REVIEWS from Snakepit #7 (2000)

ANGELWITCH
Sinister History

Zoom Club Records

What a way to honour one of my all time favorite heavy metal band. This is a seventy-two (!!!!!) minutes compilation CD featuring demo recordings and live tracks. It's a real treat for the die hard fans of ANGELWITCH. Sometimes the sound quality isn't perfect, but it's the exclusivity that counts. The inlay contains a few rare pics and liner notes from Kevin Heybourne for every song. He compares the sound of ANGELWITCH with BLACK SABBATH sometimes. But when you have a listen to the guitar solos in "Baphomet" and "Sorceress", then you'll hear the main difference between the two bands namely their guitarplayers Heybourne and Tony Iommi (BLACK SABBATH). Heybourne is faster and much more metal than Iommi. In "Flight 19" and "Hades Paradise" I hear influence of the very early RUSH. The songs are a bit longer than average and a bit more complex. "Devil's Tower" is an instrumental that you can hear here in its uncut, long version. The live versions were recorded at The Green Man in Plumstead, South London on March 11th 1978 ("Into The Dark" and "Devil's Tower"), Marquee Club, London October 18th 1981 ("The Night Is Calling") and at Norbreck Castle, Blackpool February 7th 1981 ("Angel Of Death", "Confused" and "Evil Games"). And so "Sinister History" becomes a not to be missed document which is very interesting for every ANGELWITCH or NWOBHM freak. (Toine van Poorten)

BLACK OUT
Black Oud

MTS

Raise your hand if you still remember the Dutch metal band called BLACK OUT from Zwolle, who released an album called "Evil Game" in 1984. A lot of our readers might recall this name. Well I've got some good news for you if you liked this band in those days. They are back together again releasing a twelve track CD with old unreleased demo stuff. The material is not recent, but if I'm informed right we can also expect some new songs in the (near) future. Yes the reunion fever has also the Dutch bands in its power. And that's okay with me, 'cause Holland had some very good metal bands in the past. The twelve songs on this CD sound like early VAN HALEN stuff, let's call it the David Lee Roth period. So if you like that sound, you can't go wrong. I also hear a bit of BODINE, VANDENBERG and HIGHWAY(cult Dutch band from Breda) back in some riffs or singing style (f.e. in "Fighting Your Own Way"). I will not say that every song is a potential hit, but songs like opener "Funny Farm" or "Sexy Sadie" are very good solid melodic metal. BLACK OUT now consists of Mannes van Oosten (guitar), Alfred Kers (bass), Bas van Sloten (vocals) and Jan Boxem (drums). Sometimes the songs end up very abruptly ("Red Light District" and "Saturday") but this is not really a problem. My personal faves of this CD were opener "Funny Farm", "Waterfront" and "Blackout". If they would record this last mentioned track on their upcoming new CD, they would make themselves immortal. What a killer track!!! CD closer "Build Your Love" is the odd one out here. Despite the nice guitar solo, it sounds too much like an ordinary disco track to me. Putting this all together I come to the conclusion that this CD is great if you like all the bands mentioned above. In the meantime, the band already played their reunion gig and they seem to be working on a new CD. Welcome back to the scene guys.! This forty minutes CD is printed as a limited edition only and you can purchase it by sending Fl 25,- (incl P&P) to Mannes van Oosten, Bergweg 9, 8015 PC Zwolle, The Netherlands. I would recommend to do this through registered mail only!!! You can also buy a BLACK OUT t-shirt at this address if you send another Fl 25,-. You can also e-mail BLACK OUT at Wilmamannes@noknok.nl. (Toine van Poorten)

