Album Review – WildHeart / No Love (2019)

Highly inspired by classic Hard Rock and Glam Metal from the 80’s, this five-piece act from Belgium will take you on an electrifying journey back to the Sunset Strip anno 1986.

Hailing from Ninove, a city and municipality located in the Flemish province of East Flanders in Belgium, Hard Rock outfit WildHeart is a young and hungry band with a great passion for and highly inspired by classic Hard Rock and Glam Metal from the 80’s such as Whitesnake, RATT, Mötley Crüe, Dokken and Van Halen, taking you on a journey back to the Sunset Strip anno 1986 with their fun and vibrant music. Having the debauchery on stage and a carefree Rock N’ Roll vibe as their top priorities, the band comprised of frontman Farty, guitarists Foxx and Juice, bassist Stevie Dee and drummer Thunderberck is offering to our ears now in 2019 their sophomore album entitled No Love, a follow-up to their also excellent self-titled debut album released in 2016.

Produced by Joren Cautaers and mastered at Mass Destruction Production in Sweden by none other than Erik Martensson, known from bands like Eclipse and W.E.T., No Love is a thrilling feast of rockin’ tunes and sounds tailored for diehard fans of the genre who are always eager to meet new bands playing that classic sonority from around 30 years ago. Even the band’s attire seems to be taken from the golden years of Glam and Heavy Metal, looking like a more serious (but still uncompromising) version of our beloved Steel Panther and really old school Van Halen.

The old school intro The Mirror grows in intensity until A Stranger’s Eyes comes crushing our heads and warming up our hearts, exhaling pure Hard Rock for lovers of the music by Motley Crüe and Poison, with the blazing riffs by Foxx and Juice dictating the song’s frantic rhythm while Farty powerfully declaims its lyrics. After such powerful start, it’s time to put on your tight leopard pants and get ready to bang your head with the band in Nothing but Trouble, a song that sounds as if it was taken straight from an album recorded in the 80’s, with Thunderberck pounding his drums with a lot of precision and Stevie Dee adding the word “metal” to the musicality armed with his bass punches; whereas a catchy riff ignites the headbanging Dutch Courage, where all band members showcase their deep passion for Glam Metal in over five minutes of first-class rock music for the masses. Moreover, Farty steals the spotlight with another fantastic vocal performance, while the band’s guitar duo breathes fire with their refined solos.

The title-track No Love leans towards classic Skid Row with hints of Survivor’s all-time hit “Eye of the Tiger”, with the sync between guitars, beats and bass being simply amazing, therefore resulting in an energizing tune that should sound beyond electrifying if played live. Then showcasing an Iron Maiden’s “From Here To Eternity”-inspired riff, led by Thunderberck’s crushing beats and presenting a pure 80’s vibe, One Way Ticket to Paradise is more than perfect for singing along with the band or enjoying it while having a relaxing ride on the highway on a summer day; and WildHeart keep hitting our heads hard with their old school music in Rumours, a song that feels like a power ballad at times, but still bringing the groove and punch from faster rock songs. Needless to say, Farty once again delivers a great performance on vocals, not to mention the band’s usual incendiary guitar solos.

Now rev up your engines for a mid-tempo Hard Rock extravaganza entitled Good to Be Bad, infused with the heavier sounds by bands like Judas Priest and Primal Fear (especially during the song’s scorching hot, metallic riffs), turning it into a great metal hymn perfect for raising your fists in the air together with the band. The Winner’s Always Right is another explosion of classic rock and metal spearheaded by Foxx’s and Juice’s unstoppable axes, while Thunderberck keeps slamming his drum set in great fashion. Well, this song definitely asks for a colorful bandana, don’t you think? Anyway, adding hints of classic Rock N’ Roll and Southern Rock to their old school musicality, this rockin’ quintet offers us the fun and fresh Valerie, and you’re already aware that every single time a Hard Rock band writes a song named after a girl, the final result exhales awesomeness. Lastly, WildHeart probably thought it was a good idea to close the album with a true headbanger, and that’s exactly what we get in Tonight We Rock, bringing to our avid ears a flammable fusion of the music by Van Halen with Scorpions, hence making it impossible to stand still to the dynamic riffs and beats blasted by the band while Farty delivers what’s perhaps his most inspired vocals of the whole album.

