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WATAIN Trident Wolf Eclipse

Album · 2018 · Black Metal
Cover art 3.74 | 3 ratings
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The Crow
After five years of silence, Watain are back!

And this straightforward album is a good sign that they have not lost punch through the years, offering a true ferocious and direct record with great riffs and dusty (intentioned) production.

Maybe this album is a bit less experimental than previous ones, being some kind of return to their roots. But at the same time, is also more accessible and directly enjoyable.

Sadly, not great in my opinion given the predictable songwriting and lack of surprises, but perfect to be played live, where this band really shines.

Best Tracks: Nuclear Alchemy, Sacred Damnation, A Throne Below, Towards the Sanctuary.

Conclusion: Trident Wolf Eclipse is raw, direct and perfect to be played live. Sadly, this return to the origins for Watain suffers from being too predictable, being unable to create true excitement to the listener.

However, fans of the band Will surely love it!

My rating: ***


Album · 2018 · Progressive Metal
Cover art 3.05 | 2 ratings
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The Crow
After the sad passing of the guitarist Piotr Grudzinski, I'm sure that Wasteland was not an easy album to make.

For this reason, I consider this record a transition one while they let another guitarist to take part (hopefully) on their next record and bring some new ideas and sound. Because one of the first facts that we can clearly hear in Wasteland is that a true guitarist is missing. It's obvious that Mariusz Duda is not a professional guitar player, and because of that in almost all the songs the complex guitar work of previous albums is sadly gone, and the pedals used are also not the most adequate, making the guitar riffs sounds hollow and cheap.

And curiously the same can be said for the drums, which sounds too high pitched, lacking the deep and strength that the heavier parts of the album so desperately need! Why? I just don't know, because the Piotr Kozieradzki's drumming is awesome in other records from the band.

But apart from the production, the musical quality of the album is also a bit irregular. Some outstanding songs like Acid Rain, Veil of Tears and River Down Below are mixed with other average tracks like the not so exciting Guardian Angel, the repetitive The Struggle for Survival and the risky but not really successful Wasteland (I love the western influences though!)

This irregular songwriting makes the hearing of the album on its integrity a bit dull sometimes, and that's the first time that I feel something similar with a Riverside record. Is not a drama, but talking about one of the best prog-rock acts of the last decades, is some kind of a letdown.

Best Tracks: Acid Rain, Veil of Tears, Lament, River Down Below.

Conclusion: I must admit that the band has managed to overcome the death of their guitarist with a good album, which shows both the heaviest and mellowest sides of the band while maintaining the spirit of innovation that this musicians always had, diplaying some very good new ideas like the gothic and obscure Lament and the cinematic but flawed title track.

But in comparison to works like Second Life Syndrome and Anno Domini High Definition, Wasteland just pales.

My rating: ***

This review was originally written for ProgArchives.com

IMMORTAL Northern Chaos Gods

Album · 2018 · Black Metal
Cover art 4.38 | 4 ratings
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When Norwegian black metal act Immortal first disbanded back in 2003 after seven studio albums, they left behind a pretty great legacy, ending on career high note Sons of Northern Darkness (2002). Their later reunion in 2006 resulted in a solid if not exceptional comeback album, All Shall Fall (2009), but then the band went another long stretch without a new album. Then, in 2015, something unthinkable happened: the band's two key members, Abbath and Demonaz (who hadn't been able to play with them since 1997 due to severe tendinitis, which was surgically corrected in 2013), had some sort of bust up. This resulted in Abbath going off to start his self-titled project, which released its debut album in 2016, and Demonaz officially restarted Immortal again in 2015, consisting of just him and drummer Horgh. Demonaz returns to his original instrument, guitar, and also takes over the lead vocalist role from Abbath, with bass handled by guest musicians Peter Tägtgren (Hypocrisy).

