Music Review: SCARLET RED – Don’t Dance With Danger

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scarlet red - don't dance with dangerSCARLET RED
Don’t Dance With Danger
Pure Metal Records

The band Scarlet Red is one of those obscure glam metal bands that, after doing a bit of digging, revels that they had a rather interesting history. It seems they began life as a band named Lust, until their drummer became a Christian and left, effectively breaking up the band. Then, one by one, the other members became Christians, and they all reformed under their new name Scarlet Red. After contributing the song “You Live Fast” on a compilation on Pure Metal Records, they then recorded and released their only full-length album, Don’t Dance With Danger, also on Pure Metal in 1989.

The album begins with the aforementioned “You Live Fast”, kicking things into gear with a nice driving hard rocker with a heavy guitar riff and a hook that will stick right into you and won’t let go. I don’t know if the album version of this song is any different than the one on The Axemen compilation, as I haven’t had that one in my collection for a while. Anyway, “Cry Out” is another hard rocking cut, a bit darker with a nice heavy riff. “Never” is more commercial sounding rock tune, while “Knock Down The Walls” ventures right into !POWER BALLAD ALERT! territory, though it does avoid too much sap with a good crunchy riff and solo. “Fight Fire” brings things back with a really good, driving riff, which continues through the title track “Don’t Dance With Danger” and “Lost And Found”. “Hold On To Love” is another commercial rock tune, whereas “Why” is straight up !CCM RADIO BALLAD ALERT!, just keyboard and vocals. Fortunately, the album ends on a heavier note with “Break The Chain”.

Overall, Don’t Dance With Danger was far better an album than what I was expecting. This strikes me more like Dokken with a singer that sounds much like Lisa Faxon from Ransom. I don’t know if this has been given the re-release treatment yet, but the seems a good candidate for just such a thing. If you find this, however, pick it up and give it a spin.


Music Review: BELIEVER – Transhuman

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believer - transhumanBELIEVER
Metal Blade

Two years after the release of Believer’s comeback album Gabriel, the band released the followup Transhuman. There was much speculation as to if Transhuman would be a return to their progressive thrash roots. It wasn’t, but this is not necessarily a bad thing.

Going into this, I rather figured that Transhuman would follow down the path started with Gabriel. Believer was always about musical progression over style; I would have been surprised if they had released something like their first three releases.

First, I’d like to point out that the album cover art is fantastic. The eerie model and negative space seem perfectly fitting for the music contained inside. And speaking of the music (flawless segway, there), I have to say that, generally speaking, Transhuman is probably the darkest album I’ve heard coming from these guys. While there are some spots where the classic sounding Believer comes through, like on “Clean Room” and “Ego Machine”, for the most part the songs on this album are more mid-paced, incorporating more of the dark industrial flavors here with the progressive style. Don’t get me wrong, there are some really good guitar riffs on the songs, along with some good melodies and musical textures. “Lie Awake” starts off the album that way, giving an idea of the journey you’re going to be taking with this release. “GUT”, “Multiverse”, “End Of Infinity” and “Transfiguration” continue with the dark progressive metal style; “Currents” is more of an ambient, dark EBM spacy instrumental that has a good guitar riff; “Traveler” continues with the dark, mid-paced progressive route, while “Being No One” features a good thrashy riff and a solid hook, while retaining the dark progressive quality, while “Entanglement” and “Mindsteps” end the album like it began: dark, moody and epic sounding.

Overall, Transhuman is an album that requires more than just a couple of spins for everything to really kick in. But, I’ve found that it really does prove itself to be a good quality album, just not in the classic Believer vein. Transhuman is more cerebral, both musically and lyrically, and while it may not be the band’s masterpiece, it’s definitely worth more than just a couple of cursory listens. Recommended.

