Tag Archives: metal edge magazine

Metal Edge Magazine’s “Heavy Metal Mecca’s”: Rock Fantasy – Heavy Metal Specialty Shop

One of the other cool things that I was able to take part in as a freelance writer for Metal Edge Magazine, was to occasionally offer up an article that fell outside the normal realm of music release review. During my tenure they had a section entitled “Heavy Metal Mecca’s” and this focused on the ever popular Record & Concert shop that was dedicated to the Heavy Metal and Hard Rock scene in terms of what it made available to the consumer. When the editor asked me to pitch such an establishment to their desk I could think of no place better suited to the job than the Rock Fantasy Concert Shop up in Middletown, NY.  Since the magazine that this originally ran in has been off the stands for quite some time and now has ceased publication; I am re-presenting my work with the readers of the PiercingMetal.com Blog so new folks might enjoy it.  It is my hope that these words continue to help out this amazing shop going forward.

“If you take a quick train ride from Manhattan to Middletown, NY, you’ll be able to visit a true institution in Hard Rock and Heavy Metal retail – the one and only Rock Fantasy. The shop is a cornucopia of heavy music and its memorabilia and has been open for business since 1985. Since the doors first opened for the hungry Metal maven, it has seen more than a fair share of genres come and go and through it all Metal has prevailed. The shop was founded and is operated by Steve Keeler who aimed Rock Fantasy at being your one-stop shop for all your Metal needs.

rock fantasy concert shop
The Storefront Of Rock Fantasy

Continue reading Metal Edge Magazine’s “Heavy Metal Mecca’s”: Rock Fantasy – Heavy Metal Specialty Shop

PiercingMetal’s “Best Of” 2009: The Books and Videos

I know what you are thinking, gee Ken you guys sure did like a lot of stuff over the course of 2009 and you are not kidding. This will be my last installment from the “Best Of” rundowns and we will not only cover the videos and books that we enjoyed the most but also will line out a bunch of the things that disappointed us here at the Metal Media Command HQ. DVD releases continued to impress and amaze as not only were new and exciting videos being released but also a number of cool historical archives had finally come to see the light of day. We reviewed quite a bit of them this year and still have a number of them to go but the list below focuses on some of our favorites which we made sure to line out first to be a part of this list. Let’s take a look.

The Best DVD’s of 2009:

Iron Maiden “Flight 666” (Universal Music): Maiden’s documentary about their “Somewhere Back In Time” World Tour that discussed how the band flew their own airplane to dozens of countries to deliver the Metal to the faithful believers has to be seen to be believed. Filmed by the famous Sam Dunn of “Headbanger’s Journey” fame.

Anvil: “The Story Of Anvil” (VH1 Classic Records): Anvil finally gets their due and some proper attention based on this fine documentary film by Sasha Gervasi.

Journey “Live In Manila” (Wal-Mart): If you didn’t get enough of Arnel Pineda when Journey delivered us “Generations” then wait till you get a load of him doing his thing in his home country, the Philippines. This show rocks and the crowd was going crazy for their countryman as he led this legendary band into the future.

Rick Wakeman “The Six Wives Of Henry XIII” (Eagle Vision): Former Yes keyboard wizard gets to fulfill a dream performance and we are members of the audience thanks to this special DVD release. A companion CD was also offered and this is a must for the legends fans.

ZZ Top “Double Down Live” (Eagle Vision): This DVD presented not one, but two performances from ZZ Top and while one comes from recently, it is the vintage show from 1980 that is the one to appreciate most. There isn’t a lot of footage of the band that’s been made public, so this was something that many classic rock and blues rock fans can appreciate quite a bit.
Continue reading PiercingMetal’s “Best Of” 2009: The Books and Videos

Revisiting “Metal Edge” Magazine: The CD Reviews – Part 12

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 final reviews, so “Hear Us Out” one last time.

Various Artists: “Metal For The Masses V” (Century Media Records)

The great thing about this compilation is that it includes members of the whole Century Media family of labels and as result you get Into Eternity with Meshuggah with American Heartbreak. Two CD’s loaded with songs from existing and new signings make this a worthy slab of Metal, but lets not forget the DVD that features videos from the same rosters. It’s a great way to showcase the already known while allowing you time to absorb those that are new. You cannot go wrong with a release like that for who knows how many more fans it can make for legends and how many legends it can foster going forward.

