Wind Wraith-"The Fortune Teller`s Gaze"-2004

With the foul stench of Empty-Vee`s Korn-fed Nu Metal minions still lingering in the air, the US Metal scene needs help like never before! There are so many talented REAL Metal bands in the states, but sadly if you aren`t part of the MTV/ClearChannels/K-Rock Axis Of Evil, and if you can`t get to Europe [where they`ve NEVER forgotten Metal!] you`re destined for the Underground and below. But fear not! The winds of change are blowing; or to be more precise, Wind Wraith [rhymes with "Faith"] is gonna be BLOWIN` the Hot Topic trendies straight back to HELL where they belong! Bethpage, NY`s very own Metal machine was in formed in August of 2000 by guitarist Patrick Blair with one overriding objective; bring True Metal back to the masses! Aiding him in this noble quest are Diana Dellasala on rhythm guitar, Brian Fingerhut on lead guitar, bassist Brian Hobbie, drummer Rob Maresca and Scott Olivia vocals. "The Fortune Tellerīs Gaze" is TECHNICALLY the band`s second recording; it was originally released [to rave reviews] in late `01, but due to a line-up change and dissatifaction with the original album, the band re-recorded "The Fortune Tellerīs Gaze", creating the Metal masterpiece they had intended. But to label this 6-piece as Power Metal is to ignore on the whole picture. The album is, in fact, an homage to ALL era`s of Metal`s glorious history; from the Bluesy riffing of the title track, to the Euro Power of "Dragon Riderīs", the NWOBHM-feel of "Watching Over Me" to the `80s` Bay Area Thrasher "Millennium Horror", the Manowar-like "Wind Wraith" and "High Hopes: The Amityville Murders" [which deals with the actual murders, NOT the fraudulent ghost story concocted around this tragic event], this CD is a tribute to the days of Metal`s past and present. But I didn`t mean to infer from the above comparisions that Wind Wraith is little more than a glorified tribute act; far from it! The band are merely wearing their influences proudly on their sleeves, but at the same time giving the tunes their own personal stamp. That the 6 musicians are all top class players who love what they do doesn`t hurt either! My personal fave is the epic "Ancient Tales", but the whole damn things is a winner from start to finish. Hell, there`s even a cover of the Elvis oldie "Burning Love" to lighten the mood a bit! Bottom line; this is band that will no doubt be among those leading the charge to take back US Metal from the usurpers! Horns up!!!!!!!

Wind Wraith

Feinstein-"Third Wish"-2004

Dave "Rock" Feinstein is back!! Hailing from my neck `o the woods, Upstate New York, Feinstein has come ROARING back with his 3rd solo album, aptly titled "Third Wish". Once upon a time, the Upstate NY area was a Heavy Metal hotbed; Billy Sheehan`s Talas gigged around here for years, and of course you know that Dave fronted Metal mongers The Rods and before that the legendary ELF, which also included his cousin Ronnie James Dio! "Third Wish" has been released in the US on Magic Circle Music, Upstate NY natives Manowarīs own production company/label. Hell, Manowar bassist Joey Demaio is the executive producer of the album! And of course who better to fill the lead vocal slot than Upstate`s very own John West [Artension, Royal Hunt]? All of which makes this a special review for me! The 11 tracks here are traditional old school Metal; think along the lines of Sabbath`s "Heaven & Hell", Dio`s "Holy Diver" or The Rods "Heavier Than Thou" and you`ll get the idea. Feinstein`s production here is top class, and each track is a classic Metal masterpiece! I can`t point to a single track, as they`re all great [in my not so humble opinion!], but if pressed, I can mention individual tunes like the killer opening track "Regeneration", the title tune, the crunching "Rule The World" and the Manowar-style biker anthem "Live To Ride, Ride To Live". Rock has lost NONE of his skills, delivering powerhouse riffage and high energy solos like there`s no tommorow! And he made an excellent choice in West; the guy sings his HEART out on this album! Small wonder Europe and Japan worship this guy! And of course credit must be given to bassist Jeff Howell, drummer Nate Horton and keyboarder Bob Twining for their, ahem, "Rock" solid support on this CD. Who knows? If we keep seeing American Metal releases like "Third Wish", the Upstate NY Metal scene, not to mention the US Metal scene, just might wake from it`s slumber! And who better to do that than Dave "Rock" Feinstein? One of the BEST Metal albums of `04! Highest possible recommendation!!!

