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.

“New Protection” by Ride The Sky

Artist: Ride The Sky
Title: “New Protection”
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Release Date: 9/18/2007
Genre: Power Metal
Rating: 4/5

When I read that Ride The Sky was a new Power Metal “super group” I had high levels of anticipation about who could possibly be in the lineup to make it deserve such a regal title for as many Metal fans are aware this term itself is sometimes truly misused. Historically we have found super groups forming and one such example is Whitesnake and of course this made perfect sense since the band had a roster from Deep Purple, Dio, Quiet Riot, Vandenberg and Ozzy Osbourne. Yet in recent years we have found the label also being used for the garbage that was Rockstar: Supernova, that horrid television band with Tommy Lee, Gilby Clarke and Jason Newsted in its lineup. So where does this new super group fall in comparison to these widely opposite sides of the musical fence? To me this is no super group but instead a group of superb and talented musicians who were at one time associated with venerated super powers in the Power Metal genre, and I will leave it at that. Truth be told, this band offers up some really tasty Power Metal and it’s not too over the top and allows those who seek an introduction into the format a safe haven that might have them looking deeper into it as opposed to running off to listen to bands like Daughtry and Nickelback. So just who makes up Ride The Sky, well we have Bjorn Jansson (vocals), Uli Kusch (drums), Benny Jackson (guitars), Kaspar Dahlqvist (keyboards) and Mathias Garnas (bass) and together they do some serious justice to the music. Their biography information lines out their stellar pasts as part of the genres history as players for bands such as Masterplan, Gamma Ray, Stormwind, Circle II Circle, and Tears Of Anger among many others and between them have contributed to over 70 releases. Drummer Kusch has 25 of these releases to his own credit and that is one hell of an accomplishment so perhaps he is the main super power in the lineup when you look at it from that perspective. Musically this sounds on many levels like that of Masterplan and this is not a bad thing considering the bands reputation and Kusch’s long association with them. I also felt that Bjorn reminded me of David Coverdale at some points in the material.
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“Mea Culpa” by After Forever

Artist: After Forever
Title: “Mea Culpa”
Label: Tranmission Records
Release Date: 8/15/2006
Genre: Melodic Dark Metal
Rating: 5/5

In 2006 as their contract with Transmission Records was drawing to a close and the Dutch Melodic Metal band After Forever drew the curtain on their early years in preparation for the move forward into a hopefully promising future, a retrospective entitled “Mea Culpa” was released. Unlike many compilations that review a bands past and give the listener two choice tracks from each album, “Mea Culpa” would be far from the standard summary of the After Forever back catalog and instead present thirty three bombastic tunes in one of the most beautiful packages that I have ever seen for a release of this kind. The two disc set is broken up into distinct chapters with the first CD covering the years and albums that guitarist/grunt vocalist Mark Jansen was a part of the group. It’s on this disc that we find the albums “Prison Of Desire” and “Decipher” being once again brought to the front, and these are two truly powerful recordings that still have quite a bit of life to them. Knowing there are fifteen tunes on the first CD makes one think that they re-issued the entire album for the sake of the collection but what they did became all the more special as it is here we also find unreleased tracks and those that would only be found on band singles. As it begins it sets their heavy mood properly with “Mea Culpa”, an a-cappella tune loaded with big choir and brooding tones but from there is very much a dark feast of Melodic Metal. There are other Dutch musical superstars present as well and get a duet between Floor and Sharon den Adel (Within Temptation) that is quite good and somewhere across the tracks Arjen Lucassen offers some guitar and keyboards.
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PiercingMetal’s “Best Of” 2007: Music, Video and Concerts

Well it’s that time of the year again and that means it’s time to share with you all what I felt were my very favorites from all of the stuff that was reviewed here on PiercingMetal for the musical year of 2007. I will keep this introduction short and instead let these highlights shine a little brighter. Here we go.

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Best CD’s of 2007:

Let’s just consider this a sampling of some of the music that we found ourselves listening to on more than one occasion be it on the stereo loud enough to wake the neighbors or on our music players. We review hundreds of discs each year and this batch are among the best and most enjoyed by our editorial offices.

Epica “The Divine Conspiracy” (Nuclear Blast Records) – So the singer you have heard on some Kamelot stuff and her band have delivered their third release, a magnum opus that is meatier than beef stew when it comes to satisfying content.

