MANOWAR – THE LORD OF STEEL

Manowar: The Lord of Steel
(2012, Magic Circle)

  Hail Metal Warriors! The Kibitzer is back again and it’s been a long time since I’ve seen a brand new Manowar CD (and I’ve been a big fan for a very long time too!)
  Manowar’s latest release, The Lord of Steel is a different breed of animal compared to the rest of the other releases within their catalog. Truthfully, I haven’t been this excited since Louder Than Hell! This new CD proves that Manowar can still bring it and have also proven that their sound has  evolved without straying away from the Manowar brand!
  The production is impeccable and robust, as the material on the CD is also light years away from Warriors of The World and Gods Of War. No slow starts here, folks, no sir! It’s full throttle with tracks like “Expendable”, “The Lord Of Steel”, “Manowarriors”,  “Annihilation”, “Hail, Kill and Die”, and “El Gringo” (which is also the first track that Manowar has ever written specifically for a major motion picture).
  The Lord of Steel also marks the debut of new drummer, Donnie Hamzik. With no disrespect intended to previous drummer, Scott Columbus (R.I.P.), Hamzik is a breath of fresh air to Manowar and is definitely what the band needed to progress to the next phase of their existence. Eric Adams’ voice is amazing as it hasn’t changed over the years and has been consistent with delivery and quality. Karl Logan and Joey DeMaio’s guitar and bass sound is thicker and fuller this time around with more distortion and mid range added to DeMaio’s bass that just makes all of the new songs roar with thunder (no pun intended!).
  I can go on and on, but this is their best work to date! I give The Lord of Steel 5 out of 5 stars! All of the haters can say what they want about Manowar, but they’ve outlasted a lot of trends and a lot of other bands that have since been long gone and in the history books. Get this CD when you can! Until next time my Metal brothers and sisters……. RAGE!!!
– THE KIBITZER
@XKIBITZERX on Twitter
Track Listing
Annihilation
Black List
Born In A Grave
El Gringo
Expendable
Hail, Kill and Die
Manowarriors
Righteous Glory
The Lord Of Steel
Touch The Sky

FEAR FACTORY – THE INDUSTRIALIST

FEAR FACTORY:
THE INDUSTRIALIST
(2012, CANDLELIGHT USA)
 

      Hail and Kill Metal Warriors!
  Truthfully, I haven’t followed (nor am I faithful follower) of the band Fear Factory since 1995’s Demanufacture. Since then, I’ve only listened to some of Fear Factory’s songs here and there. When I first discovered the band in 1995, it was during a time when Heavy Metal was in it’s all time low with Metal bands being dropped from their labels and everybody was flocking to follow the trend of the Grunge scene (Man, I really hated that era!!!). Albeit that Fear Factory was a breath of fresh air for me and they were like no other band out there at the time, the fusion of Metal and Industrial Music was the culmination and trademark of that era. However, for me personally, it was lacking something -lead solos! Sure, there are Metal bands out there that have written and released songs without lead guitar solos, however, they are the main staples within our art and culture of Heavy Metal. That’s just my preference. With Fear Factory, they were the game changers in the Metal scene in 1995. Being a band that is mostly based on rhythmic patterns, odd time signatures and sound samples, that was cool, but to me, it got old fast.
  Fast forward to 2012, the band hasn’t evolved much since the last time I listened to them, but they still retain their signature sound. Although there have been numerous roster changes within the band over the years, the masterminds behind Fear Factory have always been Burton C. Bell (vocals) and Dino Cazares (Guitars). Now that Cazares is back in the band, they have regained full strength and can now go full speed ahead!
  Their latest CD, The Industrialist, marks the band’s return to the concept album. A concept based on an age where all industries are in the form of an automaton and where machines start to think independently for themselves. In the story, the automaton becomes aware of its existence and evolution in which will lead to mankind’s demise. A very cool concept (although not original), so I decided to snag a copy for myself just to see what’s new within the Fear Factory camp.
  Well, from what I can tell you, they got my attention and this is the album that got me interested in Fear Factory once again. I wouldn’t say that this CD is ground breaking, but it’s definitely a must have for those of you that are die hard fans of the band. Bell and Cazares handled all of the instruments and the production for The Industrialist with no additional band members available during the recording sessions of the CD. They even used a drum machine as a proxy instead of recruiting a live drummer. The reason being that Bell wanted to go back to that type of sound that they had on some of the earlier CD’s. (Personally, I couldn’t tell the difference nor did I even miss the presence of a real drummer for this CD. It may be a big deal to you musicians out there, but I don’t think anybody really cares to be honest with you. So I’m not going to be picky about that.)
  Nonetheless, this is a good CD and I like it. As for the core band members themselves, Bell is a very good vocalist and I’ve always liked his style. Cazares, on the other hand, is a one dimensional guitarist in my opinion. He only focuses on riffs, yet he manages to pull it off all the time and has been successful at it. That being said, kudos to Dino Cazares.
  As for the new release, tracks like ”Recharger”, “Virus of Faith”, and “Depraved Mind Murder”, serve as the mainstay and platform from which the CD is based on.
  Overall, “The Industrialist”, is definitely a return to the feel and sound of old, just with updated technology. To me, it’s been done before with the new material sounding rather hackneyed in theory and design. I’m not trying to dispel or besmirch the band’s name or legacy that it has made for itself within this business, but the The Industrialist is nothing new (other than being another new release from them).
   I give The Industrialist a 3.75 out of 5. Don’t get me wrong, I dig the new CD but it’s not one to stay in my CD player for days at a time. If you’re a die hard fan, go out and get it. For those of you that aren’t, it still could be something new for you to explore. So until next time…… RAGE!!!
 
