The Metal Minute Awarded 2009 Best Personal Blog By Metal Hammer Magazine

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Somewhere in Time Tuesday by Metal Mark - Motley Crue's Theatre of Pain

Welcome to a new segment of The Metal Minute penned by my longtime brother-in-all-that-is-heavy, Metal Mark. Tuesdays will now be his here at the site to freestyle his thoughts on random albums throughout heavy metal's vast history. First up is Motley Crue's junior slab Theatre of Pain from 1985.

The year was 1985 and I remember the local radio station was going to play the new Motley Crue album in its entirety at midnight on the day it was due out. I was excited because I loved Shout at the Devil and Too Fast for Love.

The Crue were one the best hard rock bands around at the time and I expected Theatre of Pain to be just as good. That night the album came on and about three songs in I could feel the disappointment setting in. Where was the edge to these songs? Why did they sound so watered down? The Crue used to charge into their songs like beasts and now they sounded timid.

I made it through a few more, but at some point I fell asleep before the album finished and I probably was not that tired. I didn't write it off yet as I did borrow it from a friend soon after that to give it another chance.

The results were the same. The Crue had smoothed down their sound and the roughness was almost entirely gone. They changed their look as well replacing black leather with stripes, polka dots and pastels. “Home Sweet Home” and “Smokin’ in the Boys' Room” both became staples on the radio and MTV.

The album was huge for them and its accessible approach helped Motley Crue reach a wider audience, but it also marked the end of their once-great run. Eventually they would again put out a decent album in Dr. Feelgood a few years later. It was not the same though. Where Motley Crue was between 1981 and 1984 was not just about the sound, but it was also about a spirit. Granted, it may have been partly an alcohol and drug-inspired spirit, but whatever the motivation was, the band changed after Shout and they never again approached that level of greatness.

--Metal Mark

Monday, June 29, 2009

Devildriver - "Pray For Villains" Live at Download 2009

New Devildriver tune, live at this year's Download Festival

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Michael Jackson from a Headbanger's Perspective

It probably helps that as Michael Jackson was growing up, so was I, albeit he had an 11-year headstart on me. Nonetheless, I can think of very few minus the truly jaded or cooler-than-thou who didn't at least appreciate what Michael Jackson brought to the table as a performer, be it as a standout component in a group or a singular shining star which outshone the spotlight chasing his form as hungrily as paparazzi over the course of his successful though troubled life.

People are comparing the death of Michael Jackson to Elvis Presley's passing, which is accurate is many aspects. It's been since Elvis found his true Graceland off of terra firma and John Lennon was violently jerked from the planet he loved so much since a major celebrity's death has impacted the world so greatly.

Ironic that only a year ago, conversations about the headline-torched Michael Jackson could rarely come up without comment about his unpredictable behavior much less obligatory foul pedophile jokes. After the world mourned Jackson's exodus from this life Thursday into Friday, said black humorists still found ways to make their irresponsible voices heard by rehashing the ugliest moments of Jackson's life. That seems to be the human nature which Michael crooned softly about on his mega-platinum Thriller album. Even he apparently knew the price of fame would one day betray him as much as it embraced him.

I'm not going to lie and say I wasn't shocked by Michael Jackson's weepy facial alterations and skin bleaching though I did entertain inside my head the possibility the man was very sick and few people took the time to propose that inside their own minds. As with anything else in this brutal society, people consistently mock and ridicule what they cannot possibly understand, nor do they wish to try.

Jackson certainly crossed the line by dangling his child outside a hotel window, whether he felt in control of the moment or not. The gesture was a bit of a backlash against a headhunting press and it could've cost the life of his precious son. The fact remains thereafter Michael Jackson was hauled into court and made to face the world he'd entertained for nearly his entire life.

It's been suggested Michael and his J5 sibs experienced a rough upbringing like Brian Wilson and his brothers. Add to this a fame so vast it impresses everyone but the paternal figure they most seek to appease and you can get an idea of why Wilson collapsed into a drug fugue. Ditto for Michael Jackson, the King of Pop bearing double the weight on his shoulders than Wilson, who so very much wanted to be a father himself and who wanted his legacy preserved for his kids. As a recent father myself, I've seen my child look to me for my approval whether the behavior is favorable or not so much. When denied the love and acceptance every being wants regardless of stature, certain adjunct patterns are likely to happen, as was the case with Michael Jackson.

At a young age I'd been well-exposed to the J5 and Motown. As heavy metal, punk and new wave were building themselves up in the late seventies, Michael Jackson the solo artist came and broke dance rock into a mainstream that was already in the midst of rejecting disco. Off the Wall, at least for the first five songs, is a fireball of rhythmic energy and here is where I would personally liked to have been a fly on the wall to see Michael's private life. We could speculate he was pulling down all the tail he could handle in this formative transition from the angelic afro-dashed child to the ultimate onstage seducer. But did he? Only those closest to him will be able to testify.

Michael Jackson may not have had the most masculine speaking voice but he undeniably projected the alpha male aggressor gene onstage with his confident gesticulations, lip-biting snarls, his militaristic stage garb and that eye of the tiger Survivor made as hip lingo in the same timeframe Jackson rose to prosperity. "Billie Jean," for example, is as fierce in tempo and delivery as much as it is sugarpop nirvana.

I have to say it; Michael Jackson was there first in my life before I turned metal. 1982 affected almost everyone in different ways. Mine was spent in obsession with E.T., G.I. Joe, Star Wars, Atari 2600, MTV, Prince, Devo, Duran Duran and Michael Jackson. "Billie Jean" blew me out of the water at age 12 to the point I had no issues with it appearing on the tube every single hour as MTV had just hit the cable airwaves. In fact, I looked forward to each showing. Yeah, in the privacy of an empty house, I got on my feet and tried those slick moves and gyrations (primitive compared to what Michael developed later on) and realized how freaking painful it was to move on those ankles and toes without the benefit of formal dance training. It only escalated my respect for MJ.

Shortly after this period I was introduced to Iron Maiden, Ozzy Osbourne and Ronnie James Dio by my cousin and my course of music appreciation would be dramatically shifted for life. As I got older and more "metal," I turned into that ultra snob which most headbangers became, where anything that wasn't heavy as concrete-filled testes just wasn't "it." Of course, part of this angry metamorphosis was backlash towards the "devil worshipper" accusations I faced in freshman year in high school, but my mouth and joining weightlifting brought me out of that hazing ritual to where I got along with most people.

What they didn't know in my protective shield of heavy metal "anti-coolness" is that I could be found spinning Madonna, Michael Jackson, The Police and Tears for Fears in my bedroom, though I certainly couldn't admit this to my metal brethren! I'd have felt far worse a backlash from possible rejection by my own kindred, so I kept quiet the fact I went to sleep with Madonna's Like a Virgin many nights as I likewise never admitted that I respected Michael Jackson with all my heart.

The older you get, the sillier you feel in retrospect about who you were as a teenager. I've found there's nothing at all shameful about liking Vanessa Carlton as much as Judas Priest, or D'Angelo as much as Slayer. You hang with me these days, you're likely going to get Twisted Sister followed by Jerry Lee Lewis then Thievery Corporation then Darkest Hour then System of a Down then Steppenwolf then Bauhaus then Depeche Mode then Bad Brains then Minor Threat then Joy Division then Pelican. Yes, you're possibly going to get Michael Jackson's Bad or Off the Wall thrown into the mix before I pull some Four Tops on you and then get metal on you again.

I've written for six years now about metal, punk and rock and I still feel passion for these genres, there's no denying or changing it. The Ramones saved my soul and I will love them until I depart for the great rock club of the afterlife. Black Flag is the angriest music I've ever heard and I still hold a candle for that aggression when I'm feeling the same way. The Who continue to astonish me with their larger-than-life arena rock only Led Zeppelin bested them at. Iron Maiden is still the greatest metal band history has ever seen, as far as I'm concerned. Isis puts me onto a cosmic plane very few musicians have the capacity to do. Sade is one the sexiest voices I've ever heard, one who can put me in the mood as quickly as Barry White. The Japanese drumming ensemble Kodo are martial artists of their craft and I'm always shattered to consume their bombast. The Police, The Cars, Talking Heads and Duran Duran remain in my ears four of the greatest bands to evolve from a punk base into pop superstars. I'm lately obsessed with seventies pop, soul, funk and folk music, the last great era for all. Prince, well, I've stayed true to him even through the hard times; there is no greater-gifted overall musician living on the planet.

Then there's Michael Jackson, a man whose presence created gluts of saturation during the eighties to the point he had as many detractors as fans. It was impossible not to have haters since he was ram-rodded into our faces on a daily basis along with Bill Cosby, Cabbage Patch dolls and Ronald Reagan.

Still, you have to tip your hat off to Michael Jackson. If you're a rocker at heart, how can you not appreciate the fact Jackson was savvy enough (like Johnny Cash) to recognize the value of other genres and artists to the point he recruited Eddie Van Halen, the most respected guitarist of the eighties, to peel off a juicy solo on the street-tough "Beat it?" Ditto for hijacking Billy Idol's shredder Steve Stevens for some wicked chops on "Dirty Diana." On his Dangerous album, Michael Jackson let the rock come out on his peace train ride "Black Or White" and he took a page from Prince's book "Remember the Time," one of Michael's funkiest cuts ever.

Yeah, the metal magazines used to have Michael Jackson dartboards in them, but I guarantee you the editors were jamming to "Smooth Criminal" because that song is damn near perfect. I saw no qualms (at the time) with the the George Michael dartboard and the Bret Michaels dartboard, but even in my metal-til-death ethos of the eighties, I thought the Michael Jackson dartboard was out-of-line. Albeit, the grocery store I worked at in junior and part of senior year used to peddle "Beat It" shirts to the point it did annoy me, particulary since they were as hot a seller as New Kids On the Block shirts, neither of which to me at that point in time could make you as cool as wearing an Overkill shirt.

