Ignitor-"Take To The Sky"-2004

Yes, brothers and sisters, TRUE US Metal is ever so slowly creeping back from it`s nearly 12 year long coma! Among the many examples of this blessed event are bands like Black Widow, October 31, Wind Wraith and Jack The Ripper [to name a few]; bands that party like it`s 1985 [the year Metal was at it`s zenith] and don`t give a DAMN what anyone thinks! Yet ANOTHER name to add to this roster is Texas` very own Ignitor. In existence for barely a year, their first effort is "Take to the Sky", 6 tracks of good ol` US Power Metal they way it USED to be played! The band is made up of 5 skilled veterans from the Texas Metal scene; vocalist Erika Swinnich, guitarists Stuart Laurence and Beverly Barrington, drummer Pat Doyle and bassist Brendon Bigelow. The production here is loud `n` clear, but not sterile and flawless. We don`t LIKE our Metal all pretty and perfect now DO WE? The band is hot, full-throttle, wide open all the way through this bad boy; the EP is one high-energy rollercoaster ride! From the Euro Metal assault of "Demonslayer" to the Bay Area basher "Executioner" [the Lone Star state`s very own George W. Shrub gets a good knockin` on this one!] it`s all guns `a blazin`! The band at times remind me of Ann Boleyns` Hellion, as well as Znowhite [Erika`s vocals bring to mind Znowhite`s Nicole Lee], in the best possible way, of course. My favorite track is "Grey Ghost" , which deals with the tortured souls that still haunt the Queen Mary, and definitely one of the most powerhouse Metal masterpieces I`ve heard this year! "The Last King Tiger" is something of an historical epic about the Germans last stand as the Russian troops entered Berlin in 1945 This is the sort of thing Maiden USED to be good at! "Take to the Sky" is yet ANOTHER Metal battle hymn if ever I heard one; hey, with lyrics like "Death to false Metal is our battle cry, we don`t have to tell you so don`t question why", you KNOW this crew ain`t screwin` around! Last up is "Lean Mean Leather Machine", one of those fist-pumpin`, neck-snappin`, badass biker anthems that almost seemed like a lost art after the `92 take over of Fender Jaguars and over-priced flannel shirts. The year 2004 is shaping up to be one of the BEST for US Metal in many a moon, and Ignitor has contributed massively! So c`mon people! Got to the band`s website and buy the damn thing! In fact, use your favorite search engine, find as many other cool unknown US Metal bands and buy their albums, too! This way, we can have REAL Metal bands filling arenas coast to coast, have REAL Metal festivals to rival all those great Euro fests, and see to it that Fraud Durst and his kind are forced to back to the position they are best suited for; selling pencils on street corners! Don`t let me down.....


Blaze-"Blood And Belief"-2004

With each succesive release, Blaze Bayley [the band AND the man] only gets stronger! And at the same time, his old band, Iron Maiden, only gets weaker. Want proof? Take a listen to IM`s late `03 release, the aptly titled "Dance Of Death"; could `arry and the boys have put any less effort in? Sounds like they phoned in their performance! Ok, NOW take a listen to Blaze` latest, "Blood And Belief", ALSO aptly titled but for a very DIFFERENT reason. Back to front, the album is packed with fire, energy and honesty, TRUE Metal traits if ever there were. And while there are a few weak spots, the passion that permeats each song is undeniable. This is also a very personal album for Blaze Bayley himself, drawing as it does on some very real events in his personal life of late. But fear not! This is not 10 tracks of some pathetic Nu Metal mongrel shouting nebulous lyrics drenched in self pity over recycled Hip Hop beats. Nope, this out & out go-for-the-throat Metal at it`s finest, with the band [Steve Wray and John Slater on guitars, Wayne Banks on bass and Jason Bowld on drums] tearing through the tunes like the ferocious, well-oiled Metal machine they are! Far from a joyless journey into one man`s personal demons, this album is veritable leap for life. Check out some of the words to "Will To Win"; "They try and make you an outcast, freak and a fool, fuck them!" Now THAT`S Metal! Best of all, you can crank this baby all the way and it`s GUARANTEED to piss off the neighbors, as well as all the psuedo-hip college geeks who think their flavor-of-the-month Modern Rock poster children are "heavy"! And THAT is also Metal! You ARE the man, Blaze.....


