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Justin G. RSS Feed (Northern Virginia)

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11 used & new from $19.35

4.0 out of 5 stars A brief introduction to this Twisted Tower Dire spinoff band, July 30, 2015
This review is from: Walpyrgus (Vinyl)
Raleigh, NC-based traditional heavy metal band Walpyrgus released their debut demo in 2014. The band features Twisted Tower Dire members Jim Hunter (bass), Scott Waldrop (guitar) and Johnny Aune (vocals) as well as former Widow drummer Peter Lemieux. The self-titled Walpyrgus effort was originally released on cassette, and was later issued on 7” vinyl (with accompanying CD).

It will probably surprise no one that Walpyrgus sounds like Twisted Tower Dire. Sure there’s a bit more of a hard rock vibe here, but for the most part it’s hard to hear Waldrop’s guitar and Aune’s voice and not think TTD. Not that that’s a bad thing, considering how good that band is. We only get three songs here (“We Are the Wolves,” “The Sisters” and “Cold, Cold Ground,” which is on the CD but not the 7”), but they’re enough to introduce the band and give us a feel for the Walpyrgus sound.

No Remorse did a nice job on the 7” release. It comes in a sturdy gatefold sleeve with new artwork. Unfortunately it does not include the cover of Mercyful Fate’s “Doomed By the Living Dead” that graced the cassette version. Still, it’s a nice introduction to a band that should make an impact on the “New Wave of Traditional Metal” scene. If you’re into bands like Night Demon, Axxion, Widow and of course Twisted Tower Dire, you’ll want to hear Walpyrgus.

17 used & new from $4.03

4.0 out of 5 stars Powerful American heavy metal, July 29, 2015
This review is from: Messiah (Audio CD)
2000’s Messiah was the fourth album from American heavy/power metal band Steel Prophet, one of the more unfairly overlooked bands from the US power metal scene. It was the band’s second release on the Nuclear Blast label.

With Messiah, Steel Prophet moves away from the more progressive metal elements they used on previous albums and goes in a much more straightforward heavy metal direction. Messiah is essentially an Iron Maiden album for the new millennium. Rick Mythasian sounds incredible here, screaming (for vengeance) with incredible power, and the guitars are just as dominating. The album hits on all the best elements of power metal without the cheese that the European bands bring, and is fierce enough to satisfy the Accept/Priest fans.

It’s a bit of a style change for Steel Prophet (a minor one, but there’s still a difference), but Messiah is a monster of a metal album that shouldn’t disappoint many of the band’s fans. If you’re into the classic sounds of Iron Maiden, Queensryche, Helstar, Sanctuary, early Fates Warning and Jag Panzer, you’ll want to check out Steel Prophet, and this is a great place to start.

Pole Position [Japan Import]
Pole Position [Japan Import]

4.0 out of 5 stars A lost gem from the '90s Swedish melodic rock scene, July 29, 2015
Swedish melodic rockers Pole Position made their debut in 1993 with this self-titled release on the Megarock label (and on Zero Records in Japan). They are one of the lesser known names in the Scandinavian melodic rock scene, but they had a very strong sound.

Pole Position’s sound is somewhere between hard rock, AOR and glam metal. Think Danger Danger meets TNT meets Fate. The album has huge hooks and very infectious melodies, the guitar soloing is just wicked, and the vocals are clear and strong. This is the kind of catchy, radio-friendly melodic rock album that could have hit big when Firehouse and Steelheart were riding high, but by 1993 it was just too late for a band like Pole Position.

Pole Position released one more album (1998’s Bigger) before calling it a day. It’s a shame they didn’t make a bigger impact, because the Pole Position debut is a very strong album. It’s definitely worth the effort (and money) to seek out a copy if you’re a fan of bands like TNT, Fate, Skagarack, Alien and Scandinavian melodic rock in general.

Come Reap
Come Reap
4 used & new from $91.20

4.0 out of 5 stars Just an EP, but there's a lot of good retro/occult rock here, July 29, 2015
This review is from: Come Reap (Audio CD)
2008’s Come Reap was the debut EP from Dutch retro/occult rockers The Devil’s Blood. The band, along with Blood Ceremony, Christian Mistress and Jess and the Ancient Ones, was part of a wave of heavy/psychedelic rock bands with female vocalists and occult/Satanic-themed lyrics to emerge at the end of the decade.