No Love, which by the way is available for a full and delicious listen on Spotify, is more than just another album of Hard Rock. It’s a passionate, detailed and very honest tribute from WildHeart to all of their heroes from the 80’s, working as some sort of “time machine” for everyone who loves that classic rock sonority that has been embellishing the Sunset Strip for over 30 years. Having said that, don’t forget to show those Belgian metalheads you true support and admiration by following them on Facebook, by subscribing to their YouTube channel, and of course by purchasing your copy of No Love from several locations like Apple Music. After listening to No Love, I caught myself wondering if there’s a street that can be named the “Belgian Sunset Strip” in WildHeart’s homeland, having those obstinate rockers as one of the greatest new names of European Hard Rock and Glam Metal.

Best moments of the album: Dutch Courage, One Way Ticket to Paradise and Tonight We Rock.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 WildHeart Records

Track listing
1. The Mirror 1:12
2. A Stranger’s Eyes 5:21
3. Nothing but Trouble 5:00
4. Dutch Courage 5:09
5. No Love 5:03
6. One Way Ticket to Paradise 5:13
7. Rumours 6:12
8. Good to Be Bad 4:33
9. The Winner’s Always Right 4:43
10. Valerie 4:46
11. Tonight We Rock 4:47

Band members
Farty – vocals
Foxx – guitar
Juice – guitar
Stevie Dee – bass
Thunderberck – drums

Album Review – Reternity / Facing the Demon (2019)

An exciting display of Melodic Heavy Metal by four experienced musicians from the German scene, dealing with the struggles we all have with our inner demons and temptations.

Founded in the summer of 2018 in Heilbronn, a city in northern Baden-Württemberg, Germany, by Stefan Zörner (SpiteFuel, Lanfear, Strangelet) on vocals, Carsten Sauter (Mighty D., Pyroclasm) on guitars and bass, Semen Brik (Echo.Mensch) also on the guitar, and Sascha Beul (Remember Twilight, Darkness Ablaze) on drums, four experienced and skillful musicians from the German Heavy Metal and Hard Rock scene, Melodic Heavy Metal outfit Reternity has just released their debut full-length album, entitled Facing the Demon, following up the successful release of their 2018 two-track demo, which received an amazing feedback from both fans and critics. Dealing with the struggles we all have with our inner demons and temptations, something that’s beautifully depicted in the album artwork, Facing the Demon was carefully produced by Jonas Kümmerle at Analog Mixing Studio, taking the album’s overall sound quality to a whole new level and, therefore, allowing those Swabian metallers to shine throughout 40 minutes of heavy music, ranging from classic Hard Rock to more berserk styles such as our good old Thrash Metal.

The acoustic guitars by Carsten and Semen kick off the intro Strings of Sor 1: Sunset, working as the calm before the storm for Last Days of War, a frantic and very melodic Heavy Metal tune with thrashing elements, as if Anthrax decided to play a faster version of Hard Rock. Moreover, Stefan leads his metal brigade with his ass-kicking, angry vocals, keeping the energy level really high until the next song, titled Tomorrow’s History, comes crushing our minds with another incendiary performance by the band’s guitar duo while Carsten keeps rumbling the foundations of the earth with his bass lines, also bringing some soulful guitar solos just the way we like it in Power Metal. Then the spoken words by Stefan in the melodic bridge Reternity II set the tone for the amazing Hard Rock power ballad I Love the Night, highly inspired by 80’s Glam Metal but with the band’s own modern twist. As the sound of guitars and bass fills every empty space in the air, get ready to sing the song’s awesome chorus alongside those German metallers in great fashion.

In Down. Not. Broken, one of the songs from their 2018 demo and another potent tune infused with Thrash Metal nuances, it’s time for Sascha to pound his drums mercilessly, therefore adding tons of electricity and stamina to the musicality, with Carsten and Semen once again kicking us in the face with their riffs and solos. The title-track Facing the Demon is a lesson in Symphonic Power Metal, with Stefan and guest vocalist Michaela “Ela” Eichhorn (frontwoman for German Melodic Heavy Metal band E:L:A) being on fire and utterly flawless on vocals, while the guitars and bass sound absolutely metallic from start to finish for our total delight; whereas in Singularity all instruments, in special the bass lines, present a lot of Progressive Metal nuances, sounding more modernized than the rest of the album, albeit not as vibrant. Furthermore, Stefan does a great job on vocals as usual, with the song’s acoustic ending also being a nice addition to the overall result.