Various Artists: “Saw III” Soundtrack (Artists Addiction Records)

Soundtracks are not often easy to review since many of them are sub-par but lucky us this is an exception. After the shaking in fear has stopped from seeing this movie, you can once again feel your blood boil hot with the power of the great bands presented here. Hot new acts like All That Remains, and Mastodon are tempered by the legends Slayer and Ministry while ever rising super powers like Lamb Of God and Meshuggah dole it out as well. A soundtrack helped Evanescence, perhaps this will make a spike marked dent on someone elses career. Yes, there will be blood.

Various Artists: “Sick Of It All: Our Impact Will Be Felt” (Abacus Records)

Slowly becoming the be-all label for finding slam worthy Hardcore and Metalcore, Abacus Records gives us a compilation that celebrates 20 years of the band Sick Of It All. This tribute takes some of the hottest talent in the genre and has them bring to life their own version of a SOIA classic. The idea works for a number of reasons as not only do you hear the hot bands of today but you get the chance to learn more about these forefathers of the Hardcore movement. It’s a great sampling of a wide variety of groups.

Venom: “Metal Black” (Sanctuary Records)

Venom have been referred to as being the “Fathers Of Black Metal” and this title is based on their releases such as “Black Metal” and “At War With Satan”. When the band was formed in 1982 there was not really anyone playing the kind of music much less about the kind of topics that they were bringing to the table. When you look back and listen to the early albums you will find that the original lineup of Cronos, Mantas and Abbadon (who were all named after demons) delivered a more Thrash Punk than Metal style and their lyrics while very dark could not have been meant to be taken very seriously. Cited by bands like Slayer and many others as the key influence to their own forays into Metal’s Dark side the group gives us “Metal Black”. The Sanctuary Records release finds Venom bringing their sound into 2006 but the only original member on the release would be Cronos with his growling vocals and thundering bass. We last saw Cronos on the Dave Grohl project “Probot” and now joining him would be Mykvs (guitar) and Antton (drums) with both members helping out on backing vocals. Together the group reminds the listener once again of the goings on down below and with “Antechrist” and “Rege Satanus” prove that they will never stray far from this influence for their music. Oddly enough this release is far different from the early albums and delivers a solid dose of Heavy Metal rumbling that I think can appeal to even the non-fan. It was better than I remember them and finds a little more musicality being showcased this time around. I had a couple of tracks that I liked the most such as “Burn In Hell” and “A Good Day to Die” which were fast-paced numbers along the lines of Motorhead. There were some levels of lyrical predictability here but overall it is possibly the best work that the band has delivered in years. If you find inspiration in the bands of yesterday then this will be worth looking into. Given the earlier disciples to their sound in the past who knows what the return of Venom in 2006 will find. Only time will tell if the next big thing listens to this and follows in their hoof prints.

Virgin Black: “Requiem: Mezzo Forte” (The End Records)

The 2nd of a Trilogy, this CD makes you feel you should be watching in an elaborate Opera house as opposed to a club setting. This is intense drama and passion that also cannot be appreciated on a first listen. As it thundered by in its lush orchestrations, I felt as though I was observing from an ornate balcony as I wondered how so much diversity was fit into the time presented. This is classical and dark, yet imposing and beautiful at the same time. It goes to show how fresh the “Metal” genre remains as new worlds of musical color are presented on a regular basis.

Wednesday 13: “Fang Bang” (Ryko Records)

Former Murderdolls singer/guitarist Wednesday 13 takes movie monsters, Cemetery romance and grave-robbing to give you ghoulish good time with “Fang Bang”. This quirkiness and the Punk Rock & Roll backbeat are sure to serve the minions of the macabre well as the living dead front man delivers some sinister and twisted tunes. Citing that this recording was more of a return to the style of Frankenstein Drag Queens than his Murderdolls music, the album is a lot of fun from start to finish. If the stuff was done in a serious fashion and not as tongue-in-cheek the subject matter being sung about would terrify a person because he really singing about some horrifying stuff. Instead, this musical adventure is something you might expect from the Crypt Keeper as Wednesday 13 sings as different characters on several songs such as a grave-robbing transvestite during “Happily Ever Cadaver” and someone who lived with his dead girlfriend for “Morgue Than Words”. It all sounds disgusting but it worked oh so very well and you will find them appealing enough to form your own Goth Punk mosh pit. It’s a musically slamming album with more catchy hooks than you can count as he brings Hollywood movie monsters to life on songs like “Haddonfield” and “Till Death Do Us Party”. If you never imagined yourself being moved to stomp during the antics of Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers well here is your excuse as these two numbers are among the albums strongest inclusions. Practically every chorus will have you humming once your first spin of the CD is finished. Wednesday 13 shows a really amusing and dark sense of humor that works well on every song (such as “Buried With Children”), and while most tracks are of this nature there seems to be some seriousness on “Die Sci-Fi”, which is a kind of trippy number, and “Burn The Flames” which finds 13 in his best Alice Cooper moment. It’s almost like the credits section as a movie closes. He provides lyrics for the tracks and that allows you in on the jokes of this very fun record. His very visual nature and horror show premise gives the impression that concerts will be an absolute blast. This bone shaking album will allow you monsters to mash a little more so grab a partner and start shaking – here is your new graveyard smash.

