Thursday, May 31, 2012

Stone Axe - Captured Live at Roadburn


If you've been reading any of the stuff I drone on & on about here on Ripple then you know that I'm really, really into live albums. The first thing I ever submitted to the blog here was a review of Grand Funk's Live Album. I've written up rock classics like Tokyo Tapes by Scorpions, Motorhead's No Sleep Til Hammersmith and Iron Maiden's Maiden Japan. James Brown, Otis Redding and Booker T & The MG's concerts have also been drooled all over. So when it was announced that Stone Axe was putting out a live album recorded at last years Roadburn festival in Holland I told the Ripple bosses that I need to get first crack at reviewing it.

The cover of Captured Live! takes inspiration from Grand Funk's overlooked Caught In The Act double live album and the opening instrumental "Stonin'" brings to mind the footstompin music of Grand Funk at their pinnacle. Stone Axe makes great records, but guitarist Tony Reed usually plays most of the instruments. Live, bassist Mike DuPont and drummer Mykey Haslip blaze a full on heavy rock groove like few others can these days. Damn, these guys are tight! Tony's guitar sounds great and he's equally adept at cranking out killer riffs and blazing solos. Frontman Dru Brinkerhoff is in great voice and great spirits and gets the crowd rocking. Good singing', good playin' indeed.

In the 70's it was normal to put out a live album after 3 studio records, but to date Stone Axe has only released 2 full lengths. However, they've done enough singles and EP's that they're not breaking any major rules. The Captured Live! CD contains 14 songs and the vinyl has 9. The vinyl sounds especially great. Double vinyl would be my preference but I know how expensive that shit is to manufacture. The CD sounds killer, too, and will be a hell of a lot easier to play in your car. The all killer no filler set list includes crowd favorites like "On With The Show," "Black Widow" and "We Still Know It's Rock 'N' Roll." Stone Axe show no quarter on the incredible "Skylah Rae" and will have you fogging up your bedroom or van accordingly. There's a reason why most bands don't put out live albums anymore - because they're not that good live. Stone Axe aren't able to do extensive touring so do yourself a favor and pick this up and see what you've been missing.

--Woody



Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Laike - Långt Från Stadslivets Dån



It had been a long, slow decline.  When my writing career first took off I would sit down to write and the words would burst forth from my mind.  It was as if they were drawn from me by some benevolent literary force.  Thoughts and creative ideas came to me effortlessly and in great abundance.  At times my fingers could not type fast enough to efficiently put ink to digital paper.  Those were good times.  If only they would have lasted a little longer.

I can’t pinpoint exactly when the decline in my productivity began.  Wait, yes I can!  Everything took a turn for the worse the instant I moved from my small town to the big city.  At the time I believed that being part of a large metropolis would grant me access to a wider range of human emotion and experience.  My hope was that this exposure would broaden my creativity, taking my writing to places I couldn’t even fathom.  And for a brief while it did.  I was having a ball meeting people and visiting strange and exciting new places.  The big city was vast and bustling, and it never slept.

Unfortunately, city life very quickly overwhelmed me.  The first few times I missed a personal writing deadline I was able to explain the problem away using convincing excuses.  So what if I slipped past the deadline I set for myself?  The article/short story/chapter was always finished before the actual deadline set by my publisher or agent.  I just needed a new computer that could run the latest word processor, or a faster internet connection that would allow me to do research more quickly.  The problem was always superficial.

Time marched on and my productivity kept dropping further and further away from my previous heights.  Finally, I hit rock bottom.  I sat staring at my computer screen, hands on my keyboard, but the words would not come.  My mind had become so busy, so filled with nonsense, that I couldn’t write anything.  I tried to focus in on what I wanted to convey but my inability to concentrate doomed me to failure.  My thoughts derailed themselves at every possible junction.  City life and the noise produced within its borders had made me mentally soft.  There was only one thing to do.

The next morning I packed my bags, gassed up my car, and drove to the most remote, sparsely populated area I could find.  When I exited my car I was stunned.  The silence was deafening!  Having become used to the constant noise of the big city it took me a few days before I could even pick out pleasant sounds such as a birdcall or the wind rustling through the surrounding foliage.  For a moment I was afraid I had somehow contracted tinnitus because there was a constant buzzing in my ears.  When I had effectively emptied my brain of all the useless distractions I had picked up however, that ringing disappeared.  Essentially, I had gone back to nature and I felt pure in a way I hadn’t for some time.

Not wanting to push my luck, I chose to leave my computer unplugged.  I was all in on this new venture and that meant that instead of a keyboard I would use a pad of paper and a pen.  Every day, about nine or ten in the morning, I would take a seat on the front porch of my rented abode and write.  Miraculously I found that I could focus again!  My thoughts formed in a neat and orderly fashion inside my mind!  The act of writing, which in my city days had become more a chore than anything else, was fun again!  I was free to be myself once more!

Days turned into weeks.  Weeks turned into months.  I filled twenty notebooks with my writing.  I went through eleven pens and fifteen pencils.  The only reason I plugged my computer in was to transcribe my writings so they could be submitted to my agent.  I lost contact with almost every person whom I met in the big city.  Truth be told, I never should have moved there in the first place.

Well, well.  What do we have here?  What could it possibly be?  I’ll let you in on the secret waveriders.  I’ve just listened to a magnificent album that serves as irrefutable evidence in the fight against people who say ‘they don’t make ‘em like they used to’.  While that proclamation may indeed ring true when talking about the specifics of how an album is recorded or mixed, the spirit from every musical era remains.  All one has to do to test this is open their ears and listen.  Let’s take that aforementioned album, Långt Från Stadslivets Dån by the band Laike, and use it to illustrate what I’m talking about.

Do you like to listen to folk rock that originated in the 1970s?  Me too.  Is it safe for me to assume that you have not heard a new recording which reminded you of that folk rock in years?  I thought so.  One last question.  Can you think of a present day band that features flute?  No, Jethro Tull does not count.  Don’t worry.  I couldn’t produce an answer when I asked myself the same question.  Enter Laike.  This band is basically a one man project.  That man, whose name is Christofer Stahle, is a Swedish musician who has been actively playing music for more than a decade.  According to the information provided on his bandcamp page, the Laike project began about a year and a half ago with the intention of being an outlet for the songs Mr. Stahle was producing by himself with no timetable attached.  He composed all of the songs and then brought in whichever of his musician friends was required to complete his vision.

If these songs are a true indicator of what can be produced over time in a low stress environment, let me say that I think many other musicians should think long and hard about jumping on the bandwagon.  Wow!  This is one of those albums waveriders that immediately clicked for me.  I’ve held off on writing down my formal opinion simply because I wasn’t exactly sure how much gushing would be involved.  In the end, it’s going to be a lot of gushing.

The first song on Långt Från Stadslivets Dån, “Modeslavarnas Marsch”, will effortlessly whisk you away from your present day troubles and place you in an easygoing yet energetic 70s state of mind.  A quick point of order folks.  The vocals on this album are in Swedish.  If you demand your lyrical content to be in English, this is not the album for you.  Also, while I don’t speak Swedish I am reasonably sure that these lyrics will not translate into ‘Hail Satan’ or some other metal-like ‘Kill Everything’ statement.  Then again, that’s just a guess on my part.  Moving on.