The second song from their 2018 demo, Suicide Butterflies, is a very rhythmic and solid creation by Reternity, showcasing an electrified Sascha on drums while Carsten brings considerable amounts of progressiveness and groove with his riffs and bass punches; followed by Stone to Mouth, featuring German singer Chantal Freier doing a gorgeous introduction to the song in her mother tongue. Overall, it sounds like a fusion of the music by Skid Row, Gojira and Anthrax with alternative music from the 90’s, with all the shredding plus the German words being welcome extra touches to such vibrant composition. And last but not least, Carsten and Semen fire acoustic guitar lines one last time in the outro Strings of Sor 2: Sundown, closing the album on a serene note; however, keep listening to it for the hidden track All Grey, a fun and frantic Heavy Metal and Rock N’ Roll party with highlights to Stefan’s vocal performance boosted by the song’s effective backing vocals.

You can show your support to those skillful and unrelenting Teutonic metallers by following them on Facebook, and of course by purchasing your copy of Facing the Demon (also available for a full listen on Spotify) from the MDD Records webstore, from iTunes or from Amazon. Because, you know, if you’ve decided you’re finally going to face your inner demons from now on, keeping your head high and without any fear of failure, the best way to do that is accompanied by our good old Heavy Metal, no doubt about that.

Best moments of the album: Last Days of War, I Love the Night and Facing the Demon.

Worst moments of the album: Singularity.

Released in 2019 MDD Records

Track listing
1. Strings of Sor 1: Sunset (Intro) 1:05
2. Last Days of War 4:22
3. Tomorrow’s History 3:50
4. Reternity II 0:54
5. I Love the Night 2:55
6. Down. Not. Broken 3:32
7. Facing the Demon (feat. Michaela “Ela” Eichhorn) 4:31
8. Singularity 5:34
9. Suicide Butterflies 4:18
10. Stone to Mouth (feat. Chantal Freier) 4:47
11. Strings of Sor 2: Sundown (Outro) 1:12
12. All Grey (Hidden track) 2:39

Band members
Stefan Zörner – vocals
Carsten Sauter – guitars, bass
Semen Brik – guitars
Sascha Beul – drums

Guest musicians
Chantal Freier – female vocals (intro) on “Stone to Mouth”
Michaela “Ela” Eichhorn – female vocals on “Facing the Demon”

Album Review – Striker / Play To Win (2018)

Blending classic Heavy Metal, Hard Rock, Power Metal and 80’s Hair Metal, one of the biggest exponents of contemporary Canadian metal music strikes once again with a brand new album, always playing to win.

Champions in blending classic Heavy Metal, Hard Rock, Power Metal and 80’s Hair Metal, Canadian shredders Striker are back with another good album titled Play To Win, the sixth in their undisputed career and a follow-up to their two previous award nominated winning albums, their 2017 breathtaking self-titled opus Striker (nominated for a JUNO award, winner of an Edmonton Music Award and Western Canadian Award) and the WCMA + EMA award winning album Stand In The Fire, released in 2016. That means this Edmonton-based squad comprised of frontman Dan Cleary, guitarists Tim Brown and Chris Segger, bassist William Wallace and drummer Adam Brown has been on an absolute roll in the past few years, not only delivering first-class metal for our total delight, but also spreading their music live across Europe and North America with bands like Sonata Arctica, Dark Tranquility and Warbringer, along with festival appearances at 70,000 Tons of Metal and Bang Your Head Festival, proving why they’re already considered one of the biggest exponents in contemporary Canadian Heavy Metal.

Mixed and Mastered by Hendrik Udd at Hendrik Udd Recording Studios, and featuring not only an old school artwork by Elvis Amaral (HipnoFX Audiovisual), but also the fantastic Randy Black (Annihilator, Primal Fear, Destruction) as a session drummer, who by the way also recorded the album Stand in the Fire with the band, Play To Win will please all fans of traditional metal and rock, keeping the name of Striker relevant and strong in the scene. “Play to Win: if you want to win you have to play the game. Find the rules and break them. This is our 6th album and 3rd independent release. If we followed the rules and listened to the industry people we’d have gone absolutely nowhere. Play To Win is about listening to yourself, following your own path, and playing that 5th ace hidden in your sleeve. This album is designed to light a fire under your ass and get you moving, and we made sure to get the most modern, ear melting sounds possible. It’s all about where metal is going, not where it has been, and this is our soundtrack to success,” commented Tim about the album.

