Yeah, yeah, yeah, another issue, blah, blah, blah. I think by now we all know who runs this 'rag. Anyway, glad to have ya back for yet another music filled extravaganza where you'll find everything that's underground from techno, gothic, punk, hardcore, speed/death/thrash/black metal and more!

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"You are invited to the Blood Orgy Of The Atomic Fern. You are invited so bring something that we can burn..." - Dead Milkmen.


AND OCEANS "A.M.G.O.D." (Century Media) SCORE: 94/100

Another winner for And Oceans! Their move to Century Media might have been seen to some as a sign that they would weaken, but they definitely haven't! As with "The Symmetry Of I, The Circle Of O" or something like that, they have some bizarre song titles and unusual concepts. This time around they utilize more techno/synth work in the background, and this time it's more of an electronic feel, whereas with their last album the synths were more like an ambient backdrop. On 'White Synthetic Noise' they even utilize some electro beats which only sound harsh instead of having that dancey feel. But as with every And Oceans album I've heard, there are a few weak spots. 'Odious And Devious' had some rather odd vocal arrangements that I didn't care for, and though 'New Model World' was a nice instrumental club piece, they had some odd electronic sounds, like the repetitive moaning female and the scratching sounds, which didn't work well for me. They do show us that they know how to do fast paced black metal and do it old school, this is most evident on 'Esprit De Corps,' which gets big points for it's great use of militaristic styled choruses which give one a change of pace from the faster black metal. 'Postfuturistika' as well had the speedy black metal instrumentation, this track simply crushes with power, and then they have the most insane drumming around! The electronics here are played fast as well, keeping everything in pace. If black metal has to progress, this is the way it should be done, Mayhem should indeed take notes, for And Oceans forges ahead in the future of black metal, without sacrificing the speed or the brutality the genre is known for.
Contact: Century Media, 1453-A 14th St. #324, Santa Monica, CA 90404 USA
Web site:

AVANTASIA "The Metal Opera" (Century Media) SCORE: 97/100

Sometimes us reviewers have to take a little bit of liberty with the ratings system. Despite one poor ballad, a track that has a silly spoken word intro ('Malleus Maleficarum') and yet another instrumental (though quite good and rather movie soundtrack'ish though some would probably prefer another "song"), this has some powerful tracks all the way around. Everything else here is rock solid, and yet another CD that I had a hard time picking out just 5 tracks to run. I have been picking this CD up more and more to play in the car despite everything else I have to try and work into the magazine. 'Farewell' is the better type of ballad that Edguy's main vocalist Tobias can sing. And of course it has flutes that start the track off very nicely, which works even better. 'Glory Of Rome' has some very kick ass, dynamic multi vocal work on the choruses, and some rather vicious instrumentation all the way around. These tunes are great to sing to as well, and there are even some nicely done female vocals on 'Farewell' as well, and they aren't the screaming opera type I usually like. Despite the title, this does not strike me as being much of an opera, at least not where vocal delivery is concerned. 'Sign Of The Cross' was very cool, and surprised me with guest vocals from Rob Rock of Warrior of all things! 'Reach Out For The Light' is the first song on the album that shows us what you are in for with this CD: Fast and furious power metal that has the tendency, if not the consistency, to slow things down near the choruses and give off some great melody. Other than 'Inside,' with the piano notes and his ballad singing style which sounds really off, Tobias turns in one fantastic vocal performance and the rest of his crew should get props for writing some fantastic songs and pulling this off marvelously. And of course you know I'm a fan of Edguy.
Contact: Century Media Records.

AYREON "Ayreonauts Only" (Transmission) SCORE: 88/100

It's a damn shame that this hasn't been released domestically; the only way you'll get it is via import for now. And what a disc it is! Anyone familiar with the 2 CD set that's been reviewed here the past two issues will know exactly what to expect. This CD contains tracks from various albums that feature different singers, some unreleased stuff, and a preview of Arjen's new project entitled Ambeon. Starting with 'Into The Black Hole' featuring Damian Wilson and Lana Lane is a good choice, though I must say that Bruce Dickinson's vocals made this song heavier than it is presented here, and even two vocalists can't make this cut as powerful. Lana Lane's vocals even bring parts of the chorus down, but let's give credit, Wilson and Lane do give a commendable effort. And 'Out Of The White Hole:' DAMN! The liner notes mentioned how shocked Timo from Stratovarius was at Robert Soeterboek's vocals, who sounds very much like David Coverdale! And a kick ass performance he does. 'Temple Of The Cat' gets amazing treatment from Arjen's newest prodigy, a 14 year old girl who can bring tears to the eye. This version is more stripped down than the version found on "The Dream Sequencer," just acoustic guitars and the occasional flute, but what it lacks in instrumentation it makes up for in vocal performance, hard to believe that singer is only 14! The new track 'Cold Metal' also features Astrid, our 14 year old singer, and I sincerely hope that her vocal performance is different on the Ambeon full length. Here she does quite a good job, but her breathing through the vocal lines made the track sound quite a bit off, the vocals were the only problem I had with this track, which features nice ambient soundscapes and heavy as hell guitars. 'Original Hippie's Amazing Trip' features none other than Anneke from The Gathering, and there's a vocal performance by Mouse, who was absent from the original recording of this song. The track is good but it sounds like it's missing something, the instrumentation is very minimal. 'The Charm Of The Seer' features Arjen himself on vocals and is quite good, though the standout track here is 'Beyond The Last Horizon,' which could not only be a radio hit, but is also very catchy, and just all out amazing. You might have many Ayreon albums, but this is definitely another one worth having, just for all the alternate versions and unreleased tracks, though I really wanted another vocal track rather than a demo version of 'Carpe Diem,' the instrumental from the "Flight Of The Migrator" CD. Hunt this one down!
Contact: Transmission Records, P.O. Box 2078, 3140 BB Maassluis, NETHERLANDS

