Vasilis Kouroumalis
Forum Senior Member ·
Registered more than 2 years ago · Last visit more than 2 years ago

Favorite Metal Artists

All Reviews/Ratings

422 reviews/ratings
MORGANA LEFAY - Maleficium Power Metal
FLOTSAM AND JETSAM - No Place for Disgrace Thrash Metal
METALLICA - Master of Puppets Thrash Metal
ANNIHILATOR - Never, Neverland Thrash Metal
METALLICA - ...And Justice for All Thrash Metal
MEGADETH - Rust in Peace Thrash Metal
SLAYER - Reign in Blood Thrash Metal
METALLICA - Ride the Lightning Thrash Metal
METALLICA - Kill 'em All Thrash Metal
METALLICA - The $5.98 E.P.: Garage Days Re-Revisited Thrash Metal
METALLICA - No Life 'Til Leather Thrash Metal
METALLICA - Cliff 'Em All! Thrash Metal
METALLICA - 2 of One Thrash Metal
METALLICA - A Year and a Half in the Life of Metallica Heavy Metal
METALLICA - Some Kind of Monster Thrash Metal
ANNIHILATOR - Alice in Hell Thrash Metal
MEGADETH - Youthanasia Heavy Metal
MEGADETH - 99 Ways to Die Thrash Metal
MEGADETH - Rusted Pieces Thrash Metal
SLAYER - Seasons in the Abyss Thrash Metal

See all reviews/ratings

Metal Genre Nb. Rated Avg. rating
1 Thrash Metal 163 4.00
2 Heavy Metal 49 3.61
3 Power Metal 43 4.01
4 Death Metal 40 3.95
5 US Power Metal 20 4.10
6 Traditional Doom Metal 16 4.19
7 Groove Metal 13 3.65
8 Crossover Thrash 11 4.05
9 Progressive Metal 8 4.69
10 Speed Metal 8 4.13
11 Folk Metal 7 4.14
12 NWoBHM 7 4.79
13 Technical Death Metal 7 4.14
14 Death 'n' Roll 6 3.42
15 Alternative Metal 4 3.75
16 Hard Rock 3 2.33
17 Technical Thrash Metal 3 4.83
18 Symphonic Metal 2 3.00
19 Hardcore Punk 2 3.50
20 Melodic Death Metal 2 4.75
21 Metal Related 2 4.75
22 Stoner Metal 1 3.50
23 Rap Metal 1 4.50
24 Avant-garde Metal 1 4.50
25 Funk Metal 1 3.00
26 Goregrind 1 4.00
27 Doom Metal 1 3.00

Latest Albums Reviews

GAMMA RAY Heading for Tomorrow

Album · 1990 · Power Metal
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In 1989 Kai Hansen left Helloween, at the height of their success. Arguably the most important member (and co-founder) of the extremely successful and historical european power metal band, at the time it was quite inconceivable that he would abandon his child, right after the worldwide success of the Keeper of the Seven Keys albums.

Yet, citing personal problems, that it did not feel fun anymore, with rumours that he did not get along with Michael Weikath that much, he did just that. In a short time he started working on his next project, Gamma Ray. The idea, as articulated in interviews of the time, was to take the Keeper of the Seven Keys sound a step further, "taking it to the 21st century". Joining him in this effort was Ralf Scheepers, of the band Tyran' Pace, handling the vocals. A very impressive set of pipes and a style suited for Kai's music,. ie the Kiske/Tate/Halford style. Uwe Wessel on bass (nice, warm player), Matthias Burchardt on drums (excellent and definitely not cliche - the main problem of the genre's players) completed the line-up. Kai Hansen handled all guitars and a couple of vocal lines as well. Finally, on the (beautiful) ballad The Silence, we see the first appearance of Dirk Schlachter, the band's later guitarist who even more later switched to his original instrument, the bass.

The album begins with Welcome, a beautiful semi-epic intro of the Helloween-variety (think Initiation and Invitation from the Keepers), where violins and a nice guitar melody lead to a single note that explodes into Lust for Life, the album's true opener. A speed/power metal dynamite, the song showcases the band's strengths and intentions. Very good musicianship, tight playing, tons of melodies, an aura of that particular Kai Hansen optimism throughout and a MAGNIFICENT solo (see 3:30 for the part I kept rewinding to for my fix of chills down the spine). An excellent song that indeed seems like the next logical step after the Keeper of the Seven Keys. And may I add, quite more inspiring than then awfully bland Pink Bubbles Go Ape from Helloween (their first post-Kai effort).