While it is certainly true that all of the songs on this album fall into the folk-rock category in one fashion or another, there is a significant amount of variety on offer here.  The title track “Långt Från Stadslivets Dån” has a real joyous, infectious energy.  “Ensamhetens Borg” is a very pretty song with different effects used on the vocals and instrumentation that make it ethereal.  “Gladiatorkamp” is about as close to a folk-rock funk song as you can get.  The influence of the six months Mr. Stahle spent living in Shanghai is most evident during the last half of “Bygger Stegar Upp Till Himmelen”, where the song transforms into what to my ears sounds like a musical/spiritual meditation.  “Du är Mer än Vad Jag Ser” really increases the folksiness with some wonderful violin work all throughout the song.  I could go on, but I think by this point you all have wrapped your heads around what I’m trying to get across.

Christofer Stahle’s Laike is truly something for your ears to behold waveriders.  A sonic gem!  If you like folk-rock the way it sounded in the 1970s then you need to drop everything and obtain this album right now.  I guarantee that your mind will be blown away!  As for everyone else, maybe you need a break from all that metal/hard rock/hip hop/pop/country that you’re listening to at the moment?  Laike is just what the doctor ordered.  Just don’t blame me when you find yourself not wanting to go back to your usual listening haunts.

--Penfold


Listen And Buy Here- http://laike.bandcamp.com/



Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Ripple Field Trp - Origin & Decrepit Birth: May 12, 2012 Studio 7 Seattle




I attended this show on the eve of Mother’s Day, so I just want to take a moment to recognize what moms do for us.  Sure enough, at this show I saw a mom who had brought 3 boys, looked like early teens, and this poor lady was the definition of long suffering.  You could tell that she was not enjoying herself in any way, yet she was there for them, to make sure they were able to enjoy themselves.  I don’t know if she was mom to all 3, but I hope that which ever of them were her sons that they took care of her on Mother’s Day.

This was actually one of those shows that I rant against.  They happen a lot here in Seattle, and probably just about everywhere that metal shows take place.  My problem is with a show that starts at 4 in the afternoon because there are, like, 9 bands on the bill.  I love metal, and that is too much for me.  So show promoters, take note.  Three or four really good bands on a bill is much better than three or four good bands, but you have to wade through 4 or 5 shitty bands to get there, and maybe you don’t make it and you go home, but you remember who put that show on and you don’t go to any more shows from that promoter.

By the time Decrepit Birth took the stage, I was ready.  They were 3rd to last, so I had waited through some not so enjoyable music.  Decrepit Birth totally delivered.  I’m not going to pretend that I’m a massive fan and know their discography forward and backward.  But I do like these guys a lot and their performance just increased my liking of this band.  Very solid, very well performed, great at working the crowd and excellent at melting faces.  Heavy death metal band that completely brings it in a live setting.  If you haven’t seen these guys before, get out and see a show soon, especially if you love you some death metal.

Origin, the headliner, put together a very solid performance as well.  Again, don’t know every song inside and out so I can’t tell you exactly what the set list was, but that’s why God invented the interwebs anyway, silly.  I had seen Origin once before a few years ago at a tiny little club in Tacoma, and I have to say that they seem to be much more together now.  Origin are all about technical death metal, so there is a lot of music that goes by in a blur.  They play fast, they play loud, and they play well.  Totally dug their set and left the venue very satisfied.

If I had to choose, I’d give a slight nod to Decrepit Birth because they were really on and really got the crowd into it, but it was a great show all the way around.  And I must give a tip of the cap to the venue, Studio 7 in Seattle.  They have a great sound system and always have sound guys who are on their game, which can make all the difference in a smaller venue.

- ODIN 







Monday, May 28, 2012

Kenny Olson Cartel - S/T



This one I shoulda seen coming.  

If I'd only read the credits before I popped the CD in, I wouldn't a been so surprised.  Right there, in the "Thanks" section were all the clues I needed that this, Kenny Olson dude, wasn't just some regular guy.  First name I saw was Billy Cox.  Former Hendrix player.  That's cool.  But it doesn't stop there.  The Hendrix Family.  Hmmm.  Not Jimi, as in "for inspiration" but a direct thanks to the Hendrix family.  Does this cat know them?   Eddie Kramer?  What   Who is this guy?

Turns out Kenny Olson does know those folks, and more, and more importantly, he's someone we should all know as well.  Just pop over to his website and you'll find glowing endorsements from Paul Rogers, Keith Richards, Santana, and James Hetfield.  He's the former lead guitarist for Kid Rock and played for the Hendrix family on the Experience Hendrix tours.  He's played on albums by Kid Rock, Billy Cox, Sheryl Crow, Hank Williams Jr, R.L. Burnside, Five Horse Johnson, Bif Naked. Even Run DMC. 

So what does all that mean for us? 

It means we got a killer album of fiery blues-fueled rock terrors with a bucketful of Motown soul and a heart as mean as the Motor City.  From flaming blues numbers like "Rebel with a Cause" to heavy-psych metal explosions like "Loaded" to steamy ZZ-Top-inspired barnburners like "Up All Night" all the way to heartfelt/heart-lost ballads like "Can't Feel,"  Kenny Olson Cartel is about as solid a debut as I'd heard in years.  Guests pop in and out, like Billy Cox on bass, and the sinister cool vocals of Tantric's Hugo Ferreira without ever overwhelming the show.  Nor does the steady rotation of lead vocalists steal from the consistency of the album. 

But I gotta say that Kenny taking the microphone himself for the heart-rendering, self-revelation song of "Phoenix Will Rise," steals the show for me.  Not that he's the strongest vocalist here, he's not.  But when you listen to the lyrics and realize the dude is pouring his heart out from the doorstep of his own demise, it's some powerful shit.  He prayed for an angel.  And she came, pulling him from the abyss. 

All the way through the band is tight as a bankers sphincter, and Kenny's guitar flies in multicolored and many-textured hues.  Heavy, bluesy, psychedelic and pure, out-and-out, unadulterated rock.  "Water" kicks in the killer deep textured vocals of Paris Delane to produce a flat-out rockin' new gospel standard.  "Sweet Rosie's" works as rock or blues with the singing of Brandon Calhoun, while "Left Sock" leans toward the funky and quasi-rap of his brother Kid Rock, for a jaunty, just-got-paid blast of fun.  "Heaven on Earth" is pure soul and blues, percolating with sex and slippery fluids.  "2B or Not 2B" takes the rap/rock/blues to the extreme with a terrorizer of bluesy metal with a speed vocal delivery.  "Psychedelic Lap Dance," is a five-minute plus instrumental guitar orgy with full-on slippery happy ending.   Jimi woulda been proud. 

Yep.  When the CD first arrived.  I'd never heard of Kenny Olson before.

You better believe I've heard of him now.

--Racer





Corey Koehler - Never too Late



Another album that I've had forever that somehow has never been reviewed.  Well, not forever, but well over a year.  Must have listened to this album 15 times.  It's one of my go-to albums for certain moods.  Something rootsy, bluesy, singer-songwriter-y.  You know, something harder than my normal Cat Stevens, but not heavy rock.  Something earthy and powerful, yet acoustic-based.  Real authentic, country-tinged rock.