Now I for one was pretty sceptical about this whole thing, I admit it. Demonaz had previous laid down lead vocals in his self-titled project back in 2011 and didn't give the kind of performance that I personally felt would have fit in with Immortal's more aggressive form of black metal music. That's not to say that they were bad, just different, especially considering that Abbath has one of the most distinctive growling voices in the scene and has always been an aspect of Immortal's music that has set them apart from other black metal acts. Sure enough, on Northern Chaos Gods (2018), Immortal's ninth album and first and only without Abbath, Demonaz doesn't deliver anywhere near as distinctive sounding growls as the former frontman. They also fit in here much better than those on Demonaz's March of the Norse (2011) led me to expect they would. Combined with some really furious black metal riffing, Immortal's Abbath-less comeback may just be the most aggressive album they've ever released.

That's the good part. There's also a problem. And that's that with Abbath or without him, lyricist Demonaz has long written extensively about his own Blashyrkh theme and now that we're nine Immortal albums deep, he's starting to really show signs of scraping the barrel. Throughout Northern Chaos Gods and it's eight tracks, you'll continually hear phrases that have been heard before across Immortal records and even though the music itself provides an absolute beast of an album, it does feel just that bit stale now because of the lyrics. Even the title is taken directly from Immortal's popular track One by One, the opener from Sons of Northern Darkness while closer Mighty Ravendark was actually used before as part of Blashyrkh (Mighty Ravendark) on their third album Battles in the North (1995). Furthermore, there's also Gates to Blashyrkh on this album. It all feels a bit of 'been there, done that'.

In spite of that issue, it's clear that Northern Chaos Gods is a far superior album to Abbath's 2016 self-titled effort, so if nothing else, Demonaz most certainly wins round one of their post-collaboration careers. Immortal just needs a bit more originally in their lyrics in the future though, as for the first for me they prove a distraction when listening to their music, summoning memories of past glories with Abbath up front rather than allowing me to fully invest in this Demonaz fronted new incarnation of the legendary band, without otherwise does a damn fine job of proving itself a viable venture for Demonaz and Horgh. For the music alone, Northern Chaos Gods is still worth a respectable four stars though.

REESE ALEXANDER The Digression Theory Pt. One

Album · 2018 · Progressive Metal
Cover art 4.50 | 1 rating
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Cylli Kat
This is an impressive, dramatic debut album by any standard; but the fact that this is a one man show makes it all the more remarkable.

Mr. Alexander has adroitly covered a great many progressive bases with this release, reminding me at some points of Sold Out errr... Soul Doubt The Dance Of Light And Shade. I find it to be rather mature for a debut album, rich with well-crafted writing, the playing of a multi-instrument virtuoso, and rather well done vocalizing.

I'd recommend this for aficionados of Soul Doubt, Haken, & maybe also for Devin Townsend.

I have to give this 4.7 PA stars.

Looking forward to digging into Part Two!

Well done, Mr. Alexander.

As always, your mileage may vary.

Grace and peace to you all,

Cylli (Jim Calistro)

Originally posted at progarchives

REESE ALEXANDER The Digression Theory Pt. Two

Album · 2018 · Progressive Metal
Cover art 4.50 | 1 rating
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Cylli Kat
Reese Alexander expertly delivers on the follow up to the first part of this duology with another excellently crafted album.

Sometimes there's a hint of Transatlantic, Haken, David Maxim Micic, etc.

Again, Mr. Alexander covers some impressive bases with consistently strong, adventurous songwriting and virtuostic performances across a broad range of instruments including voice. Virtuostic in service to the song, not the over done style of the Dream Theater-esque [and the endless clones they spawned] "Time to blow you away with an album of constant flurries of hemidemisemiquaver (64th) notes played sometimes in harmony just to impress".

I find that I'm liking this quite a lot.

Going with 4.71 PA stars on this one.

As always, your mileage may vary.