The same speed and power can be found in Hold Your Ground, which also features a playful, classically inspired verse until it erupts to a very impressive pre-chorus, where the underlying guitar lick accentuates the riff perfectly. Another grand chorus and an amazing bridge, where the sound also evokes memories from the 70s (Deep Purple perhaps?) before the fire of the solo. An equally playful, classically inspired finale marks the end of another great song.

The Silence, as mentioned, is an epic ballad, one of Kai's best in my opinion, where Ralf's vocals shine through. Very tasty bridge in the middle, with acoustic guitars blending with the bass nicely, leading to yet another magnificent solo, which in turn leads to the natural epic finale. Truly a great song.

Greatest and grandest of them all however, is the 13 minute epic "Heading for Tomorrow". Unlike the Helloween epics from the Keepers (Halloween and Keeper of the Seven Keys), this song does not have a narrative, full of changes structure. It rather follows a quite straight-forward rock structure: verse-chorus x2 - solo - bridge - finale. But it takes its time at every part, especially the solo. The main part is based on a lovely riff, very similar to the Victim of Changes riff. But the similarity ends there, as the vocals of the song really give it its own identity and it is a really epic and touching one. While the lyrics themselves might not really be anything unique (a cynic might even call them "lame") but the songwriting makes up for that. In fact, not only the songwriting but the whole album itself. Remember, here is an album by a man who abandoned his extremely successful band because he could not "breathe" artistically or (as the rumours go) socially. That meant also abandoning the guaranteed cash-flow of the pumpkin success and practically starting over. That in itself, is a very strong statement and the music reflects this air of relief, optimism and looking forward. Or in short, Heading for Tomorrow. Nowhere is this more evident than in the solo section of the song. For five minutes Kai Hansen plays over a quiet, atmospheric part, with a very impressive touch and feel, that owes much to Gilmour for example (the Pink Floyd influence can also be glimpsed on Heal Me, which is on Insanity & Genius - Gamma Ray's third album). Indeed, very beautifully played, the solo shifts gears and introduces the power metal bridge until the glorious finale.

Now for the weird stuff: Money, which also features Kai Hansen's vocals in the bridge (oh, had I missed them so!) is a rather bold little song, with a groovy riff and a "crazy" feel, which expresses the band's sentiments on the subject. Again, the "german" lyrics are easily overshadowed by the overall feel of the album and the sincerity of Kai's own career choices. I personally love this song, which also highlights the band's desire to try different things, something they would further develop in the next two releases (Sigh No More and Insanity and Genius) and sadly abandon after the tremendous success of Land of the Free.

Space Eater was the single and video-clip of the album. A very catchy, very straight beat leads to a semi-psychedelic verse (accentuating the theme of the song - drug use). The vocals steal the show on this number, particularly in the bridge section ("dude goes HIGH man!" as a friend put it so eloquently).

For fans of the lighter side of Kai Hansen (think Future World or I Want Out), you can try Heaven Can Wait. Personally, I find the song too happilly naive for my tastes (unlike the aforementioned Helloween classics) but it was a major hit in Japan (surprise there!) and warranted an EP of the same name a few months later.

Freetime, the only composition by someone other than Kai Hansen (Scheepers in fact) is the only song I skip. It's a little rock tune, with a rather silly chorus, nothing much to see here.

The whole package is wrapped up (on the CD) by a very well done cover of Uriah Heep's Look At Yourself. One of Kai's favourite bands (later the band also did Return to Fantasy).

At the beginning Noise Records promoted the album as "Kai Hansen's Gamma Ray" and even enclosed the (vinyl) album in a white sleeve with that very inscription. Did not do much good for the sales, since Helloween (although they released two crappy albums in succession) always sold better than Gamma Ray.

