Top 20 albums of 2019

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Well here we are, another year and another heaping pile of albums by new bands, old bands and everyone else in between. However, lets see what made my top 20 of the year! Now I know this year I have really slacked on getting reviews out which is why a lot of these albums I have not reviewed. That doesn’t mean I have been listening though and boy have I been listening this year. Lets see who made it!

 

                                              20. Fatal Curse: Breaking The Trance

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                                   19. Babylon Shakes: Exile to the Velveteen Lounge

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                                                             18. Enforcer: Zenith

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                                                      17. Tanith: In Another Time

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                                                    16. Crazy Lixx: Forever Wild

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                                                  15. Leathurbitch: Into The Night

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                                                  14. Tora Tora: Bastards of Beale

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                                                               13. Solicitor: S/T e.p

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                                                          12. Paladin: Ascension

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                                            11. Bewitcher: Under The Witching Cross

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                                                       10. Asomvel: World Shaker

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                                                      9. Duel: Valley Of Shadows

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                                                      8. War Cloud: State of Shock

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                                                        7. Spillage: Blood of Angels

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                                                   6. Diamond Head: Coffin Train

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                                                      5. Airbourne: Boneshaker

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                                                 4. The Rods: Brotherhood of Metal

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                                                 3. Toxic Holocaust: Primal Future

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                                                     2. Riot City: Burn The Night

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                                                                    1. Angel: Risen

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The return of Angel has kind of been happening for the past few years. However, with an official album under the name in years this one definitely spent the most time on my stereo the past few months. It also ranks as one of my favorite Angel releases with so many catchy and hook driven tracks.

 

Many notable inclusions this year were also:

Satan: Cruel Magic

Traveler: S/T

Treatment: Power Crazy

Fortune: II

and many many others, here’s to 2020 and a new decade of great music!

Tour of the Doomed: The Riff Strikes Back

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After multiple successful Days of the Doomed fests, promoter “Mercyful” Mike Smith finally put the show on the road this year with the Tour of The Doomed featuring Apostle of Solitude, Beelzefuzz, Spillage and legendary 90’s Heavy Rock act Sheavy on their first ever outing in the United States. I was lucky enough to catch the tour at Reggies in Chicago on August 13th and overall, it was a very solid show.

 

Apostle of Solitude

First up for the evening was Apostle of Solitude. Their set consisted of heavy slower brooding Sabbath inspired riffing with more melodic vocal deliveries. The band was very tight in their performance but their set I felt lacked a bit of variety. In particularly their last few songs I felt just went a bit too long until their very last song which went for more speed with the band ending on a very explosive note. Overall, not bad but could’ve used a bit more variety in songs.

 

Beelzefuzz

Prog/Doom act Beelzefuzz were up next on the bill and definitely were one of the most unique bands of the night. With a very proto metal sound with proggy elements, these guys were very entertaining. Again, they definitely had their songwriting chops down very well and even brought Spillage vocalist Elvin Rodriguez on stage to duet with one of their earlier songs. Overall, I felt their set was very well paced and definitely earned them some new fans as well.

 

Spillage

Ahh, Spillage what can I say about this band? Ever since hearing some of their material back on MHXradio almost three years ago, I fell in love with their sound. I was able to see them a few years back but seeing them with their new frontman(who had a leather vest sporting a Born Again patch which is badass) and showing off some new tracks was a real treat. The new songs blended very well keeping the hard rock feeling their first album held dear but with a bit more of a progression to it. They were definitely my favorite of the night as being a big fan and supporter it is almost to be expected.

 

Sheavy

Finally, we have the elusive and grooving rockers Sheavy hailing from Canada. This was history in the making as they had never toured the US before so it was a real treat. They played I would say a good balance of classic and newer songs from “Electric Sleep” to “Shadows” and everything in between. I do wish they could have played “Born In A Daze” which is a favorite of mine but oh well. The set I felt was well balanced with slower and faster songs peppered throughout and their sound was impeccable besides the vocals being a bit buried at times. Overall, a very solid closing for the show as a whole.

 

Overall, like I said besides a few nit picks with how sets were paced, it was a very solid show. You got hat you paid for, hard rocking, chugging and grooving doom metal from some of the best of the best. I am hoping this tour does well and we get another like it either next year or in coming years, I know a lot of acts that would be clamoring to do a show as heavy as this. The tour runs until the 19th of august ending in new york so if you can catch any shows between now and then, do it, you won’t be disappointed.

Headbanging Highlight of the Week: Blue Cheer-What Doesn’t Kill You

 

Welcome to another headbanging highlight of the week where I tell you guys what I am currently listening to and what you should check out! This week we are going back a decade to 2007 with an album that I personally think is quite overlooked from a band that was considered one of the heaviest bands of their time. Blue Cheer who formed in the mid 60’s releasing their ear splitting 1968 classic “Vincebus Eruptum” which was essentially the bluesy styles of the trio Cream taken to it’s logical extreme at the time. The band released a few more albums before imploding in the 70’s before coming back with a straight forward heavy metal record entitled “The Beast Is Back” in the mid 80’s and retaining a more heavy metal style through a few more records and tours until 2007 when the group released “What Doesn’t Kill You” which was their last before band leader and founder Dicky Peterson passed away shortly after. Blue Cheer have always been one of my favorite trio’s but unlike groups such as Cream, they never really got the recognition I always felt they deserved. Well i’m going to tell you exactly why their final album was just as heavy as most bands that were releasing albums at the same time.

