Disc Reviews

by Max Ink Staff Writers


Ross The Boss - Hailstorm

Ross The Boss - Hailstorm

Ross The Boss

Album title: Hailstorm
By Sal Serio
Posted: Dec 2010
Label: AFM Records
(2092) Page Views

Anyone familiar with Manowar, The Dictators, or Brain Surgeons NYC knows of guitar shredder Ross Friedman, although probably by his stage name Ross The Boss. Friedman has a new CD titled “Hailstorm”, but fans of early Iron Maiden may appreciate this release more than Ross’ original fans.

As the medieval cover artwork suggests, “Hailstorm” is heavy metal through and through.. Vocalist Patrick Fuchs has a snarling guttural delivery not unlike Paul DiAnno,  and the twin lead guitar attack on songs like “Dead Man’s Curve” seals the Iron-Maiden-comparison deal.

Ross’ work deserves a better format though. His leads are crisp and precise, meaty, yet humbly sincere, as evidenced on the instrumental “Great Gods Glorious”. He’s better than having to resort to typical cliché heavy metal riffing, so why is he fronting such a generic band? I’d welcome signs of the Dictators’ sense of humor, because “Hailstorm” already almost comes off as Spinal Tap.

Admittedly, there are some moments of seemingly commercial radio potential, like on the Judas Priest/KISS clone “Shining Path”, but Fuchs’ voice pretty much puts the kibosh on any real mass accessibility.  While I’d rather see Friedman pursuing the next Dictators reunion, it’s understandable why he may be seeking a bigger pay off.

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Possessed by Paul James - Feed The Family

Possessed by Paul James - Feed The Family

Possessed by Paul James

Album title: Feed The Family
By Kaleb Bronson
Posted: Dec 2010
Label: Hillgrass Bluebilly Records
(3361) Page Views

Absorbing the true musical spirit of his father and grandfather, Konrad Wert transforms himself into Possessed by Paul James and does so with a fine-tuned form on his newest album release “Feed the Family,” a more polished yet creatively raw album of realism

Seeing Possessed by Paul James live is one feat that is unbeatable, his transformation from a genuinely kind-hearted and caring man into the maniacally controlled and beast-like man of musical charm is out of this planetary realm. His sound is like no other, mixing instrument switches continuously and fluctuating his style through a gamut of skill sets and mini-freak-outs. “Feed the Family” is Possessed by Paul James’ most crisp album yet, like the first nibble of a fresh fall apple, or a drive through the thick morning fog. Each track leaps bounds through the mental corridor with a mixture of instruments and lyrical content letting the listener hear bluegrass, punk, country blues and pure musical soul.

Think of Jiminy Cricket meeting Johnny Cash while dining at Charley Patton’s house on All Hollow’s Eve before dancing in the streets to the music of Robert Johnson; this is what Wert has to offer within every track he writes and performs. It’s a true amalgamation of emotion, spirit and spark. On the album’s title track “Feed the Family” Wert lifts his heart into the air to express the importance of ancestry; a refreshing jaunt into his soul, which then calms as he enters “When it Breaks.” This track shows the importance to always continue no matter the scattered bone trail offers you. “Go ahead all and crucify the only innocent man, go ahead and justify all of the hate you have, all of the hate you can,” Wert bellows with elegance.

Each track has the depth of the ocean floor yet the emotional capability to grasp the sounds like a floating lily pad. “Oh the Rhythm” enters a journey into Wert’s inner sanctum, the listener can absorb his emotion beyond a song, the song becomes an experience; a calming tool for the heart and a soothing ring to the ear, “Oh the Rhythm” has politics and love all in one. As any man grows old in any form, the body ages right along side, whether humans like it or not. Possessed by Paul James explains this transformation on the track “Older in my Body,” where he sings, “I’m much older in my body than my heart.” The lyric is simple but everyone can resonate with the beautiful agony.

One of Paul James’ most glorious songs live he takes to this record, “Take Off Your Mask.” This song and record is filled with questions about oneself; life, love, religion, family and so many more, all for the listener to choose from.

So many tracks are combined into this album of wonderful wisdom, which come to an end at “Color of my Bloody Nose.” A beautifully harmonious track of love splattered with torment; a superb ending to a labyrinth of an album.

The movement of “Feed the Family” flows like a Montana stream. Possessed by Paul James may not be headlining at the Coliseum, nor would his fans want him to, his charm, poise and skill will last as long as people notice that he is a true ‘roots’ gem in the rough.

