviewed elsewhere on the site. Overall I found little disappointment if any. Highlights are the opener as it brings you right into the concert head on, the acoustic version of “Carrie” sung by Joey and the few thousand audience members and of course the resounding “Final Countdown”.
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“Lords Of Depravity” by Sodom

Artist: Sodom
Title: “Lords Of Depravity”
Label: SPV Records
Release Date: 2/21/2006
Genre: Thrash Metal
Rating: 7.5/10

Sodom is old school Metal and it’s a title that the band holds proudly with horns raised to the air. For over 20 years the band has delivered traditional styled Thrash that falls along the lines of Slayer and Venom never switching style based on the times. This factor alone has made their hard core fan base all the more loyal and ravenous as the years go by. This double DVD from SPV Records is more than a healthy dose of what the band is about and what makes them special to their fans. The double DVD Set is broken up into two sections, with the first one being a 180 minute documentary on the group that features footage and commentary from members and associates. The years covered in this footage runs from 1982-1995 and according to some liner notes the band had wanted to release this earlier but were not able to until SPV was able to do it with this package. The documentary while very comprehensive visually and in its content is in the German language. There is an option to have English sub-titles and this will help out the die-hard in their enjoyment of it. Yet when you are faced with the need to read 180 minutes of copy and focus on it I feel that the casual fan or one who seeks to learn more about the group will find this annoying. If you understand German it has to be fantastic since a 180 minute history on any group is a great thing to get these days.
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