These album overviews were originally written for Metal Edge Magazine when I was a contributor to their “Hear Us Out” CD reviews section back in 2006-2007. With the magazine wrapping up publication a few months ago, I decided to add them to the context of our PiercingMetal presentation. I felt that by doing this I would not only be raising the horns in remembrance of the magazine but would also be able to showcase just how different writing for a major publication was when it all came down to it. Since “Hear Us Out” notations were usually “100” words in length, these posts will feature several reviews each until we run out of them. The freelance writing tenure at Metal Edge Magazine was discussed on THIS LINK so please check that out when done. Here are the reviews, so “Hear Us Out”.
Burn Season: “Burn Season” (Bieler Bros. Records)
After initial dealings with the folding Elektra Records, Burn Season found their brand of Nu-Metal Heaviness on Bieler Bros. Records. The group is closer in style to that of early Linkin Park as opposed to the recent crop of Metal Core acts and holds a passionate style that makes the oft-lambasted Nu-Metal label a little more acceptable. Solid riffs and harmony vocals tempered with the razor screams of Damien Starkey are par for the course with this self-titled CD so if you enjoy Hard Rock with a dose of today’s “edge” mixed in for good measure then this is a group for you.
Casket Salesman: “Sleeping Giants” (Longhair Illuminati Records)
The Casket Salesmen are much along the line of a melodic experimental rock band than their cryptic name would ever have you believe. They blend alternative feels with tasty rhythms and melodies to give you an enjoyable dose of Rock & Roll. Led by singer/guitarist Phil Pirrone the group adventures into several different genre territories and yet still manage to capture the listener’s attention on every cut. There is a lot of Post-Punk vibe that sometimes touches upon the Prog-Rock angle along with some Ambient feels that make the band something worth listening to a few times before making rash judgment.
Cellador: “Enter Deception” (Metal Blade Records)
As you listen to the debut by the band Cellador it would seem that the future of Power Metal no longer lies at the hands of our European neighbors and instead has fallen to…Nebraska. Yes, I did say Nebraska and when the album begins you immediately are taken on a Power Metal ride that calls to mind the likes of Dragonforce and old Helloween with a twist of Gamma Ray tossed in for good measure. It’s a strong debut for a band that was still quite new when they opened up for Black Dahlia Murder and were able to hand their demo over to the label President and subsequently find themselves with a record deal. Surely this was not only a case of timing and luck, but also included their measure of skills and overall potential to move forward as a Heavy Metal rising star. Overall potential is definitely the key here as there is a lot of tasty Metal to absorb in both vocal style and musicianship. The band is made up of Michael Gremio (vocals), Chris Petersen (lead guitar), David Dahir (drums), Valentin Rakhmanov (bass) and Bill Hudson (lead and keys); the members of the band range from 17 to 23 years of age. Despite their young ages dont let yourself be deterred from the band by this as they play with a level of technical expertise that will have fans of this type of Metal banging their heads at mind-boggling speeds. Opener “Leaving All Behind” brings forth memory of a young Michael Kiske and “A Sign Far Beyond” had some Dragonforce vibe to it. Maybe the worst side of the band could be the slight similarity to the sound of their influences and this is a fault that I see them surpassing as time goes on.is the fault that they must overcome. There is perhaps a little too much familiarity in the songs across the album. There are no cloned songs but they do keep a certain feel rolling on all of the eight songs on the debut. Lyrics are provided in the booklet and as you leaf through them you will see the main difference in this band for while Power Metal they are not singing about far away and fantasy places but instead things that affect our daily lives. I admit that I was blown away by the displays on guitars, vocals and drums myself and when you are a fan of Power Metal in general you tend to approach a new band with a level of caution. I can say to fans like myself that there is no caution necessary when it comes to these guys. Make room for Cellador, because even if you don’t you are not going to stop them from rolling over you.
Chimaira: “Resurrection” (Ferret Music)
New label secured, Chimaira can now get back to the business of auditory assault once again. The album finds the band slamming down and in-synch to a degree that the listener can actually feel. Musically, this is a great statement from one of Metalcore’s purest contributors and the epic “Six” shows just how much they have grown in style. “Black Heart”, one of the better tracks here shows that the Metal fury is still beating strong in this band. The new CD was produced by Suecof and Sneap with a limited edition “making of” DVD included in the deluxe edition.
Chris Caffery: “Pins and Needles” (Locomotive Music)
We’ve seen his Faces and felt the God Damn War and now the Savatage/TSO guitarist returns with his heaviest release yet. Thundering drums and shredding guitar is everywhere and while heavy abounds everywhere there is more complexity to the dynamics showcased. It’s the most consistent in sound for the player as he rallies the army with one Traditional Metal laced rocker after another. It’s sound both musically and vocally which should please the fans. Winners are found in “Chains”, “Walls” and the title track among others. A riff or two might say Savatage yet this is mainly a solid blend of many different heavy styles.