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Deep Purple - Come Taste The Band: 35th Anniversary Edition

Deep Purple - Come Taste The Band: 35th Anniversary Edition

Deep Purple

Album title: Come Taste The Band: 35th Anniversary Edition
By Sal Serio
Posted: Dec 2010
Label: EMI/Purple
(2334) Page Views

Talk about your “sleepers”! It’s almost taken 35 years for this Deep Purple release to find it’s share of mass acceptance, however the 35th Anniversary Edition of “Come Taste The Band” shows that Purple was indeed alive and well following Ritchie Blackmore’s 1975 departure. Replacement guitarist, the talented yet tragic Tommy Bolin, pretty much established a “Ritchie WHO?” attitude from the opening Echoplex blast on “Comin’ Home”, to the last fading solo notes of “You Keep On Moving”.

Bolin’s whiplash lasso funk chops on “Getting’ Tighter” create an infectious swagger, but his lead guitar improvisations that conclude the song are flat out mind boggling. Obviously this release is a must-have for Bolin fanatics, but really it needs a second chance for long time steadfast Deep Purple and Whitesnake fans as well. Vocalist David Coverdale and drummer Ian Paice are at the top of their game, and even while Glenn Hughes and Bolin were both in a pattern of serious drug usage, the recorded tracks on “Come Taste The Band” are all unquestionably brilliant.

Of particular note here is the second CD featuring the entire album remixed and re-sequenced by Kevin Shirley, who also recently worked with Glenn Hughes and Joe Bonamassa on their Black Country Communion project. Shirley’s new mix brings every last detail and nuance of the “Come Taste The Band” sessions to the surface, and the presence of additional and alternate tracks, especially of Bolin’s guitar, are a delight. It’s fun to hear some songs run to the end of the tape also! It’s like the train runs right off the track! Completely off the rails is the bonus song titled “Bolin/Paice Jam”… it’s too bad MORE studio moments like this weren’t captured on tape!

Keyboardist Jon Lord is also pulled into the new mix, which was a common criticism upon the original album’s release. Lord’s honky tonk piano solo on “Comin’ Home” and Hammond B3 on “Love Child” pour right out of the speakers, indeed enticing the listener to come taste the band!

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Elizabeth and the Catapult - The Other Side of Zero

Elizabeth and the Catapult - The Other Side of Zero

Elizabeth and the Catapult

Album title: The Other Side of Zero
By John Noyd
Posted: Dec 2010
Label: Verve Forecast
(1556) Page Views

Elizabeth and the Catapult’s pleasantly paradoxical sophomore CD conjures a cast of vexed vixens and embittered Buddhists for show-tune groomed swoons and fearless lyrical jaunts. Polished pop toffee, chewy and slippery sweet; the Catapult’s crisp syncopation, crackling beats and catchy choruses match Elizabeth’s sizzling wisdom, dynamic diplomacy and crafty laughter for a sumptuous platter of deliciously pithy patter, irreverent sentiments and tender remembrances. Inspired by marathon Leonard Cohen listening sessions, “Other Side,” casually confides and artfully divides, jazzy gymnastic happiness jabbing at rattling cages while capturing spooky rebukes, witty duplicity and promising honesty. Savvy cabaret refrains convey lover’s pleads and jilted dreams wrapped in sly strings, cascading keyboards and arresting drums; dark thoughts housed in brainy but boppy melodies purporting wicked inspirations and poetic introspection.

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Pantera - Official Live Pantera

Pantera - Official Live Pantera

Pantera

Album title: Official Live Pantera
By Aaron Manogue
Posted: Dec 2010
Label: Elektra
(1653) Page Views

Anyone who has ever been a fan of live music knows it’s hard to hear a band live and have them come across as crisp and intense as they sound on any given album. Pantera does just that and so much more.

The album kicks off with thousands of screaming fans chanting “Pantera! Pantera! Pantera!” If you close your eyes, you can truly picture yourself among the masses ready to explode into maniacal metal madness. “New Level” announces the band’s presence loud and clear with drummer Vinney Paul’s signature hellish beats and vocalist Phil Anselmo’s demonic growls.

Next up on the Pantera ass kicking machine is “Walk.” One of their most recognizable songs, Dimebag absolutely destroys the solo. You know you have a truly all-time great guitarist when he can take an iconic guitar solo, play it EXACTLY how we all remember, and at the same time put twists on it on the fly that flow with perfect harmony with the rest of the solo.