Tracks
The Industrialist
Recharger
New Messiah
God Eater
Depraved Mind Murder
Virus of Faith
Difference Engine
Disassemble: Religion is Flawed because Man is Flawed
Human Augmentation
–        THE KIBITZER
@XKIBITZERX on Twitter
 

EPICA – Requiem for the Indifferent

EPICA:
 REQUIEM FOR THE INDIFFERENT
(2012, NUCLEAR BLAST)
            Hail Metal Warriors!! THE KIBITZER here once again to bring the music to the masses and spread the word about Metal as much as I can! This time I’m reviewing Epica’s latest release, Requiem for The Indifferent. I’ve been meaning to review this new opus of theirs, so here it is! This is a concept album about how mankind is facing the challenges in today’s society with the constant tension and turmoil between different religions, cultures, wars, natural disasters and a huge global economic crisis just looming over our heads. It’s also about the unification of the earth’s population and how we will all need each other to overcome these problems. All I can say is that it is an elegant piece of tapestry. Labeling this band as a “Goth Metal” band would be unfair. They are just so much more than that. I mean, they really got my attention with this new release! Epica has proven that not only can they bust out the heavy artillery, but their music can be elegant and beautiful too. Simone Simons’ voice solidifies the band roster and takes them to different places in the universe time and time again with every one of their releases.
  The second track, “Karma” is a real heavy hitter but it also exhibits their other strengths. There were some blast beats that caught me by surprise too, but they didn’t stray too far from the main focus of the song. A great display of form and functionality. Another track that I really like a lot is “Serenade of Self-Destruction”. It has the feel of a musical score for a motion picture and that’s great!
  Epica is a multifaceted unit and is well versed in the symphonic and operatic arts. The bonus track, “Twin Flames” at the end of the CD is really poignant and tugs at the strings of the heart. I don’t really say something like that very often, but that song is really special to me.
               Well, I can go on and on about how much I love this CD, but to sum it up, this is really a must have CD! You won’t be disappointed. I give this “Requiem for The Indifferent” 5 out of 5 stars.
  Wow, so far, there has been some really great material from a lot of cool releases this year that I’ve been giving perfect ratings on! The most that I’ve ever given at one time if I may add! Then again, that’s just my opinion. Regardless, don’t let the theatrics of Epica fool you. They can play! This is THE KIBITZER signing off and until next time……. RAGE!!!
       Tracks
Karma
Monopoly on Truth
Storm The Sorrow
Delirium
Internal Warfare
Requiem For The Indifferent
Anima
Guilty Demeanor
Deep Water Horizon
Stay The Course
Deter The Tyrant
Avalanche
Serenade Of Self-Destruction
        Bonus Track: Twin Flames
–        THE KIBITZER
@XKIBITZERX on Twitter

CROWN OF MALICE – Demo

CROWN OF MALICE – DEMO
  Hail Metal Warriors! THE KIBITZER here to bring you some fresh new talent! I’ve heard of these guys for a couple of months now and I finally had an opportunity to sit down and listen to the five tracks that they have out on their Reverbnation page.
  From Plymouth, Massachusetts,  let’s give it up for Crown of Malice: Mikey Currier-Bass, Joshua Whiting-vocals, Adam Baran-guitar, and Thomas Wittig on drums. Given that these songs were written and recorded before they had settled on a drummer, they did one hell of a job with just a drum machine. Armed with the tools and the right attitude that they set forth in producing this demo, Crown of Malice has the makings of something fresh and something that I haven’t heard in a while. They are definitely what their bio describes them as.
  Crown Of Malice is an amalgamation of Thrash, Black, Death, and Progressive Metal with some Crossover Hardcore thrown in for some color. This is the first time that I never had to guess what they are. They are truly the product of their creation. I’m not going to hone in on the production aspect of their songs. Instead, their musicianship caught my ear. The opener, “Behold The Crown”, has that Thrash vibe of old that I like. The next song, “Forsaken” starts off with some Black Metal type synthesizers and launches off with a nice Death/Progressive blend of styles. To close it out, you have the instrumental “Execution Day”. The great thing that I like is that they switch off between Black and Death Metal vocals for variation and to break the monotony of things. A very good combination. I have no doubt about their musicianship.
  They have some loose ends to tighten up when it comes to their sound. More definition and a cleaner tone would help out the rhythm guitar. They’re right there with the vocals. They just need to concentrate on pitch, tone and switching between the two styles. Overall, Crown of Malice has something really good here and I’d like to hear more from them if and when they re-record the current tracks or when they release some new tunes. Only time will tell.
  I give the demo a 3.25 out of 5 stars. I think you’ll be hearing more from these guys in the future. Take my word for it! This is THE KIBITZER signing off and until next time…RAGE!!!
1.     Behold The Crown
2.     Forsaken
3.     Ending
4.     Grinder
5.     Execution Day
XKIBITZERX on Twitter

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!!!

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
KIBITZER@hotmail.com
@XKIBITZERX on Twitter
http://www.MySpace.com/TheMightyKibitzer

WYKKED WYTCH – The Ultimate Deception

WYKKED WYTCH
The Ultimate Deception
(2012)

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
(THE KIBITZER)
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