And Tim and Chris begin slashing and shredding their strings from the very first second in the opening tune Heart of Lies, where the band delivers their usual ass-kicking fusion of Heavy Metal and Hard Rock, with Dan declaiming the song’s chorus beautifully (“Another victim to a heart of lies / Can’t see the truth behind those venom eyes / Another victim to a heart of lies / On deaf ears will fall the eagle’s cry”). Then leaning towards pure 80’s Hard Rock and Glam Metal, in special the crisp and passionate vocal lines by Dan, we have Position of Power, with William and Randy maintaining a solid and rumbling background throughout the entire song; followed by Head First, a good song that gets a bit too commercial at times, but that obviously brings Striker’s old school punch, sounding very rhythmic, groovy and melodic. In addition, Tim and Chris are once again on fire with their riffs and solos, making it a highly recommended addition to your road trip playlist.

Blending the music by Iron Maiden with Motley Crüe, Stratovarius and Van Halen, which in the end resulted in sheer awesomeness, Striker offer us the thrilling On The Run, showcasing a brilliant vocal performance by Dan while William keeps extracting that metallic sound we all love form his bass, whereas The Front is another classic song by Striker, also feeling as it was taken from an 80’s Hair Metal album. It’s a bit too smooth compared to the sonic massacre from their previous albums, but the crisp sound of the guitars and the precise beats by Randy make it very enjoyable and fun. The title-track Play To Win, a mid-tempo feast of rockin’ sounds, sounds even more inspired by the golden years of Hard Rock than ever, with the guitar riffs and solos by both Tim and Chris getting sharper and groovier, and albeit its lyrics are extremely cheesy, the message the band wanted to send is there (and that’s what really matters in the end). Then despite the excellent vocals by Dan, its tuneful guitar solos and a pleasant vibe, the power ballad Standing Alone never really takes off, getting way too mellow compared to what Striker are capable of doing.

Back to a heavier and more epic sonority, those talented Canadian metallers fire an electrified Heavy Metal and Hard Rock tune entitled Summoner, inspired by many classics by Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and other behemoths from the NWOBHM, also presenting the best guitar work of the entire album in my opinion. In Heavy Is The Heart the band shows how to do a proper power ballad, bringing passion to the musicality without forgetting the always needed dosages of electricity and rage, again presenting an inspired Dan leading his bandmates from start to finish. However, the closing tune Hands Of Time is another generic song that sounds and feels extremely soft if you’re a longtime fan of Striker, lacking the same potency and kick from their already classic tunes. Put differently, it’s far from being a bad song, but as we all got used to a lot heavier riffs and faster beats by Striker it’s hard to truly relish it.

As a huge fan of their self-titled album released last year, which I personally considered one of the best metal albums of 2017, I felt slightly disappointed with the final result in Play To Win. Nothing to worry about, though, as I guess I’m being too harsh on the guys from Striker, almost “demanding” that they had released another Heavy Metal masterpiece instead of actually enjoying their new album. There’s still a lot of top-of-the-line music to savor in Play To Win, available from their official website as a digital download or as a special edition CD, as well as from iTunes and Amazon, and you can also follow the band on Facebook, subscribe to their YouTube channel and listen to more of their music on Spotify (if you don’t do all that already). Striker are a band that keeps winning no matter what with each and every release (despite singing in their previous album that they were “born to lose”), and the flame of Canadian metal will remain alive and vibrant while we have those skillful metalheads from Edmonton among us, always playing to win.

Best moments of the album: Heart of Lies, On The Run and Summoner.

Worst moments of the album: Standing Alone and Hands Of Time.

Released in 2018 Record Breaking Records

Track listing
1. Heart of Lies 4:04
2. Position of Power 3:41
3. Head First 4:02
4. On The Run 3:52
5. The Front 4:02
6. Play To Win 3:49
7. Standing Alone 4:56
8. Summoner 4:04
9. Heavy Is The Heart 4:54
10. Hands Of Time 3:47

Band members
Dan Cleary – lead vocals
Tim Brown – lead and rhythm guitar
Chris Segger – lead and rhythm guitar
William Wallace – bass
Adam Brown – drums

Guest musician
Randy Black – drums (session)
Lindsay Robinson, John Kennedy and Nathan Schadeck – gang vocals

Album Review – Steel Panther / Lower the Bar (2017)

The most depraved band in the world raises the bar once again with an ode to all the debauchery and joy of the golden age of Hard Rock, Glam and Heavy Metal.

After the considerable letdown that was All You Can Eat, released  by American Heavy Metal/Hard Rock band Steel Panther in 2014, I got a little worried about the future of one of the funniest metal acts in the history of music. Their jokes were not as good as before, their lyrics were way too repetitive, and there were no memorable anthems like in their previous albums. However, it seems that Michael Starr (vocals), Satchel (guitars), Lexxi Foxxx (bass) and Stix Zadinia (drums) have got their mojo back in Lower the Bar, their fourth major-label studio album and an ode to all the debauchery and joy of the golden age of Hair and Glam Metal.

