“Live In Munich 1977” by Rainbow

Artist: Rainbow
Title: “Live In Munich 1977”
Label: Eagle Records
Release Date: 6/13/2006
Genre: Hard Rock
Rating: 7/10

Ritchie Blackmore remains one of the most exciting guitar players in Rock history, and is one of the key people responsible for the early influences of Hard Rock guitar. Starting out with Hard Rock/Blues legends Deep Purple he left in 1975 to form Rainbow, a band to further explore his creative genius. He was also involved in heavy in-fighting with Purple’s Ian Gillan at the time which made this project all the more appealing to him. Deep Purple would themselves disband in 1976 before reuniting in 1983. The band during the course of its life would go through a number of lineups and this recording from Munich in 1977 features what appears to be the only time this particular formation of players had been recorded. Joining Blackmore would be Ronnie James Dio, whose band Elf was a continual support act for Deep Purple. Drumming was the one and only Cozy Powell, perhaps one of the most powerful Rock drummers of the time period as well as Bob Daisley on bass and Dave Stone on keyboards. The music of Rainbow was instantly appealing to fans of Purple as well as Hard Rock stalwarts who looked for something a little heavier. Tracks like “Kill The King” and “Long Live Rock ‘n Roll” ensured that would be the case with their pounding catchiness. “Catch The Rainbow” and “Still I’m Sad” with their each being over 15 minutes in length contain enough of the guitar wielding prowess fans expect of the man in black to showcase and are part of the reason that the album only runs at eight songs. Yngwie fans should note that Blackmore was among the earliest influences in the performers’ life and would be smart to also pay attention especially if the axe is their chosen instrument. The CD is also a great way for the Dio fans to hear how one of the best singers in the Metal industry sounded almost thirty years ago. Wow, even I had to stop and re-read that sentence….
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“Man Of The World” by Mike Terrana

Artist: Mike Terrana
Title: “Man Of The World”
Label: Lion Music
Release Date: 3/15/2005
Genre: Progressive/Fusion
Rating: 7/10

Mike Terrana is one of the greatest drummers Metal music has to offer and if you have listened to the music of Rage, Artension, Axel Rudi Pell and Macalpine you are very aware of that. His second solo release takes into a world that you don’t often get to have from a Metal drummer. The record itself is a unique blend of heavy music and progressive elements that will impress not only drummers but all musicians. It was impressive for one usually gets too much in the way of drum exposition rather then focusing on the music while Terrana makes sure to focus on the song while at the same time delivering well-thought out syncopations for the listener. He gives drummers like Rod Morgenstein and Mike Portnoy a run for their money by raising the musical bar in the same fashion they do on their efforts. Refusing to stick to form there is a solo piano piece in “Sonata #9 Pathetique/Beethoven” and a Latin flavored flourish with “Revenge Of The Cachaca”. Clearly he did not take the tradional or expected route with Heavy Metal drumming covering the length of the album. Yet despite the variations on the theme he also does not leave his Metal roots behind by giving the listener a drop-dead solo at the albums close.
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“Inhuman Rampage” by Dragonforce

Artist: Dragonforce
Title: “Inhuman Rampage”
Label: Roadrunner Records
Release Date: 6/20/2006
Genre: Sonic Power Metal
Rating: 8/10

“Faster than a speeding bullet” seems to no longer solely define pop culture’s “Man Of Steel”; as now it stands incredibly true of the UK’s Sonic Power Metal sensations DRAGONFORCE! You really cannot explain the band all that easily, while the music holds its core origin in Melodic Power Metal, they mix elements of Thrash much like Annihilator did in their early years. The end result is very simply a brand of Metal that requires you wear a seatbelt as you listen. Normally with fast paced Metal you owe it all to consistent rhythm runs on the guitar while the drummer does blast beats of quick syncopations that are similar. With Dragonforce, the shredding is the combined might of Herman Li and Sam Totman who don’t just play quick rhythms but instead choose to push the limits of science with their leads during the solo breaks and across the length of the bands songs. Underneath their riveting riffs is the drumming of Dave Mackintosh, a quality player thundering along with some great double bass on practically every song. Playing this band too loud in your stereo might cause heart palpitations based on Dave’s playing level. Vadim Pruzhanov on keyboards adds an interesting high tech video game/progressive feel to the band. They are clearly musicians who enjoy not only pushing the envelope on what they can do and how fast, but to have fun as they do. As you listen to the album there is a good chance that you will feel that this approach as well.
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“Future World” by Artension

Artist: Artension
Title: “Future World”
Label: Lion Music
Release Date: 3/15/2005
Genre: Power Metal
Rating: 8/10

Artension is a Progressive Metal fans dream for they truly move above the typical expectations of the genre. Yes there are many groups that perform Prog-Metal but instead of established formulas I found this group leaning a little more towards the Progressive heavies of old and bringing their influencial sounds into the 21st Century. As soon as the album begins you are kicked in the teeth by the driving beat of “Dark Before The Dawn” which not only possesses a throttling double bass drum run but is led by some heavy duty keyboards. The Neo-Classical Metal is delivered by members Vitalij Kuprij (keyboards), Roger Staffelbach (guitar), John West (vocals), Mike Terrana (drums) and Steve DiGiorgio (bass) and going over their individual accomplishments shows why this album sounds as good as it does. As a fan of this kind of Metal, I was amazed to see the keyboard work introduced by Kuprij for not since Derek Sherinian had I heard such a perfect use of the instrument in heavy music. “Federation” is a great example of this delivery and I think as a result this is one of my favorite tracks on the album. Singer John West also shines across the record for he is in possession of the pipes of Hard Rock greats as well as Traditional or Old-School level bands you loved back in the day. His very melodic vocal style covers the record and I think I preferred him with Artension than the music he recorded with Rock Feinstein. Whenever you have Mike Terrana on an album you can count on that area to be well addressed for Terrana is a Power Metal drummers, Power Metal drummer. He reminds me a lot of Bobby Jarzombek at times, although I feel he gets a little more technical during his playing than we see Bobby do.
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“Rapture of the Deep” Special Edition by Deep Purple

Artist: Deep Purple
Title: “Rapture of the Deep” – Special Edition
Label: Eagle Records
Date: 6/27/2006
Genre: Rock
Rating: 9/10

So much positive praise has been written about Deep Purple’s “Rapture Of The Deep” that it almost was expected of the band to release a double CD special edition not long after the initial release. The reaction by the general public to the newest album by these elder Statesmen of Rock was both incredible but yet very richly deserved. It’s 2006 and Ian Gillan now leads the charge with two original members gone off to other pursuits or well-deserved relaxation. Today we find Ritchie Blackmore playing “Renaissance Fair Rock” with his partner Candice Night while Jon Lord chose to retire from touring and recording. In their place we find Steve Morse, an incredible technician on the guitar and Don Airey on keyboards who brings to the table experience gained touring with “insert artist here”. I note it like that for Don’s contributions to Rock music would very easily fill this entire page. Bass and drums are still adeptly handled by Roger Glover and Ian Paice. Gillan can still deliver when you take stock of the whole album and it’s what made me save him for last. His pipes a little softer at times, but when necessary he can belt it out just like he used to. When you listen to the recording you would hardly think that this was a band that was formed some 37 years ago. Tracks like “Money Talks” that are loaded with the signature keyboards expected in a Purple song and “Junkyard Blues” remind you that this band has not yet lost its luster but instead chosen to shine up the model just a little more for the diehard supporters they have kept throughout the years.
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Where Heavy Music & Pop Culture Collide

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