Music Review: CIRCLE OF DUST – Machines Of Our Disgrace

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circle of dust - machines of our disgraceCIRCLE OF DUST
Machines Of Our Disgrace
FiXT Music

It’s been a very long time since we’ve been graced with a Circle Of Dust album. Well, to be fair, I don’t think anybody was expecting a new Circle Of Dust album. Mainly because main guy Klayton hasn’t held the rights to CoD until just recently. Also, since the release of Disengage back in 1998, it seemed that Klayton just wanted to shed that skin and move on, going by the moniker Celldweller and releasing music as such since then. For all intents and purposes, Circle Of Dust was a forgotten relic, regulated to a bygone era looked back upon with nostalgic longing.

Man, this review is starting to get depressing. Let’s get to the good news, then: In 2016, the rights to the Circle Of Dust catalogue reverted back to Klayton, which lead to not only him remixing and remastering all of the Circle Of Dust albums, but also releasing this album of new Circle Of Dust material, Machines Of Our Disgrace, on his own FiXT Music label.

Of course, there was a bit of hesitation on my part when readying myself to purchase Machines Of Our Disgrace; there was a nagging question in the back of my mind, “was this going to be a true-to-form Circle Of Dust album, or just a repurposed Celldweller album going by Circle Of Dust to bank off of the nostalgia factor? Yeah, I’m that kind of jaded in my middle age.

Obviously, I ended up purchasing my copy of the album, and after listening to this obsessively since then, I can happily say that Machines Of Our Disgrace is a true-to-form Circle Of Dust album. From the harsh industrial intro opening of “re:Engage” to the title track “Machines Of Our Disgrace”, my skepticism was banished, and I found myself awash in some of the best sounding 90s-style metalized industrial that I didn’t know I missed so very much. The heavy guitar riffs, the industrial electronic rhythms, the samples and ambient textures… Machines Of Our Disgrace is like a blend of the best parts of the self-titled Circle Of Dust and Disengage mixed together, injected with the heaviness of Brainchild, and rendered with superb production quality, resulting in a solid album that can only be described as classic Circle Of Dust given a modern polish.

Overall, if you’re on the fence about getting Machines Of Our Disgrace, let me urge you to get over yourself and purchase this release. Nearly twenty years has done nothing to slow down this machine. Nay, it only made it more effective. Highly recommended.

Music Review: DEATH REQUISITE – Revisitation

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death requisite - revisitationDEATH REQUISITE
Rottweiler Records

After one out of print full-length and a handful of EPs, Florida death metal outfit Death Requisite released their first full-length on Rottweiler Records, titled Revisitation, in 2016. Being released on Rottweiler Records made it a bit more available on other sites for purchase than the previous two EPs. If only they would make the first earlier releases available. But that’s neither here nor there. Let’s get to what’s on Revisitation, shall we?

Popping this onto the media player and pressing play, immediately during the opening track “Revisitation”, I can already tell the major plus this release has over the other releases: the production makes this sound fantastic. This works in favor of the style of metal Death Requisite has been honing, as you may recall from the previous reviews, is a tasty blend of melodic and technical death metal, with touches of symphonic and flolk, with a bit of black metal for texture. “Revisitation” has a good opening solo + riff, some tight technical Death Metal going with a nice folk / symphonic midpoint. “Vivens Sanctuarium” features a fantastic mid-paced riff, blastbeats and technical solo work, and has a good atmospheric mid-point. “Veneration” leans more towards a black metal riff and features a blistering shredding solo. “Nova Creatione” has some good use of synths to give this a dark hue, with a bit of a melodic mid-point while remaining good and heavy. “Redemptio Per Deicide” continues with the nice dark, heavy pace with some doomy and symphonic bits, while “Ineluctable Castigation” starts with an acoustic flamenco-style opening, then blasts into a blackened doomy death metal riff. The last track on here, “Recapitulation”, is a 17+ minute epic classical style symphony instrumental, complete with strings, brass, piano, percussion, and eerie choral vocals which is an interesting way to end the album.