BLACK SABBATH
Black Mass

Pilot 49

This mini CD contains four live tracks recorded in the early seventies. It has a running time of about seventeen minutes. And it captures BLACK SABBATH in its rawest form. Live on stage, unmixed, unpolished and straight in your face. The disc opens with "Paranoid" which is followed by "Black Sabbath" and "Iron Man". At the end it's time to hear BLACK SABBATH play the Carl Perkins cover "Blue Suede Shoes". Now that is what I would call 'rare'. The songs are not recorded after each other. There's small intervals between each and every one of them. Maybe that's the only negative thing I can think of. The sound of the CD is remarkably good, but the best is yet to come. If you have a good PC you can also see these four songs on a 'rare' mini movie. Very nice stuff for all the BLACK SABBATH fans. And I think that for a lot of you readers it all began with this band. Once again you can witness Tony Iommi on lead guitar, Ozzy Osbourne on vocals, Bill Ward on drums and Terry "Geezer" Butler on bass performing their ultimate "Black Mass". (Toine van Poorten)

BUFFALO
Best Of BUFFALO 1979-99, 20 Years of N.W.O.B.H.M.

Independent

The title of this CD says it all. This is a 'Best Of...' compilation of one of the still existing N.W.O.B.H.M. bands BUFFALO. A great overview of sixteen tracks including their more well known tracks "Battle Torn Heroes" ('80) and "Mean Machine" ('82). But also their new songs sound as if they were written in the early eighties. The twentieth anniversary of the N.W.O.B.H.M. was the perfect time to come up with this compilation. The songs are compact and very much straight-forward. Not necessary improvisations, just solid rock songs with the perfect rhythm to bang your head on. The recent line-up of BUFFALO consists of Roger Cook-bass guitar, Mick Priestley-guitar, Kriss Webber-vocals/guitar and Bob Hargreaves-drums. It's good to see how a band like Buffalo sticked to their guns after so many years. Their sound hasn't changed too much over the years. Although a ballad like "Once Bitten" might sound a bit like the odd one out here, but it still fits very well in the whole concept. It would have been nice if the band would have included the SPENCER DAVIS cover "Gimme Some Lovin" from their five track demo tape. Then this compilation would have been complete. This doesn't mean that this CD is not interesting enough, 'cause it's a good varied overview of BUFFALO's music. A very strong and underrated N.W.O.B.H.M. band. You can contact the band by writing to Mick Priestley, 17 Peel Park Close, Arcington, Lancs BB5 6PL, U.K. or email: MICKBUFFAL@aol.com. Webpage: http://members.aol.com/MICKBUFFAL/buffalowebpage. (Toine van Poorten)

CONCERTO MOON
The End Of The Beginning

VAP Japan

I'm not too well in reading Japanese. So it was kinda difficult to come up with some good information about this great Japanese band. The band is called CONCERTO MOON and they've just released a double CD called "the End Of The Beginning". The music can be compared with bands like YNGWIE MALMSTEEN, STRATOVARIUS, ALCATRAZZ and older RAINBOW. The band consists of Norifumi Shima on guitar, Takao Ozaki on vocals, Kahsaku Mitani on bass, Toshiyuki Koike on keyboards and Ichiro Nagai on drums. Now if you like long instrumental parts of keyboards and guitar, than you might wanna check this one out. Don't forget that we're dealing with a very expensive Japanese import release here, especially 'cause this is a double CD. The first golden CD is a live registration of their show at Shibuya ON AIR WEST on September 18th 1999. Ten compositions, good for over sixty minutes of heavenly melodic rock will fill your room. The sound of CONERTO MOON might not be quite original, but the songs are very well performed though. And the sound quality of the live CD is perfect. The silver bonus CD contains three extra tracks. "When The Moon Cries" is a new single. It's followed by "Norman Island" and an instrumental version of the new single. CONCERTO MOON certainly is a name to remember if you're into melodic rock. And although the import price might be very high it's worth every dime when you like the sound of the bands that I mentioned above. (Toine van Poorten)