Basically every single iconic Pantera song is on the album and the guys absolutely kill each and every song. “5 Minutes Alone,” “This Love,” “I’m Broken,” “Cowboys from Hell,” “Cemetery Gates,” and “Hostile.” There truly isn’t a single spot on the live album that anyone could say, “Oh, there’s a mess up.” Being able to crank out this high quality metal live with great sound and intensity is truly a gift the guys of Pantera were really blessed with, and also showcases Vinnie and Dimebag’s production skills, as they produced this masterpiece.

Then there was something that is perhaps the most lasting and impressing aspect of this live album. Anselmo quiets the audience after they play “Sandblasted Skin” and speaks, “You know what the experts are telling you? That heavy music is dead and gone. Ya’ll do me a favor and ya’ll turn around and look at each other right now. And obviously somebody’s wanting to hear something that these experts are telling you ain’t supposed to be here.” This my friends is pure, unblemished metal. The way it was meant to be played.

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Ozzy Osbourne - Scream

Ozzy Osbourne - Scream

Ozzy Osbourne

Album title: Scream
By Aaron Manogue
Posted: Oct 2010
Label: Epic Records
(2210) Page Views

After 40 years of screaming his black heart out, most would think Ozzy’s vocal transmissions would have faded, but The Prince of Darkness has managed to keep his trademark sound alive and well in his 10th album, “Scream.”

Opening with a touch of Ozzy’s past swagger in “Let It Die,” silky guitar riffs accompany tenacious double-kick drums to launch this musical missile on the right path. In “Diggin’ Me Down,” Ozzy kidnaps you and takes you on a melodic journey that starts with a deceiving yet pleasing acoustic intro, and then erupts into a combination of ravishing guitar riffs and drum beats. “I Want It More” puts the ass kicking stamp on the record, with catchy lyrics and thick riffs.

The most notable change in the new album is the absence of legendary guitarist Zakk Wylde. When Ozzy stated that he “wanted a change,” fans were skeptical of the quality of guitar play that would follow. New guitarist Gus G falls far short of a change, as his riffs and solos on “Scream” sound reminiscent of Wylde’s style and unique shredding, since much of Wylde’s writing remained on the album.

No one can deny his uncanny ability to surround himself with musical talent that boasts the best support for his timeless vocals. “Scream” is a solid statement by Ozzy that his vocal talents will live on in rock n’ roll eternity.

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Hellyeah - Stampede

Hellyeah - Stampede

Hellyeah

Album title: Stampede
By Aaron Manogue
Posted: Oct 2010
Label: Epic Records
(2398) Page Views

Supergroup Hellyeah is back with sophomore album “Stampede” and their patented main course of southern rock with a gritty side of ass kicking that fans are used to from lead man Chad Gray and guitarist Greg Tribbett’s main poison, Mudvayne. Rounding out your four course meal of metal is Vinnie Paul of Pantera, Tom Maxwell of Nothingface and Bob Zilla of Damageplan, leaving any metal fan asking for seconds.

Cowboy Way” serves as the delectable appetizer. With its monstrous southern metal sound it sets the tone for the rest of the record. The task of incorporating each sound of the supergroup’s members is done perfectly throughout; gritty guitars, smooth as silk drums, in your face vocals and a bass line that runs right through the heart of the album.

Mudvayne fans will love “It’s On!” as it could easily fit on any Mudvayne album of the past, present and future. The same can be said for Pantera fans in the track titled “Order the Sun.” Vinnie Paul’s influence is extremely evident in this track. Despite whether you are a fan of the member’s past bands or not, if you enjoy immense musical talent that’s blended together perfectly to make a metal lover’s concoction, you’re in for a treat.

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Jayke Orvis - It’s All Been Said

Jayke Orvis - It’s All Been Said

Jayke Orvis

Album title: It’s All Been Said
By Kaleb Bronson
Posted: Oct 2010
Label: Farmageddon Records
(3404) Page Views

With a fully loaded arsenal of musically arranged chaos, Jayke Orvis has dropped the .357 String Band and the Goddamn Gallows for a brief moment to release his first fiasco-filled album, “It’s All Been Said.

His mandolin power impeccably smashes through beginning of the record, combined with a wide array of stringed harmonious beasts to flavor the entire album like a stuck pig ready for roast. From the ghastly, ghoul-soaked
intro of the record, Orvis sets the listener up for a dark and doom filled dose of reality.

