End of 2004 Special!

Well, 2004 is over and I finally managed to update the site 7 times!  This means that I have been able to make the adjustment to grad school while maintaining 1.5 jobs and a family and still finding time to write reviews.  Not bad, eh?  In 2005 I will finish my thesis and graduate in the summer.  Who knows what will follow?  What I do know is that Critical Metal will be here for you and lots of good material will be covered here.


The recent murder of Dimebag Darrell and the fans at the Damageplan show was horrible.  But in this tragic event I have found something to be thankful for.  No one, as far as I can tell, launched a crusade against metal.  Did you notice it?  I hope this means the non-metal types in this country have finally come to realize that we are, by-and-large, a peaceful lot, and cranks like the murderer—whose name is not worthy of my website—are not the norm.  Here are some words concerning Dimebag Darrell sent to me from Prophet of St. Madness:


Hello!!!  This is Prophet, vocalist for ST. MADNESS.  First let me say that DIMEBAG DARRELL was one of the GREATEST metal guitarists that ever lived!!!  He was a TRUE and PROUD AMERICAN!!! 

       PANTERA will forever be THE METAL BAND OF THE 90'S.  If it wasn't for PANTERA and OZZY, true metal would have completely disappeared from the forefront of the music world in the 1990'S. 

       DIMEBAG and VINNIE PAUL taught the metal community about UNITY and mutual love and respect between metal bands and their fans.  It was always a party whenever PANTERA or DAMAGEPLAN were on stage!! 


       I pray for VINNIE PAUL, how devastated he must be, please remember him in your prayers as well.  Metal fans all over the world will await with love and anticipation, for the day VINNIE PAUL returns behind his drums!!!  



                                              Prophet/St. Madness



Rating:  8.

       Hailed as the newest wave of progressive power metal, Archetype sure remind me a lot of Iced Earth around the Burnt Offerings to Dark Saga era.  One difference is that Archetype does not have quite as many of the galloping, thrashy parts, but it is there on songs like “Arisen.”  Even the vocalist sounds like Matt Barlow.  I’m sure this will bring a lot of joy to long time Iced Earth fans.  Others may simply describe this band as Euro-prog/power metal—and that would be okay.  But I’m sticking with the Iced Earth comparison.  I think they do it convincingly.


DARKTHRONE  “Sardonic Wrath”  (9 tracks).  MOONFOG/THE END RECORDS.

Rating:  5.

       You practically always know what you are going to get from Darkthrone.  These two old school black/death metallers (Fenriz and Nocturno Culto) have been keeping the flame of Bathory/Venom worship—the genre they helped to create—burning for a very long time.  However, the lyrics on this disc occasionally go a little further left field than their earlier stuff.  Take “Information wants to be Syndicated” or “Straightening Sharks in Heaven” for example.  But then again, the usual up front blasphemy is there with the other tracks.  Granted, Sardonic Wrath is a little easier on the ears than Transylvanian Hunger, it is nonetheless of the same dark essence as all their releases.  In my view they are destined to go down in history as the Motorhead of Norwegian black metal. 

       (Since I wrote this review the story has come out that Darkthrone asked to be dropped from consideration for a Norwegian music award.  I suppose the idea is that an award would invalidate the band’s purpose for existing.  For this reason, maybe Fenriz would be happier if I dropped the rating to –10!).



Rating:  8.5.

       If this band’s name reminds you of old Carcass (e.g., “Corporeal Jigsore Quandary”), don’t be surprised.  It is clear that this grind trio have old Carcass on their minds.  What I really like about this band is their guitar riffs.  While this is clearly low-end, fuzzy production death/grindcore, with the usual unimaginative song titles and lyrics, it is the riffage that makes World End Carnage a fantastic album.  They have some really catchy riffs, especially number 13, “Brutally Murdered”.  At heart this is really just good old-fashioned metal tuned down and played with mucho distortion.  But if these guys can hang together and progress, they may just become the next Carcass.


OLYMPOS MONS  “Conquistador”  (11 tracks).  LIMB MUSIC PRODUCTS.

Rating:  8.

       This is very powerful classic metal!  On the one hand, it is the sort of melodic stuff you expect from Finland, on the other, it is very aggressive.  Their super tight playing and thick production make Olympos Mons another worthy band on the LMP roster.  As always, Stratovarius comparisons arise.  I suppose it cannot be helped, but bear in mind that this scrappy young band has a bit more bombast in their shorts (just remember that Stratovarius is a very classy, seasoned band).  Also, comparisons with old Nocturnal Rites, old Hammerfall, and particularly Freedom’s Call are appropriate.  With the inclusion of bagpipes and strings, Conquistador is an excellent CD to round out a fine year in classic/power metal.  But since they don’t really cover any new territory, their rating will stay at 8/10.


PAGAN’S MIND  “Infinity Divine”  (12 tracks).  LIMB MUSIC PRODUCTS.

Rating:  9.

       Pagan’s Mind is a progressive metal band with a taste for crunchy guitars.  They remind me a bit of Into Eternity and Veni Domine.  This CD is a “revised reissue”.  What this means is not clear since the LMP promos I get these days do not have promo sheets in them.  The only information provided is that it includes two well-respected guest musicians, Glen Drover (Eidolon, Megadeth, and King Diamond), and Gus G (Dream Evil, Mystic Prophecy).  But if name dropping is any indication of what is on an album, then you can take my word that this is good listening.


SAINT  “Warriors of the Sun” 20th Anniversary re-issue.  (8 tracks).  ARMOR RECORDS.

Rating:  9.5.

       To celebrate the 20th anniversary of their debut release, Saint entered the studio and re-recorded it with their most complete (and seasoned) line-up yet.  The result is a very crisp reinterpretation.  The original Warriors of the Son was a six song E.P. recorded on an incredibly small budget by a three-piece band for what was essentially a southern gospel record label.  This primitive release could easily have been lost in obscurity, but it caught the attention of Pure Metal Records which also signed Believer before Roadrunner got them.  Saint recorded two full-lengths during that era—Time’s End and Too Late for Living.   Both were well received by the metal world at large.  Anyway, this new version of WoTS is an 8 song full-length with much better production, and a five piece band, the first with two guitarists!  The two added tracks, “Killers and the Destroyers” and “The Reaper” were supposed to appear on the original WoTS, but due to budget restrictions, were left off.  It is obvious to me, that the former song was the inspiration for “Steel Killer” on Time’s End.  Best of all, WoTS now sounds like a killer metal album and not a demo.  My only criticism is that I wish the guys had thought to work on the lyrics a bit.  Some of them sound a bit adolescent.

       As I stated above, this album has Saint’s most complete and experienced line-up.  Now get this:  Dee Harrington (guitars) played on Too Late for Living and The Perfect Life E.P.  I was once told that he was the original guitarist who left before the original WoTS was recorded.  He didn’t play on the original WoTS or Time’s End, and surprisingly, on this year’s In The Battle which he co-wrote with bassist Richard Lynch.  Tim Lamberson, who joined the band for the The Perfect Life E.P., sang on that E.P. but did not play drums.  Here he plays drums but does not sing, and was not on In the Battle.  Josh Kramer is once again on vocals.  He sings on all their releases except The Perfect Life, because at that time he had not yet been back in contact with the band.  Returning from In the Battle is guitarist Jerry Johnson.  Only founder Richard Lynch plays on all their releases.  But now we have a five-piece band of experienced Saint musicians; only John Mahan (guitars on original WoTS and Time’s End) is missing.  What does all this mean?  It means that Saint has pulled themselves together into their strongest and most complete incarnation yet, and will have a lot to offer us in the days to come.  I look forward with great anticipation to what this five-piece can accomplish in the near future.  Guys, don’t make us wait too long!


SUBJECT TO CHANGE “Demo“ (13 tracks).  Demo.

Rating:  6.

       In the cover letter accompanying this CD, Laura Kaufman (PR agent) writes, “I don’t always take on ‘unsigned’ bands … but I did this time because they are refreshing”.  Of course, “refreshing” here does not mean “original,” because what these guys do has been attempted by others—just not in a while.  S2C are a three-man group from Washington state who may otherwise make you think they are from Southern Cal.  It is sort of a mix of punk, thrash, surf, and occasionally a little reggae.  To me they are kind of Suicidal Tendencies meets Red Hot Chili Peppers.  In other words, I think they sound like an 80’s punk band.


The BEST of 2004 in reviews:

Here are my picks for the best albums of ’04 in terms of what I have written reviews of:


1st Update:  Into Eternity “Buried into Oblivion” and Orphaned Land’s “Mabool” are a tie.

2nd Update:  Gothic Knights “Up from the Ashes.”

3rd Update:  Sybreed “Slave Design” (also Criticalnate’s favorite).

4th Update:  After Forever “Invisible Circles”.

5th Update:  Steel Attack “Enslaved”.

6th Update:  Aina “Days of Rising Doom”.

7th Update:  Saint “Warriors of the Son” (I am probably very biased on this one!).


Best album not reviewed in these pages:      Therion “Sirius B” and “Lemuria”.


My absolute favorite?  Probably Orphaned Land.

VICIOUS RUMORS Bay Area San Francisco - News and WORLDWIDE fanclub


Sol Music - production & mangement in Switzerland and official booking agency of the historic metal band VICIOUS RUMORS Bay Area San Francisco,

it has the pleasure to communicate that finally the DVD " CRUSHING IN THE WORLD Part 1" it will exit in February/March 2005 from MASCOT RECORDS (Holland) and it will be distributed in all Europe.

In the meantime we inform you that VICIOUS RUMORS will be present in many european metal festivals 2005, that soon officially they will be confirmed!!

Also first DIGITAL DICTATORS  VICIOUS RUMORS WORLDWIDE OFFICIAL FAN CLUB officially is opened!! it will be soon online....For who it wishes to enter in this beautiful family can write to or

Thanks to all fans....and see you soon with more news and happy Christmas and New Year!!!


for more info:

Official site VICIOUS RUMORS:

Sol Music-production & management:

Digital Dictators VICIOUS RUMORS worldwide official fanclub:



Tiziana ARRIGONI, manager

Sol Music-production & management in Switzerland