Mark Strigl, Chris Howorth,
Maria Brink, & John
in Holmdel, NJ.
"I think the show is terrific...I'm sure it's going to be a huge success!" - Rob Halford
"You guys started doing something really cool...I think it's the coolest f**kin' thing!" - Nikki Sixx
"Mark and John are true blue authentic metal fans and it shows." - Decibel Magazine
Mark Strigl, Evan Seinfeld,
Tera Patrick, & John
in New York, NY.

"The Dethalbum II"
- Dec. 1, 2009

San Francisco, CA
Warfield Theater on
October 5, 2009
- Dec. 1, 2009

ROCKFEST featuring
Korn, Mudvayne, and BLS

on Aug. 14, 2009
- Oct. 26, 2009

"Masterful Mystery Tour"
- Oct. 1, 2009

"Years in the Darkness"
"Bringer of Plagues"
"City of Fire"
- Sept. 20, 2009

"Baker's Dozen"
- Sept. 4, 2009

Madison Square Garden
June 15, 2008
- June 18, 2008

"Get Thrashed: The
Story of Thrash Metal"
- Mar. 19, 2008

Vinnie Vincent Invasion
Self Titled

- Mar. 13, 2008

"Metal Generation"
- Mar. 11, 2008


- Mar. 10, 2008

"The Headless Children"

- Mar. 6, 2008


- Mar. 5, 2008

Self Titled

- Feb. 27, 2008


- Feb. 26, 2008

Self Titled

- Feb. 20, 2008

Self Titled

- Feb. 19, 2008

"Power and the Glory"

- Feb. 5, 2008

"Van Halen:
Everybody Wants Some"
- Sept. 10, 2007

"Born in the Basement"
- Sept. 10, 2007

Tinley Park, IL
July 17, 2007

- Aug. 11, 2007

"The Devil
Knows My Name"
- July 16, 2007

"Ziltoid the Omniscient"

- June 23, 2007

Allstate Arena
November 27, 2006

- Dec. 11, 2006

"Alive! 1975-2000"
- Dec. 11, 2006

"The Dead Eye"
- Nov. 8, 2006

"All Hail"
- Apr. 5, 2006


December 1, 2009

DETHKLOK - "The Dethalbum II"
Oglio Records, 2009

The second album from the "fictional" band, Dethklok, is not one to disappoint. If you didn't already know, Dethklok is a cartoon band from the hilarious show Metalocalypse. Its cartoon members are Nathan Explosion (singer), Skwisgaar Skwigelf (lead guitar), Toki Wartooth (rhythm guitar), Pickles the Drummer (the drummer), and William Murderface (bass guitar). In real life, its current members are Brendon Small (vocals, guitar, bass guitar, keyboards) and Gene Hoglan (drums). Brendon Small is also the creator of Metalocalypse, and does several of the voices. Members touring with the band are Mike Keneally (guitar, backing vocals) and Bryan Beller (bass guitar, backing vocals).

Back to the album, this contains all the hits from season two, plus two original songs not from the show. It has 12 tracks total. This album is pure brutality with heavy beats and awesome instrumentals. It is a really great album and I think people are going to start listening to Dethklok more. It definitely shows that Dethklok can be just as good as any "real" band.

Although all the songs are good, the ones that really stand out to me are "Bloodlines", "The Gears", "Burn the Earth", "Laser Canon Deth Sentence", "Deth Support", and "Volcano". And yes, that's half the album. "Black Fire Upon Us" is also worth mentioning; if you're familiar with The Dethalbum, it's the "Into the Water" of this album. I definitely like this album if like low, heavy metal or like the show.

Review by Alex Bainter AKA MetAlex


December 1, 2008

San Francisco, CA, Warfield Theater, October 5, 2009

A select few rock/metal figures have withstood the test of time. Regardless of whether the focus was on bell bottoms in the 70's, spandex in the 80's, or god knows what in the 90's (possibly flannel), these figures have transcended trends in fashion and music, garnering the respect of rock/metal fans as a whole. Tony Iommi, Jimmy Page, Ozzy Osbourne, Ronnie James Dio, and Lemmy Kilmister ("LK") fall in this category.

On October 5, 2009, a brisk San Francisco night, Motorhead laid siege for the second consecutive tour to the hallowed Warfield Theater ("WT"), the last time being on April 8, 2005 during the Inferno tour. In my humble opinion, WT is currently the best Bay Area venue for a rock concert. Many moons ago (25 +/- years), when I had a full head of hair and a gut that did not necessitate being sucked in at the sight of a pretty damsel, the best venues were three sister venues, The Stone in San Francisco, The Omni in Oakland (East Bay), and One Step Beyond in Santa Clara (South Bay). These venues, owned by John Nady of Nady Systems who invented the revolutionary wireless guitar technology, were the hotbed of shows spanning genres from glam, to thrash, to death metal from the mid 1980's to early 1990's. Sadly the insurgence of the pseudo lumberjack flannel-toting brigade from the Northwest in 1991 symbolized the death knell for these venues.

WT, captured on Slayer's 2001 DVD entitled, War at the Warfield, is a 2,500 seat capacity theater built in 1927 and renovated in September 2008. WT's layout presents a dichotomy. On the one hand, the theater's beauty is exemplified by intricate frescos of matadors and angels painted on the ceiling atop the stage. Box seats that have long been put out of use adorn each side of the stage and the walls of the seated balcony are a vibrant plum red and gold combination. On the other hand, the standing room only floor has a stark industrial feel with black walls and floor. The walls are carpet padded, serving a safety function for your injury prone writer who trounced around like a whirling dervish at Slayer and Megadeth shows.

Motorhead was supported by two bands, Nashville Pussy ("NP") and Reverend Horton Heat ("RHH"). NP was the first to take the stage. Sadly, I missed NP. My girlfriend's birthday celebration took priority. After a plea-laden request to the misses, I broke away and arrived at WT at 8:35, within a few minutes after the end of NP's set that began at 8:00. My natural inclination was to head for front row in the pit, almost as if beckoned by an oversized magnet drawing the metal plates in my Dr. Martens [and possibly one in my head]. Upon grasping the barricade lining the photo pit, I felt like an infant who had been handed his pacifier. I just needed someone to rub my tummy and I would have been in sheer heaven.

Next on stage was RHH, a three-piece rockabilly Texas band who put on an entertaining show. RHH played a 57-minute set from 8:48 to 9:45.

Shortly before Motorhead took the stage I looked behind me and it was clear this was a sold out show, like Motorhead's 2005 gig. The crowd did not grow restless as the band had the courtesy of avoiding the Axl Rose syndrome, punctually taking the stage at 10:15 after a 30 minute set change.

The band appeared to be in good spirits, at least Phil Campbell ("PC") and Mikkey Dee ("MD"). [Maybe I am not a good judge of character, but I have difficulty gauging LK's state of mind. In an ideal world LK's warts would serve as something akin to mood rings, changing colors to reflect his mood. Sorry, I digressed.] What I know for certain is that LK wore what he has for many years, black jeans, a Western style long sleeve black shirt, and black leather boots. As for MD, he recently finished his obligation to a Swedish reality based show, permitting him to join the band on tour and relinquishing the services of fill in drummer Matt Sorum. No disrespect to Sorum, but MD's prior tenure in King Diamond's band speaks volumes about his prowess.

Having secured the final spot along the barricade, I had the dubious distinction of being within three feet of the amplifiers stacked stage right. Normally this would not be of great concern. However, my last Motorhead experience and the warning of a Steamhammer Records representative during two recent phone conversations raised concern that was cemented when the show started. The only concerts I recall being as loud are Slayer's show at The Stone during the Reign in Blood tour (11-03-86), Paul Stanley's show at The Chance in Poughkeepsie, New York during his first solo tour (02-27-89), and Kiss's show at The Stone during the Revenge club tour (04-23-92).

Motorhead played 18 songs. I will refrain from commenting on each song. However, for the benefit of providing a full picture of the metal onslaught, I enumerate all the songs Motorhead performed. [I recall my frustrations as a pubescent teenager reading otherwise well written reviews in Kerrang, Metal Hammer, and Aardschok where the writer only mentioned some songs performed live. Doing so is analogous to foreplay without sex.]