Come Reap is a bit rawer than the band’s later full-length albums, but it still shows the kind of creative force SL was (RIP) and how strong a singer Farida is. There are just five songs on this EP, and the closer “Voodoo Dust” takes up ten of the 28 total minutes (partially with dead air). All of the songs are strong, and the band’s version of the Roky Erickson song “White Faces” is particularly haunting.

It’s not as essential a release as The Thousandfold Epicentre, but Come Reap is definitely something any serious fan of the band will want to pick up. It’s also going to satisfy most any fan of any of the bands named above, as well as bands like Witchcraft, Ghost and Coven.

Edition Notes: There are a couple of different versions of Come Reap out there, each with different cover artwork. Both are out of print now.

Nuclear Fire
Nuclear Fire
17 used & new from $7.90

5.0 out of 5 stars 4.5 stars - the best of the early Primal Fear albums, July 29, 2015
This review is from: Nuclear Fire (Audio CD)
2001’s Nuclear Fire was the third studio album from long-running German power metal band Primal Fear. Primal Fear, of course, was formed by vocalist Ralf Scheepers (ex-Gamma Ray) and bassist Mat Sinner (Sinner), and at this point included drummer Klaus Sperling and guitarists Henny Wolter (ex-Sinner) and Stefan Leibing.

At this point, Primal Fear had pretty much perfected their heavy/power metal sound, bringing together the power and melody of Helloween and Gamma Ray with the speed and intensity of Judas Priest and Accept. Nuclear Fire is their second release with two guitarists, and it’s where Scheepers and Sinner really seemed to gel as songwriters. Songs like “Angel in Black,” ”Back From Hell” and the epic title track are Primal Fear classics, and the anthemic “Fight the Fire” and “Living for Metal” get the blood pumping.

Nuclear Fire is arguably the best of the early Primal Fear albums. The band was in top form, the songs came together brilliantly, and it’s just full of the power and energy Primal Fear brings to the scene. Nuclear Fire is a must have for any Primal Fear fan, and also belongs in the collection of anyone into power metal, especially German bands like Iron Savior, Brainstorm and Stormwarrior.

Edition Notes: The limited edition version of Nuclear Fire features a video clip and the bonus track “Iron Fist in a Velvet Glove.”

100 Pcs Double CD Jewel Case Resealable Cello / Cellophane Bags
100 Pcs Double CD Jewel Case Resealable Cello / Cellophane Bags
Price: $7.50

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Protection for larger digipack releases., July 29, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Like it says in the product name, these resealable sleeves are big enough to hold those bulky double-jewel cases that you never seem to see anymore. I bought a pack mainly for the thicker digipack releases (specifically the Deluxe Edition reissues from Thin Lizzy, the Who, Faith No More, etc.), since they tend to show shelf wear pretty easily.

These sleeves hold the sets with plenty of room to spare. Perhaps too much even, since there is a bit of plastic hanging over each side, which doesn't look great on the shelves. That's a minor gripe though. I wanted protection for my larger digipack releases, and these do the job just fine.

From the Banks of the River
From the Banks of the River
3 used & new from $14.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Like GTR meets Asia, July 24, 2015
2002’s From the Banks of the River Irwell is the 2002 solo collection from melodic rock vocalist Max Bacon. Bacon, of course, is best known for his stint in GTR alongside Steve Howe and Steve Hackett, but also sang for Nightwing and Bronz earlier in the ‘80s.

From the Banks of the River Irwell is an interesting collection of material. It’s not a new studio album, but rather a collection of odds and ends from various points in Bacon’s career. The main highlights of this collection are the songs that were originally written and recorded for a supergroup album featuring Asia keyboardist Geoff Downes and Thin Lizzy guitarist Scott Gorham. If the songs sound familiar, it’s because they later ended up sung by John Payne on later Asia records. Hearing them with Bacon’s clear, steady vocals really changes the dynamic of the songs. Additionally, there is a song (“Earth Moving”) Bacon recorded with Mike Oldfield and some songs by more recent circuit bands Bacon was involved with.

