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Peter Skov
MMA Special Collaborator · Proto Team
Registered more than 2 years ago · Last visit 5 days ago

Favorite Metal Artists

All Reviews/Ratings

232 reviews/ratings
DEEP PURPLE - Deep Purple In Rock Hard Rock | review permalink
QUEENSRŸCHE - Rage For Order Heavy Metal | review permalink
HAKEN - The Mountain Progressive Metal | review permalink
SYMPHONY X - V: The New Mythology Suite Progressive Metal | review permalink
METALLICA - Master of Puppets Thrash Metal | review permalink
DEVIN TOWNSEND - Deconstruction Progressive Metal | review permalink
ANVIL - Metal on Metal Heavy Metal | review permalink
DEEP PURPLE - Now What?! Hard Rock | review permalink
STRAPPING YOUNG LAD - Alien Industrial Metal | review permalink
SÓLSTAFIR - Ótta Metal Related | review permalink
APRIL WINE - Electric Jewels Hard Rock | review permalink
ANVIL - Forged in Fire Heavy Metal | review permalink
DEVIN TOWNSEND - Synchestra Progressive Metal | review permalink
DEVIN TOWNSEND - Terria Progressive Metal | review permalink
SYMPHONY X - Iconoclast Progressive Metal | review permalink
OPETH - Ghost Reveries Progressive Metal | review permalink
DEEP PURPLE - Machine Head Hard Rock | review permalink
GORGUTS - Colored Sands Technical Death Metal | review permalink
SWORD - Metalized Heavy Metal | review permalink
SACRIFICE - The Ones I Condemn Thrash Metal | review permalink

See all reviews/ratings

Metal Genre Nb. Rated Avg. rating
1 Hard Rock 52 3.54
2 Proto-Metal 46 3.05
3 Progressive Metal 28 3.98
4 Heavy Metal 21 3.88
5 Death Metal 18 3.86
6 Thrash Metal 14 3.82
7 Technical Death Metal 11 4.14
8 Heavy Psych 10 3.45
9 Glam Metal 4 3.75
10 Avant-garde Metal 3 4.17
11 Black Metal 3 3.83
12 Industrial Metal 3 3.67
13 Melodic Death Metal 2 4.00
14 Alternative Metal 2 3.75
15 Atmospheric Black Metal 2 3.75
16 Doom Metal 2 4.00
17 NWoBHM 2 3.50
18 Technical Thrash Metal 1 4.00
19 US Power Metal 1 3.00
20 Death-Doom Metal 1 3.50
21 Death 'n' Roll 1 4.00
22 Metal Related 1 4.50
23 Non-Metal 1 3.50
24 Sludge Metal 1 4.00
25 Speed Metal 1 3.00
26 Stoner Metal 1 3.50

Latest Albums Reviews

MASON Impervious

Album · 2017 · Thrash Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
I had descended to three floors below street level in the Shibuya area of Tokyo and entered a small live house called “Cyclone”. I was there to see Obscura perform and also the two opening acts, Jinjer and Nucleust. I had arrived a little late, however, and by the time I walked in the door, the first band was already on stage. It wasn’t Nucleust, but instead an Australian thrash band called Mason. I had never heard of them but it wasn’t long before I was captured by their music. Speedy and aggressive thrash metal with lots of melodic lead guitar breaks, Mason were on full power. A mosh circle opened up in the centre of the floor in the confined venue, which was barely larger than a good-sized living room. A couple of bold punters climbed up on the stage and dived into the small but enthusiastic crowd. Then Jimmy Benson (g/v) himself announced, “I’m coming out,” before diving off the stage too.

During the break between Jinjer and Obscura, I went over to Mason’s merch table and decided to buy their latest CD, “Impervious”. Just then Jimmy Benson walked over. Joining him were drummer Nonda Tsatsoulis and lead guitarist Grant Burns. I had a chance to share a few words with them and have a photo taken. Great guys, and what a fantastic live act!