White Lion: Anthology 83-89 (Deadline Music)

White Lion was one of the more popular acts in the Hard Rock 80’s – you had the energetic blonde singer (Mike Tramp) and guitar virtuoso Vito Bratta who gave fans a plethora of rock solid hits. The Anthology had the chance to be something excellent but this is not the case as instead of official album tracks you get songs familiar names but are musically quite different. Loaded with outtakes, demos and acoustic tracks the album should have been called “Rarities” as otherwise its deceiving the listener. Given most of these tracks are lesser grade production value tracks it makes the entire disk a reminder of the great band in name more than music.

Wuthering Heights: “The Shadow Cabinet” (Sensory Records)

If you’re longing for speedy drumming, lightning guitar riffing and vocals that are as resounding as a call to battle then Wuthering Heights is just what the doctor ordered. The Danish group uses all the expected tricks but also mixes many classical and folk elements together and brings some truly epic tunes to your stereo. I felt old Blind Guardian as they played “Faith” and “Seize The Night” and completed my listen as a satisfied Metal maniac. With their fourth release, they show a powerful presence remains. Discovery lies ahead on this one. A live performance DVD is included.

ZO2: “Ain’t Is Beautiful” (Independent Artist)

Every so often, you come across a band that reminds you about the simple pleasures of Rock & roll and all of the magic that it possesses. This is the case with New York’s ZO2, who bring you back to a sound that is generally lost by a number of today’s bands that are concerned more about genre labels than the task at hand. “Ain’t It Beautiful” is the bands second independent release and don’t let the term “indie” sway you as the group comes from some truly inspirational foundations. Dave Z. (the bassist) is also a member of The Trans-Siberian Orchestra, while brother Paulie and drummer Joe Cassata each have ample background from numerous working bands, which at times were busier than established industry “professionals”. The group was also the opener for the entire run of dates for KISS’ “Rock The Nation” tour. The CD follows up their debut “Tuesdays & Thursdays” with a similar theme of Melodic Hard Rock that will appeal to all fans who loved what KISS and Aerosmith did in their earlier years. Their sound is by no means retro, but instead is a skillful blend of the old meeting the new and showing how fresh it can sound when you focus on the basic formulas. Add in the fact that they use three-part harmony vocals these guys give the listeners easily memorable choruses. Paulie has the kind of voice that many Rock singers aspire to for he is bluesy at times, passionate at others, and when it is called for – he can scream like a banshee. It is the kind of diversity you want in a front man and he surely delivers on all fronts and gets you on your feet with numbers like “Get Up Now” and “If You See Kay”. While these are two of the bands most inspired rockers, I loved “Comin’ Home” and “Isolate” the best as each of them just took me away to a live show with the vibe that they brought. The guys also show respect and homage to the Rock founders on “Get The Led Out”, a number that uses some sweet Zeppelin feels and style. The album sounds fantastic and was produced & co-written by Bob Held. It’s music that you will want to play loud, sing along to and memorize all at the same time. I’m convinced that bigger things await ZO2 and their fans. Anyone else want to come along?

With this post we are finished with this presentation but the other chapters in this series of “Revisiting Metal Edge Magazine” can be examined by clicking on the “metal edge magazine” tag in this and the other posts. I hope that you enjoyed these summaries as much as I enjoyed sharing them with you in this fashion.

Official Websites:
Venom: http://www.venomslegions.com/
Virgin Black: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virgin_Black
Wednesday 13: http://officialwednesday13.com/
White Lion: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Lion
Wuthering Heights: http://www.wuthering-heights.dk/
ZO2: http://www.zo2.com


Revisiting “Metal Edge” Magazine: The CD Reviews – Part 11

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”.

