“Mandrake” by Edguy

Artist: EdGuy
Title: “Mandrake”
Label: AFM Records
Release Date: 6/1/2002
Genre: Power Metal
Rating: 8/10

EdGuy’s popularity and dominance in the Metal world has led AFM Records to re-issue their stand-out release of “Mandrake”. This was one of the highlights in EdGuys catalog and even thought it was originally released in 2001 it still sounds very fresh when compared to new material or even songs from their Power Metal peers. Listening to EdGuy music is always something fun and it shows you that this is a must see band in the concert sense. There is always a sense of energy and theatrics that come through your speakers when you play an EdGuy album. Tobias Sammet is a very interesting songwriter and front man as well for the strong melodic hooks and powerful vocal harmonies give the songs a very sing-along sense. If you have seen them perform you will agree that this goes over well in concert and if you have not you will find yourself singing a lot of these songs very quickly. Most of EdGuys material is standard length which is odd for Power Metal but the group handles longer tracks with relative ease as well. These particular songs don’t get boring and instead keep your interest level in the band on the high side. Tracks that surpass the 7 minute mark are “Tears Of A Mandrake” and “Pharoah” (which actually passes 10 minutes in length). Instant favorites when you listen will most likely be the “Mandrake” track and songs like “Fallen Angels” & “Save Us Now”. They all have among the most infectious choruses and make for some definite repeat listens on your CD Changer. The band makes it easier by including lyrics in the booklet which spans some 16 pages and also offers Discography and photos.
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“Extreme Metal Drumming 101” by Cryptopsy’s Flo Mounier

Artist: Cryptopsy’s Flo Mounier
Title: “Extreme Metal Drumming 101”
Label: Independent Release
Release Date: 11/15/2005
Genre: Extreme Metal
Rating: 8/10

The world of Extreme Metal does not have a better representative than Canada’s own Cryptopsy. The band that was formed in 1992 pushes the limits of what one thinks can be done in Heavy Metal music and once they’ve left you breathless and recovering they kick back in to let you have it once again. As with most powerful bands of this nature the key factor for success lies in the man (or woman) behind the drum kit. Cryptopsy is a leader in the field that they adventure in due to the complexity, creativity and absolute intensity that is drummer Flo Mounier. This double DVD set takes you along for the ride with Mounier and the band as he solos live at Cryptopsy shows, rehearses tracks in the studio and performs at clinics around the world. Broken into 2 areas of study the first DVD is the instructional end. Portioned up according to routines and tutorials, Flo explains them in order to help you better understand how he achieves the level of performance that he is able to do. While some of it might look easy at first be aware that this is an over the top demonstration on the pushing the bodily limits. Once you understand how better to approach them you will not only be a better player but also a smarter player as well. As a drummer I I felt that this was enjoyable and informative especially in seeing the “best practices” lined out for the viewer and student. Bad practice routines can lead to injury and given that Extreme Metal is the musical equivalent to the most brutal sporting activities. If you are not in shape and following processes you can and will get hurt. This was excellent to assist the understanding. Flo also performs on his full kit which is a monster collection of cymbals and drums. I like that he featured himself on the full kit rather than scaled down gear. Showing it all allows for you to see what he is talking about a little better.
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“Grime Vs Grandeur” by Falconer

Artist: Falconer
Title: “Grime V.s Grandeur”
Label: Metal Blade Records
Release Date: 5/3/2005
Genre: Power Metal
Rating: 8/10