The men of true country past as well as the rowdy cow-punks of the present day are sure to feel the aesthetic of this record. Whether the calming “Feelings Like This” carry the listener into a whiskey-doused rocking chair moment of relaxation, or the “Empty Bottles on the Shelf” offer the picturesque road song for all who have traveled the highways and byways of the world, Orvis offers a realm of true living.

Orvis lets the toe-tapping record gather speed throughout. “Thunderbolts and Lighting” can twist the blade in that soft spot of the heart and with the added flare of James Honnicutt’s quick hand, the track mellows the mind with temperament.

Orvis’ liking for a good horror film is spread throughout the record in miniature samples, adding a dark trail to follow and an appealing one for fans of the nebulous side of country music.

Many aspects of the record speak of rough relationships as well as the loves of Orvis’ life, including “Shady Grove Gypsy Moon” which designs a perfect dance around the fire and howl at the moon track of cultivation.

No one wants to go to jail for things,” introduces the track “Dreadful Sinner,” A high octane and vivid look into the realm of living above the law and the battles of people’s demons. The lyrical ride of this track is intensely fanatical, creating a chanting atmosphere in the listeners head.

Throughout this entire record Jayke Orvis shows that whether he rides with a crew of rough and rugged musicians with only to road ahead of them, or if he takes his own personal touch and pouring a shot for everyone to swallow, he has what is takes to be recognized with “It’s All Been Said.”

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Sara Bareilles - Kaleidoscope Heart

Sara Bareilles - Kaleidoscope Heart

Sara Bareilles

Album title: Kaleidoscope Heart
By Troy Johnson
Posted: Oct 2010
Label: Epic Records
(2583) Page Views

Sara Bareilles attacks the piano like a pestle and mortar, pounding pop songs out and adding original lyrics that turn frustration into music. In her much anticipated second studio album “Kaleidoscope Heart,” released this past September, Bareilles shows that she is not just the girl who recorded “Love Song” but a musician with a long career ahead of her.

Judging by her online following females are her predominant fan base but as far as mainstream pop music is concerned I feel not just comfortable but hip when I bump her tunes in front of other people.  “Machine Gun” is an instant hit with me even though it’s clearly from a female perspective. “Maybe nobody loved you when you were young/Maybe, boy, when you cry nobody ever comes.”  She has the ability to take sad ideas and lyrics and mix them with energetic music that you can dashboard drum to.

The album is produced by Neal Avron who is a musician that has made his way in the industry by making chart topping albums for bands such as Linkin’ Park, Fall Out Boy, Weezer, and Yellowcard. When listened to in its’ entirety it is difficult to predict which songs are going to be radio singles off of Kaleidoscope Heart. “King of Anything” is already getting a lot of play time on radio stations and is prototypical of her catchy style. She is also witty and full of meritorious quotes on her Facebook and twitter pages.

Bareilles is touring this fall and plays at the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee on November 5, 2010.

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Black Sabbath - Paranoid

Black Sabbath - Paranoid

Black Sabbath

Album title: Paranoid
By Fender Sexton
Posted: Sep 2010
Label: Eagle Rock Entertainment
(2355) Page Views

The Classic Albums series uncovers the facts and examines the myths behind famous albums, recounting the experiences behind the board and in the studio through every chord. After releasing definitive DVD documents of albums from The Doors, Pink Floyd, Frank Zappa, Nirvana, Meat Loaf, and Bob Marley, the series now looks at Black Sabbath’s 1970 album, Paranoid. Throughout the 97 minutes of this documentary, original members Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, and Bill Ward, along with the album’s engineer, deliver the story behind the making of Paranoid. This great documentary is essentially a collection of interviews, demonstrations, archive videos, and live cuts of songs like “War Pigs,” “Iron Man,” and “Black Sabbath.” The forty minutes of bonus features are worth a look as well.

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Anna Givens - SkyLark

Anna Givens - SkyLark

Anna Givens

Album title: SkyLark
By Sal Serio
Posted: Sep 2010
Label: Galena Street Music
(2368) Page Views

If you long for the sad, sultry torch songs that were the trademark of all the great women jazz singers of the classic era - Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, and Sarah Vaughan – than boy, have I got a CD for you. The only singer currently performing that comes anywhere close to capturing this sincere an essence of pure jazz is perhaps Norah Jones, but I’d still place all bets on Anna Givens.