DOCTOR BUTCHER
The Demos

Independent

If you liked the great self titled debut CD by The Doctor, then you must definately get yourself a copy of this CD. It contains seven demo tracks and the two only existing live recordings from DOCTOR BUTCHER. For those of you that don't know this band, you should first blame yourself for at least fourteen days. The band exists of John "Ozzy" Osborn on drums, Chris Caffery on guitars and Jon Oliva on vocals and additional keyboards. All these people have got something to do with SAVATAGE in one way or another. On these recordings however the drums were done by Gene Barnett (DIRTY LOOKS and LILLIAN AXE) and the bass was played by Hal Patino (KING DIAMOND). On the two live tracks we hear "Ozzy" on drums and Reno Rojas on the bass. The sound of DOCTOR BUTCHER is best to be described as SAVATAGE old style. Long songs, a pure metal sound complete with great sharp guitar solos and the unbearable sound of Jon's vocals, it's all there. Besides the fact that the songs are all demos, they have never been released before. Only "The Chair" and "The Altar" made it to the debut CD. The two live tracks "Chester The Molester" and "A Living Hell" were recorded in Clearwater Florida in July 1993. Make sure you don't miss this release, 'cause it easily overrules the recent SAVATAGE releases. I hope The Butcher decides to come up with a real new CD in the very near future 'cause this rocks like hell! (Toine van Poorten)

KENZINER
The Prophecies

Limb Music

KENZINER hails from Finland and "The Prophecies" is the successor of "Timescape", their impressive debut CD from 1998. Ten songs fill this full hour of high quality technical heavy metal. I hear a lot of resemblance with CHASTAIN. Which is in fact no shame when you know that David Chastain himself produced the CD. Don't see this band as GAMMA RAY clone number so much, because therefore their music is to much structured and varied. Fast track are changed by ballad like songs although this CD sounds a bit faster than their debut CD. KENZINER consists of Jarno Keskinen on guitar, Stephen Fredrick on vocals, Mikko Harkin on keyboards and Brian Harris on drums. Mikko is a young talent who deserves an extra mentioning here. The guy is only 19 years old and he plays keyboards and piano from since he was only 5 years old. The construction of the songs show enough room to improvise and put in some instrumental passages in which the musicians can show their prowess ( "Dimensions" is a fully instrumental track by the way). Sometimes their sound reminded me a bit of a faster version of CANDLEMASSS. Also I would like to mention one song in particular: CD closer and title track "The Prophecies". A masterpiece of ten minutes in which the band shows that they can handle a more complex song very easy. It's a song with many speed changes and I think this song earns some special attention. If they can produce this strong sound on stage also, then we're dealing with some real talents here. Don't say I didn't warn you!! (Toine van Poorten)

NOTRE DAME
Nightmare Before Christmas

Osmose Productions

I'm gonna warn you now, this band will become very interesting. If you still don't dig this band after reading the following two reviews, you just didn't get the message. This release contains eight tracks with a total length of about thirty-five minutes. It opens with a short version of the old time classic "When You Wish Upon A Star", which is immediately followed by "X-Masquerade". The music of NOTRE DAME is not easy to describe. It's intense, it's the ultimate horror movie music, it's weird, it's heavy, it's soft and sweet, it's supernatural and it's without doubt one of the most interesting concepts of this decade. Created by the brain of heavy metal mastermind Snowy Shaw (ex KING DIAMOND/ILLWILL/MERCYFUL FATE/MEMENTO MORI). "Doom" ends with a short drum solo. And on "Black Birthday (Hip Hip Hooray)" we even hear Pete Blakk (ex KING DIAMOND/BLAKK TOTEM) as guest solist. It's got children singing "For He's A Jolly Good Fellow, That Nobody Can Deny" Die Die Die! On "Frost" we hear female singer Vampirella in a leading role. "A Scrooge Tale" is the metal version of the well-known Dickens tale. This song is full of heavy riffs and solos. If you take a look at the lyrics you can see that this Mr Shaw must be a genius. Even KING DIAMOND can't come up with such a genius concept and he can be seen as the godfather of the sick minds after all. In "Le Nostradamus De Notre Epoque", he compares Nostradamus, the well known fortune teller, with Notre Damus from Paris. In my eyes a brilliant comparision. In this song he tells us about the coming of the dark megalomaniac. Right after that you hear the sound of the movie "The Omen". These brilliant small extra things make this CD to a must for every metal fan. "1999" closes this first CD in a series of two, with children singing "Silent Night". Besides the beautiful Vampirella and Snowy Shaw, the band is completed with Mannequin de Sade on drums and Jean Pierre de Sade on bass. The CD was recorded at Snowy's igloo and mixed at the Spook Studio. When you're working with a concept, you'll have to do it right. Even the manager of this scary, creepy band is called Boris Karloff. Read on for more music by these horror metal masterminds! (Toine van Poorten)