On a much more personal note, this is an album I really, really love very much. At the time I had not really realized what it meant for Helloween to lose Kai Hansen and I first bought Pink Bubbles Go Ape (in 1991) and thoroughly regretted it (we are talking huge disappointment here - imagine after the Keepers...) and only gave Gamma Ray a chance later. I cannot really express how happy I was to find the missing strand of brilliance that I lost after the Keepers. More importantly, the whole stance kept by Kai Hansen at the time, looking forward instead of back, never badmouthing his old bandmates (even though there were apparently plenty of reasons), really inspired me. This is an album that is very sincere and although there are parts of it that leave something to be desired (some lyrics, "coolness" factor perhaps - see photo insert!), overall this is a pretty brilliant power metal album. Most people know Gamma Ray with Kai Hansen behind the microphone. If you are a fan of the genre (european power metal that is), you need this album in your collection. I actually put it to you that you need all Scheepers-era Gamma Ray albums, starting with this one. Kai Hansen is the de facto founder of the genre and here he is in top form, in the middle of his golden years (1985-1995).

VEKTOR Outer Isolation

Album · 2011 · Technical Thrash Metal
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With a (slight) dose of hyperbole, the "New Wave of Thrash Metal" scene, disappointingly often, sounds as if someone has placed inside a blender many different, tasty dishes (Metallica, Kreator, Exodus etc), blended them to the point of mush and emptied the result on a plate with a Repka cover and a Nuclear Assault logo. It can be very tasty, no argument there but how many times can you take the same thing? Let me put it in a different way. Masturbation is highly amusing but if you want to have children, you need someone else who is not you. Because thrash has stagnated and I don’t know for how much longer we’re gonna have albums like The Gathering, M-16, Tempo of the Damned or Ironbound to save the genre. We (as in we, the thrash fans) need new blood to take things forward and out of their boundaries, just like it happened back in the day. And no, The Haunted and Lamb of God or The Blackening (Machine head), no matter how great, are just not the same thing.

All that weirdness of an intro because I'd like to make some bold statements now. The first is that Vektor is the best thrash metal band right now out of all the new ones, meaning all bands formed from 2000 onwards. On a personal basis, I mean out of all those who were formed after the 80s. Which is not as bold as it sounds, it rather says more about the state of thrash metal the past 20 years. The second statement is that Black Future and Outer Isolation are respectively the best thrash metal albums from a band that did not record in the 80s.

We’re talking about infernal thrash metal that dips its toes into the technical death metal of the 90s pioneers, the black metal of later-era Emperor, progressive music regardless of age, which manages to sound incredibly coherent and hyper-intense at the same time. It’s not always the catchiest mix and apart from some dynamites, their songs (on Black Future included) need friction, repeated listens. Some songs (again from both albums), no matter how enjoyable – and they are, do not commit to memory without intensive listening sessions and that is the small issue that deprives them of the 0.5 for the perfect ten, which it has already gained in my fan’s mind, just like its predecessor.

The other small issue is the vocals. You are either gonna love the voice of mastermind / composer / singer / guitarist David DiSanto (right away or with a little getting used to it) or you’re going to say “leave it”. It’s a mixture of Chuck Schuldiner of the Sound of Perseverance era, with a rabid Schmier-of-old elations, Insahn grating, that belongs to the frontman of a black thrash band in a filthy club on Mos Eisley, Tatooine. I loved it from the very first moment but it’s definitely the deal breaker here.

If none of the above phased you, dive in. Cosmic Cortex, in ten minutes (of the catchy variety) had me noting “album of the year?” But when Echoless Chamber kicked in, along with the subsequent repeats in numbers I hadn’t reached in years, I simply erased the question mark. I dub it the “hit song” of the album, half mid-tempo, nightmarishly delicious with its robotic sinister groove, it breaks out at the two minute mark in the best speed/thrash metal I’ve heard in a long time. And in the middle of all that mayhem they throw in a pure melodic prog metal section as well (always full on frenzy of course).

Expect to hear a band amazingly tight, where every member is a highly-skilled player. Compositions that are bold, fresh and perfected, whether they are the proper versions of their demo songs (for the fans: oh, they are, Fast Paced Society has blackened a bit but it rips and Tetrastructural Minds has achieved godly status), or new material that is burning hot. You will also find grand moments in the self-titled song, which combines speed metal with black metal of the most epic intentions.

