Let`s face it; in the late `eighties/early ninties, Thrash got BORING! Speed, power, energy and aggression were the key ingredients of any successful Thrash band [well, songwriting helps, too!]. Unfortunately, as time went on, we saw the rise of "technical" and "progressive" Thrash. Suddenly, the genre was overrun with a bunch of Musician`s Institute graduates, all playing polite, picture perfect guitar solos! Every instrument was in perfect pitch, each note graphed out to the Nth degree, topped off with sterile, squeaky clean production. In other words, Thrashed crashed! Fortunately, a select few torch bearers, like Sodom, Hirax, Destruction, to name a few [Forget Kreator; they haven`t put out anything decent since "Coma Of Souls!"] have kept the Thrash fires burning. Now we have Japan`s very own King`s-Evil. In existence since `89 [with a brief hiatus from `93-98], their debut, "Deletion Of Humanoise" is yet ANOTHER entry in West Side Dave`s "How-the-HELL-did-I-miss-this?" file! "Deletion...." was released in `01 [3 years ago as of this writing], but hey, I`m allowed to play a little catch-up, right? Led by founding members [and brothers] Wataru Yamada [guitar/vocals] and Masamichi Yamada [guitar] as well as bassist Takachika Nakajima and drummer Eiji Murakami, King`s-Evil is nothing short of LETHAL! The eight tracks here are prime examples of what Thrash is SUPPOSED to be. Raging drums, Kreator-like vocals, lunatic guitar solos skittering through out razor sharp riffing; no fancy-pants, Bach inspired arrangements, just pure Speed Metal HELL! The boys mix it up a bit, throwing in a bit of Death Metal here & there, and at times reminding me of Terrorizer. And at just 40 minutes or so, the album is short and sweet, never boring; kinda like being hit by a freight train, you just lay there wondering what hit you as you reach for the play button again, and again, and again.... King`s-Evil deliver their own brand of Metallic mayhem with all the fire and flash of seasoned pros, yet have that lean, hungry feel that so many Thrash pioneers [Testament, for example] seem to have lost long ago. No sir, it does NOT get any better than this! My only complaint is that it took me 3 years to find out about these guys! I`ll do better next time, I promise.....
Alright, confession time! I have to admit, I am CLUELESS when it comes to J.R.R. Tolkien`s literary opus. Sure, I read the books YEARS ago, but I couldn`t tell an Orc from a Nazgul. As of this writing [January `04], I`ve STILL not seen any of the movies, believe it or not! [I`m more of a Harry Potter-type] But there IS hope for us music afficionados who are lacking in Tolkien Trilogy 101, and it`s called "All For The One", the 4th album by Palestine, Texas` very own Hobbit. This long-running 4 piece [Gene Fields - vocals, guitars, keyboards, Paul ´Turk´ Henry - vocals, bass, guitar, narration; Richard Hill - lead guitar, keyboards; Rusty Honeycutt - drums] has returned after a nearly 18 year silence with this 74 minute, 32 track masterpiece; a "74 minute Fantasy Rock Journey through Middle Earth", as the back cover states. And WHAT a journey! From spoken word intros [featuring various characters from Tolkien lore] and brief musical interludes to full blown compositions, the album brings Middle Earth and it`s colorful inhabitants brilliantly to life! Those expecting a Blind Guardian-esque treatment of the LOR Trilogy will be dissapointed; the sound here is more late `70s`/early`80s` Pomp/Prog Rock, [reminding me, at times, of "Leftoverture"-era Kansas]. More Hard Rock than Metal, though there ARE some Metallic moments [esp. "Nazgul" and "Witchking"]. And I`m not gonna bother listing the individual tracks; I view this album as one continuous piece, though each track can stand on it`s own. And few BUT Hobbit could have pulled it off so well! Top-shelf musicians one and all, the band never lower themselves by resorting to endless soloing; they have too much respect for the material to do that! And it is this reverance for the Tolkien stories that makes "All For The One" work. Right down to the narrations; the band manage to pull these off without sounding like a bunch of community theater rejects! Maybe when Peter Jackson`s epic film versions of the trilogy are released as one complete video/DVD package, they shoud include this album, as well; then maybe I might actually watch the films! Whether you`re a Tolkien disciple, a casual fan, complete neophyte, or just a lover of well-crafted Hard Rockin` tunes, "All For The One" is one album you should DEFINITELY have! Highest possble reccomendation! [ Extra special thanks to Paul ´Turk´ Henry for the disc!!]
