Arctic Flame – Guardian at the Gate

Arctic Flame: Guardian at the Gate
(2011, Pure Steel Records)
http://www.ArcticFlamemetal.com

Hey there boys and girls! THE KIBITZER here to bring you some hell!
From Bayonne, NJ, out comes a band by the name of Arctic Flame! Now, I’ve been meaning to check out this band from my home state for quite some time, but I never had the chance to do so until now. I was over at the Pure Chaos Fest in Allentown, PA and this was the second time that I’ve checked out these guys live and I was finally able to snag one of their CD’s, Guardian At The Gate.
Ok, I’m going to be truthful here as much as possible and I’ve done a little research of my own while I was listening to this CD. I have seen a lot of reviews tearing up this CD but I’ll be honest with you, it’s not bad at all.  I really like it! It’s not me trying to be nice, it’s me dissecting every song and listening to the CD without bias. The songs and their style lean more towards the Prog Metal approach, however they still leave some room for Power Metal to pop right in and kick your ass! I didn’t have to listen to the CD for a very long time just to make my assessment. I automatically knew that I liked this CD. Although the material isn’t super hard or thrashy and to some of you the material just lacks speed, but that’s ok! This isn’t them trying to out do themselves or go head on with other Metal bands to see if they’re heavier than them or not. That’s not the main focus here. It’s them being themselves and I like that. It still displays some catchy hooks, fills, and a smooth groove to give something different to the listener.
The lyrics are a little weak, but I never pay attention to lyrics. I’m more of a music person and I concentrate more on the musicianship and production rather than lyrical content. Overall, I still like the production. I think it’s symmetrical and just right for the CD. It’s not dry, not overly done – a nice mix . The volume levels are well balanced.
The only thing to point out is that vocalist Michael Clayton-Moore’s vocals get off pitch when he hits the upper registry but it realigns itself just in time for the entire CD.
My favorite tracks are, “My Little Slice of Hell”, “Guardian At The Gate”, “Falkenfels”, “Creeper”, “Burning their Throne” and “Eternal”. Yes folks, we are talking about the same CD here and although some of you may not agree with me but it’s quite a find and a little diamond in the rough. It’s not a powerhouse but I can guarantee you that it still has a lot of offer. They also give a good live show too!
So with this, I give Guardian At The Gate a 3.25 out of 5 stars. Listen to the CD and you’ll see what I mean. Until next time…..RAGE!!!

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CAGE – Supremacy of Steel

CAGE: Supremacy of Steel
(2011, Music Buy Mail Records)
http://www.CAGEHeavyMetal.com

Hail all Metal Warriors! It’s THE KIBITZER here to give you all the low down on this latest release by CAGE, Supremacy of Steel. Ok, I’m a little late here and I know the CD came out late last year around November 2011, however, I finally had the opportunity to run out and get it.
For those of you who haven’t heard of CAGE, then go out and get their latest release! They’ve been around since 1992, however I’ve only been listening to them for over two years. I still have some catching up to do with the rest of their music catalog! Nonetheless, Supremacy of Steel is, hands down, a shredding tornado and a nuclear meltdown all in one! The production is of monolithic proportions, both superb and impeccable! Everything from the general layout of the songs to even the packaging (ah the album artwork of yore has returned and I’m glad that they’re keeping up with that lost art too!) just screams “Metal” right down to the bone! It not only picks up where Science of Annihilation left off, IT TOPS IT!
With the opening track, “Bloodsteel”, right away you hear blast beats and a screeching wail from vocalist Sean Peck. This makes you think that they’re going Black Metal but it’s definitely a statement saying that they know what’s going on in the scene and they can play that game too!
The thematic “Metal Empire” is a real stomper and great tune to march into battle!
Another track that I really love is “Doctor Doom”, based on the Marvel comic book villain (I’m also a comic book fan ).
The capabilities and limitations of Sean Peak’s vocals were put to the test with “Braindead Woman”. I don’t want to break this down for you track by track, CAGE has already done that for you. Instead, I will tell you that CAGE has gone to the 9’s just to pump out and produce one hell of a CD that every Metal head wants to listen to all the time! Their studio sound is almost identical to their live sound. That is a very hard thing to do my friends.
You can tell that they’ve experimented a little with the new material but didn’t stray away from the CAGE formula that they’ve used all these years. Supremacy of Steel is a fine tuned lethal weapon!
If you ever get a chance to catch any of their live shows then do it! I give Supremacy of Steel 5 out of 5 stars! If you don’t believe me then check out their latest CD. You won’t be disappointed!
This is THE KIBITZER signing off and until next time…..RAGE!!!

–        THE KIBITZER
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