NOTRE DAME
Vol.1: Le Theatre Du Vampire

Osmose Productions

I just can't help it. Again this has become a great release. The second CD comes with eleven song and lasts for about one hour, the band calls it 'an extended witching hour'. `'Le Theatre Du Vampire" opens as a duet between Vampirella and Snowy. "Bouffoon Bloody Bouffoon" has a heavy riff and a thundering drums, it almost sounds like pure heavy metal. "Vlad The Impaler" was already on the first CD "Coming Soon To A Theatre Near You". On this CD Vampirella already gave us a preview of what we were about to expect on this release. The booklet of the CD shows images of horror comics and a nice introduction written by Jean Pierre and Mannequin de Sade. "I Bring Nosferatu You" is another duet. This time between Snowy and a 'choir' of young helpless children (hahahahahaha). The speed goes up again during "A Sleighride Through Transylvania Winterland". The use of a choir makes this song different than the average black metal track. There's really something happening in these songs. And during every song you're just waiting for the next surprise. "Dusk" and "Sabbat" continue the CD. Next we get the story of "Faust-The Ghostwriter", which is opened by Snowy behind the mighty church organ. At the end of the song they insert some spooky piano playing, which quickly returns to the main theme. "Black Birthday" is also to be found on the "Nightmare Before Christmas" CD, but it has got a slightly different intro here. "Sisterhood" is part II of the song that was already on "Coming Soon To A Theatre Near You". Here you can hear the influences of KING DIAMOND a bit for the first time. The CD is closed with a song called "Spiderella's XXX". Watch out for some hidden tracks. Both CDs are also available on vinyl. This CD contains two bonus tracks, namely "The Day The Virus Diminished Hallelujahville's Population From 666 To 1" (excellent title, by the way) and "From The Chronicles: The Rue Morgue Murders". So I suggest you also buy the vinyl versions of these great new releases of NOTRE DAME. The new CD, by the way, will be out on April 1st (unless Nostradamus prophecies were false). Could you think of a better day to release your new CD? It will be called "Vol. II: Vaudeville Le Devil Proudly Presents:.....". Check out http://www.notredame.just.nu or e-mail to vamporama@hotmail.com IF YOU HAVE THE GUTS (hahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) (Toine van Poorten)

PRETTY MAIDS
First Cuts ....And Then Some

Massacre Records

This is a very interesting release from Danish metal heads PRETTY MAIDS. They've compiled their mini album "Pretty Maids" and the "In Santa's Claws" mini album, and called it "First Cuts.... And Then Some". The CD is completed with the Japanese bonus track taken from the "Stripped" album called "Far Far Away", a cover song from the great seventies glam rock band SLADE. The twelve tracks are good for over fifty minutes of solid hard rock. The "Pretty Maids" mini album is originally from 1983, but it still sounds very fresh in this new millennium. The "In Santa's Claws" mini album was originally meant for the Japanese market. And although Christmas is over it's nice to hear guest vocalist Ian Gillan (DEEP PURPLE/GILLAN) sing the rock version of "Merry Christmas" which they called "A Merry Jingle" on this CD. THIN LIZZY also released this song once. It also contains three live tracks ("Eye Of The Storm", "Red Hot And Heavy" and "Rock The House"), recorded at the Roskilde festival in Denmark in 1990. The Slade cover was recorded in 1993. So if you fancy some good melodic hardrock with some fine sharp guitar solos, and you still don't have the vinyl versions of these albums, than this release is a must for every PRETTY MAIDS fan. It was released in a limited cardboard box. PRETTY MAIDS consists of Ronnie Atkins-vocals, Ken Hammer-guitars, Kenn Jackson-bass and Michael Fast-drums. This release will still your hunger until their next full-length release will be out. (Toine van Poorten)