Finally, two words about the production. Excellent. Modern, highly serving, crystal-clear, powerful and most importantly, original and anti-plastic. The more deathly awesome the album is, the more the sound resonates with life. Vektor has already taken a prominent place in the scene, two consecutive awesome albums have always been excellent credentials in thrash (think about it). Looking at the appetite and determination that DiSanto and the rest of the guys exert however, I think we haven’t even started yet.

Check also: Aspid - Extravasation (1992) - Russian tech-thrash, very obscure, very much worth it and a crucial element to the Vektor sound.

Note: This review originally appeared in the Greek Metal Hammer magazine (December 2011 issue). This is a (clumsy) translation.

MR. BUNGLE California

Album · 1999 · Metal Related
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Ah, Mr. Bungle's California! This is a very special album to me, as I consider it one of the key albums that unlocked my brain and ears to open to any kind of music, and I do mean *any* kind of music. In the same song.

Raised up with two older brothers into metal, Mr Bungle was simply a lyrics reference in Sacred Reich's 31 Flavors ("Mr. Bungle is so very cool"), which was a reference to their self-titled debut. I would then be exposed to Mike Patton through Faith No More, as The Real Thing was a favourite in the household, when it came out. However, Mr Bungle remained a simple reference in a weird track on a thrash metal album (fitting, in retrospect) and a side project of Mike Patton.

At one point I did listen to Squeeze Me Macaroni, which I thought was brilliant and catchy, like Red Hot Chili Peppers on drugs jamming with Mike Patton but never came across anything else, until 2001, when a good friend of mine got hooked on California and had to share with me.

The impact upon listening to Ars Moriendi is not easy to describe. I've had heard music like that before, from Zappa or elsewhere, but never so incredibly catchy and fun. It was impossible to fathom that I would listen to something resembling balkan hip-hop meets metal meets gypsy folk meets techno meets whatever else is contained in those 4 minutes of madness, in one song AND with a coherent structure AND by being so damn enjoyful. I was hooked right then and there.

The rest of the album lived up to the expectations. Simply put, I find no fillers on this album, on the contrary I find every song an individual music trip served with class, courtesy of the brilliant musicianship of the entire band and Mike Patton's stellar performance.

Mike Patton... I am a huge fan of the man, not only as an amazing and incredibly diverse singer but also as a musician. The aforementioned Ars Moriendi is a song written by him, as is the majority of the album (he has songwriting credits in 7 out of 10 songs). This album I consider to be his magnum opus as a musician, rating his work here even above Faith No More, of whom I am a huge fan.

However, it would be hugely unfair to the rest of the band to be overlooked because of Patton. Trevor Dunn, an incredible bassist in his own right, is the author of Retrovertigo, which is certainly among the top moments of the album, a beautiful eerie song that climaxes to a huge theatrical ending, greatly supported by the fine work done in the production department. Trey Spruance, also known for his guitar work in Faith No More's King... album, co-writes with Patton another favourite off the album, Pink Cigarette. A really beautiful ballad, with Mike's voice being so smooth and emotional it could crack a diamond, the song incorporates elements from 60s Italian ballads, country music yodeling (just a simple phrase but it works wonders in the end). A definite highlight. is the aptly named Goodbye Sober Day, which closes the album, a song equally crazy with Ars Moriendi, it delivers an adventurous, fun trip to various music styles from the most weird places, mixes them up together and still manages to sound coherent.

I believe this to be Mr Bungle's best album. Of course it cannot hold the innovative weight and impact of the debut, nor can it claim any larger ambition and scope than Disco Volante. However, it manages in my opinion, to gather the elements of both those albums and add catchiness and flow, which is a monumental task considering the sheer amount of musical styles presented in each song.

I've often read that this album is more commercial and accessible than the other two, often with a hint of disappointment, citing a preference for the more experimental side of the first two (especially Disco Volante). While it is certainly true that this albums IS more accessible (commercial would be a stretch imo), this only highlights the feat accomplished by the band. Because the album is equally complex in the making and structure as any of the previous works, yet it still manages to maintain the listener within its grip. Disco Volante is a much more difficult album to follow and to this reviewer, that is not a compliment. Don't get me wrong, I truly love Disco Volante (Desert Search for Techno Allah is among the band's best songs ever) and it is a fine music trip, once you get past the initial difficulties. But it still is an album for certain days and moods, an album that I would more often than not pick only a few songs to listen to at the time.

