MOUNTAIN OF POWER
Self-titled
Grooveyard Records

Mountain of Power or MOP if you prefer, are a heavy rock outfit that loves to crank it up. What we have in their debut release on Grooveyard records is their fantasy set list covering all their favorite bands from the ‘70s. Among the well-loved classics like “Black Train” (Montrose), “Crazy” (Stray Dog) and “Love Rock” (Neon Rose) are a number of lesser, more obscure songs such as “Black Magic” (Marcus), “One of A Kind” (Wireless) and “Let That Lizard Loose” (Goddo). Conceived by Janne Stark, guitarist for Locomotive Breath and Joe Romagnola of Grooveyard Records the project is meant to celebrate the almighty riff.  A host of special guests lend their talents including members of Plankton and several well known Swede guitarists and vocalists. Budgie’s “In for the Kill” gets things started with a wind-up, ripping guitar that’s twice as heavy as the original. Drummer Peter Svensson makes a mighty noise right from the get go – probably why they keep him around for most the record. He wreaks serious damage on “Dreams of Milk and Honey (Mountain) and sets up a very AC/DC-styled “Uncle Ned” (Point Blank).

Yet, in the end, it’s the guitar work that really sets this piece as a classic tribute. To borrow from the Who title – it’s “meaty beaty, big and bouncy.” The band do a right fine job on the Captain Beyond track “Fantasy” with giant solos, guitars wailing and guest vocalist Pelle Saether easily hitting the upper register. Another true masterpiece is “Tomorrow or Yesterday” originally by Samson.  The balladry essence of the song oozes as the guitar gently makes its way across the first half of the piece before galloping into a frenzied triumph. Favorites are actually the more unknown numbers. “Black Magic is stunning as the stuttering intro gets underway into a chunky swagger. “Out of the Darkness” gives the bow to Moxy then takes the song to a much broader spectrum coming close to a hard rocking INXS. Derringer’s “Sitting by the Pool” – always a funny little tale, takes on a full band workout with lots of muscle on the low end and thick, powerful guitar grinding out its LA sleaze. The project is full-scale, mammoth guitar for the masses – and masses they will be as the band have been invited to play the Sweden Rock Festival this