 

Now this album  features only two out of three original members with Peterson and drummer Paul Whaley being them with Andrew Mcdonald joining on guitar who does a great job. a more stoner rock style with fuzzier guitars grooving riffs and Petersons now very gravely vocals which are battered to hell but work and add a layer of dinginess to alot of these song. From the straight heavy blues metal opening “Rollin Them Bones” which is one of the quintessential songs about weed to the calmer and more melodic “Young Lions In Paradise”, The album definitely is one that I play a lot. The production is very well done with every instrument mixed fairly well together. The soloing has a lot of grit but is still clear and that is something I really enjoy. Peterson’s vocals like I said are very beat up which is noticeable in songs especially like “Gypsy Rider” which is actually my favorite and one of the heaviest songs on the album with a very Black Sabbath feel in the main riff of the song. You also have some vintage sounding fuzz guitars found in grooving songs like “Maladjusted Child” which give off that heavy 70’s feel a lot. The album more so in the second half is very consistent blowing off bluesy hard rock number one after another which does feel quite monotonous however the really good songs detract from the album becoming dull. I would suggest the first half over the second but if you are a fan of stoner rock, heavy 60’s fuzzed out rock music or anything in that Heavy 70’s style, then you should pick up this final album from one of the most underrated trio’s of all time.

Album Review: DUEL- Witchbanger

 

“Witchbanger” is the second full length album from Texas Heavy/Stoner Rock band DUEL and was released on April 28th, 2017. After last years stellar “Fears Of The Dead” this Texas quartet returns to offer up another slab of 70’s inspired heavy metal. I can’t believe it has taken this long to get to talking about this album, but finally here we are. So lets see if DUEL were able to expand on the first album or if they fall into the dreaded sophomore slump.

 

Track Rundown

1.Devil-Opening with the sound a guitar plugging right into a simplisitic dirty blues based riff and Tom Franks’ heavy and very powerful vocals, the song has this almost “power-doom” vibe to it that makes it heavy but singable to with a catchy and very rock solid chorus. I really like the production it is very much like their first album but the vocalist seem to pop a bit more and have a bit more grain to them. The soling is smooth and faithful to the genre with a lot of groove being the main focal point. This is a great opener and shows the band being even more up front than they were on the first album.

2.Witchbanger-This is one of the most grooving tunes on the album with the  main riff in the verses following the melody of the vocals. One thing that Duel manages to capture is their ability to sound really tight but be really loose in their style at the same time where it feels like they are jamming in a garage somewhere. The chorus riff always gets stuck in my head but the weird vocal melody before that riff hits is a little weird, it just feels a bit out of place. The song is definitely a good number and one that would work very well live if I had a chance to catch these guys.

3.The Snake Queen- This tune has this almost classic rock aka early KISS feel until the hazy vocals come in which do work very well. The vocal melodies I think help the band establish more of a signified sound for themselves and gives the song more of it’s doom vibe as well. The song is a bit more laid back but the chorus really hits hard as it comes more up front with a more straightforward riff sludging all the way through. The song does eventually hit that more grooving tempo DUEL like to use in a lot of their songs and even though it is a shorter part, it works quite well and gives the track some extra flavor.

4.Astro Gypsy- One of my favorites on the album for sure. It has that Sabbathy Jazzy feel to it with some wah’ed out guitar riffing going on the slower bits. This is a tune that shows the more creative feeling of the band and has a very ZZ Top vibe as well. Definitely a highlight on the album.

5.Heart Of The Sun- I almost get a Witchfinder General feeling from this tune, it has a very melodic presence especially in its composure and it really works against the heavier songs on the album. It also shows bits of the progression within the bands songwriting capabilities also. Thus song also has one of the best solos on the album as well.

6.Bed Of Nails-This tune has an interesting riff to it as you think the melody is going to go one way, but the band tweaks it a bit and it works. However, as this song does have some of those melodic moments as the last track did, I don’t feel like it is as strong as “Heart Of The Sun” but still has some good qualities about it with some tasty solo guitar work throughout.

7.Cat’s Eye- This is another tune that has a mores simplistic approach to it with a heavy chugging riff through the verses and the chorus as well. As far as a straight forward heavy doom/rock song it works quite well. The solo is one of the heaviest on the album as well as it kicks in right after a break on the song. It is pretty short but it works for what it is.

8.Tigers and Rainbows- This song has a groove that works very well and sports one of the strongest choruses throughout as well. This song takes alot more turns than the last few do similar to the last track on their debut with the softer mid section in the song. The song does end with this more psychedelic heavy jam which works but also feels like the half of two songs combined into one it just feels a bit disjointed but isn’t a bad closer either.

Overall, I give the album a fair 7 out of 10. While this album does have a few problems with some of the songs being a but too simple or disjointed, the songs that are good are really freakin good. DUEL have definitely expanded their songwriting with added melody and more intricate sections within their songs. While their are things that this album do better than their first , the first does some things better than this one does. However, this album I still would give a spin as it definitely has sustainability in any collection of the lovers of heavy rock or doom metal.