BAL SAGOTH "Atlantis Ascendant" (Nuclear Blast) SCORE: 99/100

When Jim Raggi first described Bal Sagoth to me as being "overblown symphonics, grand majestic passages and an album that tells a story song by song," I was expecting one of the latest power metal sensations Jim gets long winded about. Imagine my surprise when track 2 kicks in and it's some vicious black metal vocals! Make no mistake about it, everything about this band is excessive to the point some would say "overdone." Black metal bands may use keyboards, but very few use them to the point where they add serious dynamics to the music! I've listened to "A Black Moon Broods Over Lemuria" and I gotta say this is so far out ahead! My favorite track on this album, not surprising to those who know my tastes, is 'The Dreamer In The Catacombs Of Ur,' with that sinister and Egyptian styled synth work, but when the black metal vocals kick in on top of this, needless to say I found myself hitting the rewind button on just this passage! The CD starts out with some AWESOME, and I mean AWESOME synth work, usually I bypass a band's intro but not this time! Track 2, the title track, starts our story which is set about the time Atlantis' destruction is foretold. The narrator does a magnificent job of adding depth and an ominous presence, as well as a dominant one, to his low toned vocal delivery, which also shares space in every song alongside black metal vocals of a brutal nature! Slower passages abound, this is not all a speed fest, remember this is a story being told and one can hear this most evident on 'In Search Of The Lost Cities Of Antarctica.' This would have rated a full 100, and maybe I'm being picky, but at times the narrator's use of non-English sentences here and there sound a bit silly at times. Okay, maybe I shouldn't have taken a point off, but when this occurs in three different songs, well, let's just say this is as close to a perfect score as I could give. Definitely head over heels above damn near everything else the black metal genre is doing, I'm sure that like Agalloch, Bal Sagoth would not be content to be called strictly a black metal band. This story takes us all over creation, from the deepest and darkest depths of space to Atlantean shores and deep ice tracts of Antarctica. A fantastic musical journey all around, and one that kicks serious ass all along the way.
Contact: Nuclear Blast Records, 1453-A 14th St. #324, Santa Monica, CA 90404 USA
Web site:

DEFILED "Ugliness Revealed" (Necropolis) SCORE: 5/100

This has to be the lowest score I have ever given to a band. Their biography on the back of the sleeve is funny. It states that they possess "jagged, angular riffing and raw edged technical proficiency." Well, the technical proficiency is debatable, however, I can translate what "Jagged, angular riffing" means: Tone deaf guitar players that can't write decent riffs, so they throw 500,000 riffs together to try and create a song. Next time I see a band that possesses "jagged, angular riffing" I throw the CD out without delay! The riffs themselves vary from mostly bland and downright boring to odd, off key and hi-end riffs that sound badly out of tune, listen to the digi sample of 'Uncovered Plots' and you'll see what is the norm around here. Plus, get this: 18 songs, SEVEN, yes, I said SEVEN intros, one before each "song." And the intros are short, useless, and have no point whatsoever, they're not even named! The outro isn't much better. I did hear some decent riffs, though only a very small few on 'Nihilism,' the first hint of any evil instrumentation, and there was a cool riff on 'Fatal Intrigue,' but I know for sure those few good riffs were a horrible accident on the part of the band. The only way this band got signed was because they went to Necropolis and told them they wanted a deal; when asked what their best qualities were they said "Hey, we got that jagged, angular riffing thing going on." Not knowing what the words meant, they signed them anyway, I guess so they could cash in on the first known band to possess said qualities. This CD sets the death metal movement BACK about 15 years.
Contact: Necropolis Records, 85 Stanton St. 4B, New York, NY 10002
Web site:

FALCONER "Falconer" (Metal Blade) SCORE: 100/100

Man oh man what a monster album! This is some of the most innovative and kick ass power metal to come out this year. This and Freedom Call I really enjoyed a lot. This band is formed out of the ashes of Mithotyn, and I must say that lead vocalist Mathias sounds reminiscent of Jethro Tull at times, soaring with power and giving off a medieval sound and style. Especially where the lyrics are concerned. Their riff structure is based on the faster power metal stylings one knows and loves, but at times the drums make these tracks sound faster than they really are, especially on a tune like 'Wings Of Serenity,' a really cool tribute to the mighty falcon. Artwork, lyrics, guitar riffs, vocals, everything is very well done and I can't seem to get this CD out of my player for any great length of time. 'Lord Of The Blacksmiths' sees Mathias' vocals at their height, and some killer axe work as well. 'A Quest For The Crown' features a very cool story line, and some medieval folk stylings as well, it's a shame he couldn't utilize more stuff like this. 'A Quest...' did remind me a bit of Rhapsody's 'Village Of Dwarves,' without the pomp and overblown melody; even on a folk inspried piece like this the guitars kick serious ass! 'Royal Galley' features those oh so cool "whoa-oh-oh-oh's" as well, but also has some great chorus lines, a standard all throughout this disc. 'Heresy In Disguise' is another great tune, a rockin' set of riffs and great vocal work, hell I simply must stop here, because my words are sounding rather weak compared to the might this band holds. They should definitely be booked at a Renaissance Festival here in Georgia, I am going to see about getting them booked for tours Stateside!
Contact: Metal Blade Records.

FREEDOM CALL "Crystal Empire" (Steamhammer) SCORE: 95/100

I have been playing this for quite awhile now. Some people might complain that the music is overtly "happy" or "upbeat," whatever. Tracks like 'The Quest,' 'Palace Of Fantasy' and my personal favorite 'Pharao' have that Nocturnal Rites style of heavier power metal that retains a dark quality, anyone familiar with the change from N.R.'s last album to this one will appreciate what I'm saying. The songs are very catchy as well, with choruses you will remember for a long time. Okay, to give the Devil's Advocate a chance to speak his mind, the opening of 'Farewell' might have been a little bit too upbeat, vocal wise, but overall this is a very solid album from start to finish. 'Pharao' has some very dark vocal work where there seems to be narration in spots, though it is sung rather than spoken unlike in Bal Sagoth's newest work. The melodic passages, when they occur, retain a heaviness of their own and usually they hit you right in the prechorus and choruses of the songs. 'The Wanderer' was somewhat of a medieval folkish ballad but without the medieval instrumentation. Check the heavy almost thrash riffing on 'The Quest,' and of course I need to mention fantastic dual vocal work on 'Call Of Fame.' This one needs to be listened to to be appreciated, and 5 songs aren't nearly enough. I had a very difficult time deciding on the best 5.
Contact: Steamhammer Records, P.O. Box 721147, 30531 Hannover, GERMANY
Web site:

GOR "Ialdabaoth" (Prikosnovenie) SCORE: 78/100

This is quite a strange release. The label is French, the band is based in Italy and features some Gregorian chanting styled vocals but they are of the darkest quality I've ever heard! 'Salva Meam' starts this out with some flutes and acoustic guitar work, but the monk styled chanting borders on tribal and ritualistic. It's quite interesting to say the least. Then 'Kyrie Eleison' goes into a little bit lighter of an atmosphere, using some nice duelling flutes and tribal drum sounds. I'm assuming the lyrics are in Italian though some of the song titles like 'Nomine Christe' and 'Eximi Possit Imperio' sound like they were penned in Latin. So is this tribal, ritualistic or religious to the point of old world Catholicism? Further on, 'Pneuma' was one of the strangest tracks on here; the first thing you hear is some odd breathing sounds like an old man in an iron lung, followed by some warped synth and bell notes, as if this was an otherworldy tune. Not much in the way of vocals, but there is such a bizarre atmosphere, I'm STILL not sure after repeated listens if I like it or not. The last two tracks didn't appeal to me that much, mostly because the vocals take on this higher tone, which for a male chanting voice doesn't work well here. 'Kalila' sounded rather Hindu based, it's the last track on the CD, and the instrumentation is a bit off as well. I'm not sure what effect they were going for, but if you're interested in hearing some Gregorian styled chanting that isn't all "nice and pretty," this will appeal to those into the darker sides of music. Very thought provoking and different, though it remains to be seen how many people will appreciate this.
Contact: Prikosnovenie, BP 9423C - 44194 Clisson cedex, FRANCE
Web site:

INSANIA "Sunrise On The Riverland" (No Fashion) SCORE: 77/100

Insania's second release is definitely heavier and more dynamic than their debut for No Fashion. There's an intro that starts things off, and their fast paced power metal continues on through 12 tracks. The main problem with this CD lies with the fact that many songs have the same elements repeated throughout their framework, especially where the chorus and builds to the chorus are concerned. The synth work is a lot more up front here than I remember it being, and despite that major detraction, there are still many good songs to listen to. 'Beware Of The Dragons' and 'Lost In Time' are two of my favorites, there are some great chorus patterns going on here. There is a nice ballad type with 'Angels In The Sky,' this track vocally sounds like the Stratovarius ballad off their "Infinite" album, though the vocal work did show some weak points, especially on 'Heaven Or Hell' and 'Seasons Of Life,' his delivery tends to waver on a few spots, but otherwise there's some solid vocal work here. Synth and lead guitar solos are nothing short of amazing, though on many tracks a tad on the long side, but like I said, the instrumentation is top notch and definitely more dynamic on this record, and I can't help but think the production is better, even though I don't know a lot about production other than what's audible to the human ear. Still a good release, even though many songs are laid down in similar fashion, their good points far outweigh their bad ones.
Contact: No Fashion Records.

LIVING SACRIFICE "The Hammering Process" (Solid State) SCORE: 98/100

Man, is this ever one monster of a release! Utilizing some brutal vocals that have that hardcore slant to them, I must say that a Living Sacrifice record NEVER fails to disappoint. Well, one track kinda disappoints, 'Bloodwork.' It has some rather odd guitar work and goes for the fast Fear Factory sound, but this didn't work in their favor. 'Not My Own' however is a fantastic example of what DOES work, extremely consistently I might add, over the other 9 songs. Slow and heavy, building up to explosive climaxes with vicious choruses and crunchy, kick ass guitar work that damn near never lets up. This is vicious, man! 'Hidden' is an example of a song that is in your face every second, and they don't mind throwing in some melodic solos in there to vary things up a tad either. Nor do they mind 'Hand Of The Dead' having some surprisingly mellow alternative styled singing chorus lines either, while the main vocalist yells and screams his way to your nervous system's core. Vocal wise, it's a rather interesting blend of vicious hardcore and borderline death metal, and it's done so effectively it gets your blood boiling. If you look to several issues ago, you'll see that their "Reborn" CD got extremely high marks, and this one too is highly recommended for several spins. Nothing groundbreaking for the genre, but when an album is this well done who the hell cares?
Contact: Solid State Records, P.O. Box 12698, Seattle, WA 98111
Web site:

MALEVOLENT CREATION "Envenomed" (Pavement Music) SCORE: 71/100

After what has been said about Pavement, it's odd to see this come out on the label (more info in the interview). Tampa's murderous metal crew are back once again with another insane disc. This features original lead vocalist Brett, who sang way back on the first few Malevolent CD's. Now I must admit, out of what I have heard from Malevolent Creation, "Eternal" is still my favorite disc, which featured Jason doing vocals (he has since moved on to Divine Empire). This CD has the typical death metal that M.C. is known for, the insane, violent, crazed vocal attack, and mostly speed riffs and changes. Which is my biggest problem, not to say this CD isn't any good, it's just not as consistently good as "Eternal" was. Nevertheless, though I usually pass on overt speed fests, this one has some interesting pieces to it, like on 'Pursuit Revised' where they are actually playing slower, and 'Serial Dementia' where Brett's vocals push this track to the limit. LimitING however are the lyrics, half the time a three minute song or so will have most of the few verses repeated, they could have written more vocal lines. 'Homicidal Rant' and 'The Deviant's March' are my two least favorite tracks, mostly by way of the vocal phrasing on the choruses, in Malevolent's case a very important factor for giving some individuality to these songs that start out blazing fast. 'Envenomed' was my favorite tune on the disc, especially with the evil high ended riffing, and the double bass blasting by Dave Culross is second to none. If I hadn't noticed it before, I did this time: Brett's long winded screams sound EXACTLY like a Tie Fighter from Star Wars roaring through space! You can hear this shredding on 'Viral Release' and 'Halved.' With Malevolent Creation you know EXACTLY what you are going to get, though there should have been more variety over the course of 11 songs. A good record but not quite one that I would be spinning consistently. I would still love to see these recordings done in a live setting.
Contact: Pavement Music.

MARDUK "La Grande Danse Macabre" (Cemtury Media) SCORE: 89/100

I was pleasantly surprised to see Century Media sign Marduk. However, I did have my reservations at first, seeing as how usually Century Media U.S. has a strict guideline for what it does and does not service here. All that aside, this is Marduk, and they deserve to be given their due, as one of the last TRUE black metal bands to come out of Europe. Mayhem has changed their sound, Darkthrone has done the electronica thing, nowadays keyboards seem to be a major factor in the sound and style of black metal bands, but you will find NONE of that here. Some songs, like 'Funeral Bitch' and the title track, are slower in scope than what you had heard on "Panzer Division Marduk," one violent, vicious album that to me is one of my favorites. Even slower, Marduk comes off in vicious form, however there are some faster tracks that I appreciate even more. 'Death Sex Ejaculation' is something that would not have sounded out of place on the Panzer album, and 'Jesus Christ' is filled with the blasphemy and speed that also was presented on Panzer. I do question the use of not one but two instrumentals, and right near the beginning of the CD as well. 'Ars Mariendi' is the first track on the CD that's also the instrumental, and not a great one at that, however, the second instrumental 'Pompa Funebris 1660' is a cool tune that is quite dark and haunting. Then 'Obedience Unto Death' kicks in, in fast vicious Marduk style, and you know that the label changes nor the problems with Osmose and lack of U.S. tour support (See interview for more details) could not change the style, sound, or iron fortification that is Marduk. A recommended CD especially for those who bitch about the newer black metal releases being too "soft."
Contact: Century Media Records.