RACER X
Technical Difficulties

PHCW Japan

Don't let the PANTERA-like, short instrumental "Phallic Tractor" put you on wrong thoughts about the sound of the new RACER X CD. It's a killer from the beginning to the end. The line up consists of Paul Gilbert on guitars, Jeff Martin on vocals, John Alderete on bass and JUDAS PRIEST drummer Scott Travis. Scott takes care of the JUDAS PRIEST-like sound of the drums, very powerful and a real driving force to the whole sound. Also very recognisable is the guitar sound of Paul Gilbert, who finally released himself from the polished ballads and love songs he had to play with his former band MR BIG. Among the other songs on this CD you'll find back three instrumental tracks and one cover of the BLACK SABBATH classic "Children Of The Grave". Together good for fifty-five minutes of intense heavy rock. If you already liked the sound of RACER X, this CD will surprise you in a positive way. Not even a touch of commercial influences or the so-called alternative sound are to be found on this new release. No, RACER X decided to record a CD that sounds like it was recorded in the eighties. Here and there the songs reminded me a bit of the old VAN HALEN sound (David Lee Roth era), but there's nothing wrong with that I suppose. "Technical Difficulties" is a strong new release of RACER X, another reunion of a well known rock band from the eighties. Who will follow? (Toine van Poorten)

RAVEN
One For All

Massacre Records

The three musketeers are back in the saddle again. "One For All" is the bands fourteenth release already again. And they still kick ass. This year they went on tour with the German metal meister UDO. RAVEN will never let their fans down. Prove is given with this CD. Twelve songs, worthy of fifty minutes of high class heavy metal is what you get with this new release. Already with openers "Seven Shades" and "Double Talk" you know that you're in for a treat here. Raven stick to their guns and provide you with another attack of their athletic power metal. John Gallagher's screaming has not totally disappeared but is a bit more integrated in their playing. Which actually means that it's not totally up front anymore. But it didn't totally disappear luckily. And although there's nothing new here I'm sure that this CD will satisfy almost every true metal freak. Simply because it sounds like it is made about fifteen years ago. My favorite tracks for this CD were openers "Seven Shades" and "Double Talk" and "Kangaroo". Raven will get back on their horses again and fight "All For One, One For All", and with the release of this CD I'm sure they will win every battle. (Toine van Poorten)

REPULSA
Repulsa

S.O.B. Entertainment

Eleven songs are on this thirty-eight minute attack of REPULSA. From the first notes on, they know how to convince me with their well-played heavy rock. "I Want You Dead" remembered me of "Butcher Baby" of THE PLASMATICS. If you look carefully at the line up of the band you'll recognise some interesting names from the past. On bass we have Carlton Lee, on drums Scott McKenzie & Tom Hunting (ex EXODUS and ANGELWITCH!) and on guitars we hear Devin Walker, Tom Giuliani, Randall Markham and VICIOUS RUMORS axeman Mark McGee. The front lady of this band is the eye-catching Repulsa. The songs have some great lead guitar solos, which is something you hardly hear nowadays. Repulsa's voice reminded me of Ann Boleyn, and she also looks like the HELLION front lady in a way. In "Everday Psycho", her vocals are a bit distorted. A lot of the songs open with great guitar work and I know for sure that every devoted metal head will have a great time with this release. The trashy metal is very catchy and it's mixed with some touches of hard-core ("Bag Lady") here and there. A lot of you youngsters might call this old fashioned. Well f*ck you, because REPULSA rocks like hell! I wonder how REPULSA's version of the Lynn Anderson country classic "I Never Promised You A Rosegarden" sounded. 'Cause that's the song they did on the 'Foundations Forum' CD of 1992. For more information, please drop a line to: REPULSA, c/o Tambre Bryant, 699 Vienna Street, San Francisco, CA 94112, USA, phone 415 337 7445 or email to metalaged@hotmail.com. But you better check it out before REPULSA's gonna get you. My thanks go out to Jon Torres (ANGELWITCH) for sending this mighty fine CD!! (Toine van Poorten)