Grace and peace to you all,

Cylli (Jim Calistro)

Originally posted at progarchives

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MASTER On The Seventh Day God Created... Master

Album · 1991 · Death Metal
Cover art 3.00 | 2 ratings
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"On The Seventh Day God Created... Master" is the 2nd full-length studio album by US death metal act Master. The album was released through Nuclear Blast Records in the fall of 1991. Master had a relatively long and complicated history before releasing their eponymously titled debut full-length studio album in 1990. That album earned them great underground success though, and they were more or less at the top of the world (well...in relative terms) at this point. Since the release of the debut album both drummer Bill Schmidt and guitarist Chris Mittleburn have left the band. They are replaced here by new drummer Aaron Nickeas and Cynic frontman/guitarist Paul Masvidal (who handles guitars on the album). Band founder Paul Speckmann is the only remaining member from the lineup who recorded the debut album. He handles vocals and bass on the album. John Tardy from Obituary makes a guest vocal appearance on "Latitudinarian" and "Submerged In Sin".

Stylistically the music on "On The Seventh Day God Created... Master" continues the old school death metal with strong thrash metal leanings of the debut album. The song structures, riffs, and playing style are predominantly simple and at least to some degree catchy. It´s hard to imagine that it took very long for a capacity like Paul Masvidal to learn the guitar parts for this album. His solos are also more simple and raw than what we´re used to hearing from him. The drumming is pretty simple too and a bit one-dimensional. Clicky double kick drumming almost constantly throughout the album, and only few tempo changes. Speckmann´s vocals are somewhere between growling and raw more thrash metal oriented vocals.

"On The Seventh Day God Created... Master" opens with a decent trio of tracks in "What Kind Of God", "Latitudinarian", and "Heathen", but it´s like the band can´t keep the quality of the opening tracks up throughout the album. There´s nothing terribly bad on the album, but quite a few of the tracks are unremarkable. Master´s version of the American national anthem "America The Pitiful" is one of the few other standout tracks on the album.

The album was recorded at Morrisound Recording in Tampa, Florida in August 1991, and features a rather time typical Morrisound production. It´s not as bass heavy as most of the other productions out of the studio from that time, but there´s still no mistaking where the album was recorded. It´s not a particularly well produced release though and especially the messy guitar sound and clicky kick drums don´t sound too great.

Upon conclusion "On The Seventh Day God Created... Master" is probably an album that´ll please fans of the band´s debut album, but viewed within a broader death metal reference frame, it´s not the most interesting release on the scene, and considering the amount of death metal classics released in 1991, this one drowns in mediocrity. A 3 star (60%) rating is warranted.

MACABRA Blood-Nurtured Nature

Album · 2012 · Death Metal
Cover art 2.50 | 1 rating
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"Blood-Nurtured Nature" is the debut full-length studio album by Belgian/US death metal act Macabra. The album was released through metalhit.com in February 2012, and is available in both CD format and in digital format. Macabra were formed in 2011 and consist of Mark Riddick (all instruments), and Adrien "Liquifier" Weber (vocals).

The music on the album is old school death metal with unintelligible growling vocals and occasionally higher pitched aggressive snarling vocals. The concept is clear and there are very few moments of anything that breaks the boundaries of the old school death metal genre. The two guys in the band perform their parts relatively well, but none of them show any skills beyond what you´d expect on an album like this. The drumming might even be a little below standard.

The material on the 8 track, 35:20 minutes long album is decent enough while it plays, but it´s not exactly music you´ll be humming along to or remember much about when the album is done playing. Macabra knows all the right death metal tricks, but they have a very hard time coming up with memorable riffs or vocal phrases, and the whole thing quickly reeks mediocrity. Add to that a sound production which is just slightly below professional standards and "Blood-Nurtured Nature" does end up coming off a bit amaturish. It´s not bad as such, just very standard for the genre and a 2.5 - 3 star (55%) rating is warranted.

LÄÄZ ROCKIT Prelude to Death

Demo · 1983 · Speed Metal
Cover art 3.00 | 1 rating
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"Prelude to Death" is a demo cassette tape by US, San Francisco, California based heavy/speed/thrash metal act Lääz Rockit. It´s an independent release, and it´s the first release by the band. Lääz Rockit were formed in 1982 and while they were an important part of the early Bay Area thrash metal scene, they never achieved any notable commercial success. They were skilled musicians, and pretty clever composers too though, so their artistic output is widely awknowledged to be of a good quality.