The sad reality for Michael Jackson is that he was forced to embody his song "Leave Me Alone" from Bad and exile himself in the face of mass accusation. I find it hypocritical the world has dropped to its knees in mourning for Michael Jackson, though it is the right thing to do for a man who brought more love into this world than hatred. Despite the smug pricks who crept out of the weeds with their insistence of telling Michael Jackson jokes on a day the world lost him and Farrah Fawcett, this indeed is an Elvis Presley moment for our generation, never mind the King of Pop was briefly hooked up with The King's daughter. It smacks Generation X perhaps harder than most since we came up with Michael, but the depressing part is that MJ didn't get his '68 Comeback Special like Elvis, even if Jackson was about to embark on a world tour.

Did he still have it? Was Michael Jackson about to erase the taint from his otherwise stellar career? These answers will remain swirled about the "what if?" ether. One thing is for sure, just out of curiosity, I peeked at a few record shelves in stores yesterday and everyone was blown out of their Michael Jackson stock. Doesn't matter whether you're ebony or ivory, metal or pop, Michael Jackson meant much to this world and it took his death to prove it.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Announcement: Guest Writers Invited

Due to increased responsibilities as well as ambitions towards other pursuits, The Metal Minute is inviting writers to contribute reviews, short interviews and anything genre-specific for presentation at the site. I will continue to write material here as well, but I've come to the decision I need a little time alleviation here and there to get things done.

Unfortunately, there is no monetary compensation offered; however, if reaching the eyes of 3000-4000 people per week globally appeals to you, then click on the contact link on the page here, and make your pitch.

Many thanks to interested parties and double thanks to everyone's continued support of The Metal Minute!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Book Review: To Live is to Die: The Life and Death of Metallica's Cliff Burton by Joel McIver

To Live is to Die: The Life and Death of Metallica's Cliff Burton by Joel McIver
2009 Jawbone Press
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

Let me preface this review with a personal anecdote regarding the death of Metallica's Cliff Burton...

It was 1986 as thrash metal was inching towards not only acceptability in the genre, but it was creating a veritable generation of speedfreaks who elevated the throwdown stakes of the poser vs. true metal fan controversy which was long-standing from the days of early Priest, Venom and Tygers of Pan Tang. What resounds in my mind at this critical shift in heavy music isn't so much the fact thrash, black and death metal were teeming in gradual popularity as a direct protest against the prefab glitz hazed atop Vidal/Aqua Net LA, it was the fact mainstream heavy metal was beginning to catch on amongst the "in" crowds, at least here in the United States. Far more frightening a prospect than to hear Wham was rolling craps at a metallized makeover like the ill-advised Pat Boone metal project that still turns my guts today.

I was a sophomore in high school in 1986 and if you've seen The Breakfast Club you have a fair idea of our student body makeup, only you would have to add in a farmer clique which was legion, plus the punk rocker sect, the alt crowd and a host of subdivided castoffs and crossover people who defied their own categories. I was fortunate in the respect I'd taken my heavy metal lumps in freshman year over my Motley Crue Shout at the Devil shirt and my fisticuffs-laced mouth eventually drove the "devil worshipper" accusations away, to be redirected to the other metalheads in school who didn't give two shits about defending themselves against the more popular crowds.

Getting into weightlifting for three years certainly raised my stock amongst the student body, thus I was almost comedically defending myself to other kids who teasingly ridiculed my heavy metal preferences, albeit at the end of the day we found an odd respect amongst each other. Thus it came to pass when the horrible news that Cliff Burton, the finest bassist thrash metal has ever produced finally hit us two days after it actually occurred when a truce of sorts went about North Carroll High School.

Entertainment Tonight couldn't have cared less that a virtuoso genius had lost his life in Sweden in a controversial bus flip which flung him out and then rolled on top of him. The newspapers--if they bothered--printed a short blurb about Burton's passing. MTV at least paid homage to the man as did the network morning news programs and local radio stations, because amazingly enough on the Monday morning after Cliff Burton had been killed, there was an eerie silence in the school.

For the first and only time, metalheads were allowed to pass without persecution. Somehow the rest of the student body realized how impactful Cliff Burton's death was upon the metal society. I won't ever forget seeing my fellow metalheads in the hallways, silently mouthing "What the fuck?" to each other without the need of addendum. The loss of Cliff Burton stung us very badly and the other kids oddly knew it. I happened to be the one most of the "outsiders" came to when inquiring about Cliff Burton. It felt weird to be one of the few approachable headbangers around considering I was known flipping old people off at the mall and mouthing off to people in general, doubly-weird anybody who took the time to get dressed in the morning actually cared to know who Burton was.

Ironic when you consider a good third if not two-thirds of this demographic would be swayed over to the Led Zeppelin of our time, Metallica, the biggest-selling heavy metal band the world has ever seen. Ironic that it took two days in a non-internet world for the general population in America to learn the shocking news. Ironic that Metallica would rise like a commercial phoenix of vengeance in the midst of Burton's death, albeit their sound would never be the same again. When Cliff Burton died, so too did a special fragment of Metallica that has yet to (and likely never will) be reproduced on their best day.

Author and metal troubadour Joel McIver, who previously wrote 2004's Justice for All: The Truth About Metallica, has a second go in the Metalliverse with To Live is to Die: The Life and Death of Metallica's Cliff Burton, a daring and much-needed tribute to a voice only the true metal devout remember to hold a candle for. With Metallica having gone through two bassists now in the 23 years since Cliff Burton left us, it's forgivable to the younger generation who wasn't there to not always cue Cliff's memory to mind. Albeit they are a very studious bunch of youngsters who have learned what the rest of us have known ever since we'd heard the "immaculate trilogy." If I need elaborate upon what I'm referring to, then stop reading this review now.

To Live is to Die takes the reader into Cliff Burton's world, an assuredly private microcosm considering he let his bass do more speaking than physical words. McIver obviously had the uneviable task of assembling his book without the benefit of source material from Cliff, however McIver does manage to replicate the feel of those formative years of the Bay Area thrash scene by tapping into the network of California musicians who knew Cliff such as Gary Holt of Exodus, Spastik Children vocalist Fred Cotton, Faith No More's Jim Martin, Joey Vera of Armored Saint/Fates Warning, Cannibal Corpse's Alex Webster and members of Trauma, Burton's first official gigging group.

McIver also taps into other figures in Burton's life such as his mother Jan, girlfriend Corrine Lynn, area scenesters such as Harald Oimoen and Metal Blade Records guru Brian Slagel. Corraling bits and pieces of quotes from his previous Metallica book along with new footage (and a personally-written forward) by Kirk Hammett, McIver takes us on the journey of Burton's life and how it came to merge with his future three-plus years of surprise fame in Metallica.

The legend of Cliff Burton has always stated him to be humble beyond words, a class act, gentlemanly, standoffish from the general public, shirking off his stature to the point he took utter offense at being labeled a "rock star." McIver's guests confirm this and more to the point we hear stories of Cliff waking up at his parents' apartment to give a young boy an autograph to him taking care of a newly-met friend on tour to making sure his former Trauma bandmates were placed on Metallica's guest list.

To Live is to Die even brings Metallica's original bassist Ron McGovney into the picture as McIver sets the stage for Burton's entry into the metal front, not so much inheriting a position in which McGovney relays was filled with mistreatment, but to become the sage of a band in development. To say Metallica worshipped Cliff Burton is likely not an understatement, considering the chops and deep music theory he brought to the table which were lacking during the No Life 'til Leather demo days and to some extent on Kill 'em All.

McIver dances us through McGovney's departure as well as future Megadeth icon Dave Mustaine, whom we learn, had sincere admiration for Cliff, as did Mustaine's long-standing running mate David Ellefson. Though all wounds appear to have healed been Mustaine and Metallica, you have to wonder what might've been had Mustaine and Burton shared the saddles as Metallica's running four horsemen. Then again, we wouldn't have Peace Sells...But Who's Buying and Rust in Peace, nor would we have Mustaine's faster hijacking of his own "Horsemen" song, revamped for speed as "Mechanix."

If there's one quibble about McIver's work here, it's his insistence to use personally-imbued "I" and "me" quote lead-ins within his narration. A bit of a cardinal rule-breaking which at least for this writer's purposes, tends to get a bit intrusive into the story, however McIver really shows his salt in this thing with his outstanding tech and music theory knowledge. Even non-musicians can follow his points, even with the cumbersome depths of delineating arpeggios from tremolos. You will possibly be inspired to pick up your own instrument after McIver has dissected Metallica's music for you.

McIver also keeps the needles threaded in his punctuated chapters to the point you're almost astonished you're reading the details about Cliff's death. On another personal note, I was sitting in a Barnes and Noble sucking on java while waiting to meet up with a film crew as I finished To Live is to Die and as quickly as McIver enunciates "Cliff Burton died at approximately 6:45 on Saturday, September 27 by the side of the E4..." my stomach knotted up. Crazily enough, I had listened to Megadeth's Killing's My Business...and Business is Good! before entering the store, "Last Rites/Loved to Death" still chiming in my head as I slurped my first hit of machiatto.

Before this review assumes the same guilty offense of which it flags Joel McIver, the endpoint is thank God someone took a chance at telling Cliff Burton's story. If you were around when it happened, To Live is to Die finds closure to old business, particularly as McIver takes the reader beyond the reactions and the funeral.

