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”.
Killswitch Engage: “As Daylight Dies” (Roadrunner Records)
You can say with levels of certainty that bands like All That Remains and Burn In Silence along with a laundry list of others owe a debt of gratitude to Killswitch Engage for both their music and their efforts on the Heavy Metal genre as a whole. It was Killswitch who made it clear that both the intensity of Metalcore and the traditional melody of conventional Metal could and would work together with a bombastic result; now with As Daylight Dies, the band continues to show why they are the undisputed masters of this formula for many years. As you listen, you find that the aggression is still there and you find it prominently displayed on “Unbroken” where Jones rails against the world in anger only to break into the melodic parts with ease and perfection. Tracks like opener “As Daylight Dies” and “This Is Absolution” remind you that you are listening to professionals who have really grown into their role as a leader for this brand of Metal. The success that they have achieved over the past few years have really given the format a massive push ahead the rest and with every tune on the new record you can see why they have become so influential in this kind of sound. Instead of choosing to rest upon the laurels of success, we find the new album once again taking the band in a venture ahead to new again and focusing a little more on the melodic side than ever before. This might cause some dismay in the folks who wanted a non-stop brutality fest and they should be aware that the use of melody does not mean that they have grown soft by any stretch. This is actually a very killer album and I expect that when its numbers come back that it turns more people onto the group than it does turn off. In Metal, the only constant is change and since they deal with so much in the way of competition, I am glad to see KE opting to lead the charge one more time. One of my favorites is “Still Beats Your Name” which is an intensely dynamic number with throttling drums by Justin Foley, while “Reject Yourself” closes out the release with a punch that is as hard as only Killswitch Engage can deliver. As Daylight Dies, the power of KE grows all the stronger.
KISS: ”Alive 1975-2000” (Universal Music)
It’s been over thirty years and KISS is still one of the most visually exciting bands ever formed and the levels of spectacle and entertainment at their concerts have given millions of fans worldwide experiences that are forever remembered. This CD collection celebrates the performances of KISS by featuring all three of their Alive releases as well as a special bonus disk. Alive was the album that saved KISS’ career for it was not until the band took the risk of releasing a double live album that their true powers over the listener were realized. Yes they had an ever-growing fan base but the albums were not selling. Instead of the career suicide many predicted with this effort it became a blockbuster that many live recordings are measured against. The band’s anthem would officially claim that status as a result of Alive and soon “Rock And Roll All Nite” was on radio stations everywhere. Alive II was culled from three shows at The Forum in LA and the increase in technology allowed KISS to make this release much more of an in your face listen than its predecessor. The third side would give the listener five new studio tracks to enjoy. “R&R All Night” is presented as a bonus on this set. Alive III finds a long unmasked and different roster KISS (Peter Criss and Ace Frehley were long gone). In their place were Bruce Kulick and Eric Singer (Singer had joined shortly after the passing of Eric Carr). Also released on video the album was met with approval but dissent at the one CD instead of two. The bonus CD is the long missing Millennium Concert, recorded in front of 45,000 fans during the bands “Farewell Tour” and once again featured the founding four members. Continually delayed, this album would simply vanish from the radar of fans. Some tracks made their way to the Boxed Set but that would be it. It would also be the final live recording to feature completely original members, as Ace would leave again and be replaced by Tommy Thayer. Wrapped in a highly decorative deluxe digipack it includes a booklet that features every insert found in the original albums as well as a score of bonus photos. It’s time to get out the greasepaint and stick out your tongue once again for KISS – “The Hottest Band In The World”.
Kottak: “Therupy” (Escapi Music)
It’s totally Cheap Trick and Green Day with a lot of Melodic Punk on “Therupy”, the new CD from Kottak – the band from guitarist James Kottak (also drummer for Scorpions & Kingdom Come) and Athena (Sister of Tommy Lee). More accessible than traditional Punk Rock, the CD offers a bopping version of Cindy Lauper’s “Money Changes Everything” and hook-laden “Song That Wont Go Away”. Tunes that can save young fans by pushing them in a better musical direction. It’s down to the nitty-gritty, commercially viable and memorable stuff. “Miss You” has radio hit all over it while “Life Support” is a riot. This is a side-project that works on a number of levels.
Kreator: “Enemy Of God” Revisited (SPV Records)
Few thrash as hard as the legendary Kreator and celebrating this fact is the release “Enemy Of God – Revisited”. It features the original CD plus a bonus DVD with a full concert from the Wacken Open Air Festival, which reminds Metal acolytes that Kreator is still capable of delivering the goods in brutal fashion. Original Masters of the Thrash aspect without peer, they now blend today’s flavors of Melodic Death with their tried and true formula to amazing effect. If you missed this once, you will have no excuse this time around. Thrashing videos and bonus tracks are included as well.