John West
Jeff Howell
Ultimate Music Center

Hirax-"The New Age Of Terror"-2004

With their instruments set on "KILL", Hirax ushers in "The New Age Of Terror", the Bay Area legends first full length release in years! Still present is all the fire and fury of 2002`s "Barrage Of Noise" EP, but it`s SLIGHTLY tempered on this album with more complex arrangements, as well as better production [hard to believe this was recorded in just over 12 days! Sounds 10 TIMES better than Selloutica`s "St. Wanker"....].There`s a bit more subtlety, as well; different shades of heaviness, if you will. It all comes together to make the most LETHAL Metal album of 2004 so far! In the eye of this hurricane is Katon W. Depena, Thrash Metal` most unique vocalist, Glenn Rogers and Dave Watson on lead guitar, Angelo Espino on bass and Jorge Iacobellis on drums. From the opening track, "Killswitch" right on through to the final holocaust of "Unleash the Dogs of War (Open the Gates]", Hirax crushes the competition with their own brand of timeless Metallic mayhem! And don`t even bother to ask me for the standout tracks; each of the 11 cuts here are keepers! Unlike many of their peers, reforming to cash in on long-past glories, Hirax CARES about what they do! Far from being a reckless noise-fest, much thought and care was put into this album. Katon can STILL sing the other Thrash growlers into the cornfield, and the rest of the band back up the well organized chaos with solid musicianship. [remember THAT word?] This is the kinda stuff that Slayer USED to be good at! Haven`t heard the new Exodus as of this writing, but it`s gonna have to be very, very, VERY good to even come CLOSE to what Hirax have done with this album! "The New Age Of Terror" has indeed begun; embrace it! Thumbs and horns waaaaayyyy up! A MUST HAVE!! [Thanks to Katon for the advance copy! THRASH `TIL DEATH!!!!!!]

Black Devil Records

Shinjuku Cactus-"S.A.P.-2002/Untitle"-2003

FINALLY! A modern day Rock & Roll band that actually ROCKS! [not "Rawks"!] Let`s face facts; 99 percent of what the mainstream passes off as "Rock" is PATHETIC. From the whining Cobain/Vedder wannabes, lame Punk poseurs and sorry-assed Nu Metal tantrum-throwers, it`s pretty clear that Rock, if not dead, is definitely on life support. But there IS a flower of hope, or rather a cactus; Shinjuku Cactus, to be precise! Four Japanese outlaws who don`t give a flying F**K what anyone thinks! These guys play lean, mean Hard Rock that reminds me at times of the early `eighties Sunset Strip bands, before lipstick, hairspray and MTV became more important that the music. Imagine if The Ramones crashed the "Appetite For Destruction" recording sessions, and you get a basic idea of where Shinjuku Cactus are coming from. Looking for deep, dirgelike tunes of how life sucks, your parents don`t understand you, wah, wah, wah? Look elsewhere; sex, booze and hookers are the order of the day for THESE guys! The band [Kenton on vocals, Jimmy East on rhythm guitar, Kay Stonez on bass, and Akki Akkii on drums] play it hard and fast, with a tighter-than-a-duck`s-ass level of musicianship seldom seen in other bands of this type. [BTW, regarding the band`s name, their bio states; "-Shinjuku-Japanīs most outrageous city & -Cactus- a strong brave plant." Cool or what?] Featured here are their first 2 demos; "S.A.P" [Still Ancient People], an ass kickin` 2 track with the songs "Red Light Blvd." and "Suck Me Down". Their latest is a 3 song affair called "Untitle", featuring "Driving Soul", "Burrning` Me Away" and one of the best tunes I`ve heard this year, "Darkside Outlaw". Shinjuku Cactus aren`t out to change the world; they just wanna ROCK, and Rock they do! So pop these babeyz in yer car stereo and put the pedal to the metal! If any band can shake the Rock scene out of it`s coma, it`s DEFINITELY gonna be Shinjuku Cactus, mark my words! To ensure that this happens, go to the band`s website and pick up their demos. This way, the guys can get back into the studio and give us a FULL-LENGTH album! A must have!!! [Domo Arigato to Jimmy East from Dave West, errr West Side Dave for the demos!!]

Shinjuku Cactus
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