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Jack The Ripper-"Bloodbath"-2003

Although South Carolina is HARDLY a True Heavy Metal hotbed, the release of Jack The Ripper`s "Bloodbath" album should change that! In existence for 10 years, these guys are gonna party like it`s 1989, or `88, or.... The point is, Jack The Ripper, like October 31 and Black Widow, play REAL American Metal, `eighties-style, no apologies. The music here could have been recorded in 1984/`85, and ya know what? The band don`t CARE what anyone thinks! They play Metal the way they want, they live it, they love it, what MORE do you need? Priest/Maiden riffs abound, but unlike many bands hopping on the eighties Metal nostalgia wave, JTR are HARDLY "retro". And as musicians, the guys ["Mad" Max Hernandez-Vocals, Kenny Moore-Bass, Bob Sniegon-Drums, Dave Swisher and A.J. Spiegel-Guitar] are pros all the way! Remember when US Metal bands could actually PLAY their instruments? All 6 tracks here are KILLERS; from the opening tune "Chamber Of Darkness", to the anthemic "Metal Man" and the super heavy, pure EVIL riffing on "Burn In Hell" all the way to the title track, this album reminds me of why I love Metal in the first place! Lets hope and pray Jack The Ripper releases a full length soon, and receive the world-wide acclaim they so richly deserve. You can ensure this by going to the band`s website and buying the album [like I did!]; you can even buy one of their nifty-looing T-shirts [like I did!]. Final verdict? Two horns wayyyyy up \m/ \m/!!!

Jack The Ripper

Lost Weekend-"New Religion"-2002

"New Religion" is the third release from longtie British AOR Rockers Lost Weekend, as well as my own introduction to them. And if their previous outings are THIS good, I`ve really been missing out! Formed around 1990, Lost Weekend specialize in the AOR/Melodic Rock style that has sadly fallen out of favor with the mainstream music scene. Unfortunately, Great Britain seems to have followed their American cousins down that same deep, dark pit of quality-free modern-day Rock. But fear not! The melodic Rock scene lives, kept alive by the recenty reformed Magnum, as well as Phantom`s Opera, Emerald Rain [In fact, ´"New Religion" was produed by Emerald Rain members Murray Daigle and Mike Dmitrovic] and this Yorkshire 5-piece. The band is; Paul Uttley (vocals), David Thompson (guitar), Robin Patchett (bass), Jack Himsworth (drums) and Kevin Fitzpatrick [keys]. The sound overall is upbeat, melodic Rock, more blues based than, say, Magnum. The musicians are tight as hell, and the instruments compliment, not overshadow, each other. Another plus; the keyboards weave in and out of the tunes, but don`t wash over everything, a common for many bands of the genre. And Thompson`s guitar is SERIOUSLY beefed up; his power-chording and high energy riffs jump right out of the speakers! [check out "Can`t Get You Out Of My Mind", as well as the title track] Uttley`s soulful vocals at times remind me of Glenn Hughes and Paul Rogers, and definitely give Lost Weekend`s music it`s own personal stamp. Other standout titles include "Faith", the bluesy "Dead In The Water", "Once In A Moment" and my personal favorite "All Alone". Closing the album is the beautiful ballad "I´m Not The One"; there won`t be a dry eye in the house, I guarantee! All in all, a top class effort by a top class act. Highly, HIGHLY recommended!