1. Iron Fist, a fast, furious, and heavy song opened the set.
2. Stay Clean
3. Be My Baby
4. Rock Out
5. Metropolis, a slow grinding song, was fifth in order. Following this song, PC, who wore a black blazer, blank tank top, black derby, blue jeans and Converse sneakers yelled to the crowd, "Make some noise." Incidentally, the strap for his white Les Paul guitar was embossed with the phrase, "Bristol Bitch." [I gather the long standing male tradition of naming possessions is not limited to muscle cars.]
6. Over the Top, a groove-laden track, followed Metropolis.
7. I Got Mine
8. One Night Stand, a heavy, trudging song, was next in cue and followed by a short two minute PC guitar solo. Fortunately the days of drawn out solos where guitarists like to demonstrate the nimbleness of their fingers is mainly over, Yngwie Malmsteen being an exception.
9. The Thousand Names of God
10. Another Perfect Day. This song featured plenty of echoplex effect from PC's guitar.
11. In the Name of Tragedy, a song Motorhead performed live a few nights earlier on a late night television show called, "The Jimmy Kimmel Show" was twelfth in order. This is a fast song that featured MD's five minute drum solo. What can be said about drum solos? Unless the drummer pulls down his drawers and hits the snare drum with his pecker it has pretty much been done before dating back to the days of Ginger Baker of Cream, John "Bonzo" Bonham of Led Zeppelin, and the late great Cozy Powell of Rainbow/Black Sabbath fame. However, MD did focus on double bass drums and floor toms, delivering a very heavy solid solo that began and ended with fog-based flash pods detonating within a few feet of each side of his massive Sonor drum kit.12. Just 'Cos You Got Power is a song LK introduced as being "about politicians." This is a slower song that nevertheless features an eery PC riff.
13. Going to Brazil was next in cue, which LK introduced as "an old song." This is an up tempo track with a very strong blues feel. PC had switched to an orange sunburst Explorer with a strap that read, "Welsh Wanker." [Although I did not see PC engage in any wanking, he did twice extend greetings to MD by raising his middle finger, demonstrating his proficiency in sign language.]
14. Killed by Death was next. As I was head banging with eyes closed, the music that permeated my brain with a dwindling cell count formed the image of a freight train billowing and forcefully chugging down a long stench filled tunnel. At the start of the song, a scraggly fellow wearing a white t-shirt and baseball cap came on stage to accompany LK on lead vocals. I initially thought it was James Hetfield of Metallica because he often attends metal shows at WT. I was wrong. I could not identity this person. [Since the band did not identify the guest singer, I presume he is not well known. His claim to fame may be to ensure LK's beard is kept in sell chiseled form.] Towards the latter part of the song, MD added flavor by flicking about five pairs of drum sticks out of his hand high into the air back towards the backdrop featuring the album cover while quickly grabbing new sticks to continue his pulsating beat.
15. Bomber was the next song, a fast up tempo groove-laden track.

At 10:28 the band left the stage and returned after two minutes to play three songs.
16. Whorehouse Blues, an acoustic song, was the surprising choice to start the encore. MD and PC sat on stools playing acoustic guitars, while MD also played a bass drum and hi hats. LK stood center stage sans his Rickenbacker. LK initially looked a bit awkward or, more aptly, "naked," without his axe, which soon wore off when he began playing his harmonica, further accentuating the bluesy feel of the song.
17. Ace of Spades was the second encore song. It brought back memories of repeatedly listening to this song off the very first rock record I acquired, No Sleep 'til Hammersmith," a gift from my older brother who bought it while living in Manchester. At the end of the song LK stated this was likely the "best audience in SF the band has had." PC leaned forward and handed me a beer cup and asked me to pass it around. [I resisted the urge to chug the beer in its entirety even though I was physically drained from the nearby moshing and crowd surfing. The last time I remember sharing a drink with strangers at a public event was at the midnight mass Christmas ceremony at Grace Cathedral when the pastor offered me wine symbolizing Jesus Christ's blood.]
18. Overkill brought the show to a mind numbing, testosterone laced climax. This, along with Killed by Death and Ace of Spades, were the top three songs of the night.

Two flashback memories are worthy of mention. First, as I left the venue, my mind flashed back to the Judas Priest/Anthrax show at WT on the Demolition tour (01-19-02). One reason that is a memorable show is because it was my ex girlfriend's first rock concert. As we left the venue she vigorously sucked in air while tapping the interior of her teeth with her tongue. I asked her why she was acting as if she was wearing ill fitting dentures. She responded with some concern, "The concert was so loud I think some of my teeth have been knocked loose." I came close to feeling the same at this show.

Second, even though Motorhead did not perform any songs off Orgasmatron (released in 1986), the performance of two songs off Orgasmatron's predecessor, Another Perfect Day, brought back memories of the band's in store appearance at a long defunct San Francisco record store called, "The Record Vault" during the Orgasmatron tour. Some readers may recall seeing Metallica, Venom, Slayer, and Death Angel band members donning the store's black t shirt featuring a white logo and demon. Once the autograph seeking fans left the store, the owner closed shop but the band and crew remained. A crew member pulled out a fairly large, clear Ziploc bag. This bag contained pills and capsules of every conceivable color. It was like Skittles, but in hallucinogenic substance form.

Review by Arash Moussavian, Entertainment Attorney


October 26, 2009

ROCKFEST Featuring Korn, Mudvayne, and Black Label Society
August 14, 2009

Of all the shows I have ever been to, this one was by far the best. I hadn't ever been to a concert with so many bands playing (8!), but it proved to be the most enjoyable. The lineup was After Midnight Project, Burn Halo, Bury Your Dead, Suicide Silence, Static-X, Black Label Society, Mudvayne, and Korn.

After Midnight Project was just a smaller band who got to play with some big names. They weren't exactly metal, but were still very good. I enjoyed their music and the show they put on. They all got very into their music and had tons of energy. These guys definitely have potential.

The next band, Burn Halo, was more of the "Nickelback metal", music I'm just not that into. I'd recognized them from a previous show and wasn't necessarily looking forward to seeing them again. Despite that, they are growing in popularity with two singles off their album and a music video for "Dirty Little Girl." I have a feeling we'll be hearing about these guys a lot in the future.

Bury Your Dead came after that. I really liked their music and enjoyed how they got the crowd involved. They talked to the crowd a lot and also split it down the middle to have the two halves run at each other. They also encouraged "safe" moshing, telling people to help anyone up who falls in the pit. Good, heavy band.

Next up was Suicide Silence. I should tell you right off the bat I hate "Screamo" or "Deathcore", or whatever you want to call it. These guys were no exception. Their breakdowns, although repetitive, were actually pretty good though. Otherwise these guys just aren't very special to me.

"Are…you…ready?" Wayne Static yells from backstage. Then Static-X breaks out with "Push It". The entire crowd rushed in to watch them, whereas for other bands people were just milling around. They had a very high energy show, with lots of great songs including "Cannibal", "Bled for Days", "Dirthouse", and "Destroy All". "Stingwray" was heavier then ever, and had me going absolutely nuts. They ended perfect with "This Is Not." My only complaint was their shorter show, although with the other names they weren't necessarily a "big band."

I was really excited to see Black Label Society, and it was a real treat to see Zakk Wylde. At first, his masterful guitar skills really entertained me, but after a while, I couldn't even tell when they changed the song. He also had a guitar solo that went on at least 15 minutes, and I decided it a good time to go get food. I can't really remember their show because I just couldn't get into their music. Finally they played "Stillborn", which was absolutely great, but unfortunately their last song. It was nice to see an older metal band and especially awesome to see Zakk.

Another band I was looking forward to, Mudvayne, came on next. For the most part, it was a great show. "Fucking Determined", "Dull Boy", "Happy", "Dig", and "Death Blooms" were all really great. Other songs that I didn't recognize weren't as good, the bass desperately needed to be turned up, as it's a very important part of their songs. All in all, they put on a terrific show.

Finally, Korn. I didn't know much of their music, but this show made me a fan for life. They had the most energy out of all the bands, and just put on a fantastic show. "Freak on a Leash" was completely crazy and everyone loved it. This was the best show I'd seen out of all the bands. I would see Korn 100 more times.

Review by Alex Bainter AKA MetAlex


October 1, 2008

BEATALLICA - "Masterful Mystery Tour"
Oglio Records, 2009

This is the third official album for the Milwaukee quartet, who specialize in blending songs from the revered catalogs the Beatles and Metallica. But we could almost call this album their first. Their first album, Sgt. Hetfield's Motorbreath Pub Band, was actually made up from two earlier EPs, A Garage Dayz Nite and Beatallica (The Gray Album). Album number two, All You Need Is Blood, was actually the same song repeated fourteen times, but in thirteen different languages.

First album, third album, what's amazing is that these guys manage to keep their shtick engaging and fun to listen to. You want to hear the next song and find out how they have twisted the songs together. These guys work really hard to make these smash-ups work and they even throw in small guitar parts from other Beatles or Metallica songs, just to keep you on your toes. Plus the lead singer has James Hetfield's voice down so well, it's down-right creepy.

A few of the standout songs include, "Masterful Mystery Tour", "Everybody's Got a Ticket to Ride Except for Me and My Lightning", " Hero of the Day Tripper" and "Tomorrow Never Comes". Also listen to the lyrics, as most have been 'metalized', which may be funny for adults but you may want to watch out for the kiddos in the room, if that's an issue.

If the thought of polluting a Beatles or Metallica song really disturbs you, please find another CD to purchase and save yourself the stroke. But for most folks, who are fans of both of these groups, these songs will be a riot. So if you like "Weird Al" and thought Dread Zeppelin was great, then this is right up your alley.

Review by Lee Brown AKA Brown Sound


September 20, 2008

ARKAEA - "Years in the Darkness"
Koch Records , 2009
DIVINE - "Bringer of Plagues"
Century Media, 2009

"City of Fire"
GRB Productions, 2009

The review I have put together is based upon three albums that have been released over the course of the last few months. All of these albums pertain to the Fear Factory family tree. As most of you know there is a soap opera going on right now regarding who controls the name of the band. In the meantime, all of the current/pervious members (depending on which faction you speak to) have recently released albums. For Dino Cazeres (original guitarist) this is his second outing with his band Divine Heresy, while Raymond Herrera and Christian Olde Wolbers debut with Arkaea. Not to be outdone, Burton C. Bell, and touring bass player Byran Stroud have released City Of Fire, dedicated to the city of Vancouver, B.C. Before delving into each album, let me state that no one has reinvented the wheel here, nor did they have to. When listening to each album, you can definitely feel each members influence.