Let’s be honest, after the first official video of the album was released exclusively on Pornhub, we knew Lower the Bar would bring back the good old Steel Panther we learned to love through the years. Musically speaking, the album kicks ass with its crisp production, enhancing even more the already potent impact of each instrument like a gigantic dildo would do to a young woman. Moreover, there’s a lot to enjoy in this album, from pure Hard Rock to a mellow ballad, from a Rock N’ Roll anthem to their personal tribute to a classic band from the 80’s, and so on. Put differently, it’s two in the pink, one in the stink, and Steel Panther blowing your speakers with the electricity flowing from Lower the Bar.

And Steel Panther blast great old school Glam Metal to kick off the party in Goin’ in the Backdoor, with Satchel delivering his always amazing riffs and solos while Michael Starr proves he’s by far one of the best singers in Hard Rock today, resulting in a solid musicality that lives up to the best songs of their career. The following song, Anything Goes, has all it takes to become a classic during their live concerts: its rhythm is perfect for headbanging, a beer and some tits at a rock n’ roll party, while its lyrics are absolutely mental (“Break out the tanks / Hand grenades / Minus Charlie Sheen / Cuz I don’t want AIDS”). Satchel, Lexxi and Stix definitely know how to generate pure Hard Rock, turning this into a fun rockin’ anthem for admirers of depraved music. In Poontang Boomerang, the song that had its official video debuted on Pornhub (which was in my opinion a fantastic idea), the music is pretty much a witty homage to Hard Rock icons Warrant, as it sounds a lot like their all-time hit “Cherry Pie”, but of course this one is nastier, sexier and more demented; whereas in That’s When You Came In we’re treated to an acoustic intro beautifully delivered by Michael and Satchel, slowly becoming one of those “romantic” and “touching” power ballads by Steel Panther, not to mention Satchel’s amazing solo before the song’s last piece.

My favorite song of the album, the fantastic Wrong Side of the Tracks (Out In Beverly Hills), is a blazin’ high-octane anthem highly recommended for your road trip playlist, with Michael kicking ass on vocals while Lexxi and Stix keep exhaling pure Rock N’ Roll with their bass lines and beats, which obviously means they have to play this awesome tune during their live concerts. Now the Fun Starts, a dark-ish low-tuned composition that kind of puts the listener in a trance, might be used to open their concerts, in special because there’s a lot going on in the lyrics that can be considered a warm-up for the show.  Getting back to their high voltage mode we have Pussy Ain’t Free, a modern and fresh Hard Rock tune with a Glam Metal twist and another top moment in Lower the Bar, with Satchel and Lexxi being on fire with their strings. And if you think the name of the song is already sexist, how about those lyrics (“Don’t need a certified public accountant / To run the numbers on my dick and balls / Don’t need to look at every Amex statement / Already know I’m getting charged for the booty calls”)? Anyway, Wasted Too Much Time might not be a bad song, musically speaking it’s quite fine and even reminds me of some Hard Rock classic ballads from the 80’s and 90’s, but it lacks that mighty punch from the rest of the album.

Mixing up the gripping Hard Rock by Scorpions and Motley Crüe with 80’s Pop Rock (in special its synths), I Got What You Want presents a very pleasant sonority with Michael having an amazing performance, supported  by the song’s old school backing vocals; whereas Walk of Shame ventures through the fields of American Country Rock with hints of Blues and obviously their kick-ass Glam Metal core. Stix dictates the rhythm with his groovy beats, while Michael sends a thoughtful message to all women (“No wonder then, every weekend is the same / Your vagina’s still eighteen / Baby, stand up tall and walk that walk of shame / That walk of shame / Go on, girl!”). And lastly, She’s Tight is their top-notch cover version of a summer-like hit, being heavier and more metallic than the original version and even featuring Robin Zander, lead singer and rhythm guitarist for the Rock N’ Roll band Cheap Trick, the band that recorded the original song back in the 80’s. I’m sure Robin is really happy with what Michael and the guys did not only with the music, but with the official video for it (by the way, Michael’s “Cheap Slut” shirt was a great tribute to Robin and his band).