Already this early on it´s obvious that the guys in the band are very well playing and lead vocalist Michael Coons is a real treat to listen to. He has a pretty raw delivery, but still performs with a melodic sensibility and great understanding for catchy phrases.

"Prelude to Death" features 3 tracks and a full playing time of 13:30 minutes. The opening title track is a pretty aggressive and relatively fast-paced heavy/speed metal track, while "Black Leather" is a more traditional heavy metal track greatly influenced by Judas Priest. "Silent Scream" also falls into the more traditional heavy metal style but is slightly heavier than the track preceding it. Only "Silent Scream" and "Prelude to Death" (titled only "Prelude" on the album) would make it unto the band´s debut full-length studio album "City's Gonna Burn (1984)".

As mentioned above the band are very well playing/singing, and the demo also features a pretty well sounding production considering that it´s a heavy metal demo from 1983, so all in all "Prelude to Death" is a relatively strong start for Lääz Rockit, which also helped them land a recording deal with Target Entertainment for the release of "City's Gonna Burn (1984)". While it´s obvious the band still lacks a clear musical direction, their talents are indisputable and a 3 - 3.5 star (65%) rating is deserved.

ALCEST Souvenirs d'un autre monde

Album · 2007 · Metal Related
Cover art 3.90 | 29 ratings
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siLLy puPPy
ALCEST, although a complete band, wasn't always so. While founded by Neige in 2000 (about the same time he joined Peste Noire), the original band that consisted of Aegnor and Argoth soon imploded after the demo "Tristesse Hivernale. " The two members soon departed leaving Neige as a one-man band for eight long years before a new lineup would occur. This debut SOUVENIRS D'UN AUTRE MONDE ("Memories From Another World"), having been released in 2007 which is the year before a new band would emerge, is in effect a solo album by Neige. This is the Neige show where he tackles lead and backing vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards and drums. There is for a short time one guest vocalist, Audrey Sylvain, on "Sur L'autre Rive Je T'attendrai."

Since SOUVENIRS D'UN AUTRE MONDE is a Neige solo album in disguise, it is of no surprise that it sounds quite different than the albums such as "Écailles De Lune" that follow. While the band has been tagged as shoegaze, blackgaze, post-rock and experimental metal, this debut yields very little in the metal department and is in effect a post-rock album that happens to have a guitar chords that ruffle their feathers to look bigger than they actually are. Like most post-rock, SOUVENIRS relies on a hypnotic run of soft dreamy guitar arpeggios and riffs that ratchet up the tension and ultimately find some sort of crescendo. The overall mood of the album is dark, dripping in nostalgia, rueful regret and euphoric yearning for blissful peace.

It's hard for me to review this album because in all honesty because i find it utterly boring. While this debut has been lauded since ALCEST first hit the scene in the mid naughts, i have had a very difficult time understanding why this clicks with so many and yet leaves me as cold as a whale's ass in the Arctic Ocean. While the future albums are actually quite engaging, this one seems to juxtapose all the wrong elements together in all the wrong places, at least for my tastes. First of all, the vocals are the most annoying of all, sounding like some indie pop twee garage band from small town USA. Despite being tagged metal, there are no metal vocals whatsoever with completely clean vocals dominating the entire album's run.

Secondly, this album chugs along at a snail's pace and never really engages in any dramatic changes. This is a true zone out album if i've ever heard one. While i love post-rock, indie rock, indie pop, post-metal and all the genres this is purported to be, SOUVENIRS is simply mediocre all the way around. It is a lazy breezy type of album that just floats by on codeine with no dramatic passages really ever emerging from the nonchalant drifting through the proper post-rock expectations. Next complaint, the instrumental parts just don't work together for my liking. Neige attempts to deliver black metal attributes such as tremolo picking and guitar solos but performs them so half-assed that it sounds too ridiculous for black metal and likewise sounds too out of character for post-rock.