California is an album that I would listen to in its entirety, starting with the sweet hawaiian ambience of its opener to the madness of its closing track. Always a pleasure.

Masterpiece. It is not a metal album by a longshot of course, metal is only one of the dozens of genres you can hear in it. But for a fan of music and not just one branch of music, this is, as I say, a masterpiece.


EP · 1985 · Speed Metal
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This is the Mini LP (as it was promoted as at the time) that basically started Helloween's career. The first promises of the band's potential were given at the now legendary Death Metal collection from Noise Records, released a year before, which contained Oernst of Life and Metal Invaders (the latter would appear on Walls fo Jericho re-recorded).

The music presented here is defintely a head-turner. Aggressive, fast, yet exceedingly melodic, it draws influences from Iron Maiden and Accept, with a preference for the dual guitar solos and the neoclassical shredding. All truly in the spirit of the times, ie pushed to the extreme.

Also present are the first hints of the humor that was always a major part of Helloween. In this case, it is the little intro at the beginning which leads to Kai Hansen screaming his lungs off to introduce properly the band in true heavy metal fashion. The song is Starlight and it is a classic example of the band's songwriting. Melodic, emphasis on the vocal lines, good guitarwork that balances nicely speed, agression and (again) melody. Speed Metal.

The vocals are an acquired taste, that is for sure. At the time, they were a huge hit, passionate, with character, not afraid to go to the high notes etc. Personally, I am a huge Kai Hansen fan and his voice really does it for me. Technically speaking, there are moments where he does not hit the exact right note, or times where his English could use some polishing. Soundwise, if you try to imagine a cross between Rob Halford and UDO (of Accept), you will get a slight idea of what to expect.

But the whole EP screams of rawness and passion and indeed ambition, evident in tracks like Victim of Fate (probably everyone's favourite off the album), a mini-epic, complete with an anthemic chorus (their specialty as a band), dynamic verses, atmospheric mid-section, climactic solo, the whole deal. And a little under 7 minutes due to the fast paced rhythm of the song.

Cry for Freedom is another mini-epic of sorts, with an acoustic intro that explodes in a speed metal frenzy, again showcasing the band's strong cards: good guitar work, a very good sense for melodies, passion and ambition.

The EP is completed with Murderer and Warrior, the former being a typical Helloween speed metal number and the latter a heavy metal song reminiscent of Iron Maiden on drugs, excluding Kai's shrieking performance of course.

This mini-LP is packaged together with Walls of Jericho (and the Judas EP). This was done from the very first edition of the Walls of Jericho CD, so today to most people's minds, the three releases are indivisible. And indeed, there is little time between those releases, as Helloween and Walls of Jericho were released a few months apart and Judas was recorded some months after Walls. However, they are separate releases and it would be a shame to underestimate the impact of this EP. It made people really eager for more and the band indeed delivered one of the finest speed metal albums ever.

With this mini-LP you get a nice, immensely satisfying, taste of a diamond in the rough.

FLOTSAM AND JETSAM Doomsday for the Deceiver

Album · 1986 · Thrash Metal
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This is one of the very few albums that can be cited as a classic speed metal album in the fullest sense. Speed is really one of the key attributes on this album.

More specifically, this is a speedy melodic thrash metal album. Calling it a Thrash/Power (US) album would also be quite accurate.

Back in the day, this album created a lot of stir. For starters, this album was the only album that received a 6K rating (out of 5) in the (then) very influential Kerrang! magazine. It was also the album that made Jason Newsted known to the metal audience before he joined Metallica. Another notable characteristic was Eric AK, the band's singer, who puts on a very impressive performance, especially with his high pitched screams, which he utilizes a lot, according to some, perhaps too much (not me!). But above all, it made quite an impression for its unique style and excellent songwriting.