Lost Weekend

Sleepy Hollow-"Goin Over"-2004/Matt Schwarz-"The Lost Way"-2004

New Jersey`s very own Sleepy Hollow returns with their first full-length album "Goin` Over". A little heavier than the "Soundwell" EP of 2001, "Goin` Over" features the same line-up as the EP; Dan Castiel on bass/vocals, Joe Dell on keys/vocals, Frank Melick on drums/vocals and Matt Schwarz, guitars, vocals, flute and harp. [Melick and Castiel have since departed.] Like their last recording, Sleepy Hollow`s sound can best be described as a clever mix of `70`s Prog Rock [think mid-period Genesis, early Kansas and esp. Jethro Tull] and early `eighties Hard Rock/Metal. There are 6 tracks here, starting off with 20-minute title epic. Brilliantly conceived and executed, the song consists of 8 sections, each depicting [in the band`s own words] "a step in a young man´s descent into heavier drugs and death with a different style of music - Renaissance, classic hard rock, funk, speed metal, rap metal, prog-metal, 70's mellow prog, a cathartic guitar solo, and the sounds of a harp as our hero´s soul ascends to heaven." Whew! This masterpiece could well be the band`s own "Supper`s Ready"; each passage segues flawlessly into the next, bringing the tragic tale vividly to life. Now THIS is what the Prog-Rock genre USED to be! The remaining 5 songs continue mining the same creative vein. "Pay the Price" is a fist-pumping Hard Rocker while "Under the Ground", is a heavy Doom affair dealing with being buried alive. [!] "90's Child" is a clever, catchy tune about the aforementioned decade`s whiney offspring. The highly inventive "Mare Crastinum" [written by Schwarz] is next, followed by the Deep Purple-ish old school anthem "Rock Hard", which does indeed! Also included is a bonus disc with acted, spoken parts added to the "Goin´ Over", giving the intriguing story more clarity, not that it`s really needed; just a nice little bonus... With this album, Sleepy Hollow raises the bar not only for themselves, but for other artists in the genre. But the band`s ability to top themselves is what sets them apart from "the rest". Now will someone please tell me WHY, with all the talent and vision they possess, this band are laboring in the shadows while those with FAR less talent and ability get the money and praise?! Let`s try to change that, shall we? Go to their official site and buy the album, turn off the lights, kick back and CRANK this baby! While you`re at it, check out Matt´s all acoustic, folk CD "The Lost Way", which features Matt`s original compositions as well as traditional songs ["Lord Lovell" and "Scarborough Faire", among others] all played with a British/Celtic/Renaissance sound. While not Metal or even Rock, it`s a great album that gives you an idea where Matt`s coming from musically. The perfect album to get you in that Renaissance Faire kinda mood, and I can`t thank Matt enough for kindly including this along with my order! Highest possible recommendation for both discs!!!

Sleepy Hollow

Quintessence Fret-Essential Compilation #1-2004

Here we have a 15 track compilation CD featuring some of the finest Metal shredders out there. This album has been put together and released by fellow E-zin`er [AND fellow MSNTV`er!] Wayne Klinger for Wretched Productions. Let`s get something out of the way first; I am NOT a fan of the whole "Shred" genre. It just bores the livin` HELL outta me! I`m a song oriented kinda guy, and the majority of Shred`s practicioners are all fingers, no song. It`s like that old saying about the Far Eastern monks who can lift sandbags with their schlongs; very impressive, but so what?! Fortunately, Wayne seems to have put the cream of the crop on one album. And while it`s obvious that many of the tracks were direct recorded, Pro Tool`ed and drum machined, there´s not a dull moment to be found! All 15 tracks stand apart from each other These are actual SONGS, not pathetic excuses for some bedroom-bound wanker to show off how many modes he knows. Each tune paints an aural picture, showcasing each artist`s technical facility AND songwriting ability. The songs are accessable [but not simplistic], as well, meaning you don`t have to have a degree in music theory to enjoy `em! A very touching aspect to this comp; one of the artists featured is John Sullivan. Sadly, John was killed in Iraq in November of 2003. Audio Kingdom, one of the compilation`s distributors, is donating 25% of every sale to the John R. Sullivan Memorial Fund. [check Wayne`s site for more info.] All in all, Wayne has done an outstanding job with this album, helping bring some much-deserved recognition to the excellent musicians here. And in a world where those bozos from Slipknot grace the covers of guitar magazines, that REALLY says something! To get this CD, go to Wayne`s site below for more info. And be sure to check out the rest of his VERY informative site! [Thanks for the disc, Wayne!!]

Quintessence Metal `Zine
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