Mason formed in 2011 in Melbourne, Australia and have released two eps and two lps so far. “Impervious” actually came out in 2017. It features the incredible cover art of Eliran Kantor whose work has graced dozens upon dozens of metal album covers. Mason are hugely inspired by the Big Four of American thrash metal and the Bay Area thrash scene. This is really apparent in the music of “Impervious”. These four dudes have worked hard to earn their thrash degree. And yet, even though they have Metallica or Exodus moments, I often feel there are similarities to Nuclear Assault or Canada’s Sacrifice.

The opening track is a short instrumental called “Eligos” and sounds quite similar to something from Strapping Young Lad’s self-titled third album. But this soon takes us right into the snarling thrash number, “Burn”. Already, you’ll have a good idea of what Mason stand for: tense snarling or barked vocals, a speedy and tight rhythm section with an agile drummer, and guitars that can charge full throttle or slow down a little for some skillful and sometimes beautifully melodic lead guitar.

Mason show off refined talent here for writing speedy and intense songs but always seem ready to introduce more mid-tempo parts with melody. When they’re fast and intense, hold on. But though they are sure to add those melodic parts, you’ll not find a ballad or any classical guitar on this album. You’ll probably be reminded of “Ride the Lightning” Metallica a little or “Bonded by Blood” Exodus.

I was at first tempted to cite the similarity in the verse vocals as a weak point on the album as the verses are typically delivered in rapid-fire, staccato barks. However, Mason are very sincerely giving it their all and sounding awesome. Enjoy the melody and drama of the track “The Afterlife”, the sick intensity of “Hellbent on Chaos”, or the thrashingly good closer, “Created to Kill”. From start to finish, this album delivers nothing more than ripping thrash metal which stays closer to 1984 than 1988, when bands began changing up the tempos of their songs more, adding in gentler clean guitar or acoustic guitar parts, actually singing, or going for more technical or even progressive approaches. In other words: maturing. Mason are not as raw as “Bonded by Blood” or “Darkness Descends” (Dark Angel); their sound is rich and full. But it has the fury and ferocity paired with an almost Metallica/Iron Maiden sense of melodic metal parts and a good variety of riff and rhythm changes in each song.

SIGH Heir to Despair

Album · 2018 · Avant-garde Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Though I’ve lived in Japan for nearly 20 years, I don’t know many Japanese metal bands, and until recently, I didn’t know Sigh either. Then within the space of about a week, not only was Sigh mentioned in two metal album discussion videos I watched on YouTube, but their album “Heir to Despair” showed up in a recommended albums message from Amazon. Being a sucker for album art, I ordered the album right after checking out whose album cover this painting graced. Then I made a quick visit to YouTube to make sure I hadn’t ordered something that would leave me dubiously scratching my chin.

The artwork really intrigued me. It has a very 1950’s/60’s, Showa” Japanese look to it. The woman is smiling as beautifully as though she were a star actress posing for a movie poster. And yet the plant she waters has withered and the room behind her looks not only austere but items on the floor and torn images on the walls suggest that someone had a serious freak out session in there. Word is the image and the album are about insanity? (The Japanese text translates directly to “Inheritor of despair”, by the way)

I had no idea about what music to expect except for that it would be metal. That Sigh cover black metal, avant-garde metal, progressive metal and more was unknown to me; however, before the album was over I could have guessed most of that myself. The music is speedy, melodic, symphonic at times, suggestive of power metal in a spot or two, and holds a fudge ton of progressive and odd bits to make sure that the album never becomes repetitive. One thing I’m very glad to hear is the variety of additional instruments, particularly traditional instruments like koto and shamisen, but also a good variety of other sounds and affects. Flute also figures in prominently in some tracks. The “Heresy” trilogy is the most exceptional moment on the album with distorted vocoder vocals, electronic effects, sounds and voices, and a liberal amount of creative editing used to great effect.