MASQUERADE "Flux" (Metal Blade) SCORE: 29/100

Damn how the mighty have fallen. Once a great hard rock band, previously unknown to these shores, and now commercialized by their record deal with Metal Blade. It seems to me like Metal Blade is looking for their next Goo Goo Dolls type of success band. And this is a shame, because Masquerade used to bang out some pretty kick ass hard rock that bordered on straightforward heavy metal. Anyone remember their "Surface Of Pain" album? You won't find none of that here. Quirky vocal delivery, as if this guy wants to be Axel Rose so bad. 'A Me And An I' wasn't too bad of an opener, somewhat in line with what they were doing, but those choruses take a bad hit, and that is an important part of a song to a band like this. Hey, if ya wanna be radio friendly (which they so shamefully obviously do) then ya gotta make choruses people can remember rather than cringe at. Like 'Back On Earth,' where he's trying to croon out a ballad. There is another ballad 'Wish' where he's actually got moaning female vocals. Just plain crap. Then when they do manage to inject a little bit of heaviness, they ruin it like on the title track, just when you think things might pick up they ruin the choruses yet again, delving into alternative style vocals and instrumentation. The last two tracks finally show ya what this band is capable of, 'In A Day' has some vicious lead solos, which you hardly find anywhere else on the album, as if they think their newly found alterna-fans wouldn't possibly be interested in hearing someone shred with proficiency. Plus, the track has a heavier but slower vibe to it, which is a little different from what we've heard but not altogether uncharacteristic. Finally, 'My Dying Days' gets even more surprising and goes for a rather doom metal orientation, the best damn track on here, and if things don't get better with their next album, I'm fully ready to write this band off. They should have stayed on Empire Records. Radio friendly idiots and people who think the only good bands exist on MTV and pop radio will obviously eat this crap up. Then again, some of the vocal work is so bad, maybe even the radio friendly people will cringe. Either way, I've wasted too many words.
Contact: Metal Blade Records.

MEMORY GARDEN "Mirage" (Metal Blade) SCORE: 63/100

Metal Blade hasn't had a good doom metal band on their label since Candlemass, and for what it's worth, the newer Candlemass material is still rock solid even without a great guitar player and their vocalist Messiah. The main reason for the low score here? The vocalist, hands down. This guy has an adequate voice, more along the lines of a power metal singer than a doom one though. His vocal delivery is just too higher pitched, maybe upbeat even, for a style of music this dark, and believe me, the guitar work is quite heavy, even dare I say on par with some of Candlemass' heaviest moments. The vocals do hold up on 'Hallowed Soil' and 'Navigate,' though, making me wonder if this would have been a better CD if lead vocalist Stefan had varied his approach throughout the CD. For example, he sings with this offkey lower tone whem he should have tried some higher notes ('Shade') and his high vocals should definitely have been toned down to actually fit the mood of the music (damn near everywhere else). The instrumentation, as I said, can't be faulted much, check out the killer solos on 'A Long Grey Day' and the aforementioned 'Shade.' Not too much else to say, I think the vocalist should definitely be replaced, as for the instrumentation, obviously it's top notch or else this CD would be ranked a LOT lower. You know they're headed in the right direction as legendary Candlemass axe slinger Mike Wead produced this thing.
Contact: Metal Blade Records.

NOKTURNAL MORTUM "Lunar Poetry" (The End) SCORE: 83/100

This was originally released on cassette by MetalAgen in 1996, and is finally re-released here on The End in 2001. This has been taken directly from the original cassette and it definitely shows, especially on the first track: if you listen very carefully you can hear a few dropouts. Plus, the tape noise that starts and ends the silent passages of each song. Be that as it may, there is lots of high ended guitar work and amazing ambient synths, this stuff is very advanced for a release that goes so far back to the beginnings of this band. With three previous full lengths on The End, this is definitely a great release. Check out the synth work that starts each track, most notably 'Carpathian Mysteries' and 'And Winter Becomes,' which feature some very nice Pan style flutes and tribal drums in parts. The instrumentation ranges from faster, atypical black metal riffing to slower, midpaced material. The guitars are very noteworthy as being high ended. The major detraction in this CD is the lower sung, almost Viking style male vocals, which completely ruin 'Sorrows Of The Moon.' The instrumentation here isn't much to go on either, this guy reminds me of the sorrowful moaning done on the Celtic Frost tragedy "Into The Pandemonium." (Might be because this IS a Celtic Frost cover!) Think Mortiis styled synths, though darker and more eerie (like on 'Lunar Poetry.') There is a lot of great instrumentation here, though I wish the killer "icy wind" screaming black vox were more in the forefront, rather than almost buried in the mix. This could have benefitted from a better production job, considering the facilities of The End, plus the fact that Metal Agen has sent me stuff on CD. There's that definite "forest" feel, most evident in the synthesized openings of tracks, but you definitely can't go wrong with Russia's most innovative black metal band to come from the frozen landscapes. There's a bonus track 'Return Of The Vampire Lord,' which of course features the best production on the CD, coming from the EP of the same name, though it is a bit too long.
Contact: The End Records.

ORK "Blessed By Evil" (Folter) SCORE: 81/100

Bathory inspired vocal work, fast riffing and instrumentation. This is black metal played old school, for those of you who are interested. Quite an interesting CD this was, too, the guitar work was often the highlight of this CD, and that made the songs hold my interest. Granted, the production is a little fuzzy, especially on the more distorted parts, but that's what gives the CD it's appeal. The vocals are rather buried on the first track, but soon things straighten out, which is good because those vicious screams are rather potent. I love good screaming! This isn't just a speed fest for six tracks however, they actually have the balls to pull out some slower acoustic passages from time to time to break up the songs. Sometimes they do have a tendency to overdo the faster riffs, especially on 'Black Soul Desire' and 'Blessed By Evil' but like I said they vary the instrumentation a bit. There's some darker acoustic passages on the title track, and believe it or not there's also some synthesized pieces, but don't let this throw you: these are not "pretty" synths. They only pop up seemingly when they slow things down a notch, and I had to listen to the CD three or four times before I even noticed the synthesizers. With an album title like "Blessed By Evil," you know exactly what you're getting, and the electronics only serve to enhance the dark moods, which the end track 'Nosferatu' cashes in on perfectly. You'll even hear some faster guitar solos, proving once again that these guys know how to craft some interesting music. Not the best black metal CD I've ever heard, but damn if it doesn't manage to keep my interest by keeping it brutal and dark.
Contact: Folter Records, Thulestrasse 32, 13189 Berlin, GERMANY
Web site:

PROJECT PITCHFORK "Daimonion" (Metropolis) SCORE: 47/100

I haven't been a big fan of Project Pitchfork's most recent releases, and this is no exception. One noteworthy thing I can say is the vocal work is so varied you'd think there were more than a few guest singers. Unfortunately, the vocal work and some of the sappy lyrics ruins a lot of what could have been good songs. For instance, take the track 'Fear.' Nice acoustics going, good swirling ambient synthscapes, then what happens? You get this dull, robotic sounding spoken vocal effect, which reminds me of that "song" that was real popular a few years ago where a guy is just basically talking through a dull set of instrumentation and giving out life lessons. Then there's 'We Are One,' going through some bad monotone vocal work, which is even more of a shame here as the choruses are kinda catchy and they can definitely make some interesting instrumentation. The best songs on here were the first two tracks, 'Daimonion' and 'Timekiller.' And of course 'Drone Assembly' works well, seeing as how it is mostly an instrumental. The vocal work picks up quite a bit on 'Drone State' and makes for a decent track, this time the vocals sound more etherial and not as robotically processed. 'Last Call' had some dumb lyrics, and the vocal work dragged this down as well. There are club worthy tunes here, but some won't be able to stomach the vocal work, and for 14 tracks, this is something I'd recommend avoiding.
Contact: Metropolis Records.