Chrome Division: ”Doomsday Rock ‘N’ Roll” (Nuclear Blast Records)
Side projects of members of popular bands usually don’t take on their own life or identity and usually when they form you expect the result to be similar to the persons existing music. Not so with Dimmu Borgir’s Shagrath who plays rhythm guitar along with singer Eddie Guz in the leather-clad biker from Hell hard rock group “Chrome Division”. Together the pair deliver a down and dirty dose of Heavy Rock & Roll that is a surprisingly fun ride. The album opens with a quick overture lead in to the first single (and video) “Serial Killer”. It’s a rocking track that also feature’s Shagrath’s band mate Silenoz on some guitar. It continues along with “Hate” and their anthem “Chrome Division” and as you listen you will immediately find a strong association with this band and the one and only Motorhead. It’s an amazing thing to find happen with so many bands from their region all ending up delivering the Black Metal or Death Metal while others delve into the Melodic Power aspect of the genre. Chrome Division seems to be more about riding motorcycles, drinking lots of beer and raising a whole lot of Hell. It’s important to not take the comparison to the famous Lemmy team as mimicking but instead realize that another has chosen to keep the idea simple and straightforward in order to be a different from the all too similar crop of recent Metal. This is a fun and boisterous album, and it truly does get the blood flowing as you listen. This is music that is meant to be played loud and with a fist pushed into the air with its strong biker attitude and vibe. I think that fans of Motorhead and others, perhaps along the lines of what Rhino Bucket does will feel the same way. Membership is rounded out by Ricky Black (guitars), Bjorn Luna (bass) and Tony White (drums) and everyone holds true as a capable musician on the recording. There are not many deviations from their format of choice but that actually makes the entire album flow a little cleaner and be a constant to the listener. So if this gritty side of music is what drives you, get yourself a cold one, grab that leather jacket and make sure the stereo is nice and loud. Shine up your Metal for the Chrome Division because it is a winner.
Coldseed: ”Completion Makes The Tragedy” (Nuclear Blast Records)
Proving that some side-projects hold unique power of their own comes Coldseed which is fronted by Bjorn Strid (Soilwork ) and Thomen Staunch (Blind Guardian/Savage Circus). The great thing about it is that it bears no resemblance to either of their respective bands for the most part. Yes, it is heavy all-around and is a Metal record but instead of the Industrial or Power vibe you get more of a groove-laden release that owes credit to Thrash and Old School Metal with a twist of Nu and offers a wide audience a solid listen that is stunning, powerful and interesting.
Communic: “Waves Of Visual Decay” (Nuclear Blast Records)
Prepare to be blown away by Norway’s Communic who play Progressive Melodic Metal ala Nevermore meets Fates Warning. WOVD is a full Metal assault that is diverse and technically intriguing at every turn and the three member group surely sounds bigger than one expects. They make use of many peaks and valleys by slowing the tempo only to throttle it again, and again. There is a clear and rich emotion across their songs and all of them are epics that hold you rather than lag on you as a listener. There is no sophomore curse for Communic and I’m already excited to hear what could be next.
Cradle Of Filth: “Thornography” (Roadrunner Records)
Leave it to the Cradle Of Filth to once again prove why they are continually going to be impossible to classify under one genre specification. For many years, they have been one of the most theatrical groups of them all and they were among the earliest to blend the Symphonic angle into Extreme Black Metal music. The elements of the this brand of music and the over the top dramatics of lead singer Dani Filth led this band to success and to become as much a force of nature as they were a musical group. With Cradle Of Filth, the only constant is change and on their second release on Roadrunner Records, fans will find this definitely to be the case once again. It’s an album that might come as a surprise to the die-hard fans given its moving further away from the style they first blasted on to the scene with. Yet similarly, this release might also gain some fans based on its use of a Gothic essence and the heavy leaning on traditional Thrash Metal vibes. Thornography is a recording that will allow you to redefine your perspective of COF and it’s a great follow up to Nymphetamine. If you had to compare the two you will find an equal part of solid and memorable songs and perhaps you will even agree that the release is the best that the band has ever delivered to the fans. Tracks like “Tonight In Flames” will have you raging with horns raised to the sky while “I Am The Thorn” reflects in style on the bands of Metal’s illustrious past. This feel shows that COF is not as far from the influences of so many as one might think. As in the past so the future as guests appear once again on the new record. We have Sara Jezebel Deva (Angtoria) on one number, while HIM’s Ville Vallo (a most unlikely pairing of singers) makes his mark with “Byonic Man”. There are moments some might find as selling out based on their tempo but be aware that the music is incredibly strong from start to finish. The instrumental “Rise Of The Pentagram” shows just how good these guys can play and thanks to the changes, the world has received their most accessible album of all. It’s a great chance to jump on board if you are not already there
Additional chapters in this series of “Revisiting Metal Edge Magazine” will be posted across the span of a couple of weeks. Please stay tuned for the next batch of summaries and let us know what you thought of these items down in the comments section below.
Burn Season https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burn_Season
Casket Salesmen https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casket_Salesmen
Chris Caffery http://www.chriscaffery.com
Chrome Division http://www.ChromeDivision.com
Cradle Of Filth http://www.cradleoffilth.com