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Saturday, 21 July 2018

Reviews: Dee Snider, Exlibris, Big City, Ravage (Reviews By Paul H & Matt)

Dee Snider: For The Love Of Metal (Napalm Records) [Review By Matt]

Our head writer Paul H (check out his reviews below) reviewed the previous solo album from lead singer of Twisted Sister, reality TV star, Broadway alumni, horror movie director and radio host Dee Snider and he called it, and I quote "a steaming turd of an album". So I wasn't holding out much hope for Mr Snider's newest offering For The Love Of Metal however how wrong I was as it seems apparently a lot of the metal community felt the same about that album so Jamey Jasta took it upon himself to challenge Snider to make a contemporary metal record. All I can say is well done Mr Jasta as this is most vicious and vital Snider has sounded since he finished his recording days with Twisted Sister.

I'd say it reminds me a lot of Rob Halford's Fight project which all but revived his career and while Snider is too high profile to need that it establishes him as one of the premier frontmen of his generation. From the aggressive but melodic I Am The Hurricane, through the chuggy Tomorrow's Of No Concern it's a distinctly modern metal record as I've said it's got a real toughness to it even on the flag waving American Made you get caught up in the machismo of Snider's vocals and his presence and you can feel the hatred directed towards the target of his ire on Roll Over You.

He's not alone either as the record is produced (skillfully) by Jamey Jasta and features Howard Jones (ex-Killswitch Engage), Mark Morton (Lamb Of God), Alissa White-Gluz (Arch Enemy), Joel Grind, Nick Bellmore (both Toxic Holocaust) and Charlie Bellmore (Kingdom Of Sorrow) all contribute their own styles to the record which takes metalcore, thrash, a ballad Dead Hearts (Love Thy Enemy) which is a duet with Alissa and of course some classic metal styling (Become The Storm). On the back of the last album anything Snider released would have been better (especially an apology for his previous record) but For The Love Of Metal is a great return! 8/10   

Exlibris: Innertia (Self Released) [Review By Paul H]

Sweeping orchestral arrangements, powerful riffs and big melodic hooks dominate the fourth album from Polish progressive power metal outfit Exlibris. Innertia follows 2014’s Aftereal, which received a decent 8/10 in these very pages. Well, Innertia continues very much in the vein of Aftereal with the duelling guitar work of Daniel Lechmanski and keyboards of Piotr Sikora once again central to most of the good work on the album. However, there have been a couple of line up changes since Aftereal, most notably the change on vocals to Riku Turunen whose powerful high voice fits the band’s huge sound perfectly.

This is an album of well-constructed hard melodic rock metal, which varies from the frantic drama of Gravity to the slower paced Shoot For The Sun with it’s calming piano playing ying to Lechmanski’s guitar yang. With choral harmonies impressing, and the epic orchestrations adding depth and feel, this is another quality release which adds to the already notable catalogue of work that the band are building. If you like your music crammed full of action, melody and Germanic style power metal, Innertia is well worth a listen. 8/10

Big City: Big City Life (Rock Of Angels Records) [Review By Paul H}

Big City is a five-piece melodic/hard rock outfit from Norway. The driving force behind the band is guitarist Daniel Olaisen, formerly of Scariot, Satyricon and Blood Red Throne. The band released their debut in 2013, Wintersleep and Big City Life is the follow up to that album. It is a polished affair, comprising ten tracks of solid melodic hard rock which are radio friendly whilst retaining sufficient thrust to appeal the more hardened rock fan.

The exception, as in so many of these type of releases, is the ballad From This Day, which doesn’t do anything expect allow the guitarists Olaisen and Frank Orland (also ex-Scariot) to show their chops a bit. The remaining members of the band comprise vocalist Jan Le Brandt (Memoria Avenue, Northquake), bassist Miguel Pereira (Withem) and drummer Frank Nording Roe (Withem, Maraton) and the combination of these experienced musicians allows for a decent quality throughout the album. 7/10

Ravage: The Derelict City (Swwr Recordings) [Review By Paul H]

With themes of destruction and war, you know that Ravage isn’t no progressive flower sharing outfit. The Boston five-piece deliver five insanely fast chunks of powerful speed metal which should appeal to fans of Iron Maiden, Saxon, Hammerfall, Grand Magus and every power metal outfit in history. With a history that dates to 1995 and a list of former members longer than your arm, Ravage possess the experience and style to deliver this EP with ease. Frontman Alec Firicano’s vocals veer more towards Blaze Bayley than Bruce Dickinson but he has the same soaring high pitch that both front men possess(ed).

Dual guitars of Eli Joe Firicano and Nick Izzo add depth and harmony, whilst the thundering gallop of Tommy Grimaldi’s bass combined with Derek Jay’s solid drumming comfortably anchor the band. The tracks themselves are well composed and structured, albeit with an unsurprising blueprint which is heads down heavy metal. The title track couldn’t be more Blaze era Maiden and whilst the band do sail close to Eddie’s wings at times, there’s enough here to keep the interest. 7/10

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