I can understand some music lover's infatuation with emotional content being enough to make a good album but that is not the case with yours truly. Emotional connections in a pool of mediocrity equals, well, mediocrity. Probably the most competent aspect of SOUVENIRS is the production and mixing job. I do have to admit that the atmospheric qualities work quite well and indeed in retrospect ALCEST was one of the big players that brought the term blackgaze into existence with their debut EP "Le Secret," however Neige got all wimpy with the black metal aspects without jettisoning them all together which creates a rather tenuous vacuous tinniness within the overall structure of the compositions. Well, i'm glad some people can find pleasure in this debut by ALCEST because i sure can't, but i'm all on board starting with the second album.

RIVERSIDE Memories In My Head

EP · 2011 · Metal Related
Cover art 3.79 | 15 ratings
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The Crow
After the stunning Anno Domini High Definition, Riverside managed to reach the quality of their fourth opus with this incredible EP.

Retrieving part of the atmosphere and the soul of Out of Myself but maintaining the complexity and great instrumental skills learned through the years, Riverside gave us a great present in the shape of three songs, a bit more of 30 minutes of pure prog-rock at its best.

Goodbye Sweet Innocence starts with an incredible bass and wonderful guitar melodies, great verses and a powerful instrumental interlude. Is a song in the Out of Myself vein, but with strong 70`s influence. A band's classic in my opinion!

Living in the Past has a rhythmic beginning with keyboards which give way to a wonderful melody of bass and guitar, later accompanied by keyboards again. The verses and chorus are pure genius, while the instrumental part is pure prog-rock which lots of changes, progressions where the whole band shines, specially Lapaj and his wonderful keys around minute 6. And what to say about the section "Even clowns..." Scary, brilliant, genius! The bass after 08:48 introduces another marvelous instrumental section very in the mood of Anno Domini High Definition.

Forgotten Land starts with a melody which in my opinion is a Little homage to John Carpenter! Just listen The Thing or Escape from New York... But after this Little section a piercing bass of Mariusz introduces the melody of another great song which again brings automatically Out of Myself to mind, with an intense vocal interpretation and a very atmospheric ending, delighting the fans of this side of the band.

Conclusion: Memories in my Head is maybe short, but everything is almost perfect. The three songs included here count among the best that the band ever recorded and should be played live in every concert they make. True modern prog-rock classics!

I hope that in the Wasteland tour that they will start after summer they retrieve one or two of this wonderful songs for their performances, because they are a must for every fan of modern progressive rock and should be never forgotten.

Best tracks: the three songs are just great!

My rating: *****

P.S.: this review was originally written for ProgArchives.com

RIVERSIDE Love, Fear and the Time Machine

Album · 2015 · Non-Metal
Cover art 3.98 | 12 ratings
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The Crow
Love, Fear and the Time Machine is maybe the most personal and controversial album of Riverside.

They showed here the most luminous and happy? side of their music, with some positivism that was not well receive amongst all their fans. But after some hearings most of the songs of this album start to dig deeper in your soul until you discover yourself hearing this record again and again. It's compelling, passionate and very well made. And it also contains some of the best lyrics of the band.

The overall sound of the album is also lighter, with cleaner guitars (lots of acoustics) and drums and not so heavy bass lines from Mariusz, who made his best vocal interpretation to date in my opinion here. Lyrically the title of the album is a good summary of what we can hear throughout the album, which is an exploration about the childhood's world where the origin of feelings like love, fear and friendship resides. Just beautiful!

And just like Shrine of New Generation Slaves was an homage to 70's music, this can be considered the same for 80's music, with even some The Cure gothic-sounding parts like #Addicted.

Best Tracks: Lost, #Addicted, Caterpillar and the Barbed Wire, Saturate Me, Discard your Fear.

Conclusion: if you are prepared to hear a slightly happier version of Riverside with a bit less of melancholy and desperation in their lyrics, then Love, Fear and The Time Machine is for you. Sadly, the overall quality of this album reaches not the level of their best works, but in my opinion was an improvement over (the also excellent) Shrine of New Generation Slaves and opened new and exciting horizons for the band.

