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.

“The Imbuing” by Gizmachi

Artist: Gizmachi
Title: “The Imbuing”
Label: Sanctuary Records/Big Orange Clown
Release Date: 5/3/2005
Genre: Nu-Metal
Rating: 6.5/10

Gizmachi have the distinct honor of being the first act signed to new label Big Orange Clown. This label is not only a subdivision of Sanctuary Records, but it is also under the watchful eye of M. Shawn Crahan who is most noted for his role as Clown #6 of Slipknot. Crahan had a heavy hand in the production of the group so you can count on it being heavy and well produced. The kick off to the CD is interesting as it blends Alice In Chains like harmonies amidst the pounding brand of metal they do. Musically there is a lot of great hooks and some interesting changes. I did not like a lot of the vocals for it falls into the growling screamer most of the time and this is done far too much these days. When singer Sean Kane uses more melody in his style it works a lot more for me. The drumwork laid down by Jimmie Hatcher is above par, lots of interesting time signatures and rolls throughout the piece.
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“Days Of Rising Doom: The Metal Opera” by Aina

Artist: Aina
Title: “Days Of Rising Doom” – Limited Edition
Label: Transmission Records
Release Date: 4/13/2004
Genre: Symphonic Metal
Rating: 8/10

I wanted to start off by saying how much I enjoyed this piece. The production is outstanding and the cast of players literally reads like a who’s who in power metal music. Luminaries (names listed below) such Michael Kiske and Tobias Sammett and many more join the core musicians who make up this CD. “Aina, Days Of Rising Doom” tells a lavish story of far away mythical lands and the obvious good versus evil with the eventual hopeful victory of good (I will not ruin the surprise here and will leave it up to you to find out more).
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“Obligated By Obscurity” by Malstrom

Artist: Malstrom
Title: “Obligated By Obscurity”
Label: unsigned
Release Date:
Genre: Heavy Metal
Rating: Good

When you listen to the guys in Malstrom you can tell there is a good amount of talent in the band and certainly a drive to keep it nice and heavy. However this does not come without some criticism. Yes this is a demo, but it sounds too much like one in many places. I come to this conclusion based on comparisons to many other demo products that I have received lately. The production should have been focused on a little more to strive for a cleaner and more solid sound. At times this piece is muddy and feels a little out of joint as a result. Good drum parts are lost under the fact that you cannot discern the various drums being struck. The guitar work is largely interesting and you can tell that the band was influenced by the past masters Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. Never a bad thing showing a little of those influences in the music. It can separate you from many of your peers.
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“Mezmerize” by System Of A Down

Artist: System Of A Down
Title: “Mezmerize”
Label: American Records
Release Date: 5/17/2005
Genre: Heavy Metal
Rating: 4.5/5

The newest release by System Of A Down is quite impressive. You might be asking how much so well for starters I was never more than a casual fan of this band. I found some stuff just OK to me, never appealed or really enjoyed the earlier releases. However once I placed “Mezmerize” in the CD player I was floored by the production and delivery of the piece. As a matter of fact I am on listen three and am clearly heading for listen four. Overall this piece is explosive Metal and is also a lot of fun to listen to. The piece begins with a slow harmony laden “Soldier Side”, and once “B.Y.O.B.” kicks in your head will be banging. There are a lot of expletives in the CD, and while I am not a fan of censoring music or Artists I do think younger listeners should run this one by their folks first.
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“Icon and The Black Roses” by Icon and The Black Roses

Artist: Icon And The Black Roses
Title: “Icon And The Black Roses”
Label: Dark Wings Records/SPV
Release Date: 6/20/2004
Genre: Gothic Metal
Rating: 8/10

I heard about this band in a twist of chance. I was led to them by some random clickings around the web while doing some music research and there they were. Icon and The Black Roses from Portugal. The band was on the verge of releasing their self-titled debut release on Dark Wings Records (a division of SPV Records). A quick email introduction to the lead singer and I was able to facilitate a copy for myself to review for you all. I have to say how impressed I am already as so many of the songs flow seamlessly through the disc. People who are fans of H.I.M. will most certainly enjoy this band for there are some musical themes that go in the same direction. However, this is no clone of His Infernal Majesty as the band will be quick to advise you of. Johnny Icon’s brooding and dark voice lend more to the likes of Depeche Mode and even a bit of Type-O-Negative (though not as deep as Pete Steele). It is an enjoyable solidly produced piece of brooding Gothic Rock. The differences in the bands music make it something that fans of Mode or Cure as well as similar darker fare have offered us. It was interesting to me to see how much this influence seemed to prevail in a band coming out of Portugal.
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