Kamelot “Ghost Opera” (SPV Records) – If you wondered how the guys could top “The Black Halo”, then pick up a copy of this one.

After Forever “After Forever” (Nuclear Blast Records) – You’ve heard her in Ayreon stuff for years now the larger populace can enjoy

Daath “The Hinderers” (Roadrunner Records) – Crushing, thunderous, topical. Interesting lyrical premise as well.

Nightwish “Dark Passion Play” (Roadrunner Records) – Tarja who? The band is back and on fire with new singer Annette Olzon, “Bye Bye Beautiful” indeed, “Hello Beautiful” as well…..

Dream Theater “Systematic Chaos” (Roadrunner Records) – New DT was quite satisfying. I’ve been a fan for years and this album reminded me of why that is the case.

Opeth “The Roundhouse Tapes” – An Opeth live concert recording that finds them on tour supporting their newest album and yet making time to fit in their classics. Stunning.

Within Temptation “The Heart Of Everything” (Roadrunner Records) – a long awaited US debut from Dutch Gothic Metal superstars is loaded with catchy numbers and sure to make them more of a household name.
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PiercingMetal’s Editorial for 2007

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Editorial: The Year in Reviews for 2007

Since launching back in early 2005 I’ve made sure to get one of these editorials done annually as a means to not only look back on the previous years Metal activity but to also offer some insight into the things that lie ahead. As a web presence for the genre that we all hold near and dear, I’m happy to report that has grown exponentially since the idea first dawned on me. The original premise that we began with was based on the need to tie all of my writing together yet it was only a few months after launching that I came to realize that it would become my primary focus as a means to deliver as much Metal information as the readers could absorb. I feel fortunate to be the overseer of this little enterprise and based on the things that we heard and the adventures we had in 2007 it’s time for us to take a trip back into the not so distant past. As in our previous editorials we have divided the commentary into areas of focus as this allows us to form some easier frame of reference. 2007 was quite the musical ride across all genre aspects and I found this to be a positive sign of change as Metal continues to claim ground and prove the naysayers incorrect as to its place in popular media. Let’s begin our examination shall we?
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Nightwish @ Nokia Theatre Times Square (10/18/2007)

It might spark some of you readers interests because my whole adventure into writing and photography actually began with the band Nightwish and as result they always hold a special place in my media guy heart. The band was back with new music and a new singer and hitting the Nokia and I was on point to bring you the larger than life scoop. If you want to learn more just scroll past the logo below; It was truly the beginning of a new era.

Logo - Nightwish

Artist: Nightwish
Venue: Nokia Theatre (New York, NY)
Opener: Paradise Lost
Date: 10-18-2007
Label: Roadrunner Records

It’s been a little over two years since the United States last had the chance to enjoy the music of Nightwish on the concert stage but now all those who had hoped for it to happen again would get their wish as the group was armed and ready for a triumphant return with not only new material but a new lead singer as well. The blockbuster show would be at the NokiaTheatre, a perfect venue for this kind of show, and they would be supported by Paradise Lost. I had been a fan of Nightwish since around 2002 and was quite excited about this show as hey were the first band that I had ever written about. The whole experience was going to be quite the “full circle” sort of vibe when it came down to it. Friends had gathered in nearby pubs and all around the discussion was on how the group would do without Tarja fronting them. As a fan I admit that I wasnt worried at all as the new album “Dark Passion Play” didn’t disppoint me in the least with the band sounding as vibrant as ever,only with a fresh new voice.

Paradise Lost: I only knew so much about Paradise Lost before this show and despite their being well-known eaders inthe Gothic Metal realm, they were a band that I very simply had never followed before. The Century Media Records artists had just released a new album entitled “In Reqiuem” and tonight their set would pay attention to it as well as present some of their older material. This was a smart choice for this very high profile gig, because even though they have been at this for awhile they had not yet toured this region and been able to reach this market as far as fans were concerned. The group was tight and this was to be expected and my observation found them going over well, yet despite this the audience was too charged up for Nightwish for it to have them make any great impact. I did feel that a whole new crowd was able to enjoy them tonight and perhaps will even be looking a little deeper into the music that they bring to the table going forward. Now it was time for Nightwish to hit the stage and like the two thousand plus in the Nokia Theatre joining me – I couldn’t wait to see them.
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