As Jason Newsted receives the blunt of Metallica's wrath following Burton's death, the realization of how dramatic this event was for everyone, Metallica first and foremost, is the sobering air as one closes the cover on the book. Who honestly could stand up in the bellbottoms of Cliff Burton? One has to wonder how Newsted stuck through the abuse and hazing other than having the opportunity to play with his heroes who practically defecated on him in the first five or so years of his tenure. It also explains more why Newsted made the painful decision to leave for Voivod, another band which would present pain and misery with their own tragic loss.

Makes you appreciate how hard Robert Trujillo had to work to gain his spot in Metallica, doesn't it?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Whattya Listenin' to Wednesday - 6/24/09

Allloooo out there, folks... Your handy Metal Minute Host is coasting on fumes coming in late from a film festival screening of the short film "Wurk Sucks" he was on the crew for and that's on top of four hours' sleep the night before and he has to get the kid to day care before work in six hours. Suffice it to say, I'm whupped. No banter this week, sorry.

Stand by later in the week for a special announcement.

Darkest Hour - The Eternal Return
Judas Priest - A Touch of Evil - Live
Warbringer - Waking Into Nightmares
Sacred Oath - s/t
Infected Mushroom - The Legend of the Black Shayarma
Dream Theater - Black Clouds & Silver Linings
Tyr - By the Light of the Northern Star
Doro - Fear No Evil
The Autumn Offering - Requiem
Candlemass - Death Magic Doom
Metallica - Master of Puppets
Megadeth - Killing's My Business...and Business is Good!
Depeche Mode - Sounds of the Universe
Jerry Lee Lewis - 36 All-Time Greatest Hits

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

CD Review: Sacred Oath - Sacred Oath

Sacred Oath - s/t
2009 Angel Thorne Music Company, LLC/Worldsound
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

Back in the day there were certain bands I had pegged into certain timeslots of my weeknights and weekends, ones I considered my wind-down groups before slipping on the all-important nightcap album before bed. Sounds ridiculously over-structured for a teenaged headbanger of the eighties (and they thought us to be unorganized slobs), but somehow it ended up being that way. After the big gun bands made their appearance upon my returning home from work or school, there was that obligatory hour or so reserved for Blitzkrieg, Savatage, Executioner, Anvil, Piledriver, TNT, Raven, Keel, Lizzy Borden and such; you know, the less-celebrated groups relegated to the third tier of eighties metal heirarchy but still deserving of spinnage. Where was Sacred Oath in that stack?

Had I become an "Oathbanger" back in the day, I certainly would've had no qualms in slipping Sacred Oath into my relaxation rotation. The Connecticut power metallers, albeit briefly-lived during their original run, were certainly deserving of maybe a hair more recognition.

Sacred Oath, like Crimson Glory, were quickly lumped amongst the ranks of Queensryche disciples because they didn't quite fit the mold of popular heavy metal yet they were still buzzworthy in the eyes of the underground, despite the fact Queensryche themselves were still en route to being crowned momentary lords of prog metal.

Sacred Oath managed to get one album, A Crystal Vision out under their original incarnation before they packed their bags at the end of 1988, along with their label Mercenary Records.

In 2005 Sacred Oath reunited (sort of) with Rob Thorne and Kenny Evans and as they've recruited to their cause bassist Scott Waite and guitarist Bill Smith, the Oathbangers have been able to keep their sworn allegiance to the group with the 2007-released Darkness Visible and last year's ...'Til Death Do Us Part.

With an efficiency denied them in the eighties, Sacred Oath are back for a third serving in as many years with a self-titled album which largely rocks and has its heart right where it needs to be pumping with all chambers cleared.

If they are to be compared to Queensryche these days, Sacred Oath would have to be considered a point ahead in terms of aggression, tenacity and quicker tempos. Of course Geoff Tate has far more polished chops than Sacred Oath's Rob Thorne. That being said, on the Oath's latest enterprise, Thorne is on his game quite often while unfortunately off-kilter at times. The higher Thorne lifts his pitches, the more struggling comes about despite his commendable ability to hold notes for lengthy periods.

Honestly, Sacred Oath is a bouncing and frequently heavy album which may not be wholly perfect but has more moxy than over half of the eighties bands looking re-stake their claims. The opening number "Paradise Lost" is a high-charged fun tune with galloping tempos, savory guitar solos and a proud, booming charisma that would've had their original caste screaming ecstasy.

"Blood Storm" winds like a metallic top on a short drawstring which sets up the speedy and rowdy track "Caught in the Arc" appearing later in the album. In turn, "Buried Alive" is closer to Iron Maiden and WASP than Queensryche with its hooving power grooves. Ditto for the album's closer "Hunt for the Fallen Angel" which employs a terrific charge on the heels of Kenny Evans' punching throb.

Sacred Oath gains a bit more dynamic ground with trad power rock ditties like "Voodoo Dolls," "Counting Zeros" and "High and Mighty," the first two of which are less memorable, while the latter song bears more weight amidst its slick tunefulness. The title song, however, carries a nut-busting riff that is squashed by Rob Thorne's overzealous caterwauling.

Apparently incomplete without the power ballad "What the Dark Will Undo" which does rescue itself from wallowing into a corner with hard-strummed blaring overhead, Sacred Oath attempts to replicate not only the magic harnessed from A Crystal Vision, they likewise attempt to modernize their throwback sounds for extra staying power.

In all, Sacred Oath is an entertaining, resuscitated wave from a refuse-to-die group which still has something appreciably meaty to offer their Oathbanger faithful.

Rating: ***1/2

Saturday, June 20, 2009

CD Review: Doro - Fear No Evil

Doro - Fear No Evil
2009 AFM Records
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

Since her last full-length studio album Warrior Soul from 2006, Doro Pesch has released a flood of EPs, DVDs and live documents while roaddogging worldwide including a rare jaunt through the U.S., a region which hosts the lady herself as a full-fledged citizen. It also notoriously fails to support her tireless efforts to bring a little happiness and scene unity via her idealistic rock 'n metal show where the crowd gets nearly as much mike time as Doro herself.

As with many esteemed heavy metal personalities who have long paid their dues, Doro Pesch can headline 100,000-plus Euro and South American festivals or at least get planted towards the top of the bill. Yet the Teutonic immigrant who cherishes her Americanization as much as her German heritage simply can't get a break in her new home.

Give the gal serious credit; this sad reality has never quashed Doro's desire to stay relevant to the metal scene. As she ushers her latest in-the-name-of-metal banner-waving entreaty Fear No Evil to the heavy listening community, there exists a confusing duality which is going to be both Doro's saving grace as well as her Achilles' Heel.

Fear No Evil is absolutely Doro's heaviest output in years, Fight and Calling the Wild notwithstanding. The album has a lot of heart and a solid backing band ready to cast amplified beams to fluff out the feathery blond mane of their leather-clad leader. Of course there's the unyielding charisma of Doro, in particular her quixotic and romantic devotion to both her music and her fans.

The disappointing flipside, however, is (and it absolutely pains this writer to throw the penalty flag against one of the undeniably kindest people in the business) the sound mix of Fear No Evil is so pale and transparent most of the songs come off like barely adequate quality demos instead of a skullcrushing finished product.

There's no doubt songs such as "Caught in a Battle," "Herzblut," "It Kills Me," "25 Years" and to lesser extent, "I Lay My Head Down Upon My Sword" were intended to be delivered with felicitous bombast. However, the recorded parts are so singularly minimized Doro sounds like she's singing atop a mountain with her band wailing up at her from the canyons below. Johnny Dee (who is a damned fine drummer) particularly suffers in translation as his parts frequently come off tinny and transparent, as if captured on four track, hustled into Pro Tools and quickly thrown into the grinder without raising up his tracks into harmonious balance.

Poor Doro, she's sounds completely aloft on "It Kills Me" as her powerful delivery is stacked atop the scrubbed music parts. Thankfully "Long Lost For Love" and "On the Run" rescue Fear No Evil from being total audile sabotage with far more wholesome mixes.

Also saved from delineation is Doro's impressive duet with Tarja vocalist Tarja Turunen, "Walking With the Angels." Both ladies turn in sparkling performances in each other's company while the mix here is just about spot-on. No complaints either to Doro's obligatory scene anthem "Celebrate," which lassos an entire posse of singers including Girlschool, Saxon's Biff Byford, Arch Enemy's Angela Gossow, Holy Moses' Sabina Claussen, Liv Kristine Espanaes Krull from Leaves Eyes, Benedictium's Veronica Freeman, Ji-In Cho of Krypteria and others. Had the producers slagged this track, they'd have to be drummed out of the business without mercy.

Still, why Fear No Evil was allowed to be released in a less than professional fashion is unfathomable. The band, who obviously poured their guts into these songs, have a right to gripe as their parts have been utterly robbed of their impact. Doro Pesch, who could use the career injection of a kickass album had it been mixed properly, is likewise victimized as she summons literal whirlwinds on "Caught in a Battle" as much as she projects the German-sung power ballad "Herzblut" in otherwise triumphant candor. In other words, Fear No Evil is precisely the album Doro needs at this point in her career. That being said, it would serve her interests well to demand a remaster.

God save the Queen of Metal, only next time around may the resonance do her justice. As hard as Doro has worked in her 20-plus years, would someone please give this lady a break, already?

Rating: ***1/2

Friday, June 19, 2009

CD Review: Warbringer - Waking Into Nightmares

Warbringer - Waking Into Nightmares
2009 Century Media
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

The party-crashing bit of news to this whole thrash resurrection of the past few years, sad to say, is the iconic albums of the form have long been recorded, released and imprinted upon the scene for eternity. Not to sound elitist, but nothing today is going to stand up to Reign in Blood, the album by which all thrash and death metal releases must answer to.