Actually, the whole album very masterfully weaves together such an eclectic melange of metal styles so that crunchy guitars yield to Eastern music for a space, flute delightfully plays along to distortion-enriched power chords, symphonic elements add the extra “umph” to some parts, accordion lends a folk feeling, and traditional Japanese instruments expand the soundscape further. As another reviewer stated, one never can be sure of where the next track will go or what will follow.

I’m not especially a fan of Japanese vocals in any popular music genre because I find them usually too similar in a predictable way. But here, the vocal styles and sounds I would expect from a Japanese metal band don’t remain stuck in a trench. They are principally black metal croaks but joined at times by growls. There are also chanted vocals and rapid fire, staccato utterances. Most of the lyrics are in Japanese for which I’m grateful as I sometimes cringe the way some vocalists struggle with English phonetics. (To give an example from another band, “I cross my heart / I cross my eyes” when “cross” was supposed to be “close”). Yet, to give praise where it’s due, none of the English on “Heir to Despair” has stood out for being poorly pronounced to my ears. Then again, I’ve mostly been enjoying the sounds of the music and vocals and haven’t concentrated on the lyrics.

Having never heard any other Sigh albums, I have nothing to compare this to. But I’m very impressed with the package presented here. I love an album of creative and diverse musical approaches, and the recording quality captures all the band’s efforts really well. It’s a delight to listen to this album!

VIRGIN STEELE The Black Light Bacchanalia

Album · 2010 · US Power Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Way back in the eighties, there was an advert somewhere near the back of Circus magazine (or was it Hit Parader) for an album by a band called Virgin Steele. It was their second album, and the text quoted a review of their first album which expressed that it was "the album Judas Priest should have made." The original American releases of both albums were not available in Canada; however, two albums with different cover art and different track listings were to be found, and I snapped them both up fairly soon. Aside from the rough production, specifically for the debut, I though the music offered a lot of metal thrills, and there was no mistaking the outstanding high shrilling shrieks of singer David DeFeis.

The third album was "Noble Savage" and I'm afraid it was less to my liking. I dropped interest in any further releases, and though I stopped to check out the band's CDs several years later, the cover art convinced me that Virgin Steele had become darker and more sinister. I forgot about them.

Perhaps because I bought the second album, "Guardians of the Flame" on CD around 2010, "The Black Light Bacchanalia" showed up in recommended albums on my Amazon page. Curious, I ordered it and was rather surprised. Here was David DeFeis still puncturing eardrums with those shrieks that were high enough to challenge any first grade elementary school girl on the playground. The music was still metal, but there had been an obvious evolution in the Virgin Steele sound. I decided that i liked it, but didn't love it. Good enough for the one album; no hurry to get any others.

And now it's 2019. For the last two months, I've had my ears buried in eighties thrash metal, old school death metal, and the second wave of black metal. I've begun dabbling in power metal and slowly, little by little, adding to my doom and stoner metal collection. And for some reason, I suddenly felt like listening to "The Black Light Bacchanalia" again.

Thoughts! Impressions!

On this album, Virgin Steele are power metal by lyrical topics and presentation, not to mention the essential inclusion of keyboard piano or keyboard orchestra. But the music is not like the group sing-a-longs of some bands or the speedy and precise agility of others. In fact, I can't help but feel this album is more like a theatrical performance, with DeFeis playing the lead role of the protagonist and the lyrics serving as his monologue when speaking to himself or his enemies. To read here on MMA that Virgin Steele play "romantic-barbaric" metal really hits the minion on the head. The music is bold and at times forceful but it more often has a graceful caress to it than straight out brutality and force. It is the Noble Savage, swinging his sword sunward and striking a symbolic pose with pectoral muscles bronzed in the sun.

Though there are some cool riffs as well as some tremolo picked chords backed by double kick drum, there are plenty of chords struck and left to support the vocals. The drums can be a flurry of sticks at times but often they hold a modest place keeping a steady beat. My feeling at one point was like the music is a bit like driving a standard transmission sports car down a city street: sometimes you can speed up and swoop around in traffic but more often you're changing gears, slowing down and speeding up just a little as you deal with traffic and intersection lights. Again, the reason seems to be that the music is a theatrical performance with the lyrics and vocals taking the lead role.