Trail Of Tears: “Existentia” (Napalm Records)

Dark Gothic Metal takes the brooding, morose textures of the conventional Gothic style and adds levels of drama and power that is more akin to Black or Power Metal. Sweeping and thunderous at every turn the effects come to life due to the three lead singers that the band possesses. They duel throughout the recording using dark, clean and operatic vocals to cover the spectrum while the musicians combine intense riffs that are chock full of power. TOT serves the need for those seeking intense music with dynamic vocals; as result Existentia remains exciting with each and every listen.

Tristania: “Illumination” (SPV Records)

Norway’s Tristania moves deeper into the Gothic with their latest release by serving fans a quasi-Evanescence feel but with a lot more depth and dramatics than that outfit provides. Brooding and dark, the textures both chill and warm the blood as Vibeke Stene provides siren melody and operatic styles to the sullen and deep words of her male counterpart Osten. “Destination Departure” & “Mercyside” are its most captivating tracks and will surely enthrall you after moments of hearing them. It’s new ground for the band as they wisely blend Doom into their signature sound as well. The dark never looked as bright before now.
Continue reading Revisiting “Metal Edge” Magazine: The CD Reviews – Part 11

Revisiting “Metal Edge” Magazine: The CD Reviews – Part 10

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”.

Staind: ”The Singles: 1996-2006” (Atlantic Records)

With Staind, Aaron Lewis and company most certainly dished out the Melancholy with their major label debut “Break The Cycle”. It was an album whose lead single actually owed some level of popularity based on Fred Durst’s (Limp Bizkit) initial interest in them. Durst had performed the song “Outside” with Lewis on the Family Values tour before the albums release in 2001. The performance built an interest and buzz that kept until the album hit. As a band Staind laid down the radio friendly Alt-Metal with apparent ease and this hits collection is a great way to remember their finest moments from the span of their releases. “BTC” has four presentations on the album, and sadly the studio version is omitted to include the acoustic pairing with Durst. While it’s a good version I am sure that many fans would prefer to have had the darker and heavier studio cut included. Other highlights include the hits from “14 Shades Of Grey”, an album that found the group a little more mainstream as they sang tributes to fallen friends and their family as well. A touching track is “Zoe Jane”, Lewis’ daughter. It was an album that showed there was also light inside the once dark and brooding band. In addition to the main hits there are several acoustic numbers and among them are covers of both Pink Floyd and Tool. The songs show that there is added passion to this group and it’s an interesting manner to hear a Tool song in the first place. Floyd generally translates well acoustically and on this I found the classic track “Comfortably Numb” to be just a little more ominous. I enjoyed Staind as a band, and felt that they strived to be different from the crop of Seattle Sound bands that the decade had just closed us out from. They used elements of this melancholy and angst to a great effect with a dose of Hard Rock that worked out very well in the end. As a result this band has far more memorable tracks than many others would from this same time in music history. Don’t believe me? Name three Limp Bizkit hits……see, I told you so.

Static X: “Cannibal” (Reprise Records)

There are not many bands that sound like Static X nor are there many who are able to infuse the level of Techno-Industrial vibe into Heavy Metal music as good as they do. For over 13 years, they have been continually impressing and surprising their fan base with what they can do and with their fifth recording “Cannibal” – they show that they stand poised to repeat the process once again. Led by Wayne Static, Cannibal finds the group also with their fifth different lineup in terms of the recording of the new music. The changes however, mark the return of their original guitarist Koichi Fukuda who now joins Oshiro (drums) and Campos (bass) to complete the four-piece Industrial Metal Masters. Despite the lineup shifts the listener will still find the aggressive and powerful sound that makes Static-X such a special band to the world of music and truly second to none against those who use this style. The assault begins right away with the title track “Cannibal” – a song that is a not so subtle hint at the overall assault that is looming on the other tracks. This is a heavier release than I every remember them delivering and they use their unique elements to success and make songs like “Chemical Logic” a form of “Techno-Thrash”. When it gets to “Forty Ways” they use the feel of Disco meets Rave music and give a number that you just know is going to have the audience on the feet jumping as they perform it. Static himself seems to be in top form once again as he screams in rage repeatedly and delivers his point with determination and intent. The listeners will find a very “live” sounding record instead of an over-processed piece and the reasoning was for it to maintain the level of an “in your face” album as opposed to sounding too bland and over-produced. They succeeded here as you feel the need to make this a louder and louder listen on your stereo and I continually felt my head bopping and foot tapping in time with the songs as I played it the first time around. This album welcomes new friends while at the same time embraces the old ones. If you like Metal coupled with a solid groove then this is for you, there will be “No Submission” this time. While never truly away, Static-X has returned.
Continue reading Revisiting “Metal Edge” Magazine: The CD Reviews – Part 10