Reviewed by: Roger Scales
Yes, this review will be 100% biased because its subject matter is near and dear to my “80’s Guy” heart but no it was not written for me, dedicated to me nor did I have any involvement in the creation of it whatsoever. However that’s not to say that I couldn’t have been added as a creative consultant or at the very least quoted in it somewhere! The Big Book of Hair Metal The Illustrated Oral History of Heavy Metal’s Debauched Decade is candid, funny, informative and is really one of the first truly year by year breakdown of the 80’s hair band genre in written form. The detail is what’s most encouraging about Martin Popoff’s take on this era in music of which he boosts in the book’s introduction that hair metal makes him “happy’. Why shouldn’t it? If you had a pulse from 1980-1991 (prior to Nirvana changing the culture within the industry) than you more than likely had just as many happy moments along the way listening to bands like Quiet Riot, Motley Crue, Bon Jovi and Dokken, as Martin did. Read more
Reviewed by: Roger Scales
Every once in a while you stumble upon an album, band or solo artist simply by being in the right place at the right time. Shortly after interviewing Steve Blaze from Lillian Axe I got a request to listen to an EP (on Steve’s recommendation) coming from solo artist Troy Marks called Illumino. Read more
Reviewed by: Roger Scales
Never has an album cover and title truly described a band at its core. Tesla, although first arriving in 1986 at the height of hair bands and commercial rock, were really never a band about presentation. They never had big hair, stage theatrics, spandex or racy videos filled with vixens. They did however tour with many of these bands and like it or not got lumped into that era, fairly or unfairly. My introduction to the band was from the first time I saw ‘Modern Day Cowboy” on MTV and my first Tesla show was seeing them opening for Def Leppard on the Hysteria tour. I thought they had boundless energy, were fun on stage and wrote memorable classic rock songs that were easy to sing along with. Read more
When I first heard about this book I basically expected a pretty vanilla offering from a very well known singer/songwriter/guitarist who just so happens to be a very devout Christian while fronting a heavy metal band called Stryper. I have been a very big Stryper fan going back as far as 1985, seeing them play in a small club in Boston and have never missed a single tour since. That being said, I was hoping that Michael’s book Honestly was going to give some insight to a number of questions I have had during the 30-plus year career of my fandom of Michael in Stryper such as who came up with the yellow and black outfit design? Why did Tim leave during the recording of To Hell With The Devil? Whatever happened to his short lived replacement Matt Hurich? Why in more recent years was their obvious reluctance to play songs off In God We Trust? Why did Michael essentially break up Stryper in 1992? Who got the band back together in 1999? Trust me, I got my answers and a whole lot more. Honestly is a no-frills look into the mind and soul of a man who has made mistakes, had musical and personal regrets but at the same time has been a loving husband and father while maintaining his stature as one of the top rock vocalists of his generation. Read more
Reviewed by: B. Cross
Italian death metal stalwarts Hour of Penance have spent their career taking no prisoners, and extremity is assured on their sixth album Regicide. Kicking things off with an intro reminiscent of a dark fantasy film, the band immediately shifts into high gear with “Reforging the Crowns.” From there to album finisher “Theogony,” Hour of Penance have created a solid slab of high-octane death metal that runs at full speed. Read more
Winger has always been a band structured around songwriting and performance, yet in the early days bassist and founding member Kip Winger could always be found on the cover of a magazine or a staple through his mid section as the centerfold. Too often the band had more articles and photos due to their physical attributes and sex appeal than their actual playing. Nevertheless no one can argue that the first two Winger albums were hugely successful and in spite of the sometimes grotesque overuse of Kip’s “whiter than white” teeth I’m sure the general philosophy was “any press is good press”.
Well thankfully in the 2014 rock world Winger gets press now ONLY for their music, a welcome change for me personally having been a fan since the first time I saw “Madalaine” on Headbanger’s Ball in 1988. Better Days Comin’ picks up right where 2009’s Karma left off with some more heavy rock tunes, complete with signature harmonies and some memorable licks direct from riff master himself Reb Beach on guitar. All of these elements put together will allow Better Days Comin’ to take its rightful place amongst the previous five Winger albums but at the same time contains some individual moments which make it unique. If I were a professor set to study this new Winger album I would title my essay “Superior Time Emergence”. why Winger appeals to my five senses with their past five records and album six gives me added depth with a new sense to be able to predict future events. Better Days Comin’ indeed. Read more
It looks like 2014 is getting off to a killer start for Kivel Records with its latest release Unhinged, first from new labelmates Madman’s Lullaby. Right from the first track “What If” I could hear the influence from some of the late 80’s best hard rock acts such as Tesla and, especially vocally, early Lynch Mob. This record has tons of groove and some very clever lyrics. If you’re looking for a feel good kind of album with romantic tunes with everyone in a happy state, turn away! Read more
It’s really hard to imagine that Precious Metal is the 9th studio album from House of Lords but then again after 1992’s Demon’s Down who would have thought that HOL would have to wait another 12 years to get to record album number 4? In fact during those 12 years from 1992-2004 I played those first three albums constantly, always in regular rotation especially on long drives because those records were just that damn good. Read more
Russell Allen may well be the greatest singer on the planet at this time and I was really looking forward to the Mob’s second album Men of Honor. What really was going to be the wild card with this release was new drummer A.J. Pero of Twisted Sister fame. With the success of The Winery Dogs, Mike Portnoy had to leave yet another band he created.
Let’s face it A.J. has nothing to prove in terms of his chops to Mob fans and the metal community at large but it has to do more with his style and it fitting into the rest of the band while making sure there is no drop off with the departure of Portnoy. Well I’m happy to report that not only is Pero a welcome addition to the Mob family but this record truly represents a milestone in the Allen legacy as this album is better than the first record Omerta (2012) and quite possibly my favorite Allen album ever. Full of vigor, melodic charm and beastly range Allen carries Men of Honor which is now my favorite album so far in 2014 and will be tough to top moving forward. Read more
Reviewed by: B. Cross
Want some classic shred backed by harsh vocals and some serious power-thrash melodies? Your search has ended. Marking their Prosthetic Records debut, Exmortus recently unleashed their third album Slave to the Sword.
“Rising” kicks things right into high gear with blistering dual guitars that would make Judas Priest proud. Jadran “Conan” Gonzales and David Rivera showcase extreme talent and musicianship across the entire record, and the rhythm section of Jovanni Perez (bass) and Mario Moreno (drums) are not to be denied, either. There’s enough low end and double-bass pounding to make any fan raise their horns in triumph. Read more