In a nutshell, if you never get tired of Steel Panther’s sexist and dirty jokes, I’m sure you’ll love Lower the Bar, and album that does exactly the opposite of what its name says, raising the band’s bar once again in heavy music. In addition, there’s always new entertaining material on their YouTube channel, such as the one-of-a-kind, once-in-a-lifetime Lower the Bar Awards, which at least for me is already more important and honest than the Grammy Awards, don’t you agree? Anyway, you can buy some interesting Lower the Bar bundles at their official webstore, including one with a beer stein and one with a shirt. And no, there are no bundles with dildos, inflatable whores or anything like that. At least not yet.

Best moments of the album: Anything Goes, Wrong Side of the Tracks (Out In Beverly Hills) and Pussy Ain’t Free.

Worst moments of the album: Wasted Too Much Time.

Released in 2017 Kobalt Label Services

Track listing
1. Goin’ in the Backdoor 3:10
2. Anything Goes 3:01
3. Poontang Boomerang 3:22
4. That’s When You Came In 3:46
5. Wrong Side of the Tracks (Out In Beverly Hills) 3:07
6. Now the Fun Starts 3:43
7. Pussy Ain’t Free 3:56
8. Wasted Too Much Time 3:50
9. I Got What You Want 4:13
10. Walk of Shame 4:11
11. She’s Tight (Cheap Trick cover feat. Robin Zander) 2:54

Band members
Michael Starr – lead vocals
Satchel – lead, rhythm and acoustic guitars, backing vocals
Lexxi Foxxx – bass guitar, backing vocals
Stix Zadinia – drums, percussion, backing vocals

Guest musicians
Robin Zander – additional vocals on “She’s Tight”
Rudy Sarzo – bass on “Wrong Side of the Tracks (Out In Beverly Hills)”
Michael Catton – background vocals on “I Got What You Want”
Chris Catton – background vocals on “I Got What You Want”

Concert Review – Judas Priest (Casino Rama, Rama, ON, 10/07/2014)

The Metal Gods descended from the sky to assault all of us with their magnificent Heavy Metal in a land far, far away.

INTRODUCTION: The Lost Civilization of Casino Rama

Judas-Priest-Redeemer-of-Souls-Tour-2014If you want to stay away from any type of civilization in this world, I suggest you go to a place called Casino Rama, located around two and a half ENDLESS hours from Toronto. In theory it should be a lot faster than that, but if you take into account the 5pm traffic to leave the city on a Tuesday (right in the middle of the week, by the way) and an annoying dose of heavy rain, the hassle of getting there is horribly extended and becomes a real torture. Who the hell decided Casino Rama on a tuesday night were the best venue and date for Judas Priest to perform in Ontario? I swear to God, Odin, Buddha and any other deity that I’ll NEVER return to that place again if not for Iron Maiden or Judas Priest. No other band can make me go there again, not even Slayer or Megadeth.

Not only that, I truly hate Heavy Metal concerts with pre-assigned seats. Why not leaving the floor section without those fuckin’ chairs? Just create a general floor area, and whoever wants to sit down while Judas Priest are playing Hell Bent For Leather (if that’s humanly possible), simply take one of the seats at the back. As simple as that, but it seems the very “knowledgeable” organizers were expecting Judas Priest to be as smooth as Kenny G or any other shit like that. Anyway, let’s try to always look on the bright side of life: at least the venue was nice and clean, parking was free, and the sound quality was beyond perfect. And of course, if you’re addicted to gambling, that’s also a good place to be.

OPENING ACT: Steel Panther

IMG_2955When the opening act are Hard Rock/Glam Metal jesters STEEL PANTHER, you know it’s going to be a memorable night. Although they’re truly funny even with 99.9% of their sexist jokes being really stupid, I believe their superb skills as musicians are what make them so awesome to watch, especially vocalist Michael Starr. In my opinion, he’s a much better singer than all hard rockers from the 80’s. Well, maybe only singer Ralph Saenz (ex-L.A. Guns) can be compared to him. Got it?

Their setlist might have been a little shorter than usual, but still full of classics such as Asian Hooker, Gold-Digging Whore, and Death To All But Metal, plus some songs from their new album All You Can Eat like the good Gloryhole, all perfectly complemented by their jokes about the age of the attendees (especially those screaming ladies in their 40’s and 50’s), their debate about Michael Starr being a fat version of Bret Michaels or a skinny version of Vince Neil, among many other “pearls of wisdom”. There couldn’t have been a better warm-up than that for the Metal Gods.