You can likewise forget trying to duke it out with Testament's The Legacy, Dark Angel's Darkness Descends, Overkill's The Years of Decay, Death's Leprosy, Anthrax's Spreading the Disease, Megadeth's Peace Sells...But Who's Buying, Exodus' Bonded by Blood, Kreator's Pleasure to Kill and of course Metallica's Kill 'em All.

These are but a handful of thrash metal's untouchables and as today's generation of headbangers take inspiration in replication, the results have been admittedly good and even spectacular in special cases such as Mantic Ritual, Demiricous, Goatwhore and Skeletonwitch. Nevertheless, the likelihood we're going to find a Bonded by Blood surface from a scene with too many players in it is grossly against the odds.

Try telling that to Warbringer.

2007's War Without End was an impressive announcement that today's youth brigade means to claim traditional thrash unto themselves while the pioneers and their aging fans cling adamantly to what was once theirs. Nevertheless, Warbringer brought it on War Without End and created so much of a buzz in the metal underground their follow-up would end up being cast under a microscope by attrition.

Not that they asked for it, but Warbringer has assumed a heavier burden than perhaps even they realize simply by being the closest resemblence to a vintage thrash sound as anyone attempting it today. A generous helping of revival thrash acts offer them competition, yet Warbringer's differential on their sophomore release Waking Into Nightmares is from being one of the first of their generation to shoot all of their stakes into creating a genuine thrash classic.

Sure, you're going to hear Slayer all over the danged place on Waking Into Nightmares, particularly through vocalist John Kevill's gravelly pentameter, not to mention certain riff structures hailing everything from Hell Awaits to South of Heaven. You even hear some Fabulous Disaster-era Exodus at points, which is barely a fluke considering Exodus shredder Gary Holt manned this thing. Listen carefully and you'll even discern a few smackerels of early Metallica in spots, not to mention Warbinger's direct riff chug 'n snare roll hijacking from ...And Justice for All in the beginning of "Forgotten Dead."

Despite, Warbringer are still their own band and there's a hell of a lot to get excited about with Waking Into Nightmares. The old school meets new school adage couldn't ring truer with this album which nearly makes War Without End an afterthought in comparison.

To say Waking Into Nightmares takes Warbringer to the next level is like saying Ire Works ushers Dillinger Escape Plan past a distorto-crazed existence into something of higher esteem. Not that you can put Waking Into Nightmares against, say, Possessed's Seven Churches and expect the latter to take down the former, you have to nonetheless tip your hat to Warbringer for bringing everything they have to the table.

Like Demiricous, who vaulted in prowess within the span of an album, Warbringer raises the bar upon themselves as well as their peers (both young and old alike) simply with "Living in a Whirlwind" which bears all the elements of thrash excellence: killer riffs, pounding beat patterns which change from mosh-minded to double kick and discernable vocals which involve the listener, particularly on the shoutalong chorus. All interchanging in well-executed sound scaffolds.

From there, Warbringer smacks the eardrums of their listeners with the opening grooves of "Severed Reality" before igniting the fucking thing with uncontrollable speed bursts mingled with varied bobbing tempos which settle into a Slayer-driven thrash mode everyone into this stuff can get on board with. They even incorporate Slayer and DRI slowdowns and breakaways into the same song. How about some snazzy guitar spliffing and soloing from Adam Carroll and John Laux while we're at it (with Laux sporting a retro Kirk Hammett look about him)?

The drowsy instrumental "Nightmare Anatomy" is hypothetically Warbringer's own "Call of Cthulu" though with more of a Mastodon-esque approach and yielding a plethora of countering double bass trips and jazzy snare hits from Nic Ritter before fusing a couple of escalated fuzz sieves into the mix. Accordingly, "Senseless Life" is one of Warbringer's most complicated and best-written tunes, beginning the first segment with outrageous velocity then smartly scaling into winding power metal progression, a thumping air which carries into the intro of "Forgotten Dead."

While Warbringer does retool and cue up many of the same mosh-thrash motifs throughout Waking Into Nightmares, they undoubtedly carve and execute with force and better yet, passion, in the process demanding respect from their elders much less their own.

Nic Ritter does get a little trigger happy at times on this album, which is perhaps the only impediment preventing Walking Into Nightmares from being a rare thrash classic, but without his otherwise disciplined tommygunning, Warbringer wouldn't be so well along the curve as they are. That being said, let this album serve as today's mark to beat...

Rating: ****

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Whattya Listenin' to Wednesday - 6/17/09

Hello, ever-faithful, welcome to another midweek check-in at The Metal Minute!

A lot happening as usual with today being 14 years married to the same chick, wowzers. Amazing when you watch the tally count mass on annual basis and she's still there for you. '95 truly seems like yesterday, I have no qualms saying it and I wish I could be there again at that delicate point in time when everything seemed so idealistic and happ. Life is good with my woman, don't get me wrong, but I wish I could whisper a few bits of advice to myself at age 25 which would've served me better later on. Oh well, that's how life is, constantly moving on a learning curve. Glad I have someone sharing the ride with me.

Began my new position in another title company where the vibe is the complete opposite of what I left behind. Quiet, peaceful, mild bits of stress in learning an old program, but I have a small, friendly crew to work with and I'm stunned by the overall quietude with which to think. Sad to leave my friends behind from the old job, but choices must be made at critical points in life and this one is deadly crucial. The next life chapter has opened...

Yours truly got to work on a film crew over the weekend for short piece called "Work Sucks." Great cast and crew to learn things from as I did PA, mic boom and was even given a chance to shoot a couple scenes. This is definitely a direction I see my life moving towards. Thanks to the SBS Productions gang for a memorable time on the set. Looking forward to another go.

Which leads in to The Mist and how blown away I was by it, particularly that ending, oh, Lord, what genius! I was told by an insider Stephen King himself would've gone in that direction had he thought of it back in the eighties. If you've not yet seen this one, consider it mandatory.

Spin-wise, I cannot get over Gonin-Ish. Had I not been striving to get some of these discs off the review pile, I could've settled on them the remainder of the week to this point. But I will have to note I spun the new UFO album a good deal before reviewing it for and of course I'm still stuck on the Talking Heads as well as The Cars. Then there's the new Darkest Hour album which recently came in for my next review at and it smokes as well.

Okee dokee, keeping my tidings short and blunt as the clock ticks the launch for another day. Thank you all as usual for supporting The Metal Minute!

Gonin-Ish - Naishikyo-Sekai
Talking Heads - Remain in Light
Talking Heads - Speaking in Tongues
CKY - Carver City
Darkest Hour - The Eternal Return
UFO - The Visitor
Gulch - Uphill Both Ways
Hammerfall - No Sacrifice, No Victory
Doro - Fear No Evil
Paul Gilbert & Freddie Nelson - United States
Tomahawk - Mit Gas
Isis - Wavering Radiant
The Cars - The Cars
The Cars - Candy O
Iced Earth - The Crucible of Man: Something Wicked Part 2

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

CD Review: CKY - Carver City

CKY - Carver City
2009 Roadrunner Records
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

At one point, CKY was considered the college rock band (not to mention heroes of the skating underground) in these United States. Had you not seen that Ozzy-esque CKY logo plastered across the chests of late teens and early twenty-somethings with the same repetition as Greek society emblems, CKY might've remained a best-kept secret.

Then again, when one of your members has a brother breaking his and his family's bones on national television, more than you're likely you're going to rise to prominence by attrition. At this point, however, we can honestly say the Camp Kill Yourself guys are hardly to be remembered strictly as recipients of Bam Margera's fortunes reaped from his proponence of anti-authority shenanigans.

The fact is CKY is a damned fine band (as co-founder Deron Miller has publicly touted over the internet) and because of (or depsite, if you will) having their cut "Genesis 12a" appear as part of the Bam Margera-featured Jumping Off a Building video, CKY has at least become a name blabbed amongst a post-grunge sect bearing the same wherewithal to grow up as the generation before them.

Both generations are what fuels CKY's nearly-unclassifiable music. Hardly the snotty skate rats many figure them to be for obvious connotations, CKY bears a brainy creative flux that is metallic at times, new wave with heavier sensibilites at others. Like Bigelf, CKY are in love with syrupy Moogs and channeling synths as much as they are pumping riffs and bare-pop tunefulness.

Not wholly a metal band, CKY is perhaps best thought of as prog-alt-psych-rock for the antiestablishment brigade despite their frequently massive chords and Jess Margera's rawk-minded beat patterns which serve more to beef up the group's cumbersome density as opposed to delivering snare-happy rolls for boarding along the circumferences of empty pools.

A band which once dropped off the Warped Tour to protest escalating ticket prices alongside their disenfranchised fans, CKY is a band spitefully doing things their own way. On their latest album Carver City, they take on a quasi-conceptualization of a boardwalk town caught on the edge of apocalypse and while certain parts feel like the telling of this story, at others, Carver City goes about its exploratory way, using the Moog-drenched and eighties-savvy "A#1 Roller Rager" as an example.

Miller, along with Chad I. Ginsburg and former All That Remains bassist Matt Deis yield a bonding glue between their strings and keys which keeps Carver City pulsing and flowering for most of the journey. Deis and Jess Margera have really gelled together since Deis hooked up with the group on 2005's An Answer Can Be Found. As Deis has brought some writing input to CKY, he has become more than just a tight-knit second knob of a polished rhythm section.

As a collective, CKY are triumphantly cosmic on "Old Carver's Bones," one of the album's weightiest cuts from both the guitar and synth angles. Sounding like Jeff Lynne made a pact with the devil to stay hip, "Old Carver's Bones" is delicately tailored yet heavily detailed with erupting soundbursts. As good as CKY has reliably been, this is perhaps their maturest song ever penned if not simply benefiting from an in-house mentality of scene rebellion.

