Spring is in the air. Daylight savings has returned in some quarters. Things are supposed to be light and airy. So, don’t ask us to explain why our column this month is weighted to the heavier side of things.
Judas Priest (www.judaspriest.com) are one of heavy metal’s longest lasting hellions and their recent tour in support of Redeemer Of Souls was one of the most extensive of the group’s entire career. Now they’ve gone and documented their devilish undertakings on their new multi-format live set Battle Cry out now via Epic Records. Recorded live on August 1st, 2015 at Germany’s infamous Wacken Festival in front of an audience of 85,000 screaming metal maniacs, ‘Battle Cry’ is available on a 15-track CD, with the entire show on Blu-ray and DVD (running over 94 minutes), as well as digital audio and video formats. The DVD and Blu-ray also contains 3 bonus tracks shot in Poland on December 10th, 2015 at The Ergo Arena, in Gdansk, Poland. On this effort you can hear the band in fine form with favored front man Rob Halford in full command and screaming for vengeance on fan favorites such as “Breaking The Law”. “Hell Bent For Leather” and “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming”.
Acclaimed crafters of industrial rock Filter (www.officialfilter.com) have made a fine return to form with Crazy Eyes. Band frontman, founder and foreman Richard Patrick fully immersed himself in the process of creating this new and harrowing 12-track collection that he admits is “not pretty. It’s not cute. It’s real”. It’s easy to see that this album brims with a tantalizing wall of guitars underpinned with a pre-programmed base of industrialized menace that is at times eerie, haunting and hypnotic and may result in early onset insanity with repeated spins. The collection tackles the current state of the human condition with a caustic and consternating eye. “Kid Blue From the Short Bus, Drunk Bus” rolls with an explosive and intoxicating subtext that is quite endearing. “Your Bullets” flies with terse angst and ample anger with equal sonic appeal. If your own personal music filter hasn’t allowed you to consider this genre in the past this offering is fully entertaining and eye opening.
The band Last In Line (www.lastinlineofficial.com) featuring Vinny Appice, Jimmy Bain and Vivian Campbell were Ronnie Dio’s co-writers on the “Holy Diver”, “Last In Line” and “Sacred Heart” albums – the records that shaped the classic Dio sound. They are now the group carrying on the legacy of one of heavy metal’s greatest singers. With the help of vocalist Andrew Freeman Last In Line has penned and produced 12 originals songs that would make Dio proud. The CD opens with a hard rocking “Devil In Me” setting the pounding pace for the rest of the album. Other highlights included a soaring “Starmaker”, a riveting “I Am Revolution” flowing into the daunting and dramatic “Blame It On Me”. Last In Line is the modern version of early-era Dio that pays tribute to the legendary singer whose influence is still very much alive today.
Lords Of Black (www.lordsofblack.com) are a breakout metal band featuring lead singer Ronnie Romero who was hand-picked by Ritchie Blackmore for his much anticipated Rainbow reunion shows. On the band’s most recent dark and heavy release II you can clearly see why. Album opener “Merciless” introduces a fast-paced, frenetic and merciless pummeling that lifts on Romero’s golden growl which seems to have much more in common with Ronnie James Dio than Joe Lynn Turner. Tony Hernando adds to the punishment with a piercing lick while Andy C. on drums pounds the message home – Lords of the Black are here to make their mark. The band’s original vision to form a metal band with a modern approach, yet be catchy, melodic and progressive remains in tact on this impressive and demanding 12-track release from Frontiers Records.
Mark Tremonti (www.marktremonti.com) is the Grammy Award-winning guitarist and songwriter known for his work in the critically acclaimed Alter Bridge and in the multi-platinum rock juggernaut Creed. Having sold over 40 million records worldwide, this is the man behind massive hits like “My Own Prison”, “Higher”, “Isolation” and “Addicted To Pain.” His sound is recognizable and has garnered him a loyal fan base worldwide. Guitar World dubbed him “Guitarist of the Year” three consecutive years in a row, and he ranked as the “fourth greatest heavy metal guitarist ever” in Total Guitar. On top of all that Tremonti has launched a solo project of the same name and is set to release his second record Dust under that label. The band is made up of Mark Tremonti on vocals/guitars; Eric Friedman/guitars; Wolfgang Van Halen/bass; and, Garrett Whitlock/drums. Together this quality quartet deliver the goods as heard on the compelling title track confirming that Tremonti is making his mark as a solid frontman. The powerful picking, caustic chords and rumbling rhythm sections will be sure to shake the dust up with every spin.
