“Kings Of Damnation: Era 1998-2004” by Black Label Society

Artist: Black Label Society
Title: “Kings Of Damnation: Era 1998-2004”
Label: Spitfire Records
Release Date: 10/4/2005
Genre: Heavy Metal
Rating: 8/10

Even though Zakk Wylde has left the Spitfire Records family he did release a total of seven albums under their banner. Five of these were with Black Label Society and the other two are Pride & Glory and Book Of Shadows. Resulting from that partnership was a lot of great guitar laden Metal and it spawned a legion of supporters for Zakk. It was a smart move of Spitfire to offer the fans a compilation based on these albums and it’s the perfect introduction to you should you be interested in knowing more about Black Label Society if you have not already been exposed to them. The material that Black Label Society doles out is pure and simple aggressive Metal. Their music trudges along with Doom-like qualities and has some similarity to Black Sabbath in riffing. Perhaps a lot of the BLS sound was influenced by all of the years Zakk worked along side Ozzy Osbourne. The Pride & Glory stuff has more of a heavy Southern feel to it. Almost as if Southern Metal was preparing to make a comeback. The samplings from Zakk’s time with this band are good and the CD itself is worth looking into. In the case of the BLS material they included a lot of the tracks that you would expect them to have and among them are my personal favorites of “Bleed For Me” and “The Blessed Hellride”. The gentler side of the New Jersey giant can be found on the tracks from “Hangover Music”. In addition to the recorded previously released stuff there are two new tracks to be found in “Doomsday Inc.” and “SDMF”. The new tracks continue along the natural progression of the band. Musicians who take part in the tracks are James Lomenzo (bass) and Craig Nunenmacher (drums).
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“Stratovarius” by Stratovarius

Artist: Stratovarius
Title: “Stratovarius”
Label: Sanctuary Records
Release Date: 9/13/2005
Genre: Power Metal/Heavy Metal
Rating: 6.5/10

Stratovarius has long been considered one of the Forefathers when it comes to Power Metal and the genre as a whole. This Finnish super group has found much of their work respected and admired by fans of the form and other bands as well. The melodic power metal they delivered is often difficult to surpass and over time it has changed here and there yet never really lost the edge that was the nature of the band. Like all things that are together for a long time there does comes some drama and the band faced inner demons and turmoil. This led to the breakup and formation of other groups. Timo Kotipelto went on to a solo career and released “Coldness” on Century Media Records while guitarist Timo Tolkki briefly replaced him with a female singer who’s name I could not recall. Eventually ties were repaired and the band was back doing what they did best together. Their newest release simply entitled “Stratovarius” is the result of this reunion. The record is very good at best but will surprise the staunchest Stratovarius supporter for it leans a little more on the commercial edge. Catchy numbers but nothing that will bring you to a power metal daze. In one sense it is a good move to stray from the brand of Metal that they have long recorded. With so many bands coming out these days, people are sampling all different areas of the music. If one band remains the same for too long, their music might be considered too repetitive and the same old thing. The reunited lineup is Timo Tolkki (guitar), Timo Kotipelto (vocals), Jorg Michael (drums), Jari Kainulainen (bass) and Jens Johannson (keyboards).
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“Live In Las Vegas” by KISS

Artist: KISS
Title: “Live In Las Vegas: The Unseen Concert”
Label: Passport Video
Release Date: 4/2/2002
Genre: Hard Rock
Rating: 2/10

Over the years the band KISS has released a large number of video products and there is enough for all the fans to enjoy practically every video and incarnation that the band has had. Most of the releases have been fantastic while others have been lacking in only some minor areas. The KISS Army fan base is perpetual in their fostering of the original ideal of the band and is very hard to discourage. This release however lacks on almost all counts and will truly disappoint even the most ardent of fans. It is not only poorly laid out but does not give you anything more than four live performances. The band is the original lineup and this recording from 10/1999 pretty much features them before the dramas set in once again and lead to the lineup changes that would carry KISS forward. The four songs at the Las Vegas appearance are nothing you have not seen anywhere else a million times. Perhaps adding a few more tracks and some difference could have redeemed it but I doubt it. KISS themselves seem to be merely going through the motions on the video and look like they cannot wait to finish. The band appears in Destroyer-era costumes making this film from around the “Psycho Circus” or “Farewell Tour” time frame.
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Danzig @ Nokia Theatre Times Square (10/17/2005)

Logo - Danzig

Artist: Danzig
Venue: Nokia Theatre Times Square (New York, NY)
Opener: Behemoth, Chimaira, Mortiis
Date: 10/17/05
Label: Evil9

Labeled the “Blackest Of The Black” tour this show would have Glen Danzig taking to the stage once again and New York’s brand new Nokia Times Square Theatre would be the place to be. He would also have some very interesting Metal with him as Mortiis, The Agony Scene, Himsa, Behemoth and Chimaira made up the rest of the touring roster. I will speak on the venue separately a little later. Given the early start time I am sad to report that I missed both The Agony Scene and Mortiis but I did manage to catch a good amount of the Himsa set. They are not that bad from what I saw and while most of their material leans to the Metal-Core edge there is a sufficient “traditional” vibe being displayed in some of there songs. The crowd was not as good yet in terms of numbers but that was slowly growing and the shiny new floors of the club were soon to be scuffed by the moshing audience. Behemoth came up soon after and this would be the 3rd time that I will have seen them and I can attest that you do not have to be a Death Metal fan to enjoy the power and brutality that this band brings to the table. They are both impressive and imposing and tonight I felt they would be a hard act to follow no matter who was on the bill. They primarily showcased material from the CD “Demigod” and despite one technical glitch in the middle of the set they simply assaulted the audience note after note. Nergal is a great front man and in addition to the corpse paint that Behemoth already sports he comes out dressed as the Demigod late in their set. It adds a larger sense of drama to the performance and makes them a good choice as opener for Danzig and the material he lays down. Some of the tunes they performed were “Sculpting The Throne ov Seth”, “Demigod”, As Above So Below”, “Conquer All”, and “Anti-Christian”. I felt Behemoth knocked most of the people attending for a loop. This was the biggest US crowd that I had seen assembled for them and they performed accordingly.
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Krokus @ B.B. King Blues Club (9/11/2005)

Krokus 0321

Artist: Krokus
Venue: B.B. King Blues Club
Opener: The Lizards
Date: 9/11/2005
Label: Reality Entertainment

On a day that is not always easy to get a New Yorker to do anything I decided to attend the appearance of Krokus at B.B. King Blues Club. I felt it would be a good way to find some amount of positive on this sad Memorial. It would also be good to lend some support to a band that has not been to our Country in 18 years. The band Krokus had a number of hits in the big 80’s Metal heyday and with their release of the live CD “Fire And Gasoline” they had reunited and planned some touring. Since that time however, guitarist Fernando Von Arb had decided to retire from the touring world and this show would see Krokus with a completely different line up that would be entirely new to this US crowd. Singer Marc Storace really has held his voice up over the years and can still belt out the notes, but I will address this in a few minutes. I want to bring a little bit of information on the opening band first.
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Where Heavy Music & Pop Culture Collide

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