Sadly, this was the last album that Piotr Grudzinski recorded with the band... We miss you, mate!!!

My rating: ****

P.S.: this review was originally written for ProgArchives.com

RIVERSIDE Shrine of New Generation Slaves

Album · 2013 · Metal Related
Cover art 4.25 | 44 ratings
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The Crow
Four years after the outstanding Anno Domini High Definition and with another incredible EP in the middle (Memories in my Head) the best prog rock band from Poland released Shrine of New Generation Slaves.

This album is some kind of return to the origins for the band in songs like The Depth of Self-Delusion and We got Used to Us (much in the vein of the most intimate moments of Out of Myself and Second Life Syndrome) while they also explored some new territories in tracks like New Generation Salve and Escalator Shrine where they made their particular homage to the 70's rock with even some Deep Purple-sounding keyboards.

Sadly, some other tracks like the boring Deprived and the too commercial Celebrity Touch are not so inspired, but the overall quality of the album is high. I would highlight the very missed Piotr Grudzinski's work on this album, maybe his best and most ambiental, and the general lyrical concept of the album where the band shows an acid criticism towards the enslaver work rhythm of modern society, making this album some kind of conceptual sequel to Anno Domini High Definition (not so much musically)

Best Tracks: New Generation Slave, The Depth of Self-Delusion, We Got Used to Us, Escalator Shrine.

Conclusion: Shrine of New Generation Slaves is a conservative and innovative album at the same time, offering some typical Riverside songs while they also dared to explore new territories with strong outcomes, but sadly making a pair of mistakes in the process.

Nevertheless, this is another true excellent album of this incredible band which surely should be in every prog-rock collection.

My rating: ****

P.S.: this review was originally written for ProgArchives.com


Album · 2014 · Atmospheric Black Metal
Cover art 4.53 | 6 ratings
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Saor's sort-of second sort-of first album (Andy Marshall, the man behind this one-man project, put out the preceding Roots under the project name of Àrsaidh before changing it retrospectively to Saor) offers a really nicely judged blend of atmospheric black metal of the most epic, sweeping sort, and carefully chosen aspects of Celtic folk music.

There's lots of folk/metal blends out there, but I find that a lot of them leave me a little cold because in coming up with the mixture the projects in question don't show much judgement when it comes to what to leave out, which I think is a mistake. Trying to incorporate all the metal and folk tropes and instrumentation into a composition at once just leaves you with a mess; instead, Marshall selects his folk incorporations carefully, a whistle there, a viola there, a bodhrán drum over there, and makes sure that the folk inclusions serve rather than disrupting the atmosphere thus established.

Lyrically speaking, Marshall manages to pull off the trick of expressing pride in his homeland of Scotland and in his Celtic heritage without making it sound like he's coming anywhere near more hateful territory, which gives stealth NSBM bands who try to muddy the waters by just claiming they're singing about ancestral pride even less of an excuse. (If it's this easy to get your message across without steering into ambiguously fashy territory, then if you've ended up there it can only be because you either didn't think carefully enough or you meant to end up there in the first place.)

On the whole, Saor deserve to take their place in the current pagan pantheon of British atmospheric black metal band simply on the basis of this masterful project, and I'll be making sure to hear more of their work when I can.


Album · 1970 · Proto-Metal
Cover art 2.59 | 3 ratings
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The title track of this album caught my ear a few years back and I always meant to get back to this band. Finally I did!

Killing Floor were a late comer to the British blues scene of the late sixties and cut one album and then sat back to watch their career... go nowhere. After some soul-searching and some in-band disagreements, a second album came together and was released in 1971. This album catches the band still clinging to their blues roots but also reaching for more powerful guitar rock.

The album's namesake opens the album and is a pretty decent rocker that the album notes compare to The Who and The Yardbirds. As a sample of the band's abilities, it's a pretty cool track. The title of the album is made apparent here as the band criticizes religion's hypocrisy of permitting killing in the name of God and then asking for forgiveness of sins: "It's from out of their ass!"

