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.

“Uncreation” by Benedictum

Artist: Benedictum
Title: “Uncreation”
Label: Locomotive Records
Release Date: 3/14/2006
Genre: Heavy Metal
Rating: 8/10

One seldom thinks of San Diego when it comes to powers of the Metal elite but when you hear the music offered by Benedictum you will know that the area has officially tossed its hat into the mix. Fronted by Veronica Freeman this is a band that is bound to cause quite the stir. Today’s Metal music finds a lot of powerful female lead singers fronting some of the best bands around; Nightwish, After Forever, Lacuna Coil and Arch Enemy all remind us of how much of a compliment to the music a female presence offers. Yet rather than fall into the same model as the above I am happy to report the difference that Benedictum gives the listener, instead of Operatic, Gothic or growls Veronica possesses a veritable Banshees wail. Her powerful lungs make her hold more in common with the likes of Doro, or even Ronnie James Dio himself. It’s a fine contrast to what people have come to expect in the role that normally has been fronting these kinds of bands. The musicians in Benedictum are equally adept with Pete Wells (lead guitar), Blackie Sanchez (drums), Chris Morgan (keyboards) and Jeff Pilson (bass). Wells does some dynamite stuff on the guitar and shows that the band is not merely backing up Ms. Freeman but instead a full unit that is out to break down some walls. Sanchez’s drumming is dead on and while not over technical he pounds it out like thunder through the bands debut. It goes without saying that Pilson is an industry veteran in terms of Melodic Hard Rock from his years of Dokken performance, and this album brings him back to playing a heavier style much like the way he originally started out. He also is the Producer of the album and this shows in the overall quality level of the recording.

I had a number of favorites from the release starting with title track “Benedictum” and “Wicca”, these are true head bangers and are sure to please fans of this type of traditional based Metal. On top of their solid original material there is an added treat in the two covers provided which are Black Sabbath and Dio (the Sabbath song being from the Dio years as well) and I was floored by how close Ms. Freeman gets to the Dio vocal register. The band has a very live sound to them and I am sure this is only the beginning of something cool. Check them out if you can as I recommend this for fans of Doro & Warlock and perhaps older Lita Ford.

Track List:
1. Uncreation
2. Benedictum
3. #4
4. Misogyny
5. Ashes To Ashes
6. Wicca
7. Heaven And Hell
8. Them
9. Two Steps To The Sun
10. Valkyrie Rising
11. The Mob Rules

Official Web site:

“Paul Stanley Solo” (remaster) by KISS

Artist: KISS: Paul Stanley
Title: “Paul Stanley – Solo” (remaster)
Label: Mercury/Universal
Release Date: 9/16/1997
Genre: Hard Rock
Rating: 9/10

In 1978, KISS did the unthinkable and released solo albums for each individual member of the group. It allowed the band to showcase what drove them musically on an individual level. Paul Stanley had a number of things going for him on his solo that set him apart from the other members very quickly. The first was his being the “voice of KISS” to most of the world and this instantly recognizable sound immediately had his album referred to as the most “KISS-like”. As you listen, you will find this vocally as well as musically across the majority of the recording. Ace Frehley had given us the most technically musical and heaviest of the solos while Gene gave the most experimental; Peter’s would be the most out in left field. Of the four releases, owning the Paul and Ace album would be the safest bet for most listeners especially the casual listener. Paul also had some killer musicians joining him for the recording of his album, among them Bob Kulick (guitar) and Carmine Appice (drums). Kulick was a name that often came up as the recording guitarist on a number of KISS classics despite who is listed as doing it while Carmine is a legend in the drumming world and certainly not a slouch in that department. The amount of hit material present on Paul’s solo made me wonder why Ace had the only stand out song of the four releases. Songs like “Move On” and “It’s Alright” were rocking, and yet radio-friendly for the time of their release. Blockbuster Rock power was delivered on some of the songs especially on “Tonight You Belong To Me” and “Take Me Away”. During these memorable tracks, we find Paul at his vocal best giving you both passion and power. I consider these the most stand-out of the entire recording despite my leaning to this whole album as a favorite. There were also a couple that would have been great KISS songs if they had been submitted as such; I found this to be the case with “Love In Chains” and “Wouldn’t You Like To Know Me”.
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“D-V-O-D-1” by Voivod

Artist: Voivod
Title: “D-V-O-D-1”
Label: Music Video Distributors
Release Date: 10/25/2005
Genre: Progressive Metal
Rating: 7/10