The newest release by Falconer is certainly a great follow up to 2003’s “Sceptre Of Deception” as once again Stefan Weinerhall has composed a solid slab of Metal for fans new and old. If this is your first time even hearing the name then this CD is something that will definitely make enjoying them a very easy task. There is so much in the terms of kick ass song writing and riffing that even I was impressed at first listen. I admit that I liked “Sceptre” and the band but one must take each release as a separate entity these days. There are a couple of differences that listeners should be aware about the band this time around. For starters the line up has changed with the mutual quit/firing of Anders and Peder from the last recording. They are ably replaced by Jimmy Hedlund (guitar) and Magnus Linhardt (bass). The other difference is that this is straight ahead Metal and not an epic story like the last one was. There are individual songs rather than connected segments that require a full CD listen to get the impact of. Weinerhall and Gobel each split the writing for this album and I feel that this allowed Gobel to really develop his own identity in the band this time around. On “Sceptre” he was new to the line up and performing ready to record material. Being responsible for 25% of the album makes this better for him and the group as a whole. “Emotional Skies” kicks the release off and lets you know that you are in for a metal treat. Great chops and a sing along chorus that will make you raise a glass of whatever very high as you join in the vocals. Weinerhall’s guitar work is just as good as the last release and on “Power” both axe wielders showcase their skills. On “The Assailant” I was reminded of early Krokus from around their “Headhunter” years due to the drive this track held. “Child Of The Wild” closes the recording with a slamming dose of double bass and lightning guitar that I think even the most discerning critic will like. It’s a consistent recording and shows a musical skill that should gain a lot of fans for Falconer. They join a sad number of bands that are excellent but under exposed due to the ever-changing Music Industry. Let’s hope that bands like Hammerfall and EdGuy see it in the cards to bring them over when they again tour.
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“The Dirt: Confessions Of The Worlds Most Dangerous Band” by Motley Crue with Neil Strauss

Title: “The Dirt: Confessions Of The Worlds Most Dangerous Band”
Author: Motley Crue with Neil Strauss
Publisher: Harper Collins Publishing
Release Date: 7/1/2002
Genre: Hard Rock
Rating: 10/10

If you were to take all of the musical tomes available today you will find that this one will stand out substantially higher than the rest of them. It makes sense when you consider the often turbulent history of Motley Crue themselves for as a band their music was as volatile as their offstage personalities. Truly Nikki Sixx, Tommy Lee, Vince Neil and Mick Mars were Rock Stars to the very essence of the word. By now it’s safe to assume that most fans of the band have seen the VH1 episode of “Behind The Music” which delved into their chaotic history but since it’s only a one-hour program how can it do anything more than touch upon some of the most famous points. The 448 page book is broken up into chapters that are lined out by each individual member. You might start off with Tommy speaking on something and then it catches Sixx around the same topic and so forth. This made it a fascinating read as it came off much like an in-depth interview as well as a biography of the notorious musicians. I found that with the group having such a level of input into the content of the book that this made the read far more gripping and pure. When you reach the more poignant moments such as when Vince’s daughter succumbed to cancer it pulls at the very heart strings and you will find yourself reaching for the Kleenex. The book begins historically at the earliest recollection and leads up to the actions of only a couple of months before print of the book. It even features sections by their replacement members and this makes it more on target. Everything you had ever heard about Motley Crue the band and the members is in here, the good times and the bad, the lives and the deaths that surrounded them and when you close it you will wonder how any of them are still alive.
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Finntroll & Sodom @ B.B. King Blues Club (1/8/2006)

Logo - SodomLogo - Finntroll

Artist: Sodom
Venue: B.B. King Blues Club (New York, NY)
Opener: Finntroll
Date: 1/8/2005
Label: SPV Records

The arrival of Finntroll and Sodom proved that it would be one of those interesting nights at B.B. King Blues Club once again. The two bands would be the only groups performing and while Finntroll preceded Sodom, this was clearly a co-headlining show without any question with a seemingly larger audience presence than that of Sodom. From Germany, Sodom brings one of those classic Thrash sounds and it has rarely changed much over the course of their history. Finntroll is a different story altogether as the band mixes Black and Pagan Metal styling with Finnish Polka or Humppa. The end result delivers a far different taste of music. To be honest I was primarily there for Finntroll and many reports had come in saying that the line up should have been switched with more audience showing support for this Finnish export. Here are some details on the evening’s fun.
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Where Heavy Music & Pop Culture Collide

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