Before I talk about the Priest, I just wanted to say that it might be really cool and a huge honour for Russ Parrish to be on the road with the Metal God Rob Halford once again, even if they’re in different bands now. If you don’t get it, click HERE and you’ll understand why I mentioned that.

Band members
Michael Starr – lead vocals
Satchel – lead, rhythm and acoustic guitars
Lexxi Foxxx – bass guitar
Stix Zadinia – drums, percussion, piano

JUDAS PRIEST

IMG_2973It was around 9:30pm when Rob Halford, Glenn Tipton & Co. hit the Casino Rama stage for another flawless performance. Right after Black Sabbath’s War Pigs and the intro for Priest’s own new song Battle Cry, thunders roared, the curtain was dropped and there they were with the excellent new song Dragonaut assaulting our bodies and souls with the purest Heavy Metal in the whole universe. What can I say about those guys that hasn’t been said yet? Rob Halford is not human: he is and will always be the METAL GOD, with his unique voice being absolutely perfect for both heavy stuff and smoother ballads; Scott and Glenn were as precise and heavy as usual; Richie injected some new oxygen to the band and proves with each concert why he was an amazing choice to replace K. K. Downing; and for the first time in my life, due to the sound quality of the venue, I could listen to Ian Hill’s bass lines.

Perhaps the most curious detail of their performance at Casino Rama (and during this whole tour so far) is the total absence of any songs from the masterpiece Painkiller, including its title-track, as well as other classics like “Electric Eye” and “Rapid Fire”, from the setlist. Instead, they opted for other types of classics, a little bit more underground but just as great as any of those songs, such as Devil’s Child, Jawbreaker, Love Bites, and Defenders of the Faith (which could have been complemented with “Heavy Duty” right before it like in the studio album, but that was awesome anyway), kind of celebrating 30 years of their classic album Defenders of the Faith.

And as we’re talking about the mighty Judas Priest, there’s a lot more to enjoy than “just” their unparalleled Heavy Metal: each and every song had a different background, with highlights to the fun and exciting images of the cult movie Nosferatu (1922) during Love Bites; Halford’s famous “robot walk” during Metal Gods; their badass Harley-Davidson in Hell Bent For Leather; and Halford letting the crowd sing Breaking the Law on their own, just like he did with his solo band during his Rock In Rio III concert in 1999.

IMG_2967One thing I truly loved during this concert was the fact that all new songs from Redeemer Of Souls sounded awesome live and were perfectly blended with their old classics, especially the magnificent Halls Of Valhalla. What an outstanding performance by the whole band during this powerful song, especially, of course, Mr. Rob Halford. Just as I mentioned in my review of the new album in regards to this song, “… which I’m sure will become a fan-favourite especially due to its lyrics and chorus and will also sound superb when played live”, and I was totally right!

The encore, with anthems like You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’ and Living After Midnight, was a sonic orgasm to all Heavy Metal lovers that attended the show, but in my opinion the most memorable moment of their entire performance happened a little before that, when they played the all-time classic Beyond The Realms Of Death. Honestly, Rob Halford almost made me cry so beautiful and emotive his performance was. It was one of those moments you know why you love heavy music so much, and fully understand why he is entitled the Metal God.

I must admit the long and boring journey back from Casino Rama to Toronto on the same night (I got home at around 2am) was a lot easier thanks to the adrenaline running through my veins after such a stunning concert by the Priest. Although the band members are visibly aging (Rob, Glenn and Ian are all in their mid-60’s already), does that mean it’s the “beginning of the end” for the band? I don’t think so. As far as I could see, they’re better than ever, very excited to craft new powerful music, and playing their old classics with so much passion they look like they’re just starting their careers. And, of course, I cannot wait to see the Metal Gods kicking some serious ass live again with their unique jaw-dropping Heavy Metal. JUDAS FUCKIN’ PRIEST!

Band members
Rob Halford – vocals
Glenn Tipton – guitar
Richie Faulkner – guitar
Ian Hill – bass guitar
Scott Travis – drums

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Album Review – Steel Panther / All You Can Eat (2014)

The Panther is back with another good album, although not as captivating as their previous ones.

Rating5

Steel-Panther-All-You-Can-EatAfter three long years waiting for more profanity, boobs, pussy and especially good heavy music, American Heavy Metal/Hard Rock band Steel Panther is finally back with their third full-length album, the good All You Can Eat. And that’s the main issue with this album: it’s only good, not awesome, and very few songs are truly exciting or memorable.