The first album to be released was Arkaea’s Years In The Darkness. There is no doubt in my mind that this album was supposed to be a Fear Factory release. Out of the three it is by far the closest to the authentic Fear Factory sound we have all come to know. Raymond and Christian’s signature playing is all over this, all be it that the latter is borrowing heavily from Dino’s style. Joining them in this endeavor is Pat Kavanagh on bass (Ryan Martinie of Mudvayne was rumored for some time, imagine what could have been), and Jon Howard of Threat Signal, a band Christian had previously produced. Howard’s vocals took me a bit of getting used to, as on this album he is a mix between a Burton C. Bell-lite, and Chester Bennington-lite. That said, I really started digging the album after listening to it a few times. The album has quite a few standout tracks in my opinion. It varies from being strait up Fear Factoryesque metal with tracks like Locust, Beneath The Shades of Grey, Years In Darkness, Awakening, and Black Ocean. Tracks that could have been on Transgression like My Redemption, and Break the Silence, this last track includes your classic Fear Factory keyboards. While you also have a “radio friendly” track Gone Tomorrow which is in the vein of Dark Bodies off of Digimortal. This song actually has more of a pop edge to it. War Within however has a riff that sounds eerily like Dino’s work in Divine Heresy. All in all this is pretty solid album, and is better than the last two studio albums they put out as Fear Factory. There are very few throw away spots. What is this album missing? Burton’s vocals and Dino’s song writing. The vocals are too thin at times.

The next album to come out was Divine Heresy’s Bringer of Plagues. As mentioned above, this is Dino’s second time at bat with this band. This time around they have a new singer in Travis Neal, and an official bass player Joe Payne. The drummer continues to be the super-heavy weight Tim Yeung. This album is very much along the lines of the Bleed the Fifth, their first album. It also has a bunch of solid tracks, but isn’t in my opinion as complete as their previous album, or the ones released by Arkaea or City of Fire. Dino seems to get lost in the musical Olympics he has put together. He is doing everything he can to outshine his former band mates, and in the process sacrificing his song writing style. With Bleed the Fifth you had the sonic beat down you’re accustomed to receiving from Dino, but out of nowhere the melody would hit you with tracks like Impossible is Nothing, or Closure. The songs Bleed the Fifth, and Failed Creation dipped into death metal, and the latter brings the melody/riffing Dino is known for to the forefront. Onto Bringer of Plagues, what will come as a shock to no one, Dino’s playing and song writing is what sticks out on this album. His playing is as expected, a mix between the previous album, and his tenure in Fear Factory. Standout tracks are all very strong, including Facebreaker , the Battle of J Casey, Redefine, Darkness Embedded and The End Begins. The rest of the songs suffer from the musical Olympics I alluded to earlier. What’s missing from this album? The vocals are stronger than the Arkaea album, but the song writing isn’t as focused. Perhaps it’s the lack of input from the other members; after all it is Dino’s project. Some of the songs sound alike with their mix of 16th, and 32nd notes a slight breakdown, and some clear melodic vocals to wrap things up. That said Dino still has a habit of pulling out a giant riff from out of nowhere that levels you, and reminds you why you started listening to his playing in the first place.

Finally we have City of Fire, formed in Vancouver, with Burton, and Byron the ex-Strapping Young Lad bass player that came into the Fear Factory fold when Christian switched over from bass to play guitar. Accompanying them are Ian White and Terry “Sho” Murray on guitar, and Bob Wagner on drums. The album starts out with Fear Factory like keyboards and an atypical drumming style to what people have become used to hearing from Raymond and Tim. As the album progresses you come to find a completely different guitar style canvassing these tracks as well. Gone for the most part are the 16th and 32nd notes alluded to with the other two albums. They are replaced at times with Billy Duffy like riffs, while also mixing in with the atmospheric influence of Bauhaus. That said, Burton’s vocals shine throughout this album. Where the previous two singers were good to adequate, Burton smashes all of the songs. I also like the fact that the album is very heavy, and doesn’t stay in a realm you’d think these players are comfortable with. They ventures out and experiments, which is great, but at times is also a detriment. Strong tracks include the opener Carve Your Name, which sounds somewhat like what you’d expect from Burton. This is followed by Gravity which is a mix between Jane’s Addiction like bass line, and Beyond Good and Evil era The Cult guitar riffage. Rising continues this line and incorporates acoustic guitars. Other stand out tracks are Spirit Guide, Coitus Interruptus, the Ministry influenced Hanya. Other tracks are just one long ambient affair after another, making it difficult to distinguish between the tracks at times. The album wraps up with a cover of The Cult’s Rain. What’s missing with this album, lack of direction which someone like Dino could add to some of these tracks. But I honestly don’t miss the machine gun like stylings of Raymond/Tim or Dino/Christian as what is presented on the album is different, and equally good. Bob Wagner does a good job in remaining very dynamic, without having to be a clone of any of the other drummers mentioned. This is why the heavier songs give both of the other albums a run for their money.

I can’t help but thinking what culling together the best songs from each album and having them recorded by the original members of the band might have produced? Raymond has talked about wanting to write/record with the guitar tandem of Dino, and Christian, but while this ever take place? Neither has recorded with a second guitarist, would dual guitars mesh within the textures of a Fear Factory song? What while happen when the legal issues shake out between everyone involved? Will we ever get to hear the “new” Fear Factory with Dino, Burton, Byron, and Gene Hogland? Will we ever see the original band put their issues to the side for the sake of their fans/music? Or will we see the splintering we’ve all seen with Sepultura, and Soundgarden and their respective wives/managers? I guess we’ll have to continue to tune into this soap opera to find out!

Review by Victor Ruiz AKA Marsaries2005


September 4, 2009

Lion Music, 2009

Sean Baker is back with a great new CD. I have said it before and I’ll say it again, why isn’t this guy completely famous? Besides being one of the best guitar players I have ever heard, he knows how to come up with the perfect killer riff. Unlike most shredder albums, Baker’s Dozen gives us lots of catchy melodies and solid songs that make you want to listen again and again. These melodies will truly stick in your head. Although most of the album is heavy, there are some pleasant quieter moments such as the emotionally charged "7/24/04" and "Two Part Invention in Cmajor." Parts of track titled "Mike Varney’s Mexican Vacation" remind me of something off DiMeola’s Elegant Gypsy album but on the whole Baker’s Dozen is without question a metal album.

The album features Lawrence Wilson on drums, David Donigian on bass, Cmak Ashtiani on guitar, and Sean Baker on guitar. Sean also handles most of the songwriting and he produced the album. Special guests include Bruce Bouillet (The Scream, Racer X), Joe Stump, and Rusty Cooley.

This instrumental album is a must have for anyone you enjoys heavy music.

4.5 out of 5 Stars

Stand Out Tracks: "Dukes Of New York," "Neo-Classical Gas," "Playing Opossum," "Which Way to Radioland?" and a cover of Deep Purple’s "Highway Star."

Review by Mark Strigl

Buy Sean Baker "Baker's Dozen"


June 18, 2008

Madison Square Garden, New York, NY, June 15, 2008

I had the privilege of seeing one of my all-time favorites bands, Iron Maiden, last Sunday night at Madison Square Garden, and they did not disappoint. The show was somewhat based around the recent DVD re-release of the "Live After Death" 1985 concert video. I used to own this on Betamax!! The DVD is great and it is loaded with all sorts of fun extras. A must have for all Iron Maiden fans. Anyway, back to last Sunday's concert...the stage set was not the exact set from the 1984/1985 Powerslave tour as some people have been reporting, it was a new stage that seemed to be based on the Powerslave set but also included non-Powerslave imagery of Eddie. The MSG house lights went dim early around 8 PM as many people, including me, were still finding their way to their seats. They started off with the Churchill speech that led into "Aces High" which was followed by "2 Minutes to Midnight."

At this point, Bruce Dickinson addressed the sold out crowd for the first time of the evening, and I have to admit it was the only point of the whole show that I didn't love. It was hard for me to make out exactly what he said, but it seemed to start out with him greeting and signaling out some fans from Brazil who were right up by the stage. Again, I do not have his exact wording, but he said something to them about how they were really rocking out, and that a lot of others in the place were smoking too much pot. Is this really the first thing you want to do when you are playing to a sold out crowd of New Yorkers? Tell a few people from Brazil how great they are? WTF? Then Bruce went on to complain that after playing in this arena for over 25 years, there are no pictures of his band on the walls. He said something about them having pictures of clowns, athletes, and others, but there are no pictures of Iron Maiden in the halls of MSG, and this is because Iron Maiden are ignored by mainstream media...blah, blah, blah. There are no pictures of Jimmy Buffet in the halls of MSG either.

After the first break, the band got right back to doing what they do best, and that is rocking!! The set included almost all 1980s classics and some gems I have not heard live in sometime such as "Revelations" and "Rime of the Ancient Mariner." I believe the only 1990s song they did was "Fear Of the Dark," and it got a great crowd response. I really do not mind that they now have 3 guitar players although sometimes Janick Gers' stage moves are a little too much for me. Don't get me wrong, he is a great player. I love his work with not only Maiden but also Bruce solo and Ian Gillan. Bruce Dickinson later poured plenty of love and compliments on the crowd which made me forget his earlier odd initial introduction to us.

There was an odd power outage on stage during the song Powerslave which I am sure you have all read about already on When the power came back on to the stage, the band seemed to be unsure of whether they should finish the song "Powerslave" or just move on. It appeared that Bruce and Adrian wanted to finish it, but they ended up just moving on to the next song.