SAGA "House Of Cards" (Steamhammer) SCORE: 31/100

I am not quite sure what type of band Saga is supposed to be, though their bio states that they have an extremely long and detailed history. That has no bearing on this interview whatsoever, considering what I'm hearing here is mostly a progressive rock disaster. Probably one of their best songs was 'The Runaway,' one of very few tracks where you'll find slightly heavy guitars. Some of this sounds like they're trying to make the soft rock "Pillow Talk" type of radio stuff, like 'Once In A Lifetime' and 'That's How We Like It,' the latter track actually throws in some heavier guitar work but they soon do the wimpy soft rock thing. 'Ashes To Ashes' had some nice synthesizer work, and this is one of the more melodic tunes that actually works for me. I'm not raving about it but it's not terrible either. There's lots of acoustic guitar work, but unlike the instrumentation, which is often quite adept if not accidentally at times very interesting, does not have much appeal whatsoever. 'Watching The Clock' is a good instrumental, their ability to actually construct decent musical passages is commendable, though sometimes that isn't a major point in their case. Syrupy soft rock is what they go for, somewhat of a bad release for a label like Steamhammer.
Contact: Steamhammer Records.

SAVATAGE "Poets & Madmen" (Nuclear Blast) SCORE: 38/100

I must say, what has happened to Savatage? When I heard original vocalist Criss Oliva was doing the singing on this album, I was greatly pleased. Though he doesn't have the greatest voice, he made classic tracks like 'Hall Of The Mountain King,' 'Power Of The Night,' and several tunes from 'The Dungeons Are Calling' and 'Sirens' sound so kick ass. And that's the problem with this disc, his vocal delivery sounds pretty bad on many tracks, and the songs themselves don't have that rockin' kick to them that we all know and love from older 'Tage material. In fact, I didn't like their last effort "The Wake Of Magellan" either, so it comes as no surprise I'm not on board for this one. His vocals do hit some highs on 'I Seek Power' however, and in other spots he shows us a little bit of his versatility. The songs are rather weak, and I think that coupled with the rather uninspired vocals make this get a lower score than it normally would. The guitar playing is on par though, 'There In The Silence' had some of the best solo riffs on the record. 'Drive' started out heavy, but the weak choruses really dragged this one down. 'Morphine Child' had a piano and acoustic guitar start, some of these songs rely on melodic passages. The storyline itself is rather interesting, about a few teenagers who visit an abandoned mental institution and actually meet someone, who they can't be sure is alive or dead, or a figment of their imagination. I long for the style Savatage did with their first 4 or 5 releases, this just doesn't inspire me at all.
Contact: Nuclear Blast Records.

SIXTY WATT SHAMAN "Seed Of Decades" (Spitfire) SCORE: 61/100

Now everyone that saw the review of their debut for Game Two "Ultra Electric" will know I ain't a big fan of this band. But damnit, something blew me away when I listened to the first 4 tracks and was really digging them! Total surprise there. Out of 14 tracks, though, to have only 5 or 6 decent songs is not grade for a good album. Let's start off with the good. It seems that this time around the vocals take on a heavier singing role rather than just insane hardcore shouting/singing. And the instrumentation really kicks ass here, I must say I really dig when they play slower and with heavier feeling. Like on 'Low Earth Orbit,' one of my favorites, where he dips down into a nice mellow low vocal range, and playing some emotional riffs. The faster rockin' tunes like 'Devil In The Details Pt.1' and the fast lead work on 'Poor Robert Henry' really got me going! From track 7 on, though, the CD takes a sharp nosedive downhill, with those wierd song arrangements, mixed with that very off kilter singing/shouting/cat wailing/whatever that he did from album number one. In fact, 'Rumor Den' could have been recorded from the "Ultra Electric" sessions, and though I hear some good instrumentation at times, the vocals really bring this one down, even more so because one realizes that the songwriting has actually gotten better, and heavier to boot. So while only a few points higher than their debut review, this showed a lot more promise as far as complete songs I could get into. It just didn't make the cut for a CD with 14 songs, if this had been a 5 or 6 song EP, it would have ranked much higher... (That is, if those 5 or 6 songs were amongst my favorite).
Contact: Spitfire Records.

SPACEBOY "The Force That Holds Together A Heart Torn To Pieces"
(Howling Bull) SCORE: 37/100

A very strange mix of tormented death metal and the whole "psychedelic/space rock" thing. The guitar playing is all over the place on this 4 track CD, making it hard to pin down a standout track. As it is, the death metal vocals aren't bad, but they just don't mix well with this. 'Sky Marshal Silver' starts out with some rather Edgar Winter style guitar riffs (think their famous hit 'Frankenstein') but soon degenerates into chaos. Vocals are not unlike Living Sacrifice's throat work via their "Non Existent" album. 'The Maze' had some slow, spacey opening riffs, but they are rather odd sounding, and they merely drone on, to my dismay. Parts of this song aren't too bad, and from this track on, you'll hear some low toned spoken vocals. Nothing here really catches me, but there are moments, like on 'Strange New Powers,' the spoken vocals and heavier instrumentation; this track reminds of the heavier spoken word pieces on Hawkwind's "Warrior On The Edge Of Time." They soon ruin the ending with some droney echoed spoken vocals that seem to go on and on. 'Pot Hibernation' finishes out the CD and has some odd ambient pieces coupled with some bad female vocals. I like the idea, the whole concept just doesn't mix well.
Contact: Howling Bull America, P.O. Box 40129, San Fransisco, CA 94140-0129 USA
Web site:

