heavy metal

"Th1rt3en," the latest offering from heavy metal titans Megadeth, is both a study of what Megadeth has been and could be. It is a self-contained road-map of Megadeth's past aggressions, present explorations and possible future.

GWAR guitarist Cory Smoot, known in the band under the alias "Flattus Maximus" was found dead on the group's tour bus just prior to their crossing into Canada. His cause of death has not been released.

Smoot's age was not immediately available, but several media agencies have listed it as 34. Smoot had been playing the part of Maximus since 2002, and debuted with the band on 2004's "War Party."

“Evermore Darkly” is slightly thin as a companion piece to “Darkly, Darkly, Venus Aversa,” but that doesn’t mean it is without value.

Comprised mostly of re-cut or re-imagined tracks from the main album, “Evermore Darkly” presents the known cuts from that album in a style that is less abstract. “The Persecution Song,” is reworked in a way that makes the song more accessible while not losing its original pounding, or the effect of Paul Allender’s off-kilter, rangy guitar.

Behemoth. A name that carries a lot of weight, and a lot of stigma in metal circles. Considered the fathers of the Polish death/black/extreme metal scene, Behemoth has been both the center of celebration and consternation for over two decades. Cited on a 2007 list by Polish officials of artists who allegedly promote murder and Satanism, Behemoth is no stranger to controversy.

My word.

The internet has been fairly aflame since the announcement of the cooperative effort between Lou Reed and Metallica, two titans of their respective genres. Cynicism and hope ran high, the backs of necks bristled with both anticipation and fear. As more and more copies were released, and the web stream was opened to the public, the album took on notes of trouble. Soon, the clear skies above the album and its accompanying concept has turned black with a hurricane of vitriolic reviews and crushing waves of critical disdain.

To say that I was less than enthused about putting This Is Hell's "Black Mass" on my 'to-do' pile is probably an understatement. The band's press speaks volumes about the prowess of this evolving hardcore crossover band that lays down sobering, realistic lyrics....snore. I felt like I read those exact words about Hatebreed in 1999. Which only made me more withdrawn from the album. After all, hardcore has never truly died, but the last decade has seen a precipitous fall in both quality and popularity of the once crowded genre.

The reputation of Hammers of Misfortune precedes them, even with all the tumult and lineup changes over the years. With only two original members remaining and two new additions on this latest effort, cynical fans might expect that the halcyon days of Hammers of Misfortune are over. Yet, they soldier on with "17th Street," the band's fifth official studio release. The band's press tells you that this is an album blending elements of doom metal, progressive rock, NWOBHM, and probably a dozen other long-winded buzzwords.

It was in places like this that heavy metal began. A small-time bar out in the sticks with a stage, where the old Peavey PA has a significant hum and half the gathered crowd was there to watch the NLCS. It was in places like this, where billiards tables were pushed out of the way and the walls were undecorated, where bands made their name under dim, yellow-hued incandescent lighting. (Lighting so poor that only black and white photos were exposing properly.) These were, and are, the proving grounds.

Balanced on the precipice of widespread fame with the engine running, Five Finger Death Punch has released their third album, “American Capitalist” to the world. There are certain universal truths of all 5FDP releases, and those haven’t changed; Zoltan Bathory and Jason Hook’s combined guitars will push the envelope for grit and distorted destruction, while the rest of the band operates in that framework. Additionally, the songs will be brimming with concepts of spite, defiance and personal perseverance.

Ripper Owens, the mercenary singer for hire, gives the impression that he's a man trying to prove something. His tumultuous career began while filling in for Rob Halford's sabbatical in Judas Priest. He carried that into a spin with Iced Earth, and then was the singer for Yngwie Malmsteen (and is reported to be again.) An album with Beyond Fear and a solo project thrown on the pile for good measure, and Ripper has been around the block at least once.