Anyway, the moral of the story is as follows: do not smoke pot at Iron Maiden concerts because Bruce might get mad. Honestly, Iron Maiden is one of the best bands out there, and you do not need weed to listen to their music. Save it for the Phish reunion tour.

Review by Mark Strigl


April 27, 2008

JUDAS PRIEST - "Nostradamus"
Epic Records

On the morning of Wednesday, April 23rd, Mark Strigl and I had the privilege of visiting the Epic Records headquarters inside the famous Sony 550 building on Madison Avenue in New York City to preview Judas Priest’s new double-disc concept album, “Nostradamus.” This epic masterpiece, which chronicles the life of the 16th century prophet, Michel de Nostredame, also known as Nostradamus, was written by Judas Priest members K.K. Downing, Glenn Tipton, and Rob Halford while being produced by both Downing and Tipton. The album features vast string arrangements and monstrous orchestral accoutrements as well as Halford’s flawless, hair-raising vocals and Priest’s signature pure metal guitar riffs, bass, and drums. Nearly two hours in length, the album is divided into two separate acts.

Act I features thirteen tracks, five of which are preludes to the primary compositions. Although all tracks truly stand out, my favorites include the heavy cuts “Death,” “Conquest,” and “Persecution.” “Death” contains a hard-hitting sludge style guitar riff, and “Conquest” contains classic dueling guitar solos while “Persecution” contains haunting vocal whispers, a stellar performance by drummer Scott Travis, and a guitar and organ counterpoint pattern that appears in both the song’s introduction as well as its finale. I also favor the cut, “Lost Love,” which contains no drums and features Halford’s impeccable vocal ability.

Act II, which features ten tracks including preludes, is interesting because it not only features the album’s title track, “Nostradamus,” which was previously released as a free MP3 download by Live Nation on April 21st, but it also features two tracks which were in conideration to be the album’s first single, “Alone” and “Visions.” We were told the latter was the most likely candidate although guitarist Glenn Tipton suggested that its single version would be slightly edited to better fit the format. Both tracks would be outstanding choices, but “Visions” contains such a strong chorus and heavy guitar riff, that I would side with its being chosen since both hardcore and casual Priest fans, who may be wary of the idea of a concept album, will definitely not be disappointed in the track’s pure metal characteristics. “Alone,” however, is also outstanding, and it features some muted guitar chords reminiscent of those featured on one of my favorite ever songs, Ace Frehley’s “Escape From the Island,” from KISS’ 1981 concept effort “Music From ‘The Elder.’” “Alone’s” chorus also features some of Halford’s best vocal work to date when he exclaims, “We don’t wanna be alone…we just wanna be!”

Nostradamus” is an album that will forever command an iconic status much like Queensryche’s “Operation Mindcrime,” The Who’s “Quadrophenia,” and Pink Floyd’s “The Wall.” I mentioned to Judas Priest’s manager, Jane Andrews, and their publicist, Chip Ruggieri, that I could immediately envision the album being performed in an opera style setting which was an idea similar to one of both Andrews' and the band's. When I was a kid, and I first discovered Judas Priest when purchasing a bubblegum rendition of their “British Steel” album (they were incidentally called Chu-Bops) in a candy store, I could have never imagined that I would not only have had the opportunity to preview such an epic masterpiece as “Nostradamus,” but that I would have also been able to interview Judas Priest members Rob Halford, K.K. Downing, Ian Hill, and Scott Travis. Now, I am anxious to speak with guitarist, Glenn Tipton, the only member of the band Talking Metal has yet to interview. Stay tuned because Mark and I hope to bring you that interview in the very near future! Until then, be sure to go out and purchase Judas Priest’s “Nostradamus” on June 17th in America and June 16th internationally. This album will undoubtedly become mandatory listening in the future of metal!

P.S. Happy Birthday Ace Frehley!!!

Review by John Ostronomy


March 19, 2008

RICK ERNST: "Get Thrashed: The Story of Thrash Metal"

Finally, the history of thrash metal has been documented properly in Rick Ernst's "Get Thrashed: The Story of Thrash Metal." This film traces the history of thrash from its first appearance in 1982 in the form of Metallica's "Hit the Lights" on the first Metal Massacre album to 1991's Clash Of The Titans tour which featured Slayer, Megadeth, and Anthrax.

The story is told by the founding fathers of the genre with great interviews with people like Gary Holt, Lars Ulrich, Dave Mustaine, Kerry King, Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth, and countless others.

This award-winning film is a really fun watch. Check out the film's Web site at

Review by Mark Strigl


March 12, 2008

Chrysalis Records, 1986

"We stand united, nobody more backs against the wall!" - Boyz are Gonna Rock

Although Ace Frehley has always been my favorite rock star, I was also a big fan Vinnie Vincent, the guitarist who replaced Ace in KISS when the group embarked on their Creatures of the Night tour.

Although Vinnie’s time with KISS was short, he soon re-emerged in 1986 with the Vinnie Vincent Invasion and their self-titled debut album. While Robert Fleischman handled vocals on the album, the live band featured singer Mark Slaughter. Rounding out the group were bassist and famed talent scout, Dana Strum (who would later go to form Slaughter with Mark), and drummer Bobby Rock. Both Bobby and I had the same drum teacher at Berklee College of Music!

With tracks like "Boyz are Gonna Rock," "No Substitute," and "Back on the Streets," Vinnie proved, once again, that he knew how to write great songs. John Norum, KISS, and even Ace Frehley have also done versions of "Back on the Streets," and I just found out that my friend Richie Friedman, from We Buy Guitars in New York City (sadly no longer open), co-wrote the track with Vinnie.

Did you know that Vinnie was the first guitarist other the great Randy Rhoads to play what we now call a Jackson Rhoads model? He had to get special permission from Randy's family, and at the time, he referred to it as a "Shark Fin." Vinnie later went on to create the great “Double V” guitar, which was definitely an ultimate metal machine!

Lately, Vinnie has kept a low profile, emerging only to sign some lithographs for Australia’s KISS World store. Let’s hope to see more of him in the future, as he is truly an amazing guitarist and songwriter.

Review by John Ostronomy


March 11, 2008

DARRYL J. KECK – "Metal Generation"

I am currently reading a must-read book for any fan of 80s and 90s metal called "Metal Generation." Falling somewhere in between Ian Christe's "Sound Of the Beast" and Chuck Klosterman's "Fargo Rock City," Darryl Keck tells a personal story of not only mainstream but also underground hard rock and metal from his generation. Keck takes us on his life long love affair, and sometime disappointment, with heavy music.

While most metal fans of the day were too closed-minded to accept music as good or bad, Keck points out that both Poison's "Look What the Cat Dragged In" and Anthrax's "Among The Living" are great albums. This book also does not overlook many of the great bands that time seems to have forgotten such as Anvil, Malice, and Odin.

Highly recommended. For more info check out High Volume Press.

Review by Mark Strigl


March 10, 2008

CHILDREN OF BODOM – "Blooddrunk"

Yet another very strong release from Children Of Bodom.

I have been waiting anxiously for this record, and let me tell ya', once again, Children of Bodom do not disappoint. Songwriting and production are extremely awesome on this one, and the musicianship is insane!

While so many of today's great metal bands tend to lean away from guitar solos, Children Of Bodom go the opposite direction with plenty of killer 6-string mayhem...but wait, there is more!!!!! Mindblowing keyboard solos too!!!! Whoever said, "You can't play heavy metal on the synthesizer," was dead wrong, and this album proves it.

The two greatest bands of modern metal are Lamb Of God and Children Of Bodom. This album confirms it.

Standout Tracks: "Blooddrunk," "Done With Everything, Die For Nothing," "Tie my Rope", Smile Pretty For the Devil," "One Day You Will Cry"...really, every song is good.

Review by Mark Strigl


March 6, 2008

CLASSIC ALBUM: W.A.S.P. – "The Headless Children"
Capitol Records, 1989

"Can you see the Real Me? Can Ya? Can Ya?" - The Real Me

Most people associate these lyrics with The Who, but true metal fans will remember W.A.S.P.'s great cover of "The Real Me" from their 1989 studio effort, "The Headless Children." As always, the great Blackie Lawless and company did not disappoint with a true classic album comprised of stand-out tracks including "Mean Man," "Forever Free," and the title track, "The Headless Children."

By this time, Blackie switched from bass to guitar, the one and only Chris Holmes handled lead guitar duties, and Johnny Rod, formerly of King Kobra, rounded out the group on the bass. Officially, the band didn’t have a drummer, but Quiet Riot’s Frankie Banali stepped in for the recording as did keyboard player, Ken Hensley.

I liked this album so much that I covered W.A.S.P.’s version of The Who's "The Real Me" for my final recording project at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. I did an instrumental rendition and played all of the instruments. Years later, Captain T added vocals to the track and it appeared on a great W.A.S.P. tribute CD called "Shock Rock Hellions – A Tribute to W.A.S.P." The album was released in 2006 by Denmark's Codiac/Valhalla Records, and it is filled with several other W.A.S.P. classics like "Animal (F**k Like A Beast), "L.O.V.E. Machine," and "Hellion." Oh yeah, by the way, I got an "A" on the recording project! Thanks Blackie!

Review by John Ostronomy


March 5, 2008

BIOMECHANICAL – "Cannibalised"

Finally, an album of pure originality.

