by Shane Copher
This Lansing based punk outfit is on the right track. The delivery is sound, and the material is severe. 15 tracks of hardcore with an industrial edge that's sure to get attention on their tour. With the exposure of a national tour and the polish that comes with extended performance, Dead Clown Pile is on the verge of breaking out. Nothing's ever certain in this business, but they're bound to benefit from the marketing strategy.
This is Jon's second release, and the first single, a duet with Lorrie Morgan entitled "By My Side," is already soaring up the charts. This is a strong album of formulaic country that is sure to get ample airplay. Comparisons to Vince Gill are unavoidable as, at times, the vocal resemblance is uncanny. "One More Teardrop" and "Some Hearts Never Learn" are sure-fire hits, as well as a second duet, "Love is Not a Rock," recorded with Martina McBride.
This limited release EP contains three remixed cuts from the past, a cover of Bauhaus' "Silent Hedges/Double Dare," and one new cut that will appear here exclusively, "Optimist or Pessimist." IN MEMORY serves as a great pacifier for fans awaiting the upcoming POLITICS OF ECSTASY LP. The recording is top of the line, clean, powerful, masterfully mixed. The tracks are pure, progressive metal that falls somewhere between Flotsam & Jetsam and Metallica. I tend to steer clear of mini-releases, but this one burns.
Eleven black tracks that serve to showcase this Michigan metal outfit in a generous light. Powerful vocals, crisp axework, and strong rhythms put Aceldama's death and despair in your face. If there is a weak link here, it's the drumming, which lacks the killer impact that they've shown live, but it's a mild flaw at best. "Wings of Pain" and "Carry Your Cross" are strong samples of the material on BLOOD, which can hold its own with the majority of death bands roaming the countryside at present.
The fourth release from this strong Florida quintet is an "operatic" offering, utilizing as their concept Todd McFarlane's SPAWN comic series. The combination is a killer one, and this recording is absolutely flawless. Iced Earth has matured, and this LP is light years beyond what they've achieved in the past. The tracks are at once progressive and diverse, with tight performance, stellar vocals, and impressive packaging. Don't miss out on THE DARK SAGA; it is one of the year's most impressive releases to date.
This fresh face on the country scene stands out with his writing style, which is guaranteed to avoid the "lost in the crowd" offerings of his contemporaries. By utilizing a wide variety of tempo changes in his songwriting, Paul Jefferson steers clear of the "line dancing," pop-oriented mentality that has invaded country music recently. Brandishing a vocal strength with wide range and comfortable inflection, Paul's material reaps the benefits. The ballads are his strength, with several potential chartbusters here. This deserves more attention than it's likely to receive from today's radio formats.
Madball's second release contains 14 examples of hardcore at its most basic -- straight up and in your face. It also serves as an introduction to their writing style, rather than relying on covers and reissues like their initial LP. Not quite "top of the heap" but better than most, with strong performances throughout, highlighted by a clean mix and class material, Madball is a prime example of why "Hardcore Still Lives!"
One more page in the book of aggression that this band is responsible for authoring. This one rips from start to finish and proves once again that Pantera has no peers; they're in a class all their own... Absolutely killer!
A solid, sometimes searing effort from this West Virginia grunge-cum-metal outfit. The strong songs are highlighted by excellent lyrics, well-crafted rhythms, and outstanding vocals. The album opener "Stepping On Cracks" sets the pace; from there, the rest is gravy... Great stuff with killer riffs.
Napalm Death has always been grouped in with the likes on Biohazard, Sepultura, et al., and this release won't yank them out of that category, but it does offer a different feel. On DIATRIBES, the band has found more memorable riffing, thrown in what could be called choruses, and the end result makes for a much stronger offering than their past efforts. They haven't wimped out or gone commercial, they've just discovered a way to make their music rise to the top. "Ripe for the Breaking" and "Cursed to Crawl" are perfect examples of Napalm Death's coming of age.
Heavy, gothic metal with a slightly alternative touch, Cemetary's most recent release shows a progressive element that pushes them up a few notches on the musical scale. Strong vocals, sharp guitar work, teamed with a killer foundation make the song structures as solid as they are interesting. "Last Transmission" and "Ophidian" stand out on an album without filler... Worth seeking out.