Yes, Corey Koehler is my go-to guy.

In truth, I don't know much about this cat, but I remember exactly how I got ahold of this little treasure.  I was scouting out websites/blogs to send our own Ripple releases to for review and press.  I don't recall which site Corey ran, but when I wrote him, he told me he was done with the site to concentrate on his music.  One thing led to another and the album was downloaded into my iPhone.

Where it's been ever since.

Let me re-emphasize that last sentence.  At the Ripple we get hundreds, sometimes thousands of submissions each month.  My iPhone is only a 16G.  That means I regulate the music on my phone like crazy.  Nothing stays on my phone (except Ripple bands) because I have to constantly be clearing space to download the next group of albums I need to review.

But Corey Koehler has been there for over a year.  And I plan on keeping him there.

First, is Corey's voice.  Thick and earthy, rough and textured, yet still smooth and killer emotive.  It's a voice that caught me right away.  And after listening to this album, I still haven't found a good comparison voice.  Sometimes I think Darius Rucker from Hootie and the Blowfish.  Don't let that turn you off.  Whether you liked Hootie or not, Darius had one helluva voice.  And so does Corey.

Next is the tone.  With that acoustic guitar strumming away, these songs rock to a good, steady beat.  Slide guitar tones fill the spaces perfectly, adding that electric flavor over the strum of the acoustic.  The slide gives each song a country grounding, but this isn't country.  It's just solid, earthy rock.  No boring, maudlin acoustic slow jams here.  Even the ballad, "Take this Ring" keeps me mesmerized with it's steady acoustic strum and heart-felt pleadings for a lifetime of love. 

Finally, we got the songs.  "Change the World" is a steady-rocking call for action.  A fight against apathy.  "You wanna change the world, you can't stand by/And just so you know man, it starts inside."  Corey's voice simply floats through this rebel wake-up call.  I've played this cut for lots of folks, including Pope, and it's captured each of us.  A should-be hit. 

"On My Way" follows next with the acoustic picking and slide intro.  Another call for action, a step away from the complacency of getting stuck in life.  This time, more personal focused on Corey's own feelings of resurrection.  Another killer melody, and sing-along perfect, which leads right into the already mentioned "Take this Ring."  A song so sincere in its emotion, you can almost hear Corey's voice choking back the tears.  "Minnesota Got Colder," is an ode to a lost brother.  "One Step at a Time," is a character sketch like Jim Croce used to write.  In fact, "One Step," boogies along with such an easy groove, I bet Jim would be proud.

"Perfect Ten" and "All the Girls" bring us to an end with a wry smile.  In "Perfect Ten" Corey chuckles as he realizes that his search for the perfect girl is just a fantasy while in "All the Girls" Corey gives one final middle finger to all the women who've broken his heart over the years.  Both songs perfectly are perfectly crafted and cook along over the beat of Corey's strummed acoustic.  Easily, I can hear these played live on a hot summer day, on a deck over looking a lake.  Cold beer in hand.

I don't really know where Corey stands with his career or goals, but damn if he hasn't put together one of those earworm records I can't stop listening to.  Check out his website if you want to hear it or track me down.  Ask me to pull out my iPhone.  Corey Koehler will be there.

--Racer


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Arjen Anthony Lucassen - Lost In The New Real


A major player in the progressive scene for years now, it should come as no surprise that I found Arjen Anthony Lucassen’s Lost In The New Real to be a major event. Few can boast the creativity and open minded approach to song writing that Arjen takes with each one of his projects, whether it be Ayreon, Star One, Stream of Passion (for their debut), or Guilt Machine just to name a few. Following his return to Star One with 2010’s Victims of the Modern Age, and going even a bit further with the last Aryeon album 0101101 in 2008, one could sense it was time for a directional change. Another progressive metal album would surely have been eagerly accepted by his fans, but I believe it would have been a bit flat, considering how many times we have been down that road before. Fortunately Arjen seems to have felt the same, because what we have here is a metal album for only precious few moments at a time. Instead, as the awesome cover art and psychedelic album design suggests, this is a progressive rock album that pays direct homage (not just influenced by, I mean direct homage) to The Beatles. Many of the song structures found here sound as if they were taken from a forgotten Beatles warehouse somewhere and given a modern day production. Other moments draw inspiration from Pink Floyd and even Jethro Tull, but the overall effect is that of a Beatles album, and a fantastic one at that.

Normally Arjen is content to bring in various vocalists and allow them the spotlight while he hammers out his riffs and some backing vocals here and there, but not this time. This is the first of his albums that I can recall where Arjen has opted to be his own front man and handle the leads (a spot often reserved for Russell Allen and Damien Woodsen), and this is the perfect album to do so. Arjen’s vocals have a 60’s vibe to them (as displayed on Into the Electric Castle when he played The Hippie), with a softer tone that blends into harmonies perfectly, and Lost in the New Real displays this quality. There are some excellent backing vocals from Wilmer Waarbroek (a singer/songwriter), but nothing nearly as involved as what has been done on previous albums. The other notable contribution in the spoken department is the narration, handled by Dutch actor Rutger Hauer. I am generally not a fan of narrations or interludes on albums, as I feel they are often handled clumsily and detract rather than add to the overall product, however this is the exception. Rutger’s form of speech creates an absolutely perfect sense of detachment from reality, making it that much easier to slip into the story as it unfolds. Arjen also did the album a favor by creating each segment to be a part of its respective song, not an additional track, and also by making them worthwhile (not so long as to detract from the actual music, nor so short that it becomes a pointless waste of time).

The story of Lost in the New Real is that of a man who has opted for cryofreeze in order to survive a terminal illness, and his awakening in the future in a world that is now alien to him. By itself there is nothing new here with this story, but the success of this album is the way Arjen uses this concept as a starting point to delve into concepts that are much closer to reality than what we want to believe. Each song introduces a different aspect of this “New Real” that the man must face, and expertly inserts the moral ramifications that come with it. Perhaps better than any of Arjen’s works before it, with the exception of my personal favorite Universal Migrator Pt.1, The Dream Sequencer, Lost in the New Real presents a science fiction story that is easily identifiable and personable for the listener, and it is that strength that makes it one of his best works. Lurking within the whimsical and often tongue in cheek lyrics are moments and ideas that make you pause and reflect, and in my case fill me with trepidation at just how close we are to this reality.