Even "The Era of an End" turns a sweet trick by closing Carver City with a romantic swoon complete with lofty vocals and guitar weaves which are letter-perfect in tandem with the airy keys breezing beneath it. In the late seventies/early eighties CKY would've gone straight to the big stage in the company of Thin Lizzy if not The Cars, not that mass appeal has ever been a part of their agenda.

Carver City is Deep Purple as much as it is ELO, Gary Numan and pre-disco Bee Gees, but it is also punk and metal reinvention for the thinking class. "Hellions On Parade," "Imaginary Threats" and "Rats in the Infirmary" could be monster crossover cuts for CKY if Roadrunner sinks enough promotional effort into them, yet CKY will either have their cake on the silver plate or they'll at least eat a carry-out from the store bakery while watching scenesters dogpile over one another trying to outsmart each other. CKY has already been there and have the stones to call their own shots.

Adamantly refusing to ply into the Underoath or Between the Buried and Me crowds (who should both have enough sense to seek these guys out), CKY is fiercely intelligent and they know it. At least they have more tools than Home Depot to back themselves up.

Rating: ****

Monday, June 15, 2009

Sunday, June 14, 2009

CD Review: Gulch - Uphill Both Ways

Gulch - Uphill Both Ways
2009 Gulchworks Enterprises
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

Approaching Gulch's third album Uphill Both Ways strictly by its cover you have to at least think of Nuclear Assault, Cro Mags, Overkill and Death Angel, albeit the Kansas sludge rock unit is hardly a thrash or punk band. I mean, an ear of corn floating on bat wings overtop a mushroom cloud with superimposed rubble is enough to make you roar appreciatively if you've been around the scene long enough. Why Chaly, we're hardly knew thee!

Gulch is a band taking a beating in the press these days, so allow The Metal Minute to advocate them. Does self-produced automatically come with a stigma where deduction points are precursory? I've read everything from poor production to an inability to flesh out their tunes sadly pinned to this bricks-heavy group's backs.

I'm going to have to disagree. If you think Uphill Both Ways suffers from a production standpoint, you didn't grow up in the days of analog nor were you privy to Flipside compilations and hundreds of chunky homegrown demos and records. If anything, Gulch does a rather solid job on their own merits considering there's far worse you can do for yourself with Pro Tools or if you're really daring, hitting the classic four track.

Maybe it's the anti-Pantera and Pepper Keenan COC sanction who turn their backs to what Gulch expounds with frequently bombastic results. Maybe it's a few places where the response backing vocals on say, "A Phone Call Away" disappear into Gulch's oppressive fuzz. Maybe it's a simple case of everyone having too much product in one avenue of music which instigates mandatory scrutinizing.

Whatever. Uphill Both Ways doesn't need to work excessively to become five-to-six minute forays of distortion. Gulch knows their identity, which is to find a specific groove and abuse it for three-to-four minutes. If anything, Uphill Both Ways takes a loud and entertaining leap forward after a monster layoff following 2001's Enemy of Me.

Okay, if you really want to lay bricks upon this band's shoulders, sure there's an occasional roughness chops-wise cropping up on Uphill Both Ways, using "So Much for Good Intentions" as an example, which still rocks despite.

Gulch has hedged for themselves a familiar parcel which Clutch, COC, Black Sabbath, Spiritual Beggars, Molly Hatchet, Lynard Skynard, Black Label Society and Crowbar usually receive accolades for. "Lifehog" bounces like a mosh pit on the teetering edge of breaking into fisticuffs while "Tweak" comes chugging on full cylinders following a spacey six-string intro from Duane Book and Chris Nutt. "Tweak" also receives the benefit of some crazy soloing to slow down the punchy cut just enough to make you savor them.

The addition of Chad Norman on bass grounds Uphill Both Ways, which could've vaulted into a spree killer session of droning guitars while Duane Book does a respectable job on drums, perhaps fleeting here and there. Most of the time, however, he keeps Gulch on solid footing.

Overall, Gulch amps out like they have nads of iron with sometimes sentimental lyrics on "Watching Old Friends Die," (the album bears a hefty memorium list) "Edge," "One Foot in Yesterday" and of course, "So Much for Good Intentions."

Folks, Gulch have great intentions even as they're space tripping through the swirls of the minute-and-a-half instrumental leading into "A Phone Call Away" (perhaps the one song on this album which could use a slight overhaul) and later ripping the snot out of Ted Nugent's "Just What the Doctor Ordered," the latter being a song tailor-made for a band like Gulch to run away with.

Uphill Both Ways may not be the most critical album of sludge metal but goddammit, it's meatier than venison stew and assuredly rocks like hell personified with confederate boots strapped on and ready to kick the shit off of its leather before finding an orifice to levitate into. If you're concerned about a sludge/doom sounding as glossed and finessed as an As I Lay Dying album then you miss the point to this form of music entirely.

Rating: ****

Friday, June 12, 2009

CD Review: Gonin-Ish - Naishikyo-Sekai

Gonin-Ish - Naishikyo-Sekai
2008 Season of Mist
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

Ladies and gentleman, allow me to introduce to you the band the entire metal and rock world should fear, Mastodon, King Crimson, Between the Buried and Me, Rush and Dream Theater inclusive...

Though Gonin-Ish's Naishikyo-Sekai only just arrived in my mailbox the other day in a massive pack of Season of Mist releases, the old adage better late than never couldn't hold truer.

How best to describe this astonishing Japanese unit? Let's just say if Boris broke the continental divide for sludge, doom and psych metal and if MUCC and Dir En Grey did likewise for their unpredictable sways between pop rock merged with trad folk and thrash, then you've heard nothing yet. Perhaps the best Misfits reincarnate band likewise comes from under the rising sun in the form of Balzac, yet Gonin-Ish is going to literally wipe your membranes clean with some of the most cerebral music ever attempted.

Japan is leading the way into the modern age with its inventive anime (minus the kiddie crud such as Pokemon which this writer says is prolonged vengeance for Hiroshima and Tokyo) and undeniably Japanese cinema is staking claim for global leadership of the action and horror genres.

Naishikyo-Sekai is almost impossible to describe in words, but let's have a crack, eh? Try blinding prog meets fusion meets a fanged concerto piano meets Siouxie Sioux, Karyn Crisis, Bjork and Mike Patton meets punk and extreme metal. Intricate, frequently gorgeous to the point of tear inducement and brutal only when it needs to be, Naishikyo-Sekai is going to be all you can handle on the first listen because it delivers that much of an impact.

Gonin-Ish in wordage translates as "to unite songs by five members" and undeniably that is the mentality to this obscenely talented ensemble who bring multiple schools of thought into a coalition where the past is grabbed by the proverbial ankles kicking and screaming. Translating ancient Japanese lore using outdated language even for the native sons and daughters of today, Gonin-Ish are nearly terrifying with their intelligence, particularly when vocalist/guitarist Anoji Matsuoka merges her broad vocal range to portray both angels and demons at perfected intervals.

As you savor Gonin-Ish's masterfully busy blends of progression, chamber fugue and hammering metal bursts on the opening instrumental "Tokoyami Kairou (Eternally Dark Corridor)" you get merely a smackerel of what is about to come the remainder of the trip. In under three minutes, Gonin-Ish has already separated the prodigies from the posers and you might as well strap yourselves in for the subsequent aural journey "Narenohate (Na Re No Ha Te)," which sculpts in faster-timed brushstrokes than Isis. The payoff Gonin-Ish delivers towards the end of nine minutes of mind-melding prog metal is one of the most emotional climaxes ever put down. There's breathtaking and then there's soul-stealing...

The first twinkling bars of "Jinbaika (Parasite Flower)" are so deceptively placid you can sense the throat-slitting mayhem forthcoming, particularly with the traditional Shinto note lines bridging the quietude to the amplitude. The opening percussion from Gaku on "Muge No Hito (The Free Man)" is Sepultura-ish, particularly as the rest of the band climbs aboard his tribal rhythm with escalating, punk ad metal-laden contentiousness. It only grows more intense and detailed by the minute.

The 20-minute finale "Akai Kioku (The Crimson Memory)" is a knockout sequential listening adventure where Gonin-Ish hails every prog legend that's come before them; Yes, ELP, King Crimson and Nektar...all in there and rethought into ways you're not going to see coming despite the obviously pinched textures.

Anoji Matsuoka is as seductive as she is abrasive, personifying her varied muses with compelling execution. This isn't your typical chops-showing for bragging rights; Matsuoka's delivery will set you free as much as it will flog and scourge you where appropriate.

Fumio "Fu-Min" Takahashi's guitars are ripe with note-seeking excavation on a metal, prog and jazz scale while Masashi Momota delivers one of the other poignant dynamics to Gonin-Ish with his piano and synths. While other prog bands are wont to let their synth leads dabble and drawl for near-minutes, Momota throws out mere sequences then lets them disappear into the sheer power of his band. His piano work is both lofty and aggressive, assuredly a yan to Anoji Matsuoka's vocal yin; he frequently sprinkles beautiful note tapestries when she whips out a series of growls.

Had this album reached my mits last year, Naishikyo-Sekai would've easily vaulted in contention for album of 2008. It cannot be understated Gonin-Ish are pioneering something only the best of the best will be able to compete with. The accomplished discipline in this band is enough to make you bow in reverence.