Dream Evil-"The Book Of Heavy Metal"-2004

The fearsome foursome known as Dream Evil have returned with their 3rd release in as many years, titled [in true Spinal Tap-ish fashon] "The Book of Heavy Metal". Musically, it`s a more cohesive affair that the previous "Evilized", with the Scorpions influence even MORE pronounced. In fact, you could tell me that the 12 tunes here were long-lost Scorps sessions circa "Taken By Force" and I wouldn`t call you a liar! This is, of course, DEFINTELY not a bad thing. It seems like the band [Vocalist Niklas Isfeldt, producer/guitars/keyboards Fredrik Nordström, guitarist Gus G., bassist Peter Stalfors and drummer Snowy Shaw] raided their old Hard Rock/Metal album collections, choosing the best bits and then, well, "Evil-ized" `em! More about the music in a moment. First, the lyrics; they are just about some of the cheesiest, most utterly ridiculous I`ve ever seen!! Makes Manowar read like Chekov by comparison. [but they`re a damn site better than the bitchy, incoherent ramblings of today`s Nu Metal mooks!] However, the band never takes itself seriously [at least I hope not!!], so even THESE lyrical excesses can be forgiven. "The Book of Heavy Metal" can best be thought of as a cross between the best Euro Power Metal and classic late `seventies Hard Rock [Rainbow, Scorpions, UFO]. And in the capable hands of THESE guys, it works! From the opening scream of the title track to the Saxon-like "Into The Moonlight", the `eighties arena Rocker "Let`s Make Rock", the Scorps style "Chosen Twice" [my favorite], and M.O.M [great chorus here], it`s clear that Dream Evil have upped the ante in the Power Metal sweepstakes. The production by Nordström is flawless, and the band have become a tighter-than-HELL Metal machine. Guitarist Gus G really stands out on this one; every cut is ablaze with his spectacular fretboard firepower. This kid just plain SMOKES! The limited edition of this album contains a bonus DVD, documenting the making of this album, as well as live shots from their Japanese tour and other insanity. Guaranteed to produce massive fits of fist-pumping, lighter-waving, air-guitaring and `eadbanging! Just don`t pay too much attention to the words!;) Hammers high!!!!!

Dream Evil

Fireland-"From The Ashes"-2004

Looks like a "New Wave Of Irish Heavy Metal" is upon us! Fireland [rhymes with Ireland, of course] is a Northern Irish quintet that could quite well be at the forefront of this movement. The band [ Steve Moore and Norm Maxwell on Lead Guitar, Drew Davison on Bass, Andy Law on Vocals and Mark Higgins on Drums] have just released their debut E.P, "From The Ashes", a blistering 4 track affair that gives a nod to the old school glory daze of Maiden and Dio as well as the more current Euro Metal mavens. Crunching riffs, galloping rhythms and soaring melodies are the order of the day here, and Fireland earns top marks in the classy Metal songwriting department! Kicking things off is "Computerised Gods", a NWOBHM-styled mid-pacer warning humanity of the dangers our computer-reliant society faces [too late?] while the thundering "Enslavement Empire" decries war-happy politicians and the mindless sheep who follow them. "Father Of Lies" is a cautionary track dealing with false religeious leaders. The last track, the anthemic "Fuel The Fire", is more upbeat and catchy as hell. The whole EP is well produced and well thought out, and the band shows a HELLUVA lot of promise! The only bad thing I can say about the album is there are only 4 songs! These boys definitely need to get back in the studio and unleash some full-length Metallic madness. To ensure that this happens, go to the bands` website and BUY THE EP!!! One of the BEST debuts of 2004! Thumbs waaaaayy up!

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