I could spend pages discussing each song and the feelings they provoked, but doing so would eliminate a large part of the surprise factor and take away the joy of discovery. Instead I will try to go over the highlights of the album for me. Opener The New Real is perhaps the more traditional Ayreon track featured, with heavy use of effects to create tension and mystery. The use of flute gives it a Jethro Tull moment, though I also see some Pink Floyd influence in this one. Pink Beatles in a Purple Zeppelin is Beatles through and through, with a bouncy melody that belies the sad message of the lyrics involving the state of music and where we are heading on our current path. Parental Procreation Permit is a dark and brooding tune, suitable for the subject matter involving this realities answer for over population. E-Police was the first single, and therefore the first track I heard from the album, and honestly at the time it did not leave much of an impression. Fortunately, with album in hand and given the proper amount of time, I now feel it is one of the best tracks. A straight forward rocker, the lyrics convey a musician’s perspective on how digital media is removing the human element from music and reducing it to just another commodity, and personally I find this to be completely true. “I remember the old ways, sharing files on the Net, reducing this world to a dull and selfish place” is a sharp and stingingly true critique on our generation, not just in regards to music but to all of our desires as a whole. Dr. Slumber’s Eternity Home once again uses the classic Beatles style to contradict a scenario where retirement homes are places that employ the Dr. Kevorkian method of assisted suicide for population control. Where Pig’s Fly is a funny take on the idea of alternate realities, drawing from various pop culture figures with laugh out loud results. Finally, the closing title track brings everything full circle with a finale that takes all of these ideas and brings them to a head with the final question being answered in surprising fashion. Don’t Switch Me Off and Yellowstone Memorial Day are both enjoyable tracks as well, but to my ears are less interesting than their peers.

Arjen Anthony Lucassen has created more music than almost any other artist in the genre that you can name, but with Lost in the New Real I believe he has created his most organic and personable album yet. He wears his influences proudly on his sleeve, and is at his finest lyrical form. If I were to hand anyone new to his work an album, this would undoubtedly be the one I reached for and I have no doubt they would be hooked. Sure to make the majority of top 10 lists this year, Lost in the New Real is a success on virtually every level.

--Audio Renaissance

Originally written for http://www.metalreviews.com/index.htm

Be'lakor - Of Breath and Bone


BE’LAKOR is considered n. 1 melodic death metal band from Australia, despite the young age of its members. ‘Of Breath and Bone’ is BE’LAKOR‘s 3rd album, following the huge success of the previous ‘Stone’s Reach’, that led the band to play big international festivals like Summer Breeze 2010 in Germany (the band is re-confirmed for Summer Breeze 2012) and to tour Europe with single shows in Portugal and UK.

The track listing is as follows:

Abeyance
Remnants
Fraught
Absit Omen
To Stir the Sea
In Parting
The Dream and Waking
By Moon and Star

 The song "Abeyance" stirs one to immediately envision Vikings and cold, snow covered lands with blonde raiders in tattered beards. Then it brings you forth to the strains of a modern sound from the frozen lands of salmon and Ikea. A nice bit of Pro and Harmony with a dash of moody, odd tempo goodness to keep your head nodding until the next musical saga unfolds.

 "Remnants" opens up like a crisp winter chill and builds into a chaotic pre-dawn attack by apposing forces. Then comes the counter attack by the angered tribe. A casual walk through the battlefield, to gather the spoils of the attackers failed attempt, only to pursue them with anger and retribution in mind.

 "Fraught" starts of like a modern emo sounding ditty that then crashes into a driving delivery that leaves one nodding and enjoying the guitar play. The time changes and instrumental interplay will keep you very interested while the “Growling in earnest” vocals will satisfy the overlord within you all.

 "Absit Omen" opens a melancholy mood of a returning war party to the news of a fate befallen an entire village. The riffs and beat changes are well thought out and play well to the whole of the song and is refreshing to hear a well crafted song done, as this one is.

 "To Stir the Sea" begins tragically in context with acoustic guitars and synths building a song scape that hands you into the following song.

 "In Parting" picks up from To Stir the Sea and carries on with an almost somber note of an impending split from either the company of a loved one or, one’s own existence.
Around halfway through, the acoustic guitars return with the melancholy refrain and are scuttled with a rapid attack of drums and guitars, with a bass line tucked noticeably, but just under the mix to differ the direction of the focus of the intended result. A haunting piano joins the gathering to remind the listener that this is not a love song and by now, you are left glad the band did not go there.

 "The Dream and the Waking"takes one musically through a dream-like state, with all it’s twists, turns and surprises. This is a well crafted song that does not rush for the sake of a “Better part”, as it is a song that is construed as a better part in continuum.

  "By Moon and Star" invokes a scene of a sea bound armada, navigating it’s way to a battle of destiny on the Nordic seas.

 In summary, for a bunch of guys from Australia, they seem to be channeling their long lost Viking descendants and in a very fresh and creative way.
 This the bands’ third release is worth the purchase and many a play in whatever format you chose to buy it in.

OVERALL:  A


--Big Dude




Saturday, May 26, 2012

The 44s - Americana

Last year I reviewed Boogie Disease by The 44s,  a tight Southern California blues band  Read my review and you will see I was infected with the Boogie Disease and the illness is terminal. 

The 44s have followed up Boogie Disease with Americana, a thirteen track album produced by blues guitarist extraordinaire (who also appears on many of the tracks) Kid Ramos. The band also brought in musician Ron Dziubla to play horns. Dziubla is a music savant having played with everyone from Duane Eddy to Ok Go.

Without a doubt Americana builds upon and exceeds Boogie Disease.  Americana contains fantastic renditions of the legendary Willie Dixon’s You’ll Be Mine and bluesmaster Howlin’ Wolf’s Mr. Highway Man.  The 44s’ interpretations may, in fact, surpass the original recordings.  The remainder of the tracks were written by The 44s, except Hanging Tree and Pleading My Case which were written by The 44s and Kid Ramos.

Each track is raw, emotional, gritty and explosive.  The original blues songs of The 44s and Kid Ramos are as compelling as those of the blues legends. The band and its sound are exacting.  The torch of blues royalty burns in each phrase, verse, chorus and solo. A life of struggle and pain oozes from Johnny Main’s voice. 

Americana is a well chosen mix of West Coast and Chicago blues with just a touch of rockabilly.  On each track there is something down to earth and magical - Tex Nakamura knocking out a moving mouth harp solo, Kid Ramos shredding a slide guitar, Johnny Main’s pleading vocals. On the CD cover it says “A Stereophonic Collection Of Hits” and that’s not puffery.  If you love the blues, or have that boogie disease, your collection will not be complete without Americana. 

Okay, Johnny, Kid, Tex, Mike, J.R, and Ron, play it - I got the blues.

- Old School

Kid Ramos with The 44s

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The 44s Band at Doheny Blues Festival 2011

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Friday, May 25, 2012

Birth of Joy - Life In Babalou

Life In Babalou
 
I sit here looking out my window.  From the 11 floor skyscraper in Toronto Canada. I  look  down on the streets, on this arctic air morning in April. I have my cans on. It’s first thing in the morning, as the sun comes up over the towers. The silver spot of the day.  No one has arrived to work yet, so I have the whole department to myself. No telephones. No whinny sales staff. Just me, the black bird flying high, and my headphones cranking Birth of Joy

Just when you thought that the world of rock music has fallen off the ledge to the depths of mordor, along comes Birth of Joy. These cats hail from the Netherlands. A three piece band. Full of gargantuan tone, riffs and Hammond. Yes... my brothers and sisters! That’s right! The Hammond tone! The cool thing about this band is,  there seems to be something very exclusive with way the Hammond gets treated on these recordings. I have one word that can describe it. Righteous!   One of the best mixed albums I’ve heard in awhile. You can really hear the naturally tone of the instruments. And the all important snare drum mix, jumps right out too. No shenanigans or hocus pokus special effects with this production.  (From what I can hear). A very true, prime and clean recording. The band describes their own music as “Supercharged” . The trio is a carpet ride back to the psych blues rock mirror window of 1967 – 1972.  A nice rarity in today’s world of plastic auto-tone vocals and pro-tool software driven production.