"Soon There Will Be Everything" is more of a doomy heavy psyche number with some very mellow and melancholy parts punctuated by faster, harder parts. "Acid Bean" is an almost punk-tinged hard rocker; "Where Nobody Ever Goes" is a harmonica-lead, hard blues number; and "Sun Keeps Shining" is based on classic rock and roll.

I guess we're on side two with "Call for the Politicians" which sounds like it could have been written by the same band that originally did "I Fought the Law". There appears to be a bit of a punk edge turning up in places. "Fido Castrol", a humorous title I think, is again on the hard rocking side of things but again not your typical blues-based track. Lots of thumps and pounds that almost gets a little weary when it carries on. Not a bad track when it gets good. "Lost Alone" is a combination of psychedelic rock with harmonica but book-ended with an "I'm a Man" type of blues rock. And then there's "Son of Wet" which is a bit of a heavy rock, stoner track that clutches a drum solo. Yes, another drum solo! What would bands of the early seventies do without their drum solo tracks?!

"Milkman" is a funny country rock track about a milkman making the guy's wife while he's away from home. The song gets more rocking after the first minute and has some decent lead guitar work though it's quite typical for the day. Oh, the song is alright and in a small way it reminds me of "Ice Cream Man" by Van Halen, although I wouldn't put the two of them in a boxing ring together.

This album has some pretty decent rocking tracks and manages to let go of the band's blues roots enough to let them pound and stomp with some hard hitting drums and guitar. The vocals could use some more excitement. Not a killer album but some pretty solid, heavy guitar rock.

BANG Mother / Bow To The King

Album · 1972 · Heavy Psych
Cover art 3.69 | 4 ratings
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Bang! or BANG were an American heavy rock band in the early seventies. Their first album, "Death of a Country" was not released on account of it being a concept album. So the band went ahead and recorded another album and it was released as a self-titled debut in 1971. I got this album as a double album along with their final seventies release, "Music", which was pretty disappointing as the heavy, almost Sabbath-esque riff rock from the debut had been abandoned. "Mother / Bow to the King" sits snuggley in between and I always wondered which way it leaned.

Fortunately for us early seventies heavy rock fans, it's heavy enough to drop like an anvil on "Music" and totally crush that acoustic pussy rock sucker. Oh, sure, this album is not heavy through and throughout. The song "Mother" starts off the album with acoustic guitar and sounds a bit down home at first. It's all foot-stomping and hand clapping. That is until about 1:30 when it turns into a foot-stomper, hand-clapper with a rock out electric guitar. "Humble" leads in with some gentle, clean electric guitar but this song also soon goes heavy rock around 0:55. At times the lead vocals resemble Ozzy's voice when coupled with those heavy guitar riffs. But then this dude, I'm not sure if it's Frank Ferrara or Frankie Glicken, is able to belt out the lyrics with more power than Ozzy typical gave.

Side one simply gets better with "Keep On", a grooving heavy rock number, and "Idealist Realist", which also hints a bit at Black Sabbath when the riff gets darker.

Side Two begins with a cover of "No Sugar Tonight" by The Guess Who. It sounds quite pretty until we get to the hard rock, power chord chorus. The Guess Who version is a dual track combined with "The New Mother Nature". Bang just stick with "No Sugar Tonight" but they do a pretty cool job of it. "Feel the Hurt" is a bit more like heavy country rock like some Nazareth songs and "Tomorrow" takes us into melodic hard rock with a catchy chorus. The final song, "Bow to the King" is a clean electric track, slow like a ballad but about a boxing champion. It's okay.

Well, there are enough cool, hard rock/heavy rock tracks on here to make this worth picking up for my collection. The only complaint I'd have is that - like many old albums - it sounds like the CD was cut from a nice piece of vinyl instead of a master tape. I don't know if there are other versions out there with a better sound. It's not bad but with ear buds you can really hear the tiny scratches and pops which I think don't belong on CD.

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