Kylesa: “Time Will Fuse Its Worth” (Prosthetic Records)
Oddly enough I didn’t hear as much Sludge as I did the total and unbridled fury of Hardcore, blended in with some brave experimentation. Kylesa is a band that moves out of a defined box and offers a twist of old school Metal mixed in with classic Punk from a time long ago. They have a gritty and dirty sound to them and one can envision being in rehearsal space with them as this record plays. Overall, a very “live” sound prevails and while not for those uninterested – it offers a great deviation from the norm for the others.
Lana Lane: “Gemini” (Think Tank Media)
Lana Lane delivers some of her favorite Classic Rock numbers on her latest effort and with an All-Star cast that includes Vinny Appice, Kelly Keeling, George Lynch and Eric Norlander, she breathes new life into music that is still relevant in today’s world. Lane has an incredible voice, and closely resembles Ann Wilson from Heart. Her take on iconic staples like “White Room” and a comprehensive “Dark Side of the Moon” segment make this a great release for a wide audience. Let us hope Ms. Lane can inspire new generations of listeners to refer to these numbers as part of their own music education.
Lizzy Borden: “Master Of Disguise” Special Edition (Metal Blade Records)
This 1989 release was perhaps the best of their career and the anniversary edition gives a remastered album, bonus tracks and a DVD making of. LB was a band strengthened by shock-laced showmanship and tasty Metal riffs tied up into some awesome tunes. Stronger in the musicianship area than many of their Peers – this is the perfect way to celebrate a band that was larger than life on stage, in heart and deserving more acclaim for this than the decade gave. “Phantoms” and “Never Too Young” are as powerful as I remember and now dear readers it is your turn to face the axe.
Lordi: “Arockalypse” Special Edition (The End Records)
“Attention people of Earth, there is an immediate cause for alarm and panic as danger awaits you at every turn and with every note as Lordi and his Monster Metal Mates bring forth The Arockalypse!” One look at them will have the Emo bands running for shelter and rightly so for the band comes off like some cryptic amalgam of KISS meets GWAR on a bad day. Musically, the band owes more to the classic years of Hard Rock as opposed to any form of Extreme or Death Metal and with their anthem “Hard Rock Hallelujah”; you can be rest assured that the band is taking no prisoners. In 2006, the group proved this to be true by winning the hallowed Eurovision contest as Finland’s entry, and believe me the world would never be the same again. The win might have set this American Idol of the European Nations contest on its rear end but that is a good thing. There is nothing like a little Heavy Metal to stir up the pot every now and again. Fronted by Mr. Lordi the band has such detailed outfits that you wonder if they have Rick Baker on their payroll, or if they are truly what they appear to be. I am certainly not going to be the one pulling on this beard to see if it’s fake I will tell you that much. This CD is loaded with fun and catchy moments that each play off the monster theme such as “The Kids Who Wanna Play With The Dead” and “The Chainsaw Buffet”. The titles are surely grim and on the macabre side but the music is well placed together and very easy to remember (as if you can ever forget them after you have seen them). Lordi also conquers the world of power ballads with “It Snows In Hell”, but I am sure than instead of our hero kissing the girl that he instead eats her. Guest stars are a plenty on the release where we find Bruce Kulick (KISS), Udo (Accept), & JJ French (Twisted Sister) – now signed to The End Records in the USA, their fans will get additional music as well as videos, live footage and interviews on the included DVD. Arockalypse is a veritable cornucopia of cadaverous treats and surprises. In closing, I can only say “Good Lordi”. Best to hide your children in case the band is hungry when they come to town.
Madina Lake: ”The Disappearance Of Adalia” (Independent Release)
Twin Brothers in Rock is not common in music; I think it was last done with Nelson but thankfully the guys in Madina Lake deliver a little heavier brand of Melodic Rock on their debut EP. Its bassist Matthews’s short story placed to words and it precedes their full length release. Vibrant vocal harmonies are all across the record reminding me a little of Breaking Point while the overall riffs on it done with taste and become easy to remember. The full short story will be explained on their full length so let this be an appetizing sample of what is yet to come.
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.
Killswitch Engage: http://www.killswitchengage.com
James Kottak: http://www.jameskottak.com
Lana Lane: http://www.lanalane.com
Lizzy Borden: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lizzy_Borden_(band)
Madina Lake: https://www.facebook.com/MadinaLake/