Monday, July 30, 2007

Exodus - Shovel Headed Kill Machine

If you like thrash metal, Anthrax, Shadows Fall, and Municipal Waste, you'll love:

Exodus - Shovel Headed Kill Machine

If your Gary Holt in 2005, your wondering just what the hell your going to do. Your the only member left standing in a band that's been around for over 20 years. Your drummer leaves, your lead singer leaves, and now the only member who's been around as long as you, guitarist Rick Hunlot, decides to leave, too. You just finished touring with Megadeth for what is your most successful album in nearly 15 years! It's just you and your bassist. What is a man to do?


Exodus, now spouting Paul Bostaph on drums, Lee Altus on drums, and manning the vocal helm Rob Dukes, immediately demanded that you know one thing; There will still be blood upon the stage, for you WILL bang your head upon the stage!

"Raze" kicks the album off with a devastating attack! "Burn this motherfucker like a roman candle, burn it straight to the ground!", screams Rob Dukes! As Paul Bostaph drums harder than he may have his entire life, Holt brings to a head that classic Exodus sound we all know and love!

The albums contiues to slaughter anything in it's way! With tracks like "I Am Abomination" and "Altered Boy", the hits just keep on coming! In particular, "Altered Boy" has some potent lyrics, namely dealing with the Catholic Sex Abuse Scandal. Then you come to a track like "44 Magnum Opus" that is just hammering!

All in all, there isn't much that I can say about this album. I hated it the first few months I had it, and that was largely due to the fact that, for me, Souza WAS the voice of Exodus. I think a lot of people feel the same way. Losing him, especially for me, didn't bode to well for the future of the band, and the initial resentment I had for Dukes is now, finally, gone. Sometimes, I think it's safe to say we all judge something for what we think it could or should be, and not for what it is.

This album is a hard-hitting album that is warranted to some heavy repeated listening. While not perfect by any means, it is still incredibly heavy and a solid disc. It isn't exactly a "OK, this is just to get us over the hump" album; This IS a full-on metal assault!


7.5 out of 10!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Judas Priest - Hell Bent for Leather/ Killing Machine

"HELL BENT! HELL BENT FOR LEATHER!" Such is the common refrain of metal heads around the world who worship at the alter of one of the greatest metal bands of all time, none other than Judas Priest. It's tough to find anyone into metal who doesn't know the words to most of the title track, and quite frankly, it's something that has transcended even genre as those who don't even listen to heavy metal could just as easily scream the refrain from memory!

Now, nearly 30 years, after it's release, I take a look back at this album.

The album opens up "Delivering the Goods", a track that introduces the Judas Priest sound of pounding drums in sync with the hard-hitting drumming that Binks has been delivering since Stained Class. You have the anthem tracks like "Take on the World", and arena-rock track that pounds and pounds and can inspire anyone to achieve victory!

"Burning Up" is yet another track that stands out on this disc. As Rob and K.K. Downing and Tipton start the build, the song finally explodes with Rob singing, "We've got to make love/ We've got to make love tonight!" "Running Wild" may have influenced a few aspiring guitarists with the pounding opening riff, giving way to the smooth-flowing guitar harmonies that flow in and out of the song!

But of course, the highights are many! "The Green Manalishi (With the Two-Prong Crown)" stands as a classic, despite actually being a... shudder... Fleetwood Mac cover! Damn it, who knew the Mac were so damn metal? And the title track, "Hell Bent for Leather"... the track could rip you to shreds and make you demand seconds!

Without a doubt, Hellbent for Leather stands as a definite classic of not just Judas Priest, but heavy metal in general. Honestly, I was shocked to find myself enjoying this, largely because of the fact that, at least for me growing up, the early material of this material was dubbed by many as not that good. The album stands the test of time, and has gotten a bit better with age as now it stands heads and shoulders above many.

Yes, this album does rock hard!

This album gets a 8 out of 10!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

SUM 41- Underclass Hero

I would like to state that, first and foremost, yes, I am a fan of Sum 41. I have all of their albums, and whenever I get into the mood, I will blare "Fat Lip" or the entire "Does This Look Infected?" album. I thought I would clear that much first.

SUM 41. For many members of the metal community, it's a band they look down upon as nothing more than a group of annoying Canadians who play punk and disgrace the metal riffs they sometimes play. For others, they are a nice breath of fresh air, a way of looking at the genre of metal we all know and love and smile upon. In 2004, they released Chuck. To many, including myself, the album is a masterpiece and stands as just what the mixture of pop-punk riffs with the mentality of writing heavy songs with a metal tinge can create. It's fast, quirky, and is a damn fine disc! So it's no wonder that I was wondering when the follow-up was going to come out.

Now, I wish it didn't.

After the departure of Dave Brownsound in May 2006, many feared the band would suffer since one of the bands chief song writers and the metal pulse of the band was now gone. Unfortunately, that is exactly what happened!

The album begins with the title track, although at first you think, "Wait, isn't this 'Fat Lip'?" Same riff, same song structure, different lyrics, and slightly altered, this is the song that sets the pace for the rest of the album. The rest of the songs borrow heavily from their old catalog of songs, borrowed riffs from Blink-182, and an unfortunate result of this being... A CONCEPT ALBUM!

Despite Deryck, now the only songwriter for the band, saying it isn't, there are underlying concepts that flow throughout the album.
In other words, this is their American Idiot. It deals with politics, relationships gone bad, and life in general. Unfortunately, we're left with the worst album of their careers. It seems Deryck took songs he wrote for Avril Laveigne and decided to make some of them his own.

Even though this album overall is bad, there are a few good tracks worth the time. "March of the Dogs" is hard-hitting and fast. Lyrically, the song could be better, the opening line of "Ladies and gentlemen of the underclass/The president of the United States of America is dead". The band was almost deported for it. So, yes, credit where's credits due!

Bottom line? I can't say it's god-awful, and I can't say it's good. It falls into that category of things you want to hate, but it has that thing about it so you can't. I was going to turn it off half-way through, but... damn it, I couldn't! All I can really say is that if you like SUM 41, try to get it as cheap as possible. Otherwise, your not missing much of anything.

1 out of 10


FANS OF METAL, REJOICE! Mark Skull's Metal Album of the Day Blog is BACK!

So, why the hiatus? Well, I'm currently am running for mayor here in Philadelphia and, until this point, I had no time to sit at my computer and discuss, in depth, the merits of any album at all. Before that, there was just a basic problem of not even wanting to do it. The frustration of buying so many bad albums at once... well, it was all too much!

Now we're back, and ready to review a lot of albums! So far, 2007 has had more great albums than any year I can remember, and what better time to start writing reviews then now?