STEEL PROPHET
Messiah

Nuclear Blast/Suburban

Every naive contributor of a metal magazine will write about "Messiah" as the new IRON MAIDEN CD. Especially because this new CD opens with a wonderful song called "The Ides Of March". But if you listen to the beautiness of this new release, you must admit that this goes beyond the beauty of a new IRON MAIDEN album. The songs are better structured and know some very surprising speed changes sometimes. The band always knows to surprise the listener. And of course the musicianship of the five band members is of a very high level. You can have good ideas but if they're played by a bunch of nitwits you won't get far either. Twelve songs are on "Messiah", providing the listener another full hour of STEEL PROPHET's great music. Just listen to the brutal heavy riffs on "Mysteries Of Iniquity" and you'll get the point. Or to a speed monster like "Dawn Of Man", which will blow your speakers from the very first tones. I hope that Steve Kachinsky (guitar) and his band will continue to release great CD's like this. The question rises of course why STEEL PROPHET is still a cult name, where IRON MAIDEN has got the recognition that they deserved. On the other hand I'm glad that STEEL PROPHET stayed a bit more in the underground scene. The commerce has no grip on underground bands and so this band will always stay true to their sound. People who saw the band at the Wacken Open Air Festival in '99 will know that the band can also produce their great sound on stage too. Again something that not too many bands can say. "Messiah" has become a real masterpiece. If you're not convinced after reading this review, I guess that you'll have to find out for yourself by listening to it. You'll be convinced soon!! (Toine van Poorten)

VARIOUS
Randy Rhoads Tribute

East West Japan

Another tribute, but this time a very special one for me. This is a tribute CD to the late Randy Rhoads. The best guitar player ever in my opinion. Ten songs are played by some of the finest musicians in the rock scene. None of them can create the sound of Randy however. Some come close but I think this compilation was just meant to pay tribute to this great musician and not to play better than him because that would be a mission impossible. Ten songs fill this fifty minutes Japanese import CD. The contributions on solo guitar are from Wolf Hoffmann (ACCEPT) on "I Don't Know", Jake E Lee(ex OZZY/BADLANDS) on "Crazy Train", Roy Z (TRIBE OF GYPSIES) on "Goodbye To Romance", George Lynch (ex DOKKEN/LYNCH MOB) on "Mr. Crowley", Kyoji Yamomoto (ex BOW WOW) on "Revalation (Mother Earth)", Chris Impelliteri (IMPELLITERI) on "Over The Mountain", George Lynch again on "Flying High Again", Dimebag Darrel (PANTERA) on "Believer", Al Pitrelli (SAVATAGE/MEGADETH) and Chet Thompson (HELLION) on "S.A.T.O." and again Wolf Hoffmann on "Diary Of A Madman". Vocals come from Rob Rock, Sebastian Bach, Mark Slaughter and Joe Lynn Turner. Best renditions come from Dimebag Darrel and Chris Impelliteri and also Wolf Hoffmann's version of "Diary Of A Madman" is very impressive. But like I mentioned earlier already, if you know the original versions (and who doesn't?), you'll agree that you're missing some of Randy's draw outs. This is however a well earned tribute to a sadly missed musician who will never be forgotten. The words on his tombstone mention it in the CD booklet. Randy Rhoads 1956-1982, An inspiration for all young people. I couldn't agree more. (Toine van Poorten)


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