Arctic Flame: Guardian at the Gate
(2011, Pure Steel Records)
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!!!
CAGE: Supremacy of Steel
(2011, Music Buy Mail Records)
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
@XKIBITZERX on Twitter
The Ultimate Deception
HAIL TO ALL OF THEE METAL BROTHERS AND SISTERS!
THE KIBITZER here to bring forth and open up with Wykked Wytch’s latest release, The Ultimate Deception. I’m still a neophyte when it comes to the rest of Wykked Wytch’s catalog, however I can tell you that it is light years from Angelic Vengeance! As I put the CD in the player, immediately, I heard the trademark Wykked Wytch sound. However, they’ve stretched far beyond the realms of Black and Death Metal on this one. Without losing its original traits of what made them who they are today, this is just an amalgamation of what they have learned throughout the years and what they had ever released previously. Clear cut and dry, it is a demonstration of pure brute strength, but with the high quality and technical prowess that they were able to deliver for such a solid and robust release.
The first track, “Birthing The Beast”, definitely has the Black Metal vibe with the synthesizers and piano, but then it launches a full out assault on the human ears with crushing guitars and Ipek’s impeccable vocals!
The title track “The Ultimate Deception”, is a masterpiece all in its own. It has the double kick drums, the blast beats and death vocals. Guitarist, Nate Poulson, really shreds here, not just with the riffing, but with the melodies and leads that brings this song to life! I love it! Sure, there are lots of bands that can bring out pure turbo boost straight out of the gate, but a prime example here is “Despised Existence.” The guitars aren’t just heavy but they have a very good and fluid form, very sleek and slick. The lead guitar work also surprises me on “Serpents Among Us”. Ipek has changed it up this time and displayed her full vocal capabilities here as both she and Wykked Wytch have already surpassed other bands, and not just within their own genre either!
Their rendition of Metallica’s “Fade to Black”, is very different as it’s still similar but the arrangements tell a different story. I like their rendition of this song a lot. I will let the rest of you be the judge. Continuing with the rest of the CD, “Abolish The Weak” is hyper fast with furious riffing that would make any guitar fan go, “Whaaattt??!!!”.
Last track on the CD, “Eyes of a Vulture”, is a deep and brooding closer for the CD as it’s esoteric and ice piercing accuracy is spot on execution. Anybody that knows me also knows that I don’t give many super high ratings when it comes to my CD reviews. I’m not blowing smoke up anybody’s ass, however I give this CD 5 out of 5 stars!
Wykked Wytch’s The Ultimate Deception, has many more weapons within it’s arsenal than just the common hammer and sword! Ipek’s vocal talents have definitely set the bar high on this one with melodies and clean vocals. As difficult as it is to maintain intensity, it is also difficult to maintain control and a fresh and vibrant sound. Ipek has accomplished just that! Run out and get this CD! You won’t regret it! Until next time, GO OUT AND RAGE!!! – www.WykkedWytch.com
XKIBITZERX on Twitter