This is really a fantastic collection. Not only are the songs very well written and executed (with Bacon sounding as good as ever), it’s just a fascinating look at a supergroup that might have been. If you’re a fan of any of Max Bacon’s other projects, this is a must-have album. From the Banks of the River Irwell is also a mandatory purchase for fans of the later Asia albums, as Downes’s involvement is huge here. And just in general this is a totally enjoyable collection of ‘80s-style melodic rock songs.

5 used & new from $11.00

3.0 out of 5 stars 3.5 stars - a solid, mid-tier Swedish melodic rock album, July 23, 2015
This review is from: III (Audio CD)
1996’s III is (you guessed it) the third album from Swedish melodic rock band Renegade, a band that was active in the first half of the decade. Like a lot of Swedish bands, Renegade had a more polished and melodic take on the Hollywood “hair metal” sound.

Renegade has traces of AOR and arena rock in their sound, though there’s a crunch to the guitars that’s more metal at times. They knew their way around some catchy guitar hooks, and their vocals weren’t bad. Sure, it’s not very original material, but what was at that point? It’s just good, catchy melodic rock that sounds like a Euro version of Danger Danger.

It’s not exactly a must-have album, but III is still a really solid release, as most Swedish melodic rock albums at the time tended to be. This is the kind of album you add to your collection if you’re passionate about bands like Talisman, Skagarack, Treat and M.ILL.ION and are looking for more of that kind of rock. If that’s you, Renegade is a safe bet.

The Final Command
The Final Command

4.0 out of 5 stars A rock-solid heavy/power/speed metal album, July 23, 2015
This review is from: The Final Command (Audio CD)
Originally released in 1998, The Final Command is the second full-length album from German speed/power metal band Paragon. The band, which had been active since the early ‘90s plays a style of power metal owing more to Accept and Judas Priest than Helloween or Gamma Ray.

The Final Command is a really solid album. Paragon had (and still has) a good mix of power metal and thrash/speed, so you get some wicked riffing to go with Teutonic rhythms and powerful vocals. It’s just good “fist in the air” heavy metal, with anthems like “Under the Gun,” “Warriors of Ice” and the title track guaranteed to get heads banging. Paragon also turns in a cool cover of the Warrior classic “Fighting For the Earth,” which is one of the album’s better moments.

This is just a really strong slab of heavy power metal that fans of bands like Iron Savior, Primal Fear and Mystic Prophecy ought to love. If you like your power metal to be more denim and leather than wizards and unicorns, you’ll want to give The Final Command a listen.

Journey Into Fear
Journey Into Fear

5.0 out of 5 stars 4.5 stars - great reissue of a forgotten metal gem, July 23, 2015
This review is from: Journey Into Fear (Audio CD)
Previously known as Death Dealer, Deaf Dealer was a heavy metal band from Canada that was active throughout the 1980s. As Deaf Dealer, the band had one official release (1986’s Keeper of the Flame), but recorded a 1987 follow-up that was shelved by their label. That album, titled Journey Into Fear, has finally been given a proper release.

Deaf Dealer had a pretty straightforward heavy metal sound that was clearly influenced by the NWOBHM scene but had some of the power metal elements that the North American bands had at the time. As a result, Journey Into Fear fits easily alongside albums of that era from bands like Malice, Savage Grace and Virgin Steele. The guitar riffs get pretty speedy here, but the album is more melodic than thrashy. And vocalist Michael Lalonde hits some pretty impressive high notes, giving the album that much more power. The songs are very well written, the musicianship is tight, the vocals are impressive, and the whole thing has a great classic heavy metal energy.

Had Journey Into Fear been released in 1987, it probably still would not have made Deaf Dealer a household name, but it is unfortunate that the band wasn’t given the opportunity to find out for themselves. If you have any of the earlier releases from Deaf Dealer/Death Dealer, Journey Into Fear is a must-have release. If you’re not familiar with the band but are into the ‘80s heavy metal scene in a big way, this is a band and release you definitely want to check out.

Edition Notes: While Journey Into Fear had been available on CD as a bootleg for several years, the Cult Metal Classics label finally gave it a proper reissue in 2014. Their version features remastered audio and extensive liner notes featuring a band bio and vintage photos. It’s a really nice reissue overall, and we can only hope that they’ll set their sights on Keeper of the Flame next.

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