John K is back with a all-new Biomechanical!! New band (featuring ex-Dragonforce bassist Adrian Lambert), new sounds, and an all-new spin on heaviness. This stuff is extreme, but it incorporates tons of classic influences. At times, the mix is a little muddy but it doesn't affect the overall power of this extreme progressive metal opus.

Standout Tracks: "Fallen In Fear", "The Unseen," and "Breathing Silence."

Review by Mark Strigl


February 27, 2008

RCA Records, 1989

"If I swing by in my sweet chariot...better take that bone out back and bury it." - Don't Dog Me

I have been extremely lucky to know some of my favorite Metal musicians, and included in this category is the great Raging Slab. Originally described by Guitar World magazine as Lynyrd Skynyrd meets Metallica, Raging Slab is one of the best bands to emerge out of New York City's Lower East Side.Their 1989, self titled, major label debut is one of my favorite albums to date, and lead vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter Greg Strzempka really nails it on stand out tracks like singles "Don’t Dog Me" and "Bent For Silver" as well as on album cuts like "Dig a Hole" and "Get Off My Jollies," a track which first appeared on Slab's Buy Our Records release, "True Death."

‘Til this day, I still think of Slab when I’m on Manhattan’s famous Fifth Avenue. Why? Because in the track "Geronimo," Strzempka sings, "I thought I saw Geronimo walkin' up and down Fifth Avenue. He made a hole when he looked right through me." I can hear the guitar riff now!

I also think of Slab when I order my favorite "Taco Burgers" at New York’s San Loco restaurant, a place immortalized in the album's final track, "San Loco." I love the lyrics, "Fly away buzzard, fly away crow, way down south where the wind don’t blow. Women here are good enough, I’m gonna get me some of that San Loco...stuff."

Through the years, I've kept in touch with Raging Slab. Greg Strzempka, slide guitarist Elyse Steinman, and lead guitarist Mark Middelton are all from my hometown area, and I've jammed onstage with Middleton on several occasions. Bassist Alec Morton worked in an East Village studio where I used to rehearse, and within a few weeks of my moving to New York, I met with Strzempka at a Manhattan recording studio when the group was looking for a new drummer. That's an area where they’re right up there with Spinal Tap as they've worked with over twenty drummers including Bob Pantella of Monster Magnet and Black Label Society co-founder Phil Ondich. Our friend Kory Clarke from Warrior Soul even played drums with Slab in the early days.

Take my word for it, and get yourself a copy of "Raging Slab!" Heck, go buy all their albums. You won't be disappointed. If you don’t believe me, ask Motley Crue’s Nikki Sixx and Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones. They'll set the record straight!

Review by John Ostronomy


February 26, 2008


"Parallels," is the sixth and my favorite album by one of the best progressive metal bands ever, Fates Warning. Produced by Terry Brown of Rush fame, this album gives a real blast of not only metal but emotion.

If you are a fan of bands like Dream Theater and Queensryche, but do not know Fates Warning, do your ears a favor and pickup a copy of this one.

Review by Mark Strigl


February 20, 2008


There have been only a handful of moments in rock guitar history were the rules changed. "Are You Experienced" by Jimi Hendrix, "Van Halen" by Van Halen and "Steeler" by Steeler. All advanced modern rock guitar playing to the next level.

This 1983 album was our first introduction to a teenager from Sweden named Yngwie J. Malmsteen. Yngwie picked every note and he did it faster than anybody else – way faster. Besides being a speed wiz, he infused beautiful classical melodies into his metal guitar leads.

The album also contains a young Ron Keel handling the vocals and most of the songwriting, both of which are way above average. Yngwie left the band as this album was being released to join Alcatraz, The first Alcatraz album is called "No Parole From Rock n Roll," and it is also awesome.

Review by Mark Strigl


February 19, 2008


Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Jake E. Lee strips down and leaves behind his fancy ruffled clothes, makeup, hairspray and guitar effects.

In 1989, the times were a changing and Jake E. Lee along with Ray Gillen, Eric Singer, and Greg Chaisson seemed to know it a little before most of the people who were slowing sinking on a boat called the Sunset Strip. Straight ahead classic hard rock is what you get on this album. No BS, just perfect rock. Ray Gillen's soulful voice along with well-crafted songs make this one of the best albums of the late 1980s. This album brought people back to the classic sounds of Zeppelin and helped prepare them for band's like Soundgarden, who were already brewing their potent riff rock far north of the glam metal scene on the Strip.

Review by Mark Strigl


February 5, 2008

CLASSIC ALBUM: SAXON - "Power and the Glory"

This album took Saxon's sound out of the 70s and into the 80s. Production was stepped up and every song killed. This was the band's first studio album to include the great Nigel Glockler on drums. Without question, this is Saxon's best work and that says a lot because they have had so many near perfect albums.

Speaking of 1983, it sure was an incredible year for hard rock and metal. Other must have albums released that year are as follows:

Accept – "Balls To the Wall"
Alcatrazz – "No Parole from Rock n Roll"
Black Sabbath
– "Born Again"
Dio – "Holy Diver"
Iron Maiden
– "Piece Of Mind"
KISS – "Lick It Up"
Merciful Fate – "Melissa"
Metallica – "Kill Em All"
Motley Crue – "Shout At The Devil"
Ozzy Osbourne
– "Bark At The Moon"
Quiet Riot – "Metal Health"
Raven – "All For One"
– "Show No Mercy"
Twisted Sister
– "You Can't Stop Rock 'n' Roll"
Waysted – "Vices"

Review by Mark Strigl


September 10, 2007

IAN CHRISTE - "Everybody Wants Some: The Van Halen Saga"
John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

"We came here to entertain you
Leaving here we aggravate you"
- I'm The One

William Shakespeare's plays could be put into three distinct categories; Histories, Comedies and Tragedies. If Bard were alive today I'm convinced without a doubt he would have written a play on the epic antics of Van Halen. Their story has all of elements of great storytelling that in truth even a fiction writer couldn't conceive in their wildest dreams. The question is what kind of play would it be? Shakespeare scholars would define it as a history play, but it would most definitely be heavy on elements of comedy and tragedy. Sadly Shakespeare isn't alive, but Ian Christe is. Christe previously detailed the meteoric history of heavy metal is his excellent 2003 book, 'The Sound of the Beast' and this time around, on 'Everybody Wants Some', he's tackled the most dysfunctional rock band on the planet with ardent zeal and has written a story that is epically Shakespearean.

The genesis of Van Halen is fascinating if for no other reason than they lost their driving charismatic force at what appeared to be their commercial peak but somehow managed to thrive and survive while conquering everything in their path without ever skipping a beat until they became their own worse enemy. The band has been and always will be led by a sprawling talent on the six-string who was gifted with staggering prowess and who created some of the greatest jet-engine riffs ever committed to tape. This guitar god partnered with a superbly unsubtle genius of a madman on vocals complimented by a frantic backbeat led by a happy go lucky bassist and a frenzied madman on the skins who together defined and influenced an entire generations of rock n' roll enthusiasts with six-albums in less than seven-years. The superb voracious singer was eventually replaced by a more at ease venerable musician who allowed the band to mature and develop while still commanding the audience's attention. Eventually egos and outside forces did what rap, grunge and continual changing musical tastes couldn't do; bring the band to their knees. Sammy Hagar, David Lee Roth, Michael Anthony, Alex and Eddie Van Halen (and later to a lesser extent Gary Cherone and Wolfgang Van Halen) defied all odds and became the biggest band in the land not just once, but twice and may possibly do it a third time. If you think you know the full story about the anarchic Van Halen family…you don't. 'Everybody Wants Some' is endearing, euphoric and expansive history into what is most likely the most estranged band to ever emerge from the land of opportunity. Ian Christe is frank and unbiased as he chronicles the band's entire history with gritty details of their rise to the top, each break-up, the aftermath, submerged inner tension and meticulous details that even the casual fan will devour. Van Halen's rise, fall and resurrection are all here in mesmerizing detail and will have you asking yourself, "Who's Mitch Malloy?"

"I've been through hell and back again
Shook hands with the devil
Looked him in the eye
Looked like a long lost friend"
- Mine All Mine

The most staggering aspect of the book is that it's an unauthorized biography. As a general rule, I usually don't enjoy unauthorized biographies because they tend to be glorified tales written with a lot of assumptions and tall tales that even a casual fan would raise their eyes with suspicion. I never hoisted my eyebrow once as Christe's research is nothing short of astonishing; minute details are given ranging from specific recording sessions, family lineages, failed auditions for singers, the numerous attempted reunions with Roth and the most important aspect for guitar geeks-a detailed outline of guitars used, created and played by Eddie Van Halen over his entire life. Christe knows this band, loves this band, pulls his hair out over their internal drama and as a result has written the definitive Van Halen story. Once you pick it up it you will need to unchain yourself from your chair because it's impossible to put down whether you are a Van Halen or Van Hagar fan.