DeFeis tends to sing in a calm, smooth voice throughout most of the songs. It's almost like the lines are meant to be whispered with conviction but need to be sung. He throws in some snarls and growls but more like a wild cat and not like thrash metal sneers and barks or death metal roars and bellows. He can also sing in a higher register and again does so softly as if to serenade the sorceress. Then there will be another one of those sky high notes.

The songs have a pretty decent length and at times almost seen more like progressive metal or symphonic metal. The keyboard piano (which I distinguish from real piano) does more than offer safe, pretty notes and in a track or two it takes over for the rhythm guitar as the primary instrument of melody. Some dramatic symphonic blasts give a grandness to certain passages.

I'm not familiar with Virgin Steele's releases between Noble Savage and 2010 so I can't compare my impressions here with other albums. But I feel thrilled enough by my return visit to have ordered another Virgin Steele album. This music is not for everyone. It doesn't have the rush and charge of thrash metal, the pulverizing assault of death metal, or the cold grimness of black metal. There might be too many abrupt changes in the music without a steady supply of full-on metal power for some folks. It does not have enough of that power metal conqueror swing to it. But if you've come to hear some of Virgin Steele's story telling and drama, then this album offers some rewards.

PILEDRIVER Stay Ugly

Album · 1986 · Speed Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
It’s a funny thing because I can remember seeing both Piledriver album covers advertised in Metallion magazine back in the eighties. But at the time I had become a little disillusioned by the metal scene. It seemed that there were just too many anybody bands coming along, and just by posing in leather and bullets they could somehow sell albums of run-of-the-mill music. That’s what Piledriver’s albums made me think of and they were not the only ones.

Strangely enough, as it turns out, I was not too far off base. A few weeks back, Piledriver got mentioned in something I was reading or watching, and as I could remember their album covers easily, I decided to check out more about the band. And that’s how I came to know about “metalploitation”.

The person I heard use this cockamamie term was the young fellow of Nasty Metal Productions, a U-Choob channel about metal music. The way he said, “metalploiTAtion”, emphasizing the second last syllable and spitting it out with venom, made me think he was a nutter for making up the word. However, it was not he who coined it. “Metalploitation”, however you want to say it, was a real phenomenon in the eighties, and companies like Germany’s Metal Industries and Cobra Records in the Canada are among the guilty parties. I’m sure nearly everyone knows about this sordid period in metal history but to spell it out in brief, record companies would create fake bands, usually using real artists and get them to write and record some music to help them pay off debts, and then the record companies would release the records to be sold to undiscriminating teenagers who just had to be the one to find new, exciting bands. Searching the Internet turns up dozens of hits for music blogs and U-Choob music channels.

One such band was Piledriver. As the story goes, a guitarist wanted to fund an album he wanted to record and someone suggested that he write and record a metal album and release it because metal albums could easily sell 20,000 copies, especially if they had an outrageous cover and crazy song titles. The music was written and singer Gord Kirchen was called up by his guitarist friend and asked to sing. In an interview with Gord, he explains that he got paid $250 for the job and forgot about it again, figuring the album wasn’t going anywhere anyway but at least he got his voice on some vinyl and some rent money. The album, “Metal Inquisition” was released on Cobra in Canada and Roadrunner in Europe. It was also released in the States but with some changes to the song titles and track list because the album was too dirty for American standards. One interesting note about the album cover is that the guy on the cover who is getting jackhammered by the guitar is actually wearing a band shirt with the same album cover on it. This means that a T-shirt had to be created with the album cover art on it, and then that shirt worn for the photo shoot that would be the final album cover. This couldn't have been just a simple throw away project.