Overall, I found Revisitation a good, solid and satisfying Death Metal album, making good use of various musical techniques and throwing in a bit of a curve by the full-on mini classical symphony at the end. This makes me look forward to more releases in the future, hopefully there shall be more of this caliber. Recommended.

Music Review: STRYPER – God Damn Evil


stryper - god damn evilSTRYPER
God Damn Evil
Frontiers Music

So, here we are now, with a new Stryper album. I don’t know, but it doesn’t seem all that long ago when they released Fallen. Or when I caught them on the To Hell With The Devil 30th Anniversary Tour (I’m wearing that tour shirt right now, actually…it wasn’t planned, I swear). Now, not only do we have a new Stryper album, but a new member handling bass duties (again), and what seems to be a new dynamic for the music. Also, we have the first Stryper album to be banned from being sold at Walmart. Being banned from Christian bookstores? *Yawn* Old hat. Being banned from Walmart? This is why Stryper is still awesome, folks.

Part of the anticipation of waiting for this release was mostly due to the incredible explosion of controversy within the Christian rock and metal online communities when the title was announced. If you know your Uncle NecRo, then it’ll come as no surprise that I was behind the title God Damn Evil 100%, as I understood what they were going for, and I am rather amused by how easily we Christians can get at the drop of the proverbial hat. Don’t get me started, otherwise this review will turn into a rant that will engulf several pages. But, enough of that. Let’s get to the music, shall we?

After taking in the very, very awesome METAL cover art, we begin with the first cut, “Take It To The Cross”, which has a nice atmospheric build-up to a heavy groove riff hook. It’s heavy, but then at the chorus, the speed is shifted to light speed, and it’s there that I realized Stryper was spreading their creative wings and trying something different with the music, much like on Against The Law back in the day. The song is…interesting. When I purchased the prerelease, I was allowed to download “Take It To The Cross”, which I shall be honest, I wasn’t completely convinced by. Fortunately, there are ten more songs on here, and this first cut doesn’t fully represent how things are.

While there are songs on God Damn Evil that feature the classic Stryper style, like on “Lost”, “You Don’t Even Know Me”, and “Beautiful”, the overall dynamic on here seems a bit heavier, a bit darker, with some choice mid-paced riffs and hooks going, like on “Sorry”, “The Valley” (which has a very Ronny James Dio-era Black Sabbath feel to it), and “Own Up”. The title track itself has a good late-80s, early-90s AC/DC style riff going, while achieving a good bluesy groove on “Sea Of Thieves”. We have a kind of !POWER BALLAD ALERT! with “Can’t Live Without Your Love”, but it’s not sappy, like Stryper has been known to do; it has a good crunchy riff, and it really doesn’t break the flow of the album. The final song, “The Devil Doesn’t Live Here”, ends things with a fun and infectious metal boogie.

Overall, I realize that reactions to the music on God Damn Evil have been mixed (not counting the ones that only focus on the album title, here…this is about the music), but since this is my review on my personal blog (and whoever might link to this), I’m going to come out and say that the album as a whole is fantastic. It’s better than I would have expected, with the variety and styles playing, yet keeping things unmistakably Stryper. My advice is to ignore knee-jerk reactions, and give this a listen. I look forward to your collective rebuke emails.

Music Review: GRAVE ROBBER – Escaping The Grave

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grave robber - escaping the graveGRAVE ROBBER
Escaping The Grave
Rottweiler Records

It’s been seven years since the last full-length album was released by horror punk stalwarts Grave Robber. Between then and now, the unit has went through enough setbacks and hurdles that would cause a lesser group to call it quits a long time ago. For a bit, it almost looked like we may have seen the last of our favorite undead agents of the Reanimator. But, you can’t keep a good zombie down, and now we have a new full-length release from Grave Robber, Escaping The Grave.