Of course we were not expecting anything so fuckin’ awesome such as the classics Death To All But Metal, The Shocker, Asian Hooker, Tomorrow Night or Gold-Digging Whore, not even that the whole album was as original as Feel The Steel and Balls Out, but the lack of punch and the annoying repetition of most of the choruses make me wonder if the band was feeling “tired” while recording All You Can Eat, and even if they recorded it only as an excuse for more touring and selling more merchandise.

However, the “Fanthers” don’t need to get too worried about it, as the Panther’s main characteristics are still there keeping the album at a good level: their talent as musicians continues to be impeccable, especially Michael Starr’s voice, and their lyrics full of profanity and obscenity give the album that special touch that makes us laugh while listening to it in our cars even during a snow storm or a traffic jam. Moreover, another positive thing in the album is the addition of some elements from Blues and Thrash Metal, giving some tracks an extra dose of originality.

And the album starts in a very promising way with the heavy and funny (and undoubtedly one of the best of all tracks) Pussywhipped, with its “epic” intro and amazing riffs and drums, and Party Like Tomorrow is the End of the World, the album’s first single with inspiring lyrics (“Have sex (yeah!) / With every female of the species he say / The end is near (yeah!) / So don’t you worry about the HIV”) and a video (see below) that cannot be described with words. Well, if I do so, this website will probably be banned due to censorship.

Steel PantherThen we have the amazing Gloryhole, which is exactly what we want to listen to when the band is Steel Panther: it’s by far the most Hard Rock of all tracks, with Michael Starr at his best, and it’s impossible not to sing along with the lyrics (“I don’t wanna know / Who will suck my cock tonight”). The following two tracks are totally forgettable songs called Bukkake Tears, which is not a bad ballad but at the same time nothing really exciting, and Gangbang at the Old Folks Home, with a chorus so repetitive it’s really hard to listen to the entire song. Fortunately after that torture the Panther redeem themselves with the excellent mix of Hard Rock and Blues from Ten Strikes You’re Out, which not only has the best instrumental of all but also awesome lyrics.

That’s when all problems really start in All You Can Eat, as the rest of album is pretty much filler and there’s actually nothing we’ll be eager to see them playing live: The Burden of Being Wonderful might have its funny lyrics, but it’s a horrible song overall; Fucking My Heart in the Ass might have a very funny name, but the lyrics are way too repetitive (how many times does he have to say “fucking my heart in the ass”?) and the riffs are too generic; although B.V.S. has a very good riff by Satchel, the lyrics are way too silly (“Big Vagina Syndrome is becoming a common disease / Ladies that have this affliction are never easy to please”? Was that really necessary?); You’re Beautiful When You Don’t Talk is another ballad inspired by some 80’s mellow classics that doesn’t work at all; If I Was the King is more Stoner and has some good moments, but it’s a bit tiring after a couple of minutes; and last but not least, She’s on the Rag is a very generic song that, after the classics Girl From Oklahoma (from Feel The Steel) and Weenie Ride (from Balls Out), makes the ending of the album really disappointing. Where’s that traditional love/sexist ballad to end the album in a magnificent way?

Finally, if there’s one thing that really stands out in All You Can Eat is the album art: it’s just perfect, a true masterpiece, and a serious contender for “Best Album Art of the Year”. In my opinion, only Mel Brooks’ all-time classic History of the World: Part I and the testosterone-fueled movie The Expendables 2 were capable of recreating the Last Supper more brilliantly than the Panther. But as what really matters is the music itself, that doesn’t make All You Can Eat a must-have album in the end. In other words, it’s good, but not what we really wanted to eat.

Best moments of the album: Pussywhipped, Gloryhole and Ten Strikes You’re Out.

Worst moments of the album: Gangbang at the Old Folks Home, The Burden of Being Wonderful, Fucking My Heart in the Ass and She’s on the Rag.

Released in 2014 Kobalt Label Services

Track listing
1. Pussywhipped 4:37
2. Party Like Tomorrow is the End of the World 4:01
3. Gloryhole 4:32
4. Bukkake Tears 4:47
5. Gangbang at the Old Folks Home 3:47
6. Ten Strikes You’re Out 3:24
7. The Burden of Being Wonderful 3:29
8. Fucking My Heart in the Ass 4:14
9. B.V.S. 3:57
10. You’re Beautiful When You Don’t Talk 3:49
11. If I Was the King 3:42
12. She’s on the Rag 3:50

Band members
Michael Starr – lead vocals
Satchel – lead, rhythm and acoustic guitars
Lexxi Foxxx – bass guitar
Stix Zadinia – drums, percussion, piano