I will be the first to admit the limited scope of knowledge that I have about VoiVod and their music. With the exception of “Nothingface” and “Angel Rat” there was not a lot that I knew about them, and even then only a few tracks were my favorites. Despite this I was still able to enjoy them in some fashion for there was a level of Progressive Metal going on in their stuff and for a band not as established as Rush or Fates Warning at the time this was a risky choice to make in ones direction. Prog-fans back in the day were not so accepting of new things coming from bands more known for their Metal influences at one time. The time period that this DVD focuses on runs from 1983-1991 and is considered the bands classic period based on the material and personnel. It is the first in an apparent series of such DVD programs and features a number of live performance clips as well as video films for the bands songs. There is a very “loose” feel to the production of the release and at times it will strike you as very disorganized since when it is viewed as a movie itself it combines all the various segments. You are also able to watch it by segment, either focusing on the live clips, the videos or the extras they included. The bonus features are a couple of live demo recordings as well as artwork used by the band and photography. Each is accompanied by music from elsewhere on the release. The DVD comes to the world after the passing of guitarist Denis “Piggy” D’Amour who the music world lost far too soon at age 45. His innovative style of playing is showcased well on these films as is the playing of members Michael “Away” Langevin on his drums, Jean-Yves “Blacky” Therialt on bass as Denis “Snake” Belanger sang his heart out. Listening to the early work of this band I admit I found a very Punk feel with Progressive mixed in. To this day my favorite part of “Nothingface” is the cover of Pink Floyd’s “Astronomy Domine”, which is of course presented here for all to enjoy.
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“Live At The Whiskey” by Paul Di’Anno

Artist: Paul Di’Anno
Title: “Live At The Whiskey”
Label: Spitfire Records
Release Date: 11/21/2000
Genre: Heavy Metal
Rating: 6/10

Original Iron Maiden vocalist Paul Di’Anno released this live album to commemorate his tour which touched down in Los Angeles California as one of its stops. “Live At The Whiskey” is not a bad selection of his solo material as it has a very traditional feel to it’s makeup. One could expect no less from the singer that fronted Maiden for two amazing albums before Bruce Dickinson took over the role. Songs like “Marshall Lokjaw” and “Impaler” actually sound like they could have been on an early Maiden release themselves since the same groove that made us love that band is rooted deep in his solo material. The band is made up of Graham Bath, Gavin Coopers, Cliff Evans, and Steve Hopgood who do a good job for the most part but with such a strong Iron Maiden feel to the original stuff it is difficult to see them shine more than as great cover players. I admit that I did not follow Paul’s career after Maiden and when I heard a live album would be released I expected it to be a lot more of the classic band than was actually present on this release. The whole group does a knock down job of the four classic Iron Maiden songs present and these were particularly good choices for his set list. From his original material in addition to the songs I referenced above I enjoyed “Three Words” and “Die By The Gun”. Fans of the singer will be impressed at the limited change in his vocal register over the years. He can still handle the classic material and does a great job on his own stuff.
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“Live Vengeance ‘82” by Judas Priest

Artist: Judas Priest
Title: “Live Vengeance ‘82”
Label: Columbia Legacy Music
Release Date: 4/4/2006
Genre: Heavy Metal
Rating: 8/10

Judas Priest is screaming for vengeance once again with the release of this vintage concert performance from 1982. Originally presented on VHS cassette, this concert was unseen for decades until the release of the “Metalogy” boxed set where it was included as a bonus DVD with the first editions. The reunited and touring Judas Priest of 2004 made a lot of this type of product seeing release once again which is a great thing for the fans. This concert itself was quite enjoyable and shows a very sparse set with only the banner of the album cover as a backdrop while Priest just play their hearts out. The camera work is limited to close-ups and far away shots but it finds a very in-prime Judas Priest performing a great set from their new album of the time which was “Screaming For Vengeance” in Memphis, TN. This album would be a lot heavier than its predecessor “British Steel” and find the band once again on top of the Heavy Metal Mountain. Since this album was being showcased an ample amount of the set list would revolve around its content from “Electric Eye” to the mega-hit “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’”. The younger fans of Priest will enjoy this as almost a historical film and be shocked to find out that this same video received ample rotation on MTV Networks in the long years ago. Headbanger’s Ball was not even an idea yet, but at the time the showing of Rock and Metal on the video channel was commonplace. Seeing a full concert such as this was cool, but nothing unexpected of them. Surrounding the killer new songs is a healthy amount of Judas Priest classics as well such as “Living After Midnight” and “Breaking The Law” and even older material like “Sinner” and “Diamonds And Rust”. The lineup was Halford, Tiptop, Downing, Hill and Holland. The one thing this reminded me of especially was how little I enjoyed the drumming of Holland. His level of play on some of the earlier material of the band just had no kick to it. I am glad the Judas Priest of today finds Scott Travis in the driver’s seat, for he allows them to maintain levels of heaviness and speed that would otherwise be unattainable.
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