So folks, if your looking for some classic vibes with a whole new take on what’s already been covered in the world of rock, then check these cats out. Break out your 1972 headphones. Pour yourself a morning coffee. And then crank it before the world starts to spin around the sun. It just may raise the hairs on your arms. Just like the heavy days of the 70’s

--Wino Chris

Thursday, May 24, 2012

PHILM - Harmonic

 Harmonic

This is gonna seriously piss of some Slayer fans. Dave Lombardo is without question the greatest drummer in metal today and has been for a few decades now. But he's also no stranger to playing outside of the metal realm, whether it's with Fantomas, John Zorn or bashing his way through Vivaldi's Four Seasons. His new trio PHILM not really like anything like he's done before. He's stripped down his massive kit to a small 4 piece (but thankfully has kept the gong) and plays a more restrained style in this psychedelic trio. Note I did not say power trio. At times the music gets rocking, but is nowhere near Cream, Blue Cheer, etc.

PHILM is rounded out by guitarist/vocalist Gerry Nestler and bassist Pancho Tomaselli (a long-time member of War). Their debut album Harmonic is a very groovy affair. Lots of improv and the guitar playing emphasizes atmosphere. The rhythm section is beyond tight and flexible. You know these guys have must have jammed out on "Low Rider" and "Slipping Into Darkness." I would love to hear that! The influence of Pink Floyd is pretty strong but there's a lot of Led Zeppelin in there, too. Lombardo is a well known pot head and some of this record sounds like they got really baked and watched The Song Remains The Same before heading to the jam room. The song "Way Down" uses a slowed down "Whole Lotta Love" riff for the verses before launching into a "No Quarter" jam.

Musically I have no complaints with this record. The jams on "Sex Amp," "Harmonic" and most of the other songs are cool. The only real drawback is in the vocal department. Nestler's voice is OK but doesn't have a lot of range. It can't be easy to put words to these songs but too often he falls into an almost spoken word delivery. When the songs heat up in intensity the vocals turn into a kind of predictable Tool-influenced type of thing. Not bad, but nothing to get too excited about either. On the other hand, vocals do help some of the songs from just being meandering jams. A frontman would probably be bored in a band like this. In a live situation I could easily see this being much more effective. Like I said before, people who only like metal will hate this but since Ripple attracts such a wide range of musical nut jobs, I know I'm not alone in appreciating this one.

--Woody

https://www.facebook.com/PHILMOfficial

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Gun Barrel - Brace For Impact


Rolf Tanzius – guitars
Silver – vocals
Tomcat Kintgen – bass guitars
Toni Pinciroli – drums


 Usually I like to listen to a new album by jumping to the middle. Most bands will flood the first four tracks with the best songs and fill the back end with some filler or not so good tunes. So much to my surprise with Gun Barrel when I shot into “Diamonds And Bullets” I got a smattering of 70’s ish new wave of heavy metal mixed with modern production values. This was a great opening to this band. I was not disappointed with the rest of the album. “Brace for Impact” indeed.

 This disc is full of more energy and hooks than a Japanese reactor meltdown. Every song is a tribute to intensity and raw rocking sensibility. Everything is louder than everything else at exactly the right moment. Finally I’m hearing some ripping but classy guitar solos. This guy knows how to reel it all in and then how to turn it loose. Some guys in this genre only know how to rip and not how to feel. Rolf knows how to feel his solos out and how to unleash with both barrels when it is needed. Very impressed with this guy and I’m not easily swayed when it comes to guitar playing.

Fans of Dio and Saxon will find a home looking down the sights of this Gun Barrel. There is something else. A taste of almost southern rock metal….is that a term? I’m hearing it though. Like an added spice to the flavor. I like it. It’s good.

 These are seasoned musicians who have honed their craft well. A razor tight outfit with hints of several bands melting into a molten slug that once fired, creates a hole in your musical brain that cannot be stopped by armor. This is the disc to have in your car or truck or airplane….at all times. Once again a killer band with only one guitarist. I like that. It’s the sound of metal in its rawest form. Silver on vocals is amazing. The range and power this guy has is nothing short of rock God, and yet there is an earthbound quality to it. Tomcat and toni lay down some impressive backup. Well actually if you listen to this cd they do more than that. Often overlooked in a solid band, the drums and bass are key components and here, here are two musicians who stand their ground and lay a barrage of riffs beneath the flashy guitar and soaring vocals. I’m thinking new accept here. They have that sound. That killer instinct.


 Ammo for guns is important and this band knows when to stop and reload. Like an overheated machine gun in a zombie apocalypse, this band keeps firing off round after round of explosive tipped hits. A well made and well-seasoned band that knows its strengths and exploits it. I find myself singing along and driving at faster and faster speeds. It never really stops the intensity. I like this band. Very well crafted production and some killer lyrics.

 So get the entire catalog from this band. There are several albums and try, try, try to see them live. How about these guys, accept, primal fear, and sonata artica for a world tour. It is in my car, on my ipod, and in my xbox. That’s right; I’m playing call of duty with Gun Barrel in the background!
Play it loud and proud.


 And then…brace for impact

8 horns up

--MetalRising


Steak - Disastronaught



Vegetarians and vegans won't like what's on today's musical menu: Steak.

Now, with a name like that I expect some thick, meaty riffs and Steak sure fill me up. The four rock chefs from the U.K. have cooked up some tasty slabs of stoner beef on their new ep, Disastronaught. It has flavors from some of my favorite groups like Fu Manchu, Monster Magnet and Clutch.

"The Butcher" is probably my Porterhouse when it comes to Steak. It's one of my favorite cuts here and there's a lot of damn meat.

"Machine" is the Ribeye. Just about the most flavorful of all the Steak to me. Marbled with psychedelic lines and SO tender.

"Gore Whore" is the lean and mean New York Strip. Not as much to it as a T-bone or Porterhouse, but still tastes as good.

"Fall of Lazarus" is the Filet Mignon on Disastronaught. It takes some time to eat this one because the riffs are so thick, and it's wrapped in fat-ass bass lines.

"Peyote" is the saucepan of psychedelic mushrooms, sauteed in acoustic butter, that adds even more flavor to Steak.

One thing I can't believe is that Steak are offering their music for a 'name your price' kinda deal on Bandcamp, which is extremely generous, kinda like serving all-you-can-eat prime rib to the homeless.

Steak. Best served with your favorite beverage and a side of greenery. Mmm.

Eat this stuff up but chew slowly. Savor it. And don't forget the gratuity if you can afford it.

--Heddbuzz

http://steakmusic.bandcamp.com/

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Ripple (Low) Tech: Steampunk For Your Listening Pleasure


 

 (Since we had a problem with the Links . .  and had multiple requests, we're republishing Old School's article on Ripple (Low) Tech:  Steampunk For Your Listening Pleasure.  Complete with intact links!)