A year or so later, David DeFeis of Virgin Steele got told by his manager that DeFeis owed some money. His debt would be forgotten however if he would write some albums for fake band projects. He and his guitarist, Edward Pursino, worked together on three projects: Convict, Exorcist, and Piledriver. DeFeis stated in an interview that even though Virgin Steele was his band, he always enjoyed the opportunity to be creative and so he made a serious effort at creating the material for each project. In the same interview, he claimed that Exorcist was where his best work went while Convict received the least love and not surprisingly, the album disappeared quickly. Gord Kirchen was called in to sing for the Convict and Piledriver albums. Kirchen agreed because, hey, more rent money and he could appear on two more pieces of vinyl. When the projects were completed, DeFeis and Pursino went back to work on Virgin Steele while Kirchen started a band called Dogs with Jobs. It wasn’t until nearly a decade later that Kirchen discovered that the two Piledriver albums had become underground classics. According to the Wikipedia article, the two albums together have sold over 500,000 copies worldwide! Kirchen has since revived the band under a new name, Exalted Piledriver, and has received blessings from DeFeis to continue using the material that he wrote.

That’s all for the history lesson. So now how about this Piledriver album, “Stay Ugly”? Interestingly, it gets a lot of praise. At least two U-Choobers declare this to be an awesome album and so do a few bloggers. It sits somewhere on the fence between speed metal/thrash metal and American power metal. Though different from Virgin Steele, the fact that two VS dudes wrote the album does give it more class than just any slap shod project, like the ones I read about from Metal Enterprises on THE CORROSEUM music blog. This actually does sound pretty good for the day. Lots of power, speed, and killer riffs. The lyrics are a bit dorky to listen to now. I suppose if I’d heard this when I was fifteen I might have been singing along but now at forty-seven I crave something a little more profound or inspiring. Nevertheless, this does sound like a one of the better obscure band albums of the mid-eighties.

I have two issues with this album. The first is that the CD I have sounds like it was copied from a vinyl record. Little pops and scratches can be heard. I don’t know if that’s because the re-release used a record as the master source or if it’s just because my version was copied from vinyl. I bought it through Amazon so I’d like to believe it’s an official release.

The second issue is the drumming. It not only has that echoing mid-eighties sound but for most of the album the drums just stick to keeping the beat with the snare and there are few fills, while other drums such as toms or the bass don’t stand out much if they’re being used at all. The bass guitar? I guess I’d notice it if it was not there. The overall production sounds pretty low quality, and DeFeis said that the album cost almost nothing to make. But then again so did the first Virgin Steele album and, despite some excellent songs, I always remember the sound being pretty poor on that one as well.

Other than that, “Stay Ugly” is a decent enough album for what it is. I think if it weren’t for the fact that Kirchen is Canadian, David DeFeis was involved, and the interesting background story, I wouldn’t really need this in my collection. Kirchen himself seems like a loveable guy who really believes in Piledriver. As for me, I think this is as far into metalploitation I will dip.

KILLING FLOOR Out of Uranus

Album · 1970 · Proto-Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
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.

Latest Forum Topic Posts

  • Posted 42 days ago in Ningen Isu - Japanese doom/stoner metal
    The reaction videos to their latest single are pretty good. The English title is Heartless Scat. People are flipping out over the song.
  • Posted 42 days ago in Ningen Isu - Japanese doom/stoner metal
    Thank you all. Yes, the track times! As DamoXt7942 on PA has already added all the studio albums and at least three of the compilations (didn't check about the newest one) plus some DVD's I think, I can hopefully just copy and paste his work and then make any necessary formatting changes. But I might also check out the suggestions left for me. I'm really thrilled about this band and now have 13 of their 21 studio albums, and I only got into them around the end of September. I just have very little time to do all the things I want to do. And work is getting busier now. Maybe it will be a winter holiday project?
  • Posted 44 days ago in Ningen Isu - Japanese doom/stoner metal
    Thanks for getting back on this one. I'd love to add them. But I haven't added any of the bands I got clearance for over the last year or so. Slik Toxik, Sven Gali, Headpins, and even a porto-prog band, Clear Air. There are a few others too like Aggression, Disciples of Power, and I think Obliveon. Lots to do, for sure!Well, I will see what I can do. Are there any shortcuts? Or do I need to add every album on my own?

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