SkyLark is Givens’ solo debut, highlighted by her silky and emotive crooning with only piano and occasional bass as accompaniment. Of significant note is the pianist, Claude Black, who shares history with some of the all-time jazz greats, Miles Davis, Oscar Peterson, and Wes Montgomery. The SkyLark sessions were recorded “in the moment” without any overdubs.

While Givens is perhaps best known in the Midwest as she is based out of Ohio and gigs often in Detroit, her name may also ring a bell in the Rocky Mountain region. Recently Anna had been a member of blues guitarist Eddie Turner’s band. Husband and producer David Givens, who guests on bass, was a member of the classic psychedelic era band Zephyr. Don’t expect to hear any rock or blues here though - this one is strictly for the jazz cats.

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Nonpoint - Miracle

Nonpoint - Miracle

Nonpoint

Album title: Miracle
By Aaron Manogue
Posted: Sep 2010
Label: Rocket Science Ventures
(2221) Page Views

It seems like every time someone talks about any rock n’ roll artist or band these days, there is an underlying and ridiculous urge to place them in some generalized category. Whether it’s soft rock, alternative rock, heavy metal, death metal, or any amalgamation of rock n’ roll genres that some self-proclaimed music junky decides to make up for a certain band, people feel the need to stereotype a band’s sound. For the boys of Nonpoint it’s never been about fitting into some cliché music genre or writing records to make the charts, it’s simply been about one thing and one thing only; writing genuine, pure Nonpoint music.

Formed in 1997, this Florida-based band has gone on to create their own form of rock n’ roll…metal…whatever you wish to call it. I call it authentic, genuine, in your face, “you’ll go home to tell your friends about us” music. Currently the band still boasts three of the original band members, Drummer Robb Rivera, vocalist Elias Soriano and bassist Ken “KB” MacMillan, while adding axeman Zach Broderick in 2008. Building their name through their distinguished live act, Nonpoint has spread the word loud and clear that they’re here to stay.

Anyone who’s ever been to a Nonpoint concert can agree that their enthralling stage presence is something every concert enthusiast needs to experience. This is the energy most Nonpoint fans have been begging of the band to bring to their albums. And with their latest album release Miracle, they bring their ass kicking off the stage and into your home. They have transitioned into a harder, grittier sound for this album which serves as a perfect weapon for them to launch their music into listener’s eardrums.

From the opening song “Shadow,” guitarist Zach Broderick, who replaced Andrew Goldman as the bands lead guitarist, brings a much thicker hard rock sound to Nonpoint in comparison to Goldman’s previous recordings with the band.The thick riffs accompany vocalist Elias Soriano’s smooth-as-silk chords perfectly and drummer Robb Rivera’s beats carry the heart beat of the album triumphantly throughout. Nonpoint’s trademark energy stays in orbit with the title track “Miracle” which features guest vocals by Mudvayne/HELLYEAH frontman Chad Gray who produced the album along with guitarist Greg Tribett, also of Mudvaye/HELLYEAH. 

The next few songs tap the breaks a bit on the train that is Miracle, transitioning into a middle of the tracks pace with “Crazy” and a song dedicated to our honorable and beloved troops “Frontlines.” One of the bright spots along the way in this album is the inclusion of Nonpoint’s cover of the mighty Pantera’s “5 Minutes Alone” which the band originally recorded as an online bonus track for legendary shredder “Dimebag” Darrel Abbott’s Tribute Album.

The absolute epitome of Nonpoint’s ass kicking is in the intensity they portray in the song “Dangerous Waters.” Warning: Head banging is required when listening to this song. There’s even a short yet extremely addictive solo in the song, which just adds to the mystique that Broderick presents in his first album with Nonpoint, something that is for the most part non-existent in pre-Broderick Nonpoint music. The song seems to serve as Broderick’s introduction to us all and his stamp on the band is heard loud and clear.

Traditional Nonpoint fans won’t be begging for their old Nonpoint back, because it’s still clearly evident in the new album. Self proclaimed Nonpoint critics will have to do their best to resist the burning urge to tip their caps to the band for their new efforts and ass kicking they’ll experience once they hear Miracle. It’ll be a Miracle if the same critics can also resist the urge to go buy the album. 

Nonpoint has continued to write, play and produce the only genre they know how to spit out; genuine, pure Nonpoint music.

This labor day weekend, Nonpoint once again graces the Madison area with their renowned stage presence, live at Taste of Madison on Sunday, September 5th. They’ll hit the WJJO stage along with the Deaf Pedestrians and Caroline’s Spine.

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