If money was no object (say you hit the lottery or sold your business to Google for $500,000,000) enhancing your music listening experience could have no bounds.  If your favorite band wasn’t able to make your party in your custom designed concert hall, you could just turn on your Pivetta Opera One 20,000 watt amplifier and crank your made-to-order Transmission Audio Ultimate Speakers.  Going for a ride? You could listen to your Rogue Acoustics audio system in the Maybach.  Or, if you needed a little less distraction you could just grab your Sennheiser Orpheus headphones and tune it all out.

Most of us don’t have $2,000,000 to drop on speakers, $1,000,000 on an amplifier, $650,000 on a car audio system or $40,000 on a set of headphones.  As much as we would like to have these things we can’t justify a house payment on an audio system. We struggle to make ends meet and our disposable music income is in the iPod range, not the Clearaudio Statement Turntable range.  That doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to enhance your music listening experience (other than by ingesting mind altering substances) on a low budget.  In this digital age there is a whole internet full of, for want of a better label, steampunk music listening enhancements at your fingertips. They cost no more than a few dollars - some even less - and just require a bit of reading and elbow grease.  Here are a few you might want to consider:

1.    Turn an Altoids Tin Into A ⅛” Stereo Mixer.        Got an mp3 player, cell phone, CD player, and computer that contain music and want to easily switch between inputs? The website instructables provides step by step directions on how to easily construct a stereo mixer in an Altoids tin.  All it requires is a little soldering, an Altoids Tin; five 1/8" (3.5mm) Stereo input Jacks (Radio Shack part 274-249 or equivalent); eight 1k ohm Resistors (Radio Shack part 271-004 (5-pack) or equivalent); and a foot of 22-30 gauge solid hookup wire, stripped bare.

2.    Make A Pocket Transistor Speaker Amplifer.      Altoids tins are also good containers for pocket transistor speaker amplifiers with sets of speakers so you can play your mp3 player without wearing headphones. This one is a little more complicated and requires the tin;  tin snips; pliers; a drill and a little soldering of a small audio transformer; a 0.1µf ceramic disk capacitor (104); a 2n3904 NPN transistor; two 8 ohm speakers; a battery case for one AAA battery; a 3.5 mm male audio jack; wire; a SPST switch; and a 10k potentiometer.  Assembly instructions are here.

3.    Make Isolation Headphones.        Most inexpensive over the ear headphones are crap.  They rely on noise canceling technology rather than actually isolating the listener from the noise.  Make your own closed, isolation headphones for about $20.  All it takes is Industrial ear-protection earmuffs from McMaster-Carr, etc.;  an airline or walkman headphone of the one-wire-per-ear variety; and a cutting tool. Here are the step by step instructions.

4.    Build A Wi-Fi Radio:         Wi-Fi Internet radios can be expensive propositions. Tinkernut.com comes to your aid for under $50 with a DIY that allows you to make and then control a wi-fi radio by way of your cell phone.  Here is the video with links to show you how to make it. All you will need is a cheap Asus WL-520GU wireless router and a USB sound card. 

5.    Build Your Own Stereo Tube Amplifier:     Audiophiles pay huge dollars for tube amplifiers.  If you take a little time to learn how to read a schematic, and get through the basics of electrical component tutorials in this How-to article, you should be able to build your own audiophile quality low wattage amplifier for about $100 in parts.

Of course, you could still buy that lottery ticket.

- Old School

Amadon – Reach Me




I know I shouldn’t start off with a rant, but what the hell.  I don’t listen to a lot of new rock music, because most of it sucks.  The Nickelbacks, Disturbeds, etc, and all of their clones have really ruined heavier rock music.  All of the bands sound the same and they seem to think that if you enough piercings, or tats, or whatever, bang out some power chords over mindless lyrics, that you are cool and you are tough and you are a rocker.  I’m sorry to tell you all that you are douche bags of the highest order, and nothing more.

All of this leads up to Amadon, who could be considered a modern rock band, and they have their heavy moments.  So I was a little leery of even listening to this album, let alone thinking I would have anything positive to say about it.  I am very happy to say that this is a very good release and I was quite pleasantly surprised.

The thing that I really love about this band is that they know who they are and what they want to sound like.  I’ve heard many bands who don’t have their own style and voice, who take a scattershot approach to song writing and put songs of all types of genres on their albums, and all this does is make me wonder what the band really sounds like.  Amadon does have a nice variety of tunes on this release, but they all sound like Amadon.  There is a certain something that I can’t quite put my finger on that just sounds like them.  So even when they do something like “Over The Line” which has a little bit of funkiness to it, or “Reach Me”, which has an industrial vibe to it that wouldn’t be out of place on a Nine Inch Nails album, or “Alive”, my personal favorite, which has some piano ballad type moments along with some heavy moments, it is always clear who this band is.  And that is very, very refreshing in the music world today.  Kudos to Amadon.

These guys write very good, well crafted songs, they have some very nice melodies that stick with you, and they give us all a reason to believe in new rock just a little bit longer. There are 5 tracks on this EP release and they are all worth listening to multiple times.  I’ll try not to be too jaded in the future. 

- ODIN





Monday, May 21, 2012

Revenge of the Quick Ripple Bursts - Featuring Caustic Casanova, The Knutz, and Rivethead



Caustic Casanova - Someday You Will Be Proven Correct

An entirely savory amalgamation of stoner, post-punk, post metal, psychedelia, indy, and even a touch of space rock.  In fact, there's probably more mixed into the stew but my palate is too naive to detect it all.  What I can say is that the concoction works and tastes magnificent.  With a base stock of classic power-trio rock, the mad chefs of Caustic Casanova went wild in the kitchen mixing their cuisines, alternatingly adding some big chunks of meaty stoner riffs, some delicate flavorings of prog-esque space-rock passages, the occasional fire of punk pepper, and some indy spice, turned the whole thing up as high it would go let it boil over.  And that's what Someday You Will Be Proven Correct does.  Boils over in a mouthwatering burst of wild indy rock flavor.  And when you have chef's this talented at their cooking you just know it's gonna taste great.

3-side LP in a delicious gatefold cover gets the mouth watering.  The band call themselves Heavy Rock.  I'm not gonna argue.  I'm just gonna pony up to the table and enjoy my feast.



Rivethead - Doomsday for Optimism

Absolutely grinding, ride-the-riff industrial coming from Texas.  Just the way I like it.  Groove intense, melody heavy.  Nothing wrong with some metal that you can shake your ass to.  Well, as long as it's not my ass.  "Super Zero" is about as good an industrial killer as I've heard in a while, with it's monstrous riff, techno flourishes, and non-stop freaking grind.  Reminds me of an ugly, lovefest product of NIN and Ministry.  Or more appropriately, sounds like a lost (and better) track from '90's grinders, Orgy.  Rough vocals and killer beat.  Hell yes.

The rest of the album hangs just as well. "Deaf Ears" ups the sythn aspects, bringing in a darker NIN mood but no less pounding when that buzzsaw guitar kicks in.   Touches of goth darkwave drape over the riveting beats, like a funeral pall, and it all works well.  Songs like "Vampire" and "Buried Another One" are just waiting for their chance to appear in some cool Dark Ones underground bar scene.  Throw in some Sister Machine Gun and some Pitchshifter and a freaking cool visual for the guys, and you got it covered.  Check it out.  I'm still grooving over here.