Even if the band sat down one day to write their story, it would be biased with revisionism. No authorized biography would ever be this factual or truthful. If recent actions are any hint, it probably wouldn't even mention Michael Anthony. Christe puts the reader right in the emotional thick of the action from the 1920's in Europe to the present day reunion in 2007. Christe makes you feel like an insider with his fastidious quotes and personal insight. Don't get me wrong, Christe dishes dirt, but does so without judgment and makes sure he has the facts straight. People often tell me I should write a book, but after reading 'Everybody Wants Some', I doubt if I could ever be as comprehensive and succinct as Christe who spent a colossal amount of time researching this book which is apparent right from page one. The book encompasses the Van Halen's journey from Holland to California, to their early high school bands, jamming to thousands of people in backyards, their encounters with Gene Simmons and their rise, fall, dissolution, internal destruction and eventual resurrection(s). David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar's post Van Halen solo-tenure's are also detailed as are stories of what Eddie and Alex Van Halen have been doing for the better part of a decade proving they indeed have been very active but out of the spotlight. There are details of songs left off albums and jams recorded but have never seen the light of day. From late 1998 until early 2004, Eddie and Alex were invisible to the outside world. 'Everybody Wants Some' puts this long pause into perspective.

When the Van Halen brothers disappeared into 5150 in 1999, they had alienated their most devoted fans and by early 2004, they had been away for so long that no one really cared anymore. The sad aspect of the Van Halen brothers disappearing act was it did diminish their legacy. There was a time where I went years without listening to any Van Halen albums, even though I loved them. They were so far removed from the spotlight and the lack or archive releases frustrated me and millions of fans. As discussed in this book, the amount of unreleased music stored in 5150 is staggering. There should have been dozens of live DVD's, box sets, remasters and other fan oriented packages in the last decade to quench the enormous thirst fans still have for this band but alas we had to settle for three new songs on the 2004 package, 'The Best of Both Worlds', two songs on 'The Best of: Volume 1' and an album with Gary Cherone. Then the abrupt reunion with Hagar in 2004 left fans sour once again, however, Christe puts all of these events into the proper perspective and while he details their fall from grace, he makes us almost forget all of the internal drama and elevates their legacy in ways I never thought possible. Despite the constant rotation of lead singers, unreleased songs, the Cherone album and failed reunions Christe manages to make me view Van Halen as something more than a soap opera, he reminds us why we loved them in the first place and as a result they will always be a vital and imperative band no matter what the future holds for them. With his poetic prose, Christe jogs your memory and proves that Van Halen will always be legends. As soon as I finished reading 'Everybody Wants Some' I gave every Van Halen album another spin and viewed each one from a fresh outlook including the comical 'Diver Down', the pulverizing 'Fair Warning' and the metallic and misunderstood 'Balance'. The band should give Christe a portion of future proceeds from record sales just for writing this book, because as a result of reading it, I am reevaluating records I had forgotten about years ago and it appears I underestimated them. 'Everybody Wants Some' is the essential gift every Van Halen fan should have. Do yourself a favor and buy this book before you buy a t-shirt at the reunion concert. Christie has written a book that is stylish, succinct, breathtaking and as dazzling as an Eddie Van Halen guitar solo. If you ever stared in the mirror and attempted to imitate David Lee Roth with leaps and splits from the "Jump" video, then this book is for you.

"This is my chance to fly"
- Unchained

Review by Anthony Kuzminski

Anthony Kuzminski is a Chicago based writer for the antiMusic Network, Unrated Magazine, is a contributor to Talking Metal and can be found at The Screen Door

Chapter One of the book can be read in its entirety here.


September 10, 2007

RAT SKATES - "Born in the Basement"
Kundrat Productions

If you have ever watched Metallica's VH1 Behind the Music and enjoyed the story of its earliest days and rise to fame, you will thoroughly enjoy Born in the Basement. The DVD tells the story of metal pioneers, Overkill, from its earliest inception to its rise to prominence in the east coast underground metal scene.

The man behind the story is Rat Skates, original drummer and co-founder of Overkill. Skates is candid and passionate about the role he played in the early thrash movement. What emerges is not just a musician, but an entrepreneur with keen business instincts determined to make his band a success no matter what the cost. What the band lacked in monetary resources, Skates made up for in imagination and creativity, using everyday items such as milk crates and Styrofoam paneling to create an arena-like stage set for the band's live shows.

As the story unfolds, the viewer gets a true sense of what it was like to be a part of thrash's heyday. Skates could have easily used today's technology to enhance the image of the thrash movement or his own. However, he eschews big production in favor of the same "do-it yourself" approach that characterized his earlier days in Overkill. The result is a documentary that faithfully preserves the spirit of the early thrash movement.

Review by Jerred Mathews


August 11, 2007

Tinley Park, IL, July 17, 2007

Those who get paid to write about rock n' roll tend to focus on artists who are less established, because they always want to see the underdog come out on top (myself included). But what happens when you enjoy enormous success early in your career? You have nowhere to go but down. Once that commercial peak passes, you then become the underdog but writers usually choose to ignore you because they never felt you deserved success in the first place. This is why you see certain artists placed up on a pulpit by most of the mainstream rock press and why you'll never see Rolling Stone write an article on Poison. What they don't realize is that acts like Poison still feel like they have something to prove and this was devastatingly evident to me during their most recent Chicago performance. The excitement within the crowd was palpable and the second the lights went off, the darkness cued the crowd into hysteria. As the band segued into their opening intro, the screams and shrieks became more zealous. All eyes were focused front and center where from beneath the stage, Poison lead singer Bret Michaels rose from a veiled door in true rock star fashion; from this moment until the final crashing and surreal pyrotechnic blast nearly ninety-minutes later Bret, guitarist C.C. Deville, bassist Bobby Dall and drummer Rikki Rocket plowed through the show like hemi-powered drones on a highway. The band's core mantra has always been about having (ok shoot me, I'm going to use the ultimate cliché) "nothing but a good time". This is a band that relishes their place in the annals of rock n' roll and do not apologize for it. They still are the ultimate party animals, but this time around they delivered a show that was focused, intense, triumphant and that dripped, soaked and oozed with raw sexual energy. It was flat out the best I have ever seen Poison in concert.

Poison is riding a wave of creative revitalization led by singer Bret Michaels' new reality series, "Rock of Love". We all have our own opinions about reality television, but ironically, this recent media attention appears to have reinvigorated the band. Many who paid to see this show came for an evening of escapism and exuberance and left seeing so much more. Poison came, saw and rocked the crowd as if they were unleashing inner demons. Poison has toured the amphitheater circuit eight of the last nine years and somehow they appear to defy odds by continuing to fill seats year after year. People may mock them, but Poison takes themselves seriously, which is the key to their continued success.

The show opened with cries of glee, flashes of pyro and all out insanity as the band ripped through "Look What the Cat Dragged In", "I Want Action" and "Ride the Wind" each delivering sonic fireworks. While the performances featured largely faithful renditions, the band added little touches to some of them including a small guitar instrumental by Bret and C.C. before the seminal and sweet "I Won't Forget You" and some nice harp playing by Bret before "Your Mama Don't Dance". It was eerily similar to the more extended jams the current incarnation of Guns N' Roses are performing. These little moments speak volumes. They are usually unexpected and off the cuff, but it gives us a genuine thrill and is a testament to how scarily good this band can be when they apply themselves.

This tour finds them in support of a new covers album, 'Poison'd', the band's pledge of allegiance to those rockers they love and admire. Three of the songs were performed; "What I Like About You" (The Romantics), "Can't You See" (Marshall Trucker) and "I Need To Know" (Tom Petty). Surprisingly they work incredibly well within the context of the concert. My only quibble is that with an album full of covers; why not rotate different songs each night giving the show in each city its own unique imprint? These performances are by no means definitive, but what's imperative during a concert performance is that the spirit of the song is captured; Poison encapsulated not just the aura but the essence of these songs as well. The only advice I'd give Poison is I firmly feel they should tour theaters behind this album this coming fall, without an opener showcasing the majority of the album. I'm sure many fans would love to see this band tear through a two-hour show which encompassed covers and rare songs alongside an extended greatest hits encore.

The 2007 model of Poison is lean, mean and dare I say it, in the preeminent musical shape of their careers. This isn't a tongue-in-cheek tease, but an earnest viewpoint of a band that has never been taken seriously by the mainstream press. Just because those who get paid to write about music choose to not write about them, doesn't mean that Poison doesn't make an impact. Over the years Poison's concert have always fun, with a large emphasis on the word "fun". No one, including Poison themselves, would ever say they are the most technically proficient musicians. Despite their musical limitations, they have always hit the concert stage with an energy few acts can touch. On the nights when their playing was a mess musically, they managed to make it a glorious mess. However, this time around Poison is performing with pinpoint precision; something I never thought would be possible. It may be C.C. Deville's sobriety, it may be the feeling they are relevant again and maybe they've just matured like a fine wine. Regardless, if you buy a ticket to see Poison this summer, you will see them at their zenith as they have never performed with more vitality or aptitude than they are right now. It does not matter that the show consists of the usual suspect mega-hits, ("Unskinny Bop", "Nothing But A Good Time", "Talk Dirty To Me", "Something To Believe In", "Every Rose Has It's Thorn", "Fallen Angel"), because each and every song performed showcased a drive and hunger I have never seen from this band before. The band was secure, confident and refined in their craft. Every minute of this show was divinely delicious and not in a guilty-pleasure fashion but in a sweaty sexual way, it's as if these songs become part of you and drop from your pores. The theatrics of this show are not to be outdone and is easily the band's most theatrical show since their 'Flesh & Blood' tour in 1990/91. I'd even dare say the theatrics are a hybrid of the best KISS and the Rolling Stones shows with video screens with teasing sexual images, a first rate light show, drum risers and more pyro than a Fourth of July festival (one pyrotechnic blast during "Your Mama Don't Dance" was so intense it nearly removed my eye brows). Poison were once hard rock titans and I'm happy to say that a band who was once lost has now been found and has turned their inner desperation and isolation into revelation through the sheer power of determination which ended in a crashing, surreally pyrotechnic rock n' roll finale. There was no inhibition or shame here, just four guys hoping to reclaim their spot in the fans hearts.