On Escaping The Grave, we’re given a collection of vintage raw melodic horror punk. After beginning with the classic horror movie soundtrack-sounding intro “Burial Ground”, the album then rips into the short but sweet “Into The Pit”, a very heavy, very furious punk rawk track that gives us a mere taste of what to expect with the rest of the album. Namely, some nice guitar-driven, riff-heavy and raw hooks, with some melodic sing-along touches and just a touch of the ol’ psychobilly. Songs like “The Evil Dead”, “Zombiland”, “The Beast Within”, “Lips Of Blood”, “The Conjuring”, “The Swarm” and “The Night Evelyn Came Out Of The Grave” carry you along and makes you want to raise a fist and scream along with the choruses; “Jet Black Tears” has a good drum intro, rips right into a furious riff for the chorus, and then settles back to the spooky atmospheric drum rhythm for the verses, something different and good, while the last proper song, the title track “Escaping The Grave” ends it with a heavy and slightly upbeat tune. The last track, though, is the bonus Mad Monster Mix of one of my favorite songs off of You’re All Gonna Die, “Curse Of The Werewolf”. This is an electronic style, almost like one of those chiptune songs that’s popular in nerdcore culture. I didn’t really like this one at first, but upon further listens, it’s kind of growing on me. Much like extraterrestrial fungus.

Overall, Escaping The Grave is another solid, fun horror punk album from Grave Robber that I couldn’t wait to listen to obsessively. Here’s hoping things will look up for the band, and we’ll get more releases. Recommended.

Music Review: INVERSION – The Nature Of Depravity

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inversion - the nature of depravityINVERSION
The Nature Of Depravity

So, there I was, at Cornerstone 2000, my first Cornerstone festival as a writing staff member of the Dead E-Zine, where I met the other staff members in person, as well as future staff member Sean “Cesspool” Hagans. It was a great time, there. Anyway, on the last day of the fest, the head editor-in-chief, D-Listr, handed me a pre-release copy CD of an album by a band named Inversion, titled The Nature Of Depravity. I listened to it on the long drive back to Nebraska, and my initial thoughts being it was pretty decent; a straight-up death metal album. I never got around to reviewing it for Dead, or for any of my various blogs, websites or the My Space page. Remember My Space? That page of mine is still floating around out there. But, I digress.

Going back to my initial thoughts on this back when I first listened to it on the drive back, I believe my exhaustion after four days of intense Midwest July heat, sleeping in my friend’s car and more physical exertion than I normally do in a year, I wasn’t exactly in the right frame of mind to really give it a good listen at that time. It’s been over fifteen years from that time, now, and have listened to it more since then, and I can upgrade my initial thoughts to reflect a bit more rounded assessment. Which is, The Nature Of Depravity is far better than I gave it originally.

What you get when you pop The Nature Of Depravity into your media player of choice is a blast of pure, unadulterated Death Metal, old-school and crunchy. Tracks like “Apocalyptic”, “Darkened By Hatred”, “Sex With Death”, “Defilement”, “Salt Solution Homicide”, “Tears From An Angel” and “The Butchering Of Relative Thinking” hits you with great, heavy and furious grinding riffs and hooks, with blastbeats and technical rhythms designed specifically to give you a severe bangover. And while it would be easy to just say, “This is Death Metal” and be done with it, there’s more to this than the sum of its parts. As I said, there’s some technicality involved with the metal here throughout; there’s some dark doomy flavor added to “Unsung Hero”, “Independence” has a good atmospheric bass solo opening before it kicks into the face-blasting METAL, then ends with an acoustic guitar; the song “Thieves” is the biggest shift in tone in the middle of the album, as it’s played completely on an acoustic guitar, with both regular singing and, interestingly, the growled death vocals; the last track, “Damnation Undone”, is a quick, less than a minute blast to end things on.

Overall, The Nature Of Depravity was something of a lucky give, as I don’t see a lot of reviews or posts about this online, and otherwise, I would have just passed it up initially. I’m glad I gave it more than a passing listen, as the metal on here is fantastic old school Death Metal that gets a play on my system more often than not. I recommend picking this up if you can manage to find it.

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