“Ascendancy” (deluxe edition) by Trivium

Artist: Trivium
Title: “Ascendancy” (deluxe edition)
Label: Roadrunner Records
Release Date: 5/9/2006
Genre: Heavy Metal
Rating: 4/5

Trivium is one of the bands that are on the fast track to super stardom in the Metal world of today and with almost every song on their sophomore album “Ascendancy” they show you why this is the case. The band released this album loaded with the growls of today but at the same time there is a lot of the melodic guitar work and power chords from days gone by. The influences of Trivium clearly reside in the glory days of eighties and nineties Thrash Metal and this helps them stand a little higher than a lot of bands their age who are sticking to the format of what is happening today alone. The strong melodic Metal on this CD gives the listener a number of powerful but at the same time catchy tracks. Songs such as “Like Light To The Flies” mix several different feels of Metal together and showcase some unique time signature changes that will appeal to any riff head. The clean vocal chorus makes the tune a crowd chanter as well and when you listen you can envision the fists pumped up for this one. “Pull Harder On The Strings Of Your Martyr” shows off the tasty drumming very well while “Dying In Your Arms” rises up as the bands power ballad and song all the female fans will probably flock to. The band comprised of Matt Heafy (vox, guitar), Travis Smith (drums), Corey Beaulieu (guitars) and Paolo Gregoletto (bass) prove that melody does not have to be sacrificed in order to be harder, faster and heavier than ones peers. There are quite a bit of speedy moshable moments on the release and each are sure to inspire circle pits at any show they are performed in. The release reviewed here is the Special Edition version and this is worth the price as it not only expands upon the original release with four extra tracks that include a great version of Metallica’s “Master Of Puppets”, but it also includes a DVD with a load of additional video and live performance footage.
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“Live At Montreux: The Definitive Collection” by Rory Gallagher

Artist: Rory Gallagher
Title: “Live At Montreux: The Definitive Collection”
Label: Eagle Vision
Release Date: 5/30/2006
Genre: Blues/Rock
Rating: 5/5

Rory Gallagher (March 2, 1948 – June 14, 1995) was an Irish Blues/Rock guitarist who has been credited as being one of the most influential Irish Rock and Blues musicians of all time. Selling over 30 Million albums worldwide, Rory has received the accolades of his peers and fans and remains very popular in Ireland, the UK, and throughout most of Europe even though major commercial success seemed to elude him in the United States. “Live At Montreux: The Definitive Collection” DVD is an excellent retrospective of Rory Gallagher’s live performances at the Montreux Jazz festival over the course of 3 decades. The DVD demonstrates Rory’s talent and versatility as a musician and dynamic performer from various points in his career. It’s a great example of a top notch career-retrospective DVD that is all meat and no filler. We give kudos to Eagle Rock Entertainment for assembling such a package with this level of quality to it.
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Venom @ Irving Plaza (9/5/2006)

Logo - Venom

Artist: Venom
Venue: Irving Plaza (New York, NY)
Opener: Goatwhore, Early Man
Date: 9/5/2006
Label: Sanctuary Records

The first round of tour dates for Venom had been cancelled citing “Immigration Issues”, and given the amount of political hoops to jump through to fix them it seemed that the shows with Devildriver as their opener would simply never take place. Yet it was only a few days after these dramas that the announcement of rescheduling would come and this time the group would perform with both Early Man and Goatwhore. The sigh of relief on this would be felt in the entire Metal community as it had been almost ten years since Venom performed on U.S. soil (this was a mere one off appearance on the Milwaukee Metal Fest) and more than twenty since any headlining appearance or full tour was done over here (1983 if I am not mistaken). The venue of choice would be Irving Plaza and judging by the attendees you could feel the Black Metal in every corner of the room. As I entered I would be surprised to find tickets still available and while it did not seem sold out completely there was an amazing attendance for the bands return. The reasoning for my surprise is because of the age difference in the larger part of the audience and years of Venom’s absence. Many of the folks were from back in the day, but the larger contingent seemed to be as young as when they last headlined here and perhaps even younger. It’s great to see this faction supporting the bands and not wasting time on the crap that is pushed down our throats by the mainstream music industry. In terms of Metal music, the phrase “youth is wasted on the young” does not apply whatsoever.
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“Gigantour” (DVD) by Various Artists

Artist: Various Artists
Title: “Gigantour”
Label: Image Entertainment
Release Date: 9/5/2006
Genre: Heavy Metal
Rating: 2/5

When “Gigantour” was announced as an event to see some of the greatest Metal acts of today in one place and find it headlined by both Dream Theater and Megadeth you knew this was a winning situation for Metal heads of all ages. Those that attended the tour during its first go round in 2005 really had a great time as they really got to see some juggernauts on the same stage and for a very reasonable price. The show was also a great alternative to the Ozzfest and the ever-confusing musical content of Warped Tour. If you wanted pure Metal and a literal shred-fest, then Gigantour was the place you would want to find yourself at. As the shows blasted through the East Coast I attended one of them with fellow media folks and it was truly a good time although we had found some issues with set times and line up arrangements. Certain bands seemed a mismatch to some fans and others seemed more deserving of a later spot on the event as well as a longer set time (during the shows bands like Nevermore and Fear Factory only played 25-30 minute sets and each was supporting a new album). This DVD captures a little bit of the excitement of the tour and also gives you a glimpse into the stuff that went on backstage.
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“Ruun” by Enslaved

Artist: Enslaved
Title: “Ruun”
Label: Candlelight Records
Release Date: 5/2/2006
Genre: Progressive Black Metal
Rating: 4.5/5

The band Enslaved were always ahead of the game in terms of Viking/Black Metal but they have truly raised the bar of their sound on “Ruun”, an album that will long be referred to as not only one of the bands best releases but also as a masterpiece of modern Metal. The album succeeds on a number of levels because it is perhaps the most Progressive we have ever found Enslaved performing since their inception over 15 years ago. With their tenth recording the band uses a wide assortment of palettes of music to paint with bringing their listener to fascinating new worlds. Many of the feels reminded me of some of Opeths direction but perhaps it was Mellotron usage in the opening track “Entroper”. It’s a track that will instantly call new listeners to their sound because it has the epic quality that the band is known for but yet takes many Progressive queues and allows the band to reach a wider audience. The song is also melodically sung by keyboardist Herbrand Larsen and he does a fine job of this type of vocal across the album. I find this aspect a perfect companion to the Black Metal growls of Grutle Kjellson as together the music is able to achieve a higher level of experimentation by using the two in unison. The mix of vocals has become an almost common practice and bands that are doing this to positive effect (most specifically the longer lasting one) continue to make the genre more interesting and accessible. Selling records and making more folks enjoy your music is not too much selling out as it is a career necessity. When bands like Enslaved do it, it almost proves a level of “this is OK to do” in the younger Black or Death Metal groups. The album is also a perfect follow up to their last album, the also Progressive laced “Isa”. Tracks like “Ruun” and “Heir To The Cosmic Seed” were among my favorites and show the group as fans of Psychedelic music as well as they mix flavors heard in Pink Floyd music to great effect.
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Where Heavy Music & Pop Culture Collide

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