Havoc is the aptly titled new release from Circus Maximus (www.circusmaximussite.com) – one of Europe’s brightest entries on the progressive metal scene. This fourth studio album is billed to come with a new “re-defining” sound but the new direction has created a bit of havoc amongst their fans if comments on social media hold any weight. The albums opens with “The Weight” that is musically solid and rife with the all the essential elements – jaw dropping musicianship, a strong singer with golden pipes, heavy hooks, and anthemic melodies, with plenty of groove and heavy riffing thrown in. “Highest Bitter” is sweet and continues the unveiling with a high-point. For the diehards it seems as though the guys – Michael Eriksen/vocals; Mats Haugen/guitars, backing vox and programming; Truls Haugen/drums, backing vox and percussion; Glen Møllen/bass; and Lasse Finbråten/keyboards, samples, programming – missed their mark on the title track for pursuing a style that’s a tad too radio friendly. For us, this is our first taste of the Circus Maximus brand so we’re not as jaded. We dig the themes about facing down the daily havoc that comes with life and living and sometimes you just have to shake things up to create a new path – and these rockers have done just that with this sonically pleasing and powerful platter.
Metal Church (www.metalchurchofficial.com) have once again opened their doors and invited their head-banging congregants back inside for another dose of their insidious ideology with the release of the hard-rocking XI. The record celebrates the second-coming of their popular singer Mike Howe and as a result the popularity of these tried and true metal titans has been resurrected with their highest charting record to date. The singer says, “It has and continues to be an honor for me to be the singer in Metal Church. The out-pouring of support from the fans has truly been amazing!” Drummer Jeff Plate concurs by adding, “The return of Mike Howe not only brought a level of excitement and anticipation from our fans that I have not seen in my 11 years in the band, but also gave the group a sense of commitment and purpose unlike before. The response to XI has been tremendous and our shows have turned into an emotional experience for all of us… a proud moment for all members of THE Metal Church.” Metal Church are in the midst of their own miraculous revival and you’re invited inside to partake of the gift of their energetic and exalted music.
Legendary Lita Ford (www.litafordonline.com) is digging deep with Time Capsule. This album features 11-never before heard songs that sound like they would have been chart toppers in the 1980’s. After a spoken word intro Ms. Ford with guest vocalist Jeff Scott Soto sizzle on the hard rocking “Where Will I Find My Heart Tonight” which flows into the kick-ass “Killing Kind” with Billy Sheehan beguiling on bass and Dave Navarro on mandolin. The more serious “War of the Angels” is enhanced by strings before Ms. Ford’s soaring guitar solo proves Lita can shred with the best of them. Lita also flies high on her instrumental version of Hendrix’s “Little Wing”. The bold “Black Leather Heart” and the cool “Mr. Corruption” are other highpoints on this retrospectively rousing record.
EVEN MORE NOTABLE RELEASES! Well, even the notables are noticeably heavy this time around! Incendiary guitarist John 5 (www.john-5.com) has just dropped his latest single, “Now Fear This”. Showcased in a solo performance, the song features 3 minutes and 33 seconds of John 5’s mad skills as he riffs away on his variety of Fender Telecasters. The artist is best known for his illustrious career collaborating with chart-topping artists such as k.d. lang, David Lee Roth, and Rod Stewart has forged a solid solo outing since 2004 with eight studio albums to date under his belt…
JESUS CHRÜSLER SUPERCAR (www.jesuschruslersupercar.com) have rolled out their brooding Death ‘n’ Roll album with plenty of power under the hood. With less Death Metal this time around and more rough Rock ‘n’ Roll the road cruiser is continuing its journey on the scene’s dusty highway and clearly leaves its traces on the asphalt…
Forged In Black (www.forgedinblack.bigcartel.com) are a dynamic band that draw upon power metal, thrash metal, doom metal and more traditional sounds and hone them all into one cohesive, streamlined metal assault. They have emerged from the studio, where they have been working with the world renowned producer Chris Tsangarides (Thin Lizzy, Judas Priest, Exodus, Overkill, Girlschool, Anvil and so many more) with a stunning new four track EP – Fear Reflecting Fear. These four songs combine dark atmosphere and precision riffs with a towering vocal performance from Chris ‘Stoz’ Storozynski to create a remarkable work of overwhelming heavy metal…
See ya next month!
About Sights and Sounds of Note: SSON column editors Richard J. Lynch and Laura Turner Lynch are the founders of SoundPress.net, an Internet-based music industry magazine and review site, online since 1999. Laura is a published author of the inspirational Positive Power Secrets From A to Z (www.positivepowersecrets.net). Rich regularly interviews famous rock stars for the site’s radio show and he has recently launched his own recording career at (www.richlynchband.com).