SPIRIT CARAVAN "Elusive Truth" (Tolotta) SCORE: 64/100

Believe me, I was just as surprised as you at this lower score. I don't think Wino is capable of writing a terrible album, but this is nowhere near his previous effort. First off, his style this time around is slower paced, much slower than what we're used to. The CD starts off with 'Spirit Caravan,' yes, the same song we've heard on at least two other CD's. 'Black Flower' is a tune I first heard live when they played in South Carolina, and I wasn't too crazy about it then and still not crazy about it now. The lyrics in particular kinda get to me. Sherman, the weed-loving bass player, does vocals on 'Retroman,' and his vocals are pretty rough, almost death metal styled. He doesn't wear a Venom shirt on stage for nothing! His rougher style almost works here, but I'm not quite on board. 'Elusive Truth' was the song I liked the least, VERY slow and Wino's vocals sound very dreary here. My favorite tune here is 'Cloudy Mirror,' it's quite characteristic of the rockin' midtempo style we've heard on Obsessed's "Incarnate" and some of his earlier stuff. There's even a punk styled tune (again) with 'Lifer City,' which was quite cool. 'The Departure' is rather interesting as well, very mellow and nice instrumentation that surprises you with the slower pace. 'Darkness & Longing' is the darkest track here, and surprisingly it works well though some might have a bit of a beef with Wino's vocal performance, though I find it fits here very well, and one of the few doomy passages that does work well. Not the score I'd expect from a Spirit Caravan release, but nonetheless there are some good tracks; Wino is just missing the formula that worked well for The Obsessed right on up to the present day.
Contact: Tolotta, P.O. Box 4412, Arlington, VA 22204
Web site:

STEEL PROPHET "Book Of The Dead" (Nuclear Blast) SCORE: 65/100

I must say I don't really know too much about Steel Prophet, other than the fact that they have a few releases out through Nuclear Blast. They definitely play metal of the power variety, most noteworthy is the lead vocalist's ability to sound like Bruce Dickinson on some of his harder edged vocals, yet still retains crisp, clear high notes. However, evident from the opener 'When Six Was Nine,' his singing delivery gets a bit quirky at times, sounding a bit, what's the best way to put this, "whiny." It's his softer delivery in spots that bothers me, and you can really hear this on 'Locked Out' as well. Though I gotta give him points for his kick ass heaviness on 'Phobia,' which showcases his best vocal work. The other problem stems from some of these songs just not being up to par, though overall there are about 6 or 7 decent tracks out of 12. There are three instrumentals and a stupid "throwaway" track in 'Oleander,' and I question why they couldn't have had more vocal oriented songs, though the instrumentals were quite nice. 'Burning Into Blackness' was a piece that starts out sounding like a ballad, the one song where the melodic vocals really take off, then gets heavier on the choruses. They have the ability to write good material, hell their guitar solos are well done and 'Anger Seething' sports one of the most beautiful emotional solos I've heard in awhile, but with three instrumentals, a throwaway track, and the others not being crappy but not being tunes I'd repeatedly come back to, this is not a CD I'd highly recommend as being a keeper. Still, if you're in the mood to throw on a few good solid metal tunes, you might want to check this out, just try and listen to it before you throw ya cash down on it.
Contact: Nuclear Blast.

TAD MOROSE "Undead" (Century Media) SCORE: 90/100

Making the jump from Black Mark to Century Media has not hurt these guys at all. I will admit it took a few listens to really appreciate everything, which in this case is a nice blend of darker instrumentation and great singing vocals that don't dip into the high range very often. They also know how to make use of melodic choruses within the darker framework, and catchy, memorable choruses is what I like. So it's no surprise I've been singing along to 'No Tears In The Rain' and 'Where The Sun Never Shines,' the latter song showcasing some of the band's more melodic moments while at the same time showcasing the vocalist's most vicious low ended singing (NO growling here). The title track 'Undead' was one of my least favorites though, and one of the darkest tunes, I think it's the guitar work mostly that drops this down, I just didn't like the arrangement of the instrumentation. 'Corporate Masters' is a straight up rockin' tune, one that relies on the sheer power of being able to just rock, and 'The Dead And His Son' was a nice one as well, starting this one off with acoustic guitars was a good choice in variation, though still heavy as hell. They're not trying to redefine the genre, but damn if they don't make a solid album that is well enjoyable and will only require you to hit the skip button once, maybe twice on a track that's not as enjoyable as the rest. It's what a record buyer likes to hear, right?
Contact: Century Media Records.

THRESHOLD "Hypothetical" (Inside Out Music) SCORE: 92/100

This is one progressive band that knows how to blur the lines between heavy metal (mostly thrash in this case) and melodic hard rock! Starting things off with 'Light And Space' shows us exactly what this group is made of. Fantastic vocal work and heavy, thrashy guitar work that is nearly a constant throughout this disc. 'Turn On Tune In' is one of my favorite tracks on here, utilizing some great chorus work and builds all the way up to the chorus, mostly you'll find their songs get melodic and mid tempo until the chourses kick in. Their heaviest number is 'The Ravages Of Time,' even slow these guys devastate. Just keep in the back of your mind that these guys are a progressive metal/rock band so the vicious thrashy guitars ala Bay Area thrash won't throw you for a loop too often. It surprises me to no end, even after many listens, just how heavy these guys crank it. Some points had to be taken for the syrupy ballad 'Keep My Head,' this is an obvious ploy to gain a radio spot, even going so far as to try and get a 'Pillow Talk' song going. Too lighthearted. However, their other "power" ballad, 'Sheltering Sky,' was simply awesome, the vocal work was quite powerful for such a mellow tune. The CD ends off with 'Narcissus,' another fantastic tune, but they do have a tendency to go overboard with some of the instrumentation. This song is 11 minutes, but the heavier guitar work in the middle served to spoil the song a bit instead of provide a break. And 'Oceanbound' had some very dull instrumentation to start, but don't let that throw you, this song kicks some serious ass once the vocals kick in, making the repetitive guitar work actually mesh and work. Their choruses were a tad weak, but there's so much powerful material here, one can't help but be enthused about this release. Sound file listening is a must here!
Contact: Inside Out Music.

TWIN EARTH "Black Stars In A Silver Sky" (Beard Of Stars) SCORE: 83/100

Some of you may remember this band as one of the many stoner rock bands on the "Judge Not..." 2 CD compilation we reviewed a few issues ago. Their track 'Ask For Water' that graced that compilation is also recorded here. However, when I listen to the entire CD I see that 'Ask...' is one of their weaker songs compared to the killer cuts presented here. The CD starts out kicking some serious ass with the best damn song on here: 'Dig A Hole.' It has the trademark formula for a classic song: Great singalong choruses, great vocal work, and kick ass guitar riffing that never lets up! THIS song should have been on the "Judge Not..." compilation for sure! One positive note about Twin Earth, they utilize some of the most rockin' Black Sabbath (Ozzy era) styled riffs in tunes like 'The End Of The Road' and 'Eroticon VI.' But when I say rockin' I mean the Sabbath styled riffs that were fast, fun and not so slow and doomy! Though there are some slower numbers here, like 'The End Of The Road' with some "heavy shit" (as their lyrics put it) via some melodic but heavy riffs. That vocalist definitely fits this music well, except for the track 'Eroticon VI.' But that's at the beginning. Likewise, 'Get My Soul Out' kinda annoyed me with the spoken word piece, didn't dig that at all. 'Close But Far Away' was a ballad type of tune, with just guitars and vocals, and it seemed out of place here and not very interesting, though it didn't all out suck. And of course I still think that 'Ask For Water' was one of their weaker tunes, but overall these guys sure know how to get the rockin' stoner formula going. The label's based in Italy, the band in Sweden, yes THAT country. The one where all the great metal bands like Hammerfall, Candlemass, every great Gothenberg band, and even some great psychedelic/space/progressive rock bands like Darxtar and The Flower Kings. Polish up the rough spots a bit and these guys are a clear winner.
Contact: Beard Of Stars, c/o Vinyl Magic 3, Via C. Abba 9R, 1700 Savona, ITALY
Web site:

VAMPIRIA "Among Mortals" (Icarus) SCORE: 93/100

Vampiric topics in black metal are certainly nothing new. Cradle Of Filth have been doing it for awhile now, and then there's the Vlad The Impaler theme Marduk was kicking around on their "Nightwing" album. But, that having been said, these are tracks that would be the highlight of any vampire soundtrack in the Y2K era. Vicious guitar work, amazing synthesizers that are not only rich and full, but evoke some of the most horror filled, graveyard walking nights. The vicious black metal vocals are accentuated by "lovely" female vocals and male singing vocals, neither of which are overused but sometimes utilized in the wrong places. My favorite tracks happen to be ones that have some viciously fast playing, thrashy guitar work and hellacious screams ala Dani, but not quite as screeching. There are piano pieces too, though not in a wimpy sense. You'll even find a Celtic Frost type heaviness and sorrowful doom metal atmosphere in 'Crown Of Crows.' The guitar work is some of the best I have heard solo wise anyway, check out those amazing leads on 'Legend Of A Curse' and 'Brother Wolf.' There really isn't a bad tune amongst the bunch, however as I said the male singing vocals sometimes sounded a bit rough, like on 'Pagan Celebration' and I thought the female vocals were a bit too high pitched on 'Crown Of Crows.' The synths are played organ style for the most part, and really reach eerie pitches, especially on 'Legend Of A Curse,' these are not wimpy mellow keyboards! If a black metal band is to do the Vampire theme, a bit of dark, eerie and evil atmospheres are in order, and this band, out of Argentina of all places (!), does the most evil, dark, and sadistic vampiric theme I've ever heard in all the realm of black metal. They even pay homage to the dark lord himself with 'Satan Legion's Comes.'
Contact: Icarus, C.C. 1593, Correo Central, C1000 WAP, Buenos Aires, ARGENTINA

VANISHING POINT "Tangled In Dream" (Limb Music) SCORE: 89/100

Hobbs Angel Of Death. Ikon. Armoured Angel. And now Vanishing Point. What do these bands all have in common? They are of a select few, those bands that hail from Australia. And what I have found about Australian bands is that they are of high quality. This particular band is hard to pin down to one style and category, they are definitely AOR friendly (adult oriented rock, whatever that means, though it seems to have more to do with popular radio styled hits) but have the most amazing melodies and catchy choruses. Starting off with 'Surreal' this CD carries on in great fashion, up to the highlight of the CD, track 5 which is 'Never Walk Away.' They do have a penchant for heavy guitars, these in particular help to hide the true nature of the song, you think it's going to be a heavy riff oriented affair but instead some amazing melodies and highly emotional instrumentation. This is one of the best songs I've heard this year, not to mention on a CD I was quite surprised with. The heavier guitar riffs work well in conjunction with the synthesized passages and amazing vocal work, but they do tend to overuse them in spots where they really aren't needed, like on 'Father' and 'I Will Awake.' They do such a masterful job of overwhelming emotional content they do not need to use the heavier guitar parts, as if they were trying to appeal to the fans of heavier styled metal. As good as this CD was, though there were a few weak points. Their ballad style doesn't sit well with me, 'Dancing With The Devil' was weak and didn't have that spark that the rest of the tracks have, not to mention a rather poor use of movie samples. Same goes for 'Tangled In Dream,' the CD ender. However, though it's progressive rock oriented, this is a very well done CD; though after track 7 the CD has a hard time keeping to the energy and emotional vibes that carried up to 'Never Walk Away.'
Contact: Limb Music.

VARIOUS ARTISTS "Fish & Vegetables" (Hello) SCORE: 79/100

The main reason this is in here is because of a classic interview we did this month with Dr. Know. They are back and kicking! This is a CD compilation featuring three bands, Dr. Know, Fang, and The Hellions. Surprisingly, Dr. Know is not the best band on here, though they do turn out some fast hardcore punk with 'Life Saver' and 'Down At The Bottom,' the latter sounding a bit like Suicidal Tendencies ranting from their classic hit 'Institutionalized.' Every band on this comp has one bad song, and surprisingly it's at the end of each of the 4 songs the three bands do. The Dr. Know track 'You Know' suffers from bad lyrics, and a rather vague subject matter. However, take 'I'm So Punk' from them as an anthemic, funny tune about being a fake punk, complete with mid song banter ala Dead Milkmen on their 'Bitchin Camaro' tune. The Hellions turned in one of the best performances on the album, 'Into The Dirt' was a fast and furious pit anthem, while 'Do What I Want' is a bit of a rockin' energetic fuck you punk tune. Fang had a vocalist that was really cool, like a cross between a drill seargent and a snotty punker that everyone from GBH to The Sex Pistols made use of. 'Boot Party' is a tune sure to get some heads kicked in at a punk show, while 'Babes In Crankland' was a funny track about, well, crack whores I guess. :> Only a few bad apples in the bunch, though as I said the Dr. Know tunes are not as great as I remember them being from their Metal Blade days, though bass player Ismael elaborates more on that in the interview. A fun compilation, showing us that punk hasn't quite breathed it's last breath here in the States.
Contact: Hello Records, 343 Waller Ave. Suite 201, Lexington, KY 40504
Web site:

VARIOUS ARTISTS "The Best Of Manikin Records" (Manikin) SCORE: 93/100

I have been nothing but pleased with the electronic music put out by this relatively small but awesome German label based right in Berlin! And for a compilation CD featuring this many artists to be this good, you know it's a label worth checking out! You may remember the "Two Piece Box" release by duo Keller/Schonwalder, well, they are back with a few tracks of their own. First off, this music presented here is mostly instrumental ambient styled music, there is some percussion involved, but it rarely evolves to the club worthy, rave and/or dance floor type of beats that plagues most techno and trance music. Not that I don't like those types, but this is more relaxing type of music, that contains energy. The most impressive cuts here I shall mention first. Spyra brings us 'Future Of The Past,' a cacophony of beautiful swirling ambient landscapes with some deep, emotional instrumentation that is beautiful as well as solitary and a bit melancholy. Detlef Keller blew me away with 'Tear 4,' a heart stopping track utilizing flutes (whether synth or real I don't know, though I would suspect from the majority of his work they are synth based), quick start/stop medieval synth pieces, soul reaching bell notes, and some AWESOME piano playing. There are slight beats to this but as I said these are more for relaxing and meditating. Arcanum has the tune with the more dance oriented beats, with 'Timehunter,' though he does work some nice ambient layers in and it mellows out more towards the end. Ramp threw me with 'Phasenverzerrung' which was more dominant and faster sound wise. They had some ambient landscapes but they were more in the background than anything, and this piece sounded out of place here on this CD and not very melodic. Steve Hug's track 'Timespace Victory' took quite awhile to settle in, he starts off with some disturbing alien sounds that can ruin the mood for you, but once the beat structures kick in, the track takes off quite nicely! Many of these songs are quite long, hell when an "excerpt" is still 9 minutes long you wonder what got cut out! Be that as it may, this is intelligent electronic music that has no vocals (except for the wonderful chanting styled multi vocals on 'Ghost In The Machine') and can really invoke some powerful emotions, if you're open minded enough, this stuff can be just as dominant and powerful as any other type of music.
Contact: Manikin Records, Postbox 450274, D-12172 Berlin
Web site:

W.A.S.P. "Unholy Terror" (Metal-Is) SCORE: 92/100

Glad to see Mr. Lawless still cranking out great tunes. And lemme tell ya, this album is a welcome return to the grand, anthemic, rocking tracks that we all know and love from their first two records, clearly a highlight for any W.A.S.P. fan/ Check out the great soaring melodies and recognizable formula on opener 'Let It Roar.' 'Wasted White Boys' has 'Blind In Texas' written all over it, from the attitude, music and those trademark vocal signatures. There were a few surprises, the most notable being 'Euphoria,' which Blackie pens as "great music to get stoned by," and he ain't kidding. Probably their most emotional song, though it's an instrumental, featuring some beautiful acoustic riffs and just one mellow vibe through and through. 'Evermore' was rather ballad like as well, with vocals; this one is more in like like 'Sleeping In The Fire' from their first release but with some great vocal melodies. Only a few tracks didn't work well for me, and it's not that they're terrible tracks, though there are others I prefer more. 'Who Slayed Baby Jane' was rather unusual, especially with the lyrics, and 'Hate To Love Me' doesn't spark my interest like the rest of the CD, though I can't say they're bad tracks. 'Unholy Terror' was a somewhat spoken word piece, without the abject terror and darkness, and if you bought "Kill, Fuck, Die" from W.A.S.P. then you'll recognize how this one goes. 'Loco- Motive Man' is Blackie's musings on the Columbine Tragedy, and it rocks to hell, though it also portrays a little bit of emotional feeling that you can sense right off. A VERY thought provoking album, one that definitely gets a permanent place right alongside my two favorite W.A.S.P. albums from the past: Their self titled debut release and their "Last Command" album. (Though "K.F.D." has it hands down for the most brutal W.A.S.P. release ever).
Contact: Metal-Is Records.

WIZARD "Head Of The Deceiver" (Limb Music) SCORE: 91/100

"Defenders of metal... Fight And Kill..." Yeah, this band has a bit of the Manowar/power metal spirit in them, so if you can forgive the lyrics, which definitely show a spirit for metal, you'll hear some kick ass power metal with a great singer. Of course, you'll hear the atypical speedier instrumentation passages in tracks like 'Magic Potion' and 'Iron War,' and some solid drumming throughout. Like I said lyrics aside, this is some good stuff, and with tracks like 'Defenders Of Metal' and 'True Metal,' you know their allegiance to metal is true and strong! Though lines like 'We play more metal than the most people can take' and 'We play metal for all metalheads and not for rotten poser rats' may be a little hard for some people to take seriously, but these songs are FUN. The way metal should be, why be all serious and dark all the time? Even my girlfriend, who typically can't stand the death and black metal I listen to, loves this CD (Well, she does like a lot of well sung power metal band, hell Rhapsody are gods to her). I could talk in depth about the CD, but at least listen to the music before making a decision, it tells the tale of the tape quite well I think. Okay, well, the intro to 'The First One' is really bad, but the rest of it...
Contact: Limb Music Productions.


ABDULLAH. Interview with Jeff Shirilla.

One of the best release to come out of 2000, in fact it's voted in the top 3 of albums that came out last year. This band blew me away with their "Snake Lore" demo and proceeded to disintegrate what was left of my remains with their self titled full length. If you don't own either release, you're quite simply missing out on one of the best bands to come around in a LONG time. And that's probably words that are not strong enough being said in my opinion. The lyrical content as well is far superior to what many bands have put out, so expect this to not only be an insightful look into one of the greatest bands to come down the pipe in the Y2K, but also a philosophical and intellectual conversation that cuts right down to the essence of man's very existence. This, of course, is our feature interview this issue, and I'm very honored to bring this to you.

CITIES. Interview with AJ Pero.

Anyone knowing anything about classic 80's metal should remember this band. Featuring in it's ranks none other than Twisted Sister drummer A.J. Pero, this great power metal outfit released only one album, but had a buzz in the underground that lasts to this day. Their "Annihilation Absolute" is absolutely a classic, go listen to it in the classic albums section and check out what the members of Cities are up to now.

DR. KNOW. Interview with Ismael.

For those of you going "Who?" Dr. Know started like as a somewhat hardcore punk band, releasing a few albums that went largely unknown to everyone except those in the punk community... Until Metal Blade Records stepped in. They released two albums for Metal Blade under new vocalist Kyle Toucher. Presumed missing and gone, they recently reuinted with their original vocalist Brandon and have signed to Hello Records for a new record to be released sometime within the next few months. I recently had the pleasure of speaking to bass player Ismael about the past, present and future of the metal tinged punk outfit that I have listened to for quite some time now.

FALCONER. Interview with Stefan.

Created out of the ashes of the mighty blackened style band Mithotyn, this album practically came out of nowhere and has been getting near perfect reviews everywhere. I suspect this band has been and will be featured in many magazines across the globe, in fact Jim Raggi of Lamentations Of The Flame Princess magazine has already done an interview with Falconer, though his interview won't be out until quite a few months after you finish reading this one!

LYKATHEA AFLAME. Interview with Ptoe.

Though their music delves into the faster grindcore style, there is so much innovation in what they do, I mean I don't think I've ever heard a grindcore band utilize keyboards at all, much less to create a spiritual and ambient effect. Destined to stay forever underground, this is one band that deserves special attention... Read on to find out why.

MALEVOLENT CREATION. Interview with Phil Fasciana.

MARDUK. Interview with Legion during their U.S. tour.

ONWARD. Interview with Michael Grant.

VAMPIRIA. Interview with Oswald.

One of the most interesting and unknown black metal bands from Argentina. The only other band I know of from this area is the mighty stoner rock gods Natas, who incidentally are working through the same label as these guys. Great vampiric black metal is in store, and since I know almost nothing about this band save the one CD which is reviewed here this issue, I thought it appropriate to let you all in on black metal's best kept secret.