The end of the show was an orgy of rupturing fireworks, literally and figuratively. Rarely do you see what most people deem "guilty pleasures" enrapture a crowd so large and varied. There were slews of teenagers here and surprisingly, they sung along with every word. Bret Michaels had the crowd wrapped around his finger with his peek-aboo vibrancy that had most women in the crowd wishing they had tried out for "Rock of Love" and had the men wishing they were him. The last time I saw Poison, I felt they coasted on their past and lacked the knack to ever be a band that matters again. I'm happy to say that this show found the band implausibly fresh with a razzle dazzle attack of the crowd and their material. The cumulative effect of the evening could be felt by the joy of the physical and emotional release the crowd had to these sexual, soaking, secular and stirring songs. Am I really waxing poetically about Poison? You bet and as long as they deliver further performances with the same vigor and sincerity, I'll continue to do so.

Review by Anthony Kuzminski (, who can be found at The Screen Door


July 16, 2007

JOHN 5 - "The Devil Knows My Name"

After leaving Marilyn Manson in 2004, John 5 released his first solo album, "Vertigo," a collection of original rock, country, and bluegrass instrumentals to wide acclaim. On his motivation to release a solo album at the time, John explained to Mark Strigl and John Ostronomy of Talking Metal, "I love this crazy shredding music, country, and crazy bluegrass stuff and I just love to play guitar….When I got out of Manson, I was like, "you know what? I'm just going to put out some of (this) guitar instrumental stuff just for fun…" For fans accustomed to his work with Marilyn Manson, "Vertigo" showed a completely different side to John and immediately established him as a guitar hero. John recalled the reaction, "it blew up so big. I would go to the magazine stand and there'd be covers and covers of my face on these guitar magazines…I was very surprised just how people really accepted it and liked it."

Building on the success of "Vertigo," John released "Songs for Sanity" in 2005, an amazing follow-up which showed John expanding artistically. "Gods and Monsters" and "Denouement" melded guitar heroism with nu-metal and industrial influences, genres usually thought to be incompatible while the acoustic "2 Die 4" and country-influenced "Behind the Nut Love" showed new sides to John's playing. On the latter, John ingenuously reproduces the sound of pedal steel, an instrument commonly played in country music, on his electric guitar. John explained the origins of the song's sound, "I love pedal steel guitar and I tuned the whole guitar in an opening tuning like a lap steel. I bend the strings behind the nut so the other strings will ring out."

On John's most recent release, "The Devil Knows My Name," he raises the bar yet again. The songs are more epic and the guitar playing is even more over-the top than previous efforts. On "27 Needles," John abandons the more traditional twang of country music in favor of heavy distortion. Although John is playing the guitar, his tone and technique closely matches a fiddle player (Check out at 3:02 - 3:37). "Black Widow of La Porte" is a tour de force of guitar heroism with John taking a wide array of influences (Satriani, Vai, and Buckethead) and blending them into his own style. At 2:57 - 3:02, John almost sounds possessed as he hits a legato run with blinding speed. Later, at 6:03 - 6:24, he pays homage to one of his favorite guitar players, Buckethead, before returning to the song's main theme. In a unique marriage of styles, "The Washing Away of Wrong" features the guest guitar playing of virtuoso Eric Johnson. John explained, "With Eric Johnson, he's more of a Texas blues-rock player who's incredible and I put him in such a different rhythm - I put him in a really heavy Sabbath rhythm". Perhaps, the most fascinating track is John's rendition of "Welcome to the Jungle" where he painstakingly preserves Axl Rose's voice on the guitar. From one artist to another, it's the highest compliment.

Stand Out Tracks: "Black Widow of La Porte", "Welcome to the Jungle", "Dead Art in Plainfield", "The Washing Away of Wrong"

Review by Jerred Mathews


June 23, 2007

DEVIN TOWNSEND - "Ziltoid the Omniscient"
Inside Out Music

After taking a much deserved break to be with his family following last year's Ozzfest, Devin Townsend announced that he would retire Strapping Young Lad and the Devin Townsend Band and focus on solo projects. Ever the workaholic, Devin has come back with "Ziltoid the Omnicient," a concept album based on the adventures of a fourth dimensional alien.

The Devin Townsend storyline is both absurd and entertaining, but at the same time does not draw the listener's focus away from Townsend's extraordinary musical talents. "ZTO" strikes hard with precise heavy metal riffing, Martian melodies, Zappa-esque vocal harmonies, and laser sound effects. It's a powerful beginning to an amazing musical journey.

Musically, the album draws upon Townsend's earlier solo projects as well as Strapping Young Lad. "By Your Command" begins in heavy Strapping Young Lad territory, but later blends into musical landscapes reminiscent of his earlier solo work (3:42-5:57). "Solar Winds" is perhaps the most epic song on the album. After a brief narration, Townsend sings introspectively before the song gives way to majestic fanfare. 4:46 - 6:02 could be the heavy metal equivalent of "Kashmir" while 6:57-9:24 demonstrates Townsend's brilliant use of crescendo. Townsend dims the volume at 6:57, creating an illusion of distance between the listener and the song, but instead of fading out, the song gradually builds towards a grand finale. Just as the drums reach the pinnacle of intensity, the song gives way to "Hyperdrive," the album's most straightforward and accessible offering. "Color My World" contains the album's greatest peaks and valleys in terms of intensity. Similar to "By Your Command", the song begins with the relentless frenzy of Strapping Young Lad before morphing seamlessly into calmer pastures. It is amazing how one artist can bring such two extremes together so effortlessly.

Stand Out Tracks: "By Your Command", "Solar Winds", "Hyperdrive", "Color Your World", "The Greys".

Review by Jerred Mathews


December 11, 2006

Allstate Arena, November 27, 2006

Reprinted from The Screen Door with Anthony Kuzminski, December 7, 2006

I recently was sent at the last minute to review the Guns N' Roses show as it made a stop in Chicago. The review will be published on Unrated Magazine and this coming Monday, but due to numerous requests, I am putting it up here on the blog early. I'd like to give a special thanks to Mark and John at Talking Metal for helping reinvigorate my interest in this band.

Allstate Arena
November 27th, 2006

In the fifty-years since Elvis laid down his first vocal at Sun Studios in Memphis, TN rock n' roll has become more than escapism and so-called "devil's music", but also a driving life force. We have been blessed with some truly magical artists who have elevated our hearts, minds and bodies: Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, The Doors, Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, the Ramones, The Clash, the Sex Pistols, AC/DC, KISS, U2, REM, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Metallica and thousands upon thousand others. All of these acts mastered their craft and in their own way, changed the face of music. However, I'm not sure if there has ever been a group of artists in the annals of rock n' roll who were more mischievous, moody, maniacal, magical and miraculous than Guns N' Roses. With all that being said, they may also take the title as the most maddening group as well.

While I'm saddened by group dissolution and preventable deaths, I firmly believe that Moon, Hendrix, Joplin, Bonham, Morrison, Presley and Cobain all chose a path where there was no looking back. Whereas every member who has ever performed with Guns N' Roses is still alive (and for the most part well). When they unleashed their brand of rock upon the world it was met with universal acceptance and I'm not sure if I've ever seen a band be admired, loved and reach such a wide and diverse group of people since the Beatles. Males, females, metal heads, rockers, punks all heralded and cherished GNR's brand of vicious rock and still do nearly two-decades later. Sadly, the group has largely existed in name only for the last thirteen years, but 2006 has proven to be a year in which the name Guns N' Roses becomes more than a mere nostalgia trip.

Despite a brief interrupted tour in 2002, this is Axl Rose's first full year of touring since 1993. While I've heard reports of blazing nights and some solid bootlegs, I wasn't convinced I needed to see this incarnation of GNR. Here's my reason why; There was a time in the mid 1980's where Keith Richards and Mick Jagger did not see eye to eye. As a result, Jagger went solo on a tour to Australia and Japan, territories the Stones had never been to. Not only did this infuriate Richards as these were territories the Stones had never visited where large amounts of money could be made, but more importantly, his partner went there without him. These two men had built so much together and yet one was standing on the sidelines watching his partner claim all the glory. Richards' fill in was virtuoso guitarist Joe Satriani, who is a top flight guitarist, but he doesn't have the same history with Mick. Great musicians don't make great bands. Since then Jagger and Richards reconciled and have only played the classic Stones songs with each other enhancing their legacy and legend. My generations version of the Stones, Guns N' Roses, has spent the better part of the last thirteen-years out of the consciousness of the public, but never far from our hearts and minds.

I received a last minute phone call to review the GNR show and I wasn't entirely sure I wanted to go. I wasn't sure if I could reconcile these new musicians no matter how talented they may be. I overcame my reservations and headed out to the Allstate Arena where Axl Rose and seven supporting musicians, better knows as Guns N' Roses hit the stage at 11:35pm. Before the band hit the show, I wasn't sure what to expect. They arrived on stage amidst an army of pyrotechnics and strobe light madness with an appetite for destruction. The crowd response was deafening which makes me wonder what reaction a full fledged reunion could bring. A reunion of this type could break all box office records. When Axl Rose screeched his way on stage, it was with an appetite that I would say is close to being unheralded in my lifetime.