Rating: *****

Thursday, June 11, 2009

CD Review: Hammerfall - No Sacrifice, No Victory

Hammerfall - No Sacrifice, No Victory
2009 Nuclear Blast
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

For the honor once again, Swedish power stalwarts Hammerfall might as well be given a medal and token entry into the old school ranks at this point. They began at the tail end of metal's popularity in North America while becoming one of Europe's finest torch bearers. Making their bread and butter via reinvention modes of groundwork plowed by Manowar, Saxon, Accept and Helloween, Hammerfall still carries their own vibe which has served them rather well for 16 years now, thank you.

Their last album Threshold was met was shaky reviews and feedback from metal fans, something the band obviously took to heart as of their latest venture No Sacrifice, No Glory. Hammerfall went through a regrouping phase while getting this album into order, namely the addition of guitarist Pontus Norgren and bassist Fredrik Larsson after Stefan Elmgren and Magnus Rosen respectively parted ways with the band, a malady which has frequently beleaguered Hammerfall.

You have to wonder if there's limited appeal or at least patience for what Hammerfall has unyieldingly produced over their otherwise durable careers. They've simply carried the drum, the axe and of course the mythological Mjolnir as wielded by their Doctor Doom-esque mascot. Hammerfall has spent little deviation from their scripts over the years save for more melodic (actually treading close to power pop) textures on Threshold and now as of their current release No Sacrifice, No Glory.

By all means, No Sacrifice, No Glory is a heavier album than its predecessor as central figures Joacim Cans and Oscar Dronjak attempt to bridge the days of their punishing odes of steel ala Glory to the Brave, Legacy of Kings and Renegade to their slightly newer approach to a testosterone-laced game finessed and huckstered best by Manowar.

No Sacrifice, No Glory is pure camp as always with songs such as "Punish and Enslave," "Any Means Necessary," "Bring the Hammer Down," "Hallowed Be Ny Name" and the title track, tunes you would expect to slip out the mouth of Eric Adams as much as Joacim Cans. Not that the execution of Cans is to be compared to Adams, nor Hammerfall to Manowar as of No Sacrifice, No Glory, but certainly the jughead hail and kill all that stands in your way on the tempestuous shores of a crimson ocean motif is what motivates both bands. Let us not forget to add topless and willing nymphs ready to stroke the alpha ego driven by the subjugation of power chords, double-trip tempos and sparkling guitar solos.

"Something for the Ages" is one of No Sacrifice, No Glory's best cuts, a terrific instrumental in which Oscar Dronjak and Pontus Norgren enjoy each other's company with rather tasteful guitar battles and sharp melody lines complimenting the upbeat track's inner drive. If Hammerfall's grand motive for being is all about providing a swirling soundtrack of valor, "Something for the Ages" is certainly the one to do it.

While the title song is hammy in its narcissistic to-the-death choruses (would you expect anything less from Hammerfall?), there's no denying it packs a wallop with a focused trad groove and punctual solos. "One of a Kind" gallops on steed's legs hooved by NWOBHM and German thrash and as Hammerfall's been in the game long enough to know, they merge both effortlessly as you can picture them inside an armory flinging swords, daggers and pikes to their "brothers in arms" as they croon nostalgically before slowing the whole thing down to a moment of reverie and then crunching the song home, all structured as a well-timed mini epic.

"Between Two Worlds" is Hammerfall's obligatory power ballad and it works because of the Bachian fugue organs leading it off, followed by acoustic melancholia and near-weepy vocals from Joacim Cans; all of it cliche but all of it spot-on.

You can take or leave the album's rounding cut, an out-of-nowhere cover of The Knack's "My Sharona." This writer believes if you're going to redo someone's work, make it your own. The potential for Hammerfall to rip "My Sharona" into a hack 'n slash in-joke is the only reason you pay it any attention. Unfortunately, save for Anders Johansson stepping up his ankle couplets on the instrumental breakaway section, "My Sharona" comes off sadly to-the-numbers. Fun for the band, assuredly, throwaway for the listener.

Nonetheless, Hammerfall enjoys a wide-flung audience, one ready to strap on the cutlery and pose in front of mirrors with undeveloped biceps and beer guts while imagining themselves proverbial dragonslayers and one-person wrecking crews. Said demographic gave Manowar life and assuredly Hammerfall's legacy is well-kept in the same manner. No Sacrifice, No Glory is enjoyable rockhead escapism, something that comes as easy to Hammerfall as home runs to steroid addicts.

Rating: ***1/2

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Whattya Listenin' to Wednesday - 6/10/09

Howdy do, readers! Another Wednesday is upon us and since there's no "Wicked Wednesday" or "Wacky Wednesday" courtesy of Prince and The Bangles, you can make up your own ditty accordingly.

Holding it down as best we can in Casa del Van Horn as I prepare to start a new job and as luck always seems to go, my wife is bitten by the unemployment bug immediately within. There's far worse situations, considering the unnerving pleas for help I see on a constant basis within the industry I work full-time, but... Seems like there's a yin and yan to everything, and with a broken weedeaster and hacked electric cord within the same hour, you've gotta wonder who controls the spinning of the karma wheel. I could really use a drink right about now, but I'm outta Guinness. Oh well, it's always better to hit the booze when you're happy than when you're not.

On the nice side, the little man's been with us an entire year now and hopefully wifey will be gainfully employed again shortly so we can move forward with his adoption. To celebrate we took him up to Gettysburg, had a family picnic, strolled the battlefield including a re-enacted Union camp and then the refurbished cyclorama. Little man's too young to appreciate it all, but he certainly loved everything he could take in. I've been there almost 30 times now since we live so close, but it's like re-experiencing it all with a new set of eyes.

Listening-wise, it's been another mega cluster with a lot of Isis, Quicksand, Black Crowes and Talking Heads. Talk about your opposite sides of the spectrum! Happy the Stanley Cup finals are heading for a Game 7 despite the atrocious behavior of the Penguins in Game 5, albeit they looked Cup-ready in the sixth game. Come on, Friday, let's crown a winner!

Otherwise been hanging with The Three Stooges and the Pittsburgh Steelers' recent Super Bowl victory on DVD and I'm plugging quietly along with the Cliff Burton bio. Of course I needed to spin Kill 'em All a couple times just to put myself into McElver's writing mind.

Stay tuned in the next couple weeks for upcoming exams of new shite from Gulch, Hammerfall, Paul Gilbert & Freddie Nelson, CKY, Devil's Whorehouse, Warbringer, Gonin-Ish, Sunn O))) and the Devin Townsend Project. If I can get enough time to hit the tape, I'll serve up the overdue Take 5 with Mary Zimmer of Luna Mortis.

Cheers to yer ears...

Talking Heads - More Songs About Buildings and Food
Talking Heads - Talking Heads: 77
Pelican - Ephemeral
Pelican - City of Echoes
Doro - Fear No Evil
The Black Crowes - Warpaint Live
Tim "Ripper" Owens - Play My Game
Nihilitia - Nihilist Militia
Twisited Sister - Stay Hungry 25th Anniversary Edition
Ian Gillan - One Eye to Morocco
Metallica - Kill 'em All
Metallica - Death Magnetic
Depeche Mode - Playing the Angel
Guns 'n Roses - Chinese Democracy
Isis - In the Absence of Truth
Isis - Panopticon
Isis - Wavering Radiant
Quicksand - Slip
Descendents - Milo Goes to College
Tomahawk - Mit Gas
Green Carnation - The Acoustic Verses
Midnight Oil - Blue Sky Mining
Bauhaus - The Sky's Gone Out
Queensryche - Promised Land
Iron Maiden - Seventh Son of a Seventh Son
Ritchie Valens - The Ritchie Valens Story
Iced Earth - The Crucible of Man: Something Wicked Part 2
Peccatum - Lost in Reverie

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

CD Review: The Black Crowes - Warpaint Live

The Black Crowes - Warpaint Live
2009 Silver Arrow Records/Eagle Rock Entertainment
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

If there's one band who has matured into unsung heroes of American rock, it's the Black Crowes. Perhaps saturation of their bankable cover tune "Hard to Handle" inadvertently led to disinterest from the collective rock fans who helped elevate the Crowes to superstardom, or maybe it was their brief disbanding which did them in as far as the public eye was concerned.

Despite a brutal tabloid-heaving divorce from his former Hollywood wife Kate Hudson, Chris Robinson and the Black Crowes emerged from their past wreckage like a veritable flock of Phoenix. If anything, Chris Robinson has bravely revealed his scar tissue simply through his powerful vocals which have lost their youthful zest and turned into something grizzled yet far more emotional.

As the Black Crowes might as well be thought of as what The Rolling Stones could've been had they not flushed themselves down the toilet during the eighties and nineties (and had Brian Jones not passed from this life), the resurrection of the former is a definitive statement of rebound and recovery from past adversity.

The Crowes are now so far beyond the Stones (yeah, I said it) it's a night and day statement if you put up the Crowes' The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion along with their most recent work including last year's Warpaint. Okay, sure, Goat's Head Soup and Aftermath probably move more units even today, yet despite Aftermath being the Stones' most volatile and overall impressive release, what the Black Crowes have achieved as their acolytes is borne from other external influences, making them a superior band.

Rock, gospel, soul, southern drag, blues, bare shades of metal, it's all in there with the Black Crowes and following their outstanding Warpaint album comes a new double disc concert documentary, Warpaint Live.

Arguably the Black Crowes are a better live band than a studio one and there's not much to dissuade from stating they don't release outstanding to at least above-average albums. This is why Warpaint Live, an album which features virutally no past hits and which conveys the entire Warpaint album from start-to-finish along with an encore disc of older true fan material is cream for your rock 'n roll coffee cup.

