John Jackson

Aug 192018

On the 30th anniversary of the groundbreaking release of the thrash masterpiece Human Sacrifice, Roxx Records has released a previously unheard original mix of the album stripped of all effects.

Vengeance Rising as they’ve been known since 1989 is one of those iconic bands metalheads should know.  Formed back in 1987 and originally just as Vengeance, the band’s first release was labeled by many including Doug van Pelt of HM as “the most radical Christian album ever released” and for good reason.  At a time when Stryper was considered heavy, Vengeance literally destroyed that concept with their blend of rapid fire drums, raspy shouted/growled vocals and fast guitar riffs sounding much like contemporaries in the regular music world including Slayer and Dark Angel.  The history of the band is a saga all of its own and would fill several pages as it includes band members leaving the faith, internal band squabbles and ultimately some near reunion shows with different vocalists replacing Roger Martinez.

As advertised, this mix of Human Sacrifice does away with all the studio production and provides what many would consider a more real, almost live experience.  In many ways, it’s as if the band set up in a small room and is playing the songs in front of you.  While not quite the same as the previously released version, this one is not a low quality demo by any means and could have stood on its own.  Continue reading »

Death Requisite – “Threnody”

 Posted by on August 18, 2018 at 19:47  No Responses »
Aug 182018

Death Requisite pick up where Revisitation left off and take their symphonic metal to a whole new level on Threnody, even including orchestral versions of the songs.

Florida’s Death Requisite trace their roots all the way back to when the band members were teens in the late 1990s.  The band has a relatively storied past, opening for national acts, signing to a label and releasing a couple of albums before life intervened and the band went on hiatus in 2005.  In 2010, the band returned, release two projects, Prophets of Doom and Second Death as well as shared the stage with a number of bands from Norma Jean to Terrorizer to Vital Remains.  In 2016 the band released Revisitation  to critical acclaim where many noticed the combination of death, thrash, symphonic and progressive elements blended seamlessly into their songs.

Having reviewed Revisitation, I had a fairly good idea of what to expect when I hit play on Threnody, and then a little ways into “Primogeniture” that quickly went out the window.  What struck me first was the overriding emphasis on the symphonic side of symphonic metal.  Keyboards seemed to take a larger role than guitars in many places on the album.  Yes, the comparisons to Antestor and Grave Declaration will remain, but the metal seems to be a lesser component in the overall sound this time.  Some of it can be attributed to the mix which is a bit overwhelming to the ears, making it difficult to pick out the contributions of the individual instruments.  When you see the layout of the album with the metal  versions followed by the orchestral versions, this makes a bit more sense.  Interstingly the orchestral versions of the songs do seem to be missing something as the overall sound seems a bit thin and would benefit immensely  from the inclusion of the bass and drums from the metal side.  Otherwise the two versions are nearly interchangeable. Continue reading »

Aug 162018

For those who grew up in the Midwest in the 80s and early 90s, Chicago punk rock was something special and October Bird of Death is back with the second ep full of music keeping the spirit of Chicago punk rock alive.

Having grown up near Chicago and being into punk rock, one couldn’t help but be a fan of bands like Naked Raygun who also count Dave Grohl as a big fan, to the point where Dave had them open for the Foo Fighters at a Wrigley Field show.  That mix of melody with hints of chaos characterized the sound of many of the bands.  For those looking for some history, check out the documentary You Weren’t There: A History of Chicago Punk 1977-1984.  But, I digress…. October Bird of Death has only been around a couple years, having released the death made its offer (ep) in 2017, but don’t let that fool you as the band  members have experience in a variety of notable punk rock bands with some even doing double time in the youth crew band 2 Minute Minor, which is also worth checking out.  Guitarist Darren Davick was previously in Ballydowse, while other guitarist Sid Duffour was in the legendary Headnoise and singer Wiley Willis is in the Blamed and 2 Minute Minor with drummer Zach Bridier.  For Assemble, the band recorded at Million Yen Studios with Chris DeQuick, while Zach Bridier handled mixing, and notable punk rock figure Sef Idle took care of mastering at Simpul Studio. Continue reading »

Jul 272018

Fades Away are back with the follow up to Perceptions and this time bring more of a straightforward alternative/hard rock approach to the tracks on the Resurrection pt. 1 ep.

Resurrection Part I opens up with a song that really confuses me.  In one sense, the opening guitar riffs remind me a bit of older Blindside and Spoken but then Dave Erickson’s vocals come in and I can’t help but hear a young Geddy Lee (Rush), which one should be able to see is a bit confusing.  The song itself alternates between the softer verse sections with primarily just drums and vocals to the louder bridge and chorus sections with loud guitars and ragged screaming added in for emphasis.  As to where this fits musically, I stick by my Blindside and Spoken comparison, so that heavier alternative with some catchy melodies and some occasional screaming.

“The Game” seems as if it will stick to the same formula and in one sense it does in terms of style but the guitars stay with the song throughout with some nice layered leads incorporated over a driving, riff and pummeling drums.  Production quality is excellent, vocals are clear, while guitars and drums are loud, nothing is lost.  I can hear everything from bands like Pillar to guitar parts that remind me of Blue Oyster Cult, so yes, it is an interesting mix. Continue reading »

My Epic – “Ultraviolet” (ep)

 Posted by on July 25, 2018 at 14:07  No Responses »
Jul 252018

My Epic has released Ultraviolet, the first of a two part ep concept series exploring faith and things that are too big to be understood with the second part, Violence, to be released in late 2018.

While calling Fredericksburg, VA home for now, My Epic has its roots in North Carolina and trace their beginning as a band under that name to 2005.  In 2006, the band released their first ep, This is Rescue and the first album was in 2008 with I Am Undone being released on Dreamt Music an imprint of Facedown Records.   In 2010, the band released their follow up album, Yet, which saw the band end up on the Heatseekers charts, similar to the follow up, Behold, in 2013.

As projects go, My Epic has taken on dealing with things which are beyond what we can see and know, and things that we do see but can’t fit into our paradigm.  Certainly big questions and from a larger perspective, Ultraviolet seems a perfect fit for one side of the story.  Chiming guitars, layers and layers of sound and atmosphere that seems very far from the worlds of metal or punk.  Vocals are smooth and calming and provide just the right atmosphere for the introspective, questioning  lyrics.  In many ways, this reminds me a bit of some of the ambient black metal projects I love so much, but in this case keyboards, electronic effects, and clean guitars provide the background. Continue reading »