Saratoga Springs, NY`s very own riff-misstress Katherine Burke returns! The former Sheol guitarist/songwriter`s latest project is Sadhara [Sanskrit for "Inner spiritual worship"] In true Metal/DIY fashion, Kathy plays all instruments AND handles vocal duties, as well. [word has it she also spends time listening to old riff tapes sent by bandless-at-the-moment guitarists, but this is unconfirmed!;);)] Her vocals on this 5 song demo range from angelic, Goth-like harmonies to Exorcist-style demonic growls that would make Angela Gossow proud! The tracks are: "Desire's Fortune Burned", "Resign to Dust", "Aire to Shadows" [a re-worked Sheol tune], "Orchestrating the Fates" and "Lament to the Bereft". Sadhara`s sound overall is a mixture of traditional Metal riffage and some of the darker Euro Metal making the rounds out there. While some may quibble about the sound quality [c`mon people; it IS a "demo" after all!] there can be NO denying the quality of the music. As usual, Kathy put much thought into the compositions and arrangements. AND as usual, she get high marks for her guitar work, as well! Hellacious riffing and well thought out solos, as well as the almost Lovecraft-ian lyrics weave a tapestry, taking the listener to places they may never have been but will surely want to go. Even if they DON`T, you can always headbang to `em like there`s no tomorrow! A promising release from a VERY promising artist. Somebody PLEASE sign this lady to a major label!!! To find out more about Sadhara, and to hear the demo tracks, go to the official website below.
Oh, YEAH! The 4-man strike force from Union, New Jersey known as DTA has returned with their second demo, "No Rest In Peace". Featuring 4 punishing tracks, this sucker picks up where their earlier release left off, and in fact show just how much the band [Joe Moore on Drums, Kris Kraemer on Bass, Jay Swinson on Lead Guitar,and Dan Noble on Lead Vocals] has grown! Don`t worry, they haven`t wimped out, gone Nu Metal [shudder!] or anything; each tune, like all DTA material, is an exercise in sheer audio brutality. But this time they`ve injected a bit more melody, as well as more varied arrangements, to their over-the-top assaults, giving the songs more intensity, believe it or not! This approach helps give the songs ["Seething Hatred", "No Rest In Peace", "9/11", "Kiss Of Judas"], as well as the listener, that extra kick up the ass, and isn`t that what Metal is SUPPOSED to do? One can only imagine what DTA would sound like on an official full length with first class production! But if enough of you go to the band`s website and buy the demo, we won`t HAVE to imagine, now WILL we? [To DTA drummer Joe Moore; thanks brother, for the demo AND for the interview!!!]
Shadow Demon are a 4 piece from the Seattle, Washington area, and if this 3 song demo is any indication, Seattle could very well become a Heavy Metal Mecca once again! Their style combines the bone-crushing riffage of vintage Bay Area Thrash with the more melodic sensibilities of the best Euro Power Metal; not a bad combo! This unholy union is brought to you courtesy of Blaine Hammond [vocals], Jeff Helm [guitars] and James Rinker [bass]. Drums for this demo were supplied Clint Clark, with guitar solos provided by Tim Diedrich and Kirk Meredith. Kicking things off is "...And The Meek"; it begins with some great reverb-drenched a capela, followed by a neck-snapping riff that will induce instant headbanging! This is EASILY one of the best Metal tunes I`ve heard so far this year and was a perfect choice for the opening track. "My Eyes Fixed" continues the auditory assault with more punishing rhythms while the ominous "Of The Shadows" features a great vocal delivery by Hammond. Actually, the whole band sound flawless; PLENTY of thought was put into this demo, and I think "quality" won out over "quantity" here! Honorable mention should also be given to the highly intelligent lyrics; not the usual silliness usually associated with this genre. At times, Shadow Demon reminds me a bit of "Something Wicked This Way Comes"-era Iced Earth, although IE haven`t sounded THIS good in years! My faith in US Metal has slowly been restored over the past 2 years, even more so with this demo. And it would receive an even BIGGER boost if each and every one of you reading this would go to the bands` website and purchase this demo so we can have more, more, MORE Shadow Demon releases! Now that`s not much to ask, is it? Highest possible recommendation!!