What is really impressive about this album is the sheer ambition displayed by the group. This is highlighted by the two epics featured in the album, the self-titled track and Metalshock, clocking over 9 and 8 minutes respectively, which is quite impressive considering they are both speed metal numbers. Both songs showcase the band's strongest attributes: Excellent musicianship, brilliant songwriting and tons of character, greatly supported by the warm sound, courtesy of Metal Blade's prominent producer, Bill Metoyer. They also share structure. Both begin by beautiful acoustic intros that build up to a speed metal frenzy, a middle solo section and a climactic ending. Look out for the bass part in Metalshock by Jason Newsted, a groovy speedy riff that is joined and accentuated by the guitars to create a really memorable section.

Equally memorable are the opener Hammerhead (a speed thrash dynamite that immediately displays all classic Flots elements), Iron Tears (with the indulgence in Eric's screams in the intro!), the true thrash banger Der Fuhrer (perhaps the solo section in the intro could have been a seperate track) and the (once again) speedy narration of the Lizzy Borden story, where Eric AK steals the show, what an outro!

The CD version also contains the instrumental Flotzilla (originally released on a seperate EP on vinyl), which is a great collection of characteristically Flotsy(!) riffs that represents the green monster of the same name. Flotzilla is featured on the album cover crashing Satan, in a very Maiden-esque fashion. The instrumental and the two epics mentioned above also form a trilogy, beginning with the birth of Flotzilla (Metalshock) and the fight against the devil in the post-apocalyptic world depicted on the cover. Quite naive and deliciously absurd in the lyrics, Flotzilla is born because of power metal (in 1986 power metal in the US meant Ride the Lightning...) and the power chords raise the dead! Then the monster crashes satan and all is well. Amazingly, the absurdity of the lyrics is equally matched by the sheer speedy brilliance of the band's perfomance.

This album can also be considered Jason Newsted's highest moment. A real shame that he was so underused in Metallica. Newsted was the main songwriter on this album and he also co-wrote some of the best songs in the following album, No Place for Disgrace.

On a more personal note, Doomsday for the Deceiver is among my top metal albums ever.

A must-have for the fans of old school speed/thrash with an affection for US Melodic metal.

Latest Forum Topic Posts

  • Posted more than 2 years ago in MMA's Top 25 2000's albums (2005-2009)
    Out of these, I voted Candlemass. But I am missing my favorite albums from the era and that is frustrating! VEKTOR. BOLT THROWER. WOLF.
  • Posted more than 2 years ago in Favorite Solo Guitar Shredder?
    Jason Becker is the clear winner.Steve Vai could have been first if it wasn't for Jason.Then it depends on the mood. I've gone through a Malmsteen phase, a Vinnie Moore phase, a Satriani phase, a Bumblefoot phase and an IA phase. Marty Friedman, his first solo album is awesome, his work with Megadeth (on the 3 first albums at least) is awesome, and Cacophony is great. Just not my favorite shredder is all. Although his work on RiP might just be among the ten finest lead works in metal. I've went through a Chastain phase as well but this was more of a HEAVY METAL with awesome female vocals (LEATHER FOR EVER <3 ) phase rather than a shredder phase.Ι really like Buckethead but I've only heard a fraction of his work - but that RULES. I say fraction of course but in reality it's about twice the material I've heard from Becker, so... Anyway, he rules too. Tafolla to me is more his work with Jag Panzer (The Fourth Judgement in particular with the MONSTER solos) and less so his infra-blue album (which is good). Tony McAlpine is OK but I always thought was one step down from the above players. The Great KAT, hahahaha. I like more her crazy persona than her music, although Worship Me Or Die I thought had its funny moments. Years later I was sent her Guitar Goddess EP (first promo I ever received!) and it was beyond terrible, I mean excruciatingly bad. First promo ever and I did not write a review for it.Joe Stump is the only one I haven't sat down to listen to, he always gave me a Michael Angelo vibe and one Michael Angelo type of shredder is more than enough.Paul Gilbert should have been on this list. GREAT player, great solo albums, great albums with Racer X and the mainstream success with Mr. Big. Ritchie Kotzen is also a very diverse and interesting player and Nuno Bittencourt of Extreme has some CRAZY COOL stuff.
  • Posted more than 2 years ago in Best Cirith Ungol album
    My favorite is their fanbase's worst album, Paradise Lost. It's an uneven album but the peaks are the finest stuff by the band, imo.This is one of my favorite songs in heavy metal - and Tim Baker is one of my favorite vocalists as well...Cirith Ungol - Chaos Rising


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