The opening trio of songs were all from "Appetite For Destruction" ("Welcome To The Jungle", "It's So Easy", "Mr. Brownstone") and the in succession performances put the crowd in a maddening trance. It became very apparent it would be far too easy to label these musicians as a glorious cover band. This is far more than Axl and a bunch of arbitrary musicians. Each member was handpicked by Axl for not only being a masterful musician but also a spellbinding performer as well. A lot of discussion has been had on each of the band members and how they'll never compare to the original line up. I was one of those who had my doubts but can tell you that after seeing this eight-piece band shred through a two-hour plus show, these guys are no slouches. What you have here is not even an All Star team of musicians, but better, a group of guys who have chemistry and who are pulling off the impossible every night by winning each crowd over. Bassist Tommy Stinson roamed the stage like a veteran; while guitarists Robin Finck and Richard Fortus roamed the stage doing a damn good job on making most of the audience, even if it was briefly, forget about top hats and faceless guitarists.

Axl Rose is an artist whom I have followed since the band's inception and in truth, I'm not sure if I could ever put the artist's actions into context, but I do know this, he will not go on stage until he is ready to give 110% of himself to that crowd. He plays by his rules and no others, not because of ego, but because he's a perfectionist. I assisted journalist Lonn Friend with his recent memoir, "Life on Planet Rock" which allowed me into the inner workings and mind of Axl Rose. Aside from long time confidant Del James and former GNR manager Doug Goldstein, I'm not sure if anyone else really understood Axl as much. However, I must admit to proofing and assisting with the book and being mystified by the stories and thought process of the legendary front man, yet after seeing the drive and determination with which he put forth during these opening numbers, I can now say that I get it. Axl is a true rock n' roll renegade that will do things on his own time and his own way. How else could he pull off two national tours without a new record in stores? From a business perspective, it makes no sense to tour without a new album and this is the third time Guns N' Roses has done this ('91, '02 and '06) in their career.

The long awaited "Chinese Democracy" is still not on any release schedule, but it did not stop him from performing five songs from the album. "Chinese Democracy" and "IRS" are reminiscent of how one could imagine GNR in the 21st Century. "The Blues" and "Madagascar" were moody ballads, the latter of which bore images of political uprisings from the 60's on the screen behind Axl when performed. However, there is one new song that stood apart from the rest; "Better". A bootleg of this track leaked earlier this year and I will say that it is on par with anything Axl Rose has ever created. This triumphant composition is a cinematic poem filled with fuming guitars and perfectly textured harmonies. When one hears a song like "Better", you realize the potential that "Chinese Democracy" holds. But until it is released, we'll have to be content with the concert experience.

As Robin ended his solo and launched into "Sweet Child O' Mine", the crowd responded with a response so magnetic, one had to see it to believe it. I'm not sure if there is an album from the last twenty-five years that still continues to grow, develop and resonate more than "Appetite For Destruction". Not only do people know every word to the singles, but they know every word to all twelve compositions. Most shockingly, the new band performed these songs to perfection as if they have been performing them for decades. The seductive power with which they were delivered to the audience was hypnotic. Something I didn't expect to see, nor did I want to see, was a band who made this material their own and this current incarnation did just that. What the current band lacks in history they more than make up for in their resolve and willpower.

While these performers took these songs to soaring heights, Axl Rose covered every foot of the stage and sprinted across it as if it were 1988 not showing his age at all. There have been numerous articles over the years that feel that Axl mistreats his fans with constant delays, late start times, and cancellations…but after assisting Lonn Friend with his memoir and now witnessing this show, I don't believe that is the case. The truth is that Axl Rose hits that stage planning on giving the audience his all and draining every last ounce of sanity from himself in the process as well. He views the concert stage as his work desk and when people distract him with fights up front, unnecessary shoving and flashes going off, he sees these people as interrupting his job and wants them removed so he can continue to give the rest of the audience his complete and total focus. Axl Rose is attempting to accomplish the impossible and even though the task of rebuilding GNR is maybe the most daunting task ever done in the annals of rock, there is no mountain Axl will not climb to bring his vision to reality, no matter how long it takes.

As the evening continued, there were intermittent solos between suites of songs by assorted members of the band. Keyboardist Dizzy Reed, the only member to continually stand shoulder to shoulder with Axl over the last fifteen years, had the evening's most sublime moment with a piano led solo of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps'. Reed's playing was so dead on and inspirational that photographer Rob Grabowski commented to me that it was the highlight of the show for him. Something people tend to forget and overlook is that Dizzy Reed joined the band during the recording of the "Use Your Illusion" albums. He is the only member left from that era who is still in the band and after seeing his solo, I'm glad he stood by Axl's side as he brings not only musical aptitude but history with him as well. Guitarist Richard Fortus performed "A Winter Shade of Pale" during his solo and the unbelievably gifted guitarist Bumblefoot performed the complete elegiac "Don't Cry" instrumental to roars of approval. Many have criticized these solos as being unnecessary and long, however, I see them as giving these unknown musicians a chance to shine. Besides, these are more than just instrumentals; they are extended jams that are virtually songs within themselves and are anything but meandering and without purpose. The eighteen-song set had a total of eight songs performed off "Appetite" (including a vicious "My Michelle" with a guest appearance with Sebastian Bach), one from "Lies" (a reliable "Patience), four from the "Use Your Illusion" albums (including a soaring "November Rain") and five from the still unreleased "Chinese Democracy" (with the aforementioned future classic "Better").

I'll be the first to admit it was eerie seeing the non-classic line up of Guns N' Roses perform these songs, however, they were delivered to the Chicago audience with romantic sincerity as if the evening was an epic love poem delivered by an eight-piece band. What impressed was not the sentimental essence of these songs but the overall esoteric nature of the evening. The context with which these songs were written and recorded will never be erased. Yet, these songs still speak volumes to the here and now and Axl is bringing them to the crowd not because of nostalgia, but because he has something to prove. When you want to see truly incendiary performances, there is nothing greater than seeing an artist who has something to prove. In the same building, once known as the Rosemont Horizon, I saw Jon Bon Jovi leave a pint of blood on this stage in 1993 and again in 2000 wanting to prove the naysayers wrong as he tore through two of the longest and wildest shows of his career. I've never forgotten those shows because he had something to prove. I'm not sure if I've seen another artist of Bon Jovi's stature fight as hard until now with Axl. The critics can go ahead and flame him if they want, they just don't get it. With few exceptions, I haven't seen a club act give this much of their body, mind and sanity. Will the new incarnation gauge the emotional weight of their predecessors? Only time will tell, but in the meantime, they out there rocking their hearts out with a vigor and resilience I doubt you will even see from the most driven club act. Getting used to this incarnation will come with time…and a little patience.

Review by Anthony Kuzminski of


November 24, 2006

KISS - "Alive! 1975-2000"
The Island Def Jam Music Group

KISS fans won't want to miss picking up KISS "Alive! 1975-2000," the new 4-CD set from The Island Def Jam Music Group. In addition to featuring remastered versions of KISS' first three live albums, the box set includes "The Millenium Concert" on CD for the first time ever. Originally slated for release in 2001 as KISS "Alive IV," this recording is the first full-length live album since 1977 to feature original KISS members Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley, and Peter Criss.

Summary: This reasonably priced package is a must for all hardcore KISS fans, and it is a great representation of KISS' live material for the casual fan of rock and metal.

Standout Tracks: "Deuce," "Into The Void," "Lick It Up"

Review by John Ostronomy


November 8, 2006

THE HAUNTED - "The Dead Eye"
Century Media

The Haunted are a five-piece band that hail from Sweden. Their latest release for Century Media, "The Dead Eye," is an amazing journey to the dark side of rock. I highly recommend you buy this album. "The Dead Eye" could be considered extreme metal with strong classic, thrash, gothic, and doom metal influences that ring strong in it's overall sound. I think these guys have an original thing going on. Vocalist, Peter Dolving, has a strong aggressive voice that attacks you without ever really going into the death metal growl that dominates so many of the extreme metal bands today. The album is a perfect listen all of the way through with a constant musical thread that tends to complete it and makes it feel whole. This is a refreshing element in the day of single song iTunes downloads. Nowadays, most bands have forgotten the definition of an album, but The Haunted is not one of them. That is not to say you can't enjoy just one song on its own either. On "The Dead Eye," The Haunted prove their extreme power with well-crafted melodic songs that are miles ahead of their peers. Listen to this album, and hear the future of contemporary metal. Now, all they need is a couple of guitar solos. Whether you like The Absence, Opeth, Mastodon, old school Metallica, or Hell, even Nine Inch Nails, chances are that you are going to really dig The Haunted's "The Dead Eye."

Summary: Great pure metal darkness with no cheese.

Standout Tracks: "The Flood," "The Crowning," "The Reflection," "The Medusa," "The Guilt Trip," "The Prosecution"

Review by Mark Strigl


April 5, 2006

Spinerazor Records/Corporate Punishment

Members: Ethan Deth (v/b), Tony's War (v/g), Chad MacKinnon (g) and Kriss Rites (d).
Produced by Jordon Zadoronzy and Kill Cheerleader

If you like old GN'R, the first Motley record, Iggy Pop, Dead Boys, Motorhead, and Turbonegro...these guys will be right up your alley...Kill Cheerleader. I would call them Punk Metal Sleeze Rock. The songs on this CD really blow me away!!! Get it now.

Review by Mark Strigl

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