With a cumbersome audio feed, Warpaint Live frequently sounds heavier and more bombastic than the original source, particularly "Evergreen," "Goodbye Daughters of the Revolution" and "Wounded Bird." With Sven Pipen, Rich Robinson and Luther Dickinson booming, twanging. wa-waing and peeling behind Chris Robinson and Adam MacDougall laying down church-wailing organs, Warpaint Live throbs with such tuneful and skin-torn cohesion you can't help but get absorbed. Steve Gorman is a force on the skins with steady pulses and constantly straying rolls which always snap right back to the rhythm. His percussion on "Whoa Mule" is also a snappy compliment to Chris Robinson's wheatfield-swept harmonica.

The second disc offers up six non-Warpaint cuts such as Exile on Mainstreet's "Torn and Frayed," Southern Harmony's "Bad Luck, Blue Eyes," and their Moby Grape cover "Hey, Grandma."

All good, all deeper extracted than dishing out a mere hits-splashed set, and when you get their country-lounge-soul ballad "There's Gold in Them Hills" from Warpaint, you come to the realization the Black Crowes can do damn near anything they set out to. It is also an undeniable statement piece of a group having reached their utmost capacities as musicians who nearly threw it all away.

Rating: ****1/2

Monday, June 08, 2009

CD Review: Tim "Ripper" Owens - Play My Game

Tim "Ripper" Owens - Play My Game
2009 SPV/Steamhammer
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

Ripper, Ripper, wherefore about thou, Ripper?

One thing you have to say, whether you appreciate what Tim "Ripper" Owens brings to the scene or you don't, the cat has been popping up all over the place. After parting ways with Jon Schaffer and Iced Earth, Ripper had already started his own band Beyond Fear. Somewhere after running a quiet little tour in support of his quite-solid offshoot entity, questions as to whether or not that band was on the ropes whispered about as Owens manifested like a mole popping its head up in a distant garden no one saw coming as he was spotted in league with Yngwie Malmsteen on the latter's Perpetual Flame album from last year.

As we're left to wonder if the Malmsteen gig is a one-off with Yngwie releasing a compendium album this year Angels of Love, that leaves the former Judas Priest and Iced Earth henchman hypothetically on his own duckets, Beyond Fear notwithstanding.

Almost as quietly as the Ripper gave Yngwie Malmsteen a hearty vocal injection, Tim Owens sneaks out his debut solo album Play My Game, an album that might not've gained the beacon light without the following two things: one, a legendary back story serving inspiration for Mark Wahlberg in Rock Star, and two, the fact Ripper corrals a nice bundle of guest stars to his cause such as Bruce and Bob Kulick, Rudy Sarzo, Chris Caffery, Simon Wright, Jeff Loomis, David Ellefson, Doug Aldrich, Craig Goldy, Carlos Cavazo, Steve Stevens, Billy Sheehan and Michael Wilton. Ripper also totes along his Beyond Fear axe slinger John Comprix on this album.

This being said, Play My Game would've been the metal event of the year circa 1986, considering Ripper plies his trade with an outstretched palm bearing alms to past metal gods. When you consider Ripper's repertoire is hedged primarily from Rob Halford, Ronnie James Dio and Glenn Hughes, it should come as no surprise that Play My Game bears all of these with glowing apparency.

With one meaty cut after another, Tim Owens has a field day showing off his chops, even going so far as to mesh in some Axl Rose and Layne Staley for good measure, using "No Good Goodbyes" for example.

If Play My Game isn't Owens' metal confessional, it sure as heck feels like one as he opens his lyrical veins on tracks such as "Starting Over," "Believe," "Pick Yourself Up," "To Live Again" and "No Good Goodbyes." You can't help but assume "Is It Me" is Ripper's bleeding query to his past associates.

While Glenn Tipton told this writer in an interview for AMP magazine Ripper bowed out honorably when asked to step down for the returning Rob Halford, the flipside of the coin came from a Jon Schaffer who relayed in my interview for Unrestrained magazine he wasn't feeling the enthusiasm of his former crooner as of the tour in support of Iced Earth's Framing Armageddon: Something Wicked Part 1, prompting Schaffer to re-recruit his brother-in-law Matt Barlow.

I've had the chance to interview Ripper three separate times, twice while still in Iced Earth and a third time as the Beyond Fear debut album was about to launch. I detected a noticeable maturity in the third interview while Ripper was slightly shy and perhaps aloof in the second chat, conducted upon Iced Earth's tour bus. Then again, yours truly lost his interview questions on the first go-round and Ripper was gentlemanly and patient as I tried to queue up what I could. That second interview was a reschedule as we filled in missing parts and talked more at length about Rock Star and his feelings making the transition from Priest to Iced Earth. You could tell the poor guy was still stinging from losing his dream gig yet handling it with as much grace as one could muster under such duress.

That, I believe, is the prompting factor to Play My Game, that fragile moment in time where Ripper had to accept the fact that yes, he enjoyed the opportunity to front one of heavy metal's all-time greats yet the sad fact remained it took Rob Halford's reclamation of his mantle before the world accepted Judas Priest again.

Play My Game, while not containing the most memorable or original set of songs ("The Light" and the title cut being out-of-the-box grunge-oriented exceptions, with some Sabbath peppered in the latter) is at least a very honest album, one which allows Ripper to express his grievances vocally and unabashedly in the styles of his idols. The fact so many established artists came to his rescue in support of this emotional bloodletting shows Ripper is at least appreciated by the old dogs for helping keep tried and true power metal alive in a modern era largely interested in figuring out how many breakdown schisms and bpm blasts will help them rise to the attention of today's youth.

Play My Game is old school all the way, and there's certainly an audience amongst today's generation who appreciate Ripper and what he's been trying to do all these years. I can testify a small posse of kids lingered outside of Iced Earth's tour bus chanting his name, which he responded to with a slightly embarassed grin and then a quick bounce out of the bus to greet his fans with horns pushed over his head.

Say what you will, you can't say Tim "Ripper" Owens isn't at least a boy rocker at heart.

Rating: ***1/2

Saturday, June 06, 2009

CD Review: Nihilitia - Nihilist Militia

Nihilitia - Nihilist Militia
2009 Keya Records
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

Honestly, a band calling themselves Nihilitia is wont to summon impressions they are a death or black metal band. There's just something grossly sinister about the moniker Nihilitia that summons up imagery of intestine-pulling, snickering goat heads, nuclear clouds and the usual ho-hum flaming pentagrams, Hail Satan, whatever, yadda yadda, blah blah blah...

Instead, stripped artwork featuring skullduggery circumventing a celestial pirate ship is what Nihilitia serves up and what you get from this experimental Washington, DC unit is festooned sludge and psychedelic metal ala Kylesa, Made Out of Babies, Farflung and to certain latitudes, Electric Wizard. Nihilitia's music is less interested in profiling demonic sodomites and more in creating a beyond-fucked soundscape for the sicko flies buzzing around their opening cut "Shithouse" from their debut album Nihilist Militia.

Thank God, because this is far more interesting stuff even with Nihilitia's occasional lack of discipline, which is meant in a complimentary manner. Nihilist Militia is a rowdy and frequently trippy jump into the cosmic tar pits of outer space with a lot of ear-tickling fuzz from bassist/vocalist Sara Hussain and skritchy ersatz peeled in increments from guitarist Chris Thomas' jumpy pick.

Hussain's low-end riffs are Melvins-blessed and her sometimes discordant, ticked-off vocals are enough to make you buy her drinks lest she stomp your sac to pieces. Meanwhile, Thomas inventively shifts his licks from accommodating heavy strums to dizzying lunar spelunks from one edge of the fretboard to the other. Thomas responds to his two partners (drummer Brad Sheppard being the third member of Nihilitia) both tunefully and abstractly on "The One" before elevating subsequent weightless bars and then dropping his hammers again. Even Sara Hussain cascades her vocals in relation to "The One's" anti-grav textures.

While Brad Sheppard smacks out Nihilitia's careening templates for mayhem, Chris Thomas goes berserk on his pedals on the opening segments of "Lebanese Butcher" with Hussain laying down riotous chum racket behind him. The boisterous and menacing feel of this song is like a lost Voivod demo as it builds atop its cyberpunk crust and outlandish soloing, realizing its motive with joyously brackish results.

While there's not a heck of a lot raging from the nation's capital as there used to be during the days of Minor Threat, Government Issue and Dag Nasty, when something does sneak into the radar from DC, you'd usually do well to pay close attention. Such is the case here with a developing force in the sludge market. This is a rather impressive debut performance swirled from the trash heaps Nihilitia professes an affinity for, the fuck-you spirit of "Suppressant" and "Murdervan" being prime embodiments.

Hardly garbage, however, Nihilist Militia is a must-grab if you're a fan of distorto-doom with more than a few extra nifties to offer.

Rating: ****

Friday, June 05, 2009

CD Review: Pelican - Ephemeral EP

Pelican - Ephemeral EP
2009 Southern Lord
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

There are two bands (with no disrespect intended towards the mighty Neurosis) who best embody the sound of this "post metal" genre if you absolutely must call it that (this writer prefers ambient psych metal, frankly), those being Isis and of course, Chicago's Pelican.

While Isis are famed sculptors of their trade, Pelican opts sometimes to employ the same directives in their often climactic distortion scapes, yet they also tend to jump right into the meat of things and yo-yo their loops and lines for their listeners' and their own grooving pleasure.

The latter is the case as of their new EP Ephemeral. Their first offering outside of Hydra Head for the much darker-embraced Southern Lord, one would automatically assume this transition would have tenebrous effects upon Pelican. Well, yes and no. While the tones of Ephemeral are much lower and deeper sunken, that's the most extreme latitude Pelican ventures here.

Ephemeral assumes a largely similar tempo all the way through its twenty minutes over the course of three songs, which presents the listener both a lollygag and freefall with which to stretch their arms over their heads and sink themselves into like aural jelly. The first track "Embedding the Moss" is the coolest of the three with a tough set of riffs to jive along to, while the title track is closest to what you're familiar with on Austrailasia and The Fire In Our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw.

Trevor de Brauw and Laurent Schroeder-Lebec whisk their trademark brushy downstrokes throughout Ephemeral while Bryan and Larry Herweg carry their reliable selves as Pelican's sharp rhythm section. As the title track grows strength after three minutes of a rambling groove, it dials in and becomes nearly cosmic.

"Geometry of Murder" is perhaps the most exploratory song on Ephemeral with its lucid opening notes which get snuffed by a syrupy outpouring from the band's metallic and doomy sieves. It is the heaviest and dankest cut on the EP which is undoubtedly spent in indirect appeasement of their new benefactors, Greg Anderson and Southern Lord. Can you not see a Sunn 0))) and Pelican duet coming down the pike? Yeah, baby...

While City of Echoes allowed Pelican to refine their craft to the point of practical finesse, Ephemeral follows up in near-similar straightforwardness. The differentiating factor with Ephemeral is a decided grunginess as antithesis to what they built on City of Echoes. This only makes Pelican more dynamic and broadly appealing. Catch them live with Isis if you can; their road union is a "post metal" dream come true...

Rating: ****

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Whattya Listenin' to Wednesday - 6/3/09

Seriously, it's Wednesday?

How goes with y'all out there? Hope The Metal Minute is keeping everyone entertained out there; I always aim to please when I'm on a roll! Be ready for more "stuff" like Chuck Barris of the old Gong Show would put it, with upcoming reviews of new releases by Tim "Ripper" Owens, Pelican, Doro, Nihilitia and the vinyl release of the new Sunn O))) album, Monoliths & Dimensions. I've listened to three sides so far and holy shite, is this one superfreakout evil record...

Upcoming changes in my life as I gave notice at my current job in preparation of a new one. I'm ecstatic to be able to pull this off in the type of market we're in these days, needless to say. It was done in the interest of my family so hopefully this new post will be "the one," shall we say...

Still in awe from the Isis/Pelican show the other night; if they hit your town, do not miss it! With Tombs opening in impressive fashion, chalk this tour up as priority one!

As such, I've been spinning a lot of Pelican including their upcoming EP Ephemeral as well as that Nihilitia album which was the perfect vibe coming home from the show on Sunday night. Brian Setzer is the top flight runner of the week, however, with his Sun Records tribute, Rockabilly Riot Vol. 1. My folks had the chance to visit Graceland and Sun Records recently (I am way envious), so out this fantastic covers album came off the shelf and stuck with me throughout the week. Get rhythm, kiddos...

I hope to bury myself in Joel McElver's Cliff Burton book for future review here at The Metal Minute, while I've managed to carve out a little tube time with the Stanley Cup finals, which is getting real good now, plus I had a mini horror marathon featuring Gothkill, 30 Days of Night, Hostel and Pulse, not to mention The Great Kat's Beethoven's Guitar Shred DVD and half of From the Underground, a cool indie rock DVD featuring Sonic Youth, Radiohead, The White Stripes, Beck and others in a loose-fitting live environment. Well-recommended...

K, storm's a-brewing and my head's a stewing...

Brian Setzer - Rockabilly Riot Vol. 1: A Tribute to Sun Records
Pelican - Ephemeral
Pelican - Austrailasia
Pelican - The Fire In Our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw
Pelican - City of Echoes
Doro - Fear No Evil
iwrestledabearonce - It's All Happening
Crescent Shield - The Stars of Never Seen
Sunn O))) - Monoliths and Dimensions
Drop Dead, Gorgeous - The Hot 'n Heavy
Bob Dylan - Love and Theft
Bob Dylan - Modern Times
Bob Dylan - Together Through Life
Bob Dylan - Hard Rain
Steely Dan - A Decade of Steely Dan
Dolly Parton - Backwoods Barbie Collector's Edition
Twisted Sister - Stay Hungry 25th Anniversary Edition
Pestilence - Resurrection Macabre
Jimi Hendrix & The Experience - Axis: Bold as Love
Heavy Metal movie soundtrack
Mastodon - Crack the Skye
Jon Mikl Thor - Sign of the V
Anvil - Strength of Steel
Demented Are Go - Hellbilly Storm

Monday, June 01, 2009

Take 5 With The Great Kat

By now it's no secret the purest of the pure heavy metal guitarists spent much of their time in conservatories or at least drowning themselves in private shelters studying the complex bars and sheets of classical symposiums from Bach, Grieg, Wagner, Brahms, Rachmaninoff, Tchiakovsky, Vivaldi and of course, the glorious Ludwig Van (to quote Malcolm McDowell from nearly 40 years ago). All of that being said, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, along with Beethoven, has to be looked upon as the headbanger of his time.

The Great Kat has spent much time since the late eighties trying to resurrect the respectability factor of these timeless masterpieces by ushering their complex note sequences via modern distortion and blinding guitar shred. Moreover, through her ballcrushing persona, The Great Kat has historically thrown down against the masculine with uber-feminine self-fanatacism. Kat mimicks and directly cries foul against a perceived alpha narcissism flowing throughout rock and metal's testicular-pressed existence. If Kat herself swings low like the men she'd obligingly stick the butt-end prong of a Flying V up their wazoos, we're all in freaking trouble.

The fact of the matter is you either get The Great Kat or you don't. It frankly doesn't matter to her, so long as she can not only prove her worth on the six strings but also prove the old masters rank amongst the finest musicians to ever walk the earth if not the finest. Alias Kathryn Thomas, The Great Kat's character is a grand inquisitor who will just as soon seduce you in satin as well as wallop you over the head and torture you for hours ala those perverted rich gonzos in the Hostel flicks. Just as long as the score to such savagery is Beethoven set at hyperspeed, which The Great Kat is promoting these days courtesy of her new DVD Beethoven's Guitar Shred.

Suffice it to say, Kat had more than a few colorful words to say to The Metal Minute...

The Metal Minute: If they ever dare take on a contemporary remake of A Clockwork Orange, I’m demanding they consign you to do Beethoven’s "9th Symphony" since your frenetic playing would be apropos for this 24-7, never-rest generation. How would you meet such a proposal and what kind of scene(s) would best fit your scorching style of playing?

The Great Kat: A Clockwork Orange is a masterpiece worthy of The Great Kat’s shred-classic music! If they remake this movie, The Great Kat’s version of Beethoven’s “9th Symphony” would be vicious, fast, furious and virtuosic, with full classical orchestration and a metal band, with finger-blistering guitar virtuosity! The scene fitting for this would be like The Great Kat’s “Blood” music video (clip at a wild, vicious, bloody orgy scene with outrageous religious symbolism and dead bodies thrown around!

MM: Your new DVD Beethoven’s Guitar Shred is like your Wagner’s War video; hit ‘em fast, hit ‘em hard, leave ‘em wondering what the hell just happened. Both image and sound-wise, Beethoven’s Guitar Shred is sensory overload, be it your take on “Flight of the Bumblebee,” “Caprice 24” or Beethoven’s "5th Symphony." Do you feel in order to make an impact on a society which arrogantly feels it has seen it all you have to go full-out with as many bpms and scorching note sequences as you do?

TGK: Yes, the more bpms and scorching note sequences, the better! The Great Kat is forcing your brain to wake up with viciously fast guitar shredding of complex, countrapuntal classical music and vicious metal, which demands your attention with speed and complexity!

MM: On the flipside, your rendition of Bach’s “Brandenburg Concerto # 3” is not only gorgeous, it’s a chance for us to see a slightly more sensual side of The Great Kat. You even dress in white for this piece and even though your band is amusingly hamming it up in Victorian garb, I have to say there’s a direct antithesis to the throat-slitting bloody mayhem of the videos preceding it. Do you want the world to see there’s a duality to The Great Kat?

TGK: The Great Kat is a multifaceted Goddess! The Great Kat can be a bloody, evil, abusive, torturing dominatrix well as a Bach Baroque-era, lingerie-wearing, adorable Goddess! See for yourselves the multiple personalities of The Great Kat on Bach’s “Brandenburg Concerto #3” music video!

MM: Respect is something fiercely contested for in the modern age, particularly with triple the population much less the number of artists in varying media including metal guitarists. Over the years you’ve been ramming your frets into the face of the metal scene and you’ve garnished a good bit of press not to mention making Guitar World and Guitar One magazines’ selective all-time lists. How has this long journey been for you in making your mark on a scene which values its guitar heroes and heroines in scrutinizing measures?

TGK: The Great Kat is on a lifelong, singlehanded mission to bring classical music to the masses using metal shred guitar and to wake up the entire civilization to the genius of classical music!

MM: The last time we interviewed, you offered to sodomize me with a stiletto! (laughs) I look at you as a modern day Red Sonja of the six string and violin; whomever you choose to be your partner is going to have to do serious battle to win your heart. Given your long-standing alpha-ego satirizing within your music and persona, what type of individual is going to win The Great Kat over?

TGK: WHO CARES?!? By the way, Ray, the offer of sodomizing you with The Great Kat’s stilletto still stands! Only now I will add in a little whipping, beating and waterboarding for good measure, now bow, peasant!

The Great Kat’s new “BEETHOVEN’S GUITAR SHRED” DVD Features:

-“The Flight Of The Bumble-Bee”

-Paganini’s “Caprice #24”

-Bach’s “Brandenburg Concerto #3

and “BLOOD” Music video at
DVD trailer at:

More DVD Video Clips:

Kat web site:

Copyright 2009 Ray Van Horn, Jr. / The Metal Minute