 

Ghost Dance Party
 
The Knutz - Ghost Dance Party

A lot of modern post-punk languishes in the footsteps of the Joy Division or Bauhaus without ever creating their own shadow.  The Knutz doesn't fall into this trap, strangely enough by tossing the entire post-punk history into the frenetic sound.  "Ghost Dance Party" sounds like the perfect combination of the Sex Pistols and Specimen, if you can picture that.  "Just Be You," slithers out of the more poppy end of the Batcave, "You Are the Wonder" harkens back to the requisite Joy Division, while "Ice" updates the sound with some early New Order.  There's more in their; some early punk, some Killing Joke, some X.  Maybe some Alien Sex Fiend.  All mushed together, in one squishy mess. 

And it all works beautifully well.  In expanding their influences beyond the standard, The Knutz have created something fresh for these post-punk loving ears.   Definitely worth exploring if the names of these bands hits your spot.

 Caustic Casanova


The Knutz




Rivethead

The Cult - Choice of Weapon

Choice of Weapon


Disclaimer: I dig The Cult.  From way back to "Moya" and "Fatman" from the Southern Death Cult days, I've had an odd fascination with The Cult and Ian Astbury in particular, with his adopted shamanistic persona and incredibly distinct vocal tone.  I've followed them through the Death Cult days, through The Cult glory days, all the way through the Holy Barbarians and Astbury's solo stuff, and back again to The Cult.  I have all the albums, the singles, the 12"'s, test pressings, picture discs.  Yeah, I'm kinda a groupie.  Can't say that I've loved everything they've done, but I've always been there.

I'll never forget when I bought the just (anxiously-awaited) released Love album and overheard the two record store snobs whining how The Cult had gone all Zeppelin and were now unlistenable.  Not for me.  Love was, and remains, one of my favorite albums of all time and songs like "She Sells Sanctuary," "Rain," and "Nirvana" are indispensable bricks in my musical foundation.   Having said that, I did kinda lose interest in the band after Sonic Temple and as much as I wanted to love their reunion album Beyond Good and Evil, I didn't.  Something about the industrial mix diluted the stunning guitar tone that makes The Cult so recognizable in my mind.   I liked Born into This, but in truth, I've been waiting for them to return to full-force, mind-and-ass blowing prominence.  I've needed that killer album to really bring The Cult back for me.  Something that could sit proudly on my shelf next to Love. 

Welcome to Choice of Weapon.

The Cult were always most significant to me when they wove their mystical, psychedelic vibe through their Gothic past, and force-bottled that whole thing through a cannon of pure rock.  Love did this, and even tossed in some killer beats, like "She Sells Sanctuary" that could get my ass moving fervently enough to match my embarrassing air-guitar postures. 

And Choice of Weapon brings it all back.

"Honey From a Knife" wastes no time re-presenting The Cult as hungry and passionate.  No going-through-the-motions here.  The band sounds positively teenaged impassioned.  A killer, stuttering riff gets us going, sounding almost garage nasty.  Within seconds, Billy Duffy's effected guitar layers on some gentle, familiar tones.  Ian jumps out right off the bat, his voice having lost none of it's distinct nasal wail and crying tone.  Maybe a bit throatier, a touch deeper, but that's Ian Astbury in all his glory.  You either love him or not, but to me, he's one of the most distinctive vocalists in pure rock music.  No one sounds like him and his voice rubs all the right nerves in my brain.  The beat kicks in at a mean-spirited clip.  The bridge is vintage Cult with Duffy's guitar spinning off some circular psychedelic riffs, while Ian wails "My wild Indian heart was pounding."   Toss in some rather bizarre (for the Cult) gang-chanted refrains and we got a song ready to remain in The Cult pantheon.

As killer as "Honey" is, the following track "Elemental Light" is even more impressive for totally different reasons.  Against a bare, mid-tempo beat and gently plucked guitar, Astbury lays down without a doubt the most impressive vocals I've ever heard from the man.  Emotive and full of range, cracking, wailing, and wavering, his voice is captivating, snaring me in a Cult beartrap.  He's got complete mastery of what he's trying to do here, each sustain, each tremolo, each crack in tone. Again, you may love him or hate him.  To me, it's like having an Astubry orgasm in my head.  . . or something less gross sounding.  You know what I mean.

The song builds in classic fashion becoming a true epic of the sort beyond compare in The Cult discography.  It sounds like Astbury took all the lessons he learned from his solo album Spirit/Light/Speed and blended it with the classic sound of The Cult to bring out the band at their most mystical and impressive.  As the song builds, Duffy's guitar layers on, with that perfect Cult tone.  The whole thing builds and escalates, dips, slows, then takes off once again.  Soaring.   I hit the repeat button, and it plays again.  And again.  I can't stop myself.

"The Wolf" drops in a guitar tone I'd never heard before on any Cult recordings- a kinda nasal sounding whine- before dropping into a riff pretty damn similar to "She Sells Sancturary."  I'm ok with that.  If the band could . . borrow . . half a Rolling Stone's riff and turn it into their biggest song, I'm perfectly fine with them stealing from themselves.  And besides, it doesn't last long as the song veers into harder rock territory, moving away from the "Sanctuary" beat into one fine staggering riff-rest of rock.  Duffy brings back the "Sanctuary" tone for the chorus which works perfectly to lift the song to another level, then drops it out for a darkened as fuck middle section, then brings it back again.   Meanwhile, Astbury sounds inspired.

No Cult album is complete without one or two fillers, and "Life>Death"- a forced sounding, dirge-paced ballad -takes that spot for me, which I fast-forward through to get "For The Animals."   Hell yes.  Let's  . . .borrow . . . the riff tone and style from "Spiritwalker" this time and marry it to an explosive call and response vocal verse, tack it all to a killer-take-no-prisoners beat and get me out to the dancefloor.  Rocking and embarrassing the hell outta myself.  Duffy really takes off here, unleashing the guitar solo from hell mid-way through.  Just like Astbury, he hasn't lost a step.  I could listen to this all day.

The rest is just as good.

Simply put, this is the album I've been waiting for.  It's not Love.  It's certainly not Electric.  It's all it's own, bringing in the best from their past with new energy, new tricks, new tones and new style.  Astbury is classically obscure and mystical.  Duffy is the master of his tone.  The combination is mind-blowingly bigger than the sum of the parts.  The Cult have roared back with what is without a doubt their best album in decades.


--Racer

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Hellcrawler - Wastelands



HELLCRAWLER, the post-apocalyptic Death 'n Roll 5-piece from Slovenia, released their debut record a year ago on Hollow Earth Records and I'm just now hearing about it??

There is a little something for everyone on this album - assuming everyone enjoys Entombed, Amebix or Dark Throne.  HELLCRAWLER is fast and catchy as well as raw and abrasive.  Together with D-beating drums, the guitars chug along headbanger riffs while the singer chokes out an allegory of the apocalypse.  After all, the record I have is fittingly called 'Wastelands.'

"Hellcrawler are a bunch of cynical wasteland denizens who found unsavory panacea in the symbiosis of punk violence and heavy riffage."  That - taken from the band's bio - about sums it up.

Now, I've read a couple reviews about these guys on the inter-webs and everyone is saying that they are Sludge or Stoner..  Well, I'd like to clarify that there is nothing "sludgy" or "stoner" about this band.  Labels like that are stupid, anyway.

A few tracks that stand out are Rattlesnake Tavern, Yet Again the Greed of Man and, off the name alone, Motosluts From Hell.  Rattlesnake covers a lot of melodic ground and incorporates some interesting tones.  The music retains a Crusty base as it tastefully navigates a broader Metal spectrum.  HELLCRAWLER are good songwriters.

'Wastelands' is loud, heavy and interesting.  Refreshingly, it's fast the whole way through.  A lot of bands are slowing down these days.  Why?  Anyway, I can only speculate how a live HELLCRAWLER set would be..  Probably a bunch of pissed-off Slovenian kids rocking out.

Take a minute and check the link below..You won't be disappointed.  Go to www.hellcrawler.com or check the links below.

--Bones



Never to Arise – Hacked to Perfection


 (Sometimes a band hits the Ripple Staff so hard that two writers want to review it.  Check here for Odin's review.  Here's Big's)

A two man Death Metal band from Pinellas County Florida who couldn't care less about being trendy.

 With an album titled “Hacked to Perfection”, you are initially interested to see if it a Death Metal masterpiece or, just a piece.

 A quick look at the song titles will read like a mad man that has unleashed his hatred of women onto society at large, for reasons that appear lack of date related.

 The Femicidal Impulse starts the trip into the dark psyche, on a path of deeper and growing hatred and atrocities against the hapless victims.

 Hyperbaric Torture Chamber loads and fires some skillful guitar gymnastics that is mixed with some punishing rhythm and drum work. The production mix is top notch and on point for this song.

  Sloppy Surgery evokes a vision of a delicate procedure about to be performed, just as the patient is about to go completely under from sedation and seeing the Dr. fire up a chainsaw in a rubber smock and goggles.
 In Debasement with start a violent circle pit from the first chords and grow into increasing intensity, causing blood to pump, edge standing onlookers to be driven back from the fury, beer to be spilled and those inside the tempest to endure a Survival of the Sickest event.

 Mutilation Supreme takes the listener on a joyous romp through the pleasures of separating limbs and tissue from their origins. This is a well done song in every aspect from concept to delivery.

 Bereft of Conscience forges into the single minded focus of a lunatic, with bloody, carnal intentions. A great song for jackhammer operators and machine gun testers, while listening on the job.

 I Made Her Famous played at volume is sure to crack foundations. This song is the background music being played for two angry energizer bunnies, grudge fucking each other to see which one busts a nut first. An excellent selection for a farewell fuck or, those that dig some sadistic action, for thrills.

 Snuff Film Superstar continues in an “after I got my rocks off all over her” manner, to complete the episode for posterity. No blindfold or, hood given for this one. The listener can see it all in their mind’s eye.

 Devoured by Wolves proceeds to take the subject remains and stuff them into a garbage bag, for a trip to the deep words and feeding some of natures own.

 Misogynistic Acts Of Barbaric Sadism completes the scene and makes the listen hope there is a continuation, all the way to trial, conviction and death sentence.


 This is a well done Death Metal album, for lovers of the genre and may actually interest those who don’t or, wouldn’t normally listen to any.

 For a two man outfit, this is really creative and well done. This reviewer can only wonder if there are other players that can keep pace with these two and take this Horror Show on the road. ??? . If not, I can easily see this duo upping the game of any Slasher Movie soundtrack. Producers and Directors take note!

--Big





Ripple (Low) Tech: Steampunk For Your Listening Pleasure


 

If money was no object (say you hit the lottery or sold your business to Google for $500,000,000) enhancing your music listening experience could have no bounds.  If your favorite band wasn’t able to make your party in your custom designed concert hall, you could just turn on your Pivetta Opera One 20,000 watt amplifier and crank your made-to-order Transmission Audio Ultimate Speakers.  Going for a ride? You could listen to your Rogue Acoustics audio system in the Maybach.  Or, if you needed a little less distraction you could just grab your Sennheiser Orpheus headphones and tune it all out.

Most of us don’t have $2,000,000 to drop on speakers, $1,000,000 on an amplifier, $650,000 on a car audio system or $40,000 on a set of headphones.  As much as we would like to have these things we can’t justify a house payment on an audio system. We struggle to make ends meet and our disposable music income is in the iPod range, not the Clearaudio Statement Turntable range.  That doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to enhance your music listening experience (other than by ingesting mind altering substances) on a low budget.  In this digital age there is a whole internet full of, for want of a better label, steampunk music listening enhancements at your fingertips. They cost no more than a few dollars - some even less - and just require a bit of reading and elbow grease.  Here are a few you might want to consider:

1.    Turn an Altoids Tin Into A ⅛” Stereo Mixer.        Got an mp3 player, cell phone, CD player, and computer that contain music and want to easily switch between inputs? The website instructables provides step by step directions on how to easily construct a stereo mixer in an Altoids tin.  All it requires is a little soldering, an Altoids Tin; five 1/8" (3.5mm) Stereo input Jacks (Radio Shack part 274-249 or equivalent); eight 1k ohm Resistors (Radio Shack part 271-004 (5-pack) or equivalent); and a foot of 22-30 gauge solid hookup wire, stripped bare.

2.    Make A Pocket Transistor Speaker Amplifer.      Altoids tins are also good containers for pocket transistor speaker amplifiers with sets of speakers so you can play your mp3 player without wearing headphones. This one is a little more complicated and requires the tin;  tin snips; pliers; a drill and a little soldering of a small audio transformer; a 0.1µf ceramic disk capacitor (104); a 2n3904 NPN transistor; two 8 ohm speakers; a battery case for one AAA battery; a 3.5 mm male audio jack; wire; a SPST switch; and a 10k potentiometer.  Assembly instructions are here.

3.    Make Isolation Headphones.        Most inexpensive over the ear headphones are crap.  They rely on noise canceling technology rather than actually isolating the listener from the noise.  Make your own closed, isolation headphones for about $20.  All it takes is Industrial ear-protection earmuffs from McMaster-Carr, etc.;  an airline or walkman headphone of the one-wire-per-ear variety; and a cutting tool. Here are the step by step instructions.

4.    Build A Wi-Fi Radio:         Wi-Fi Internet radios can be expensive propositions. Tinkernut.com comes to your aid for under $50 with a DIY that allows you to make and then control a wi-fi radio by way of your cell phone.  Here is the video with links to show you how to make it. All you will need is a cheap Asus WL-520GU wireless router and a USB sound card. 

5.    Build Your Own Stereo Tube Amplifier:     Audiophiles pay huge dollars for tube amplifiers.  If you take a little time to learn how to read a schematic, and get through the basics of electrical component tutorials in this How-to article, you should be able to build your own audiophile quality low wattage amplifier for about $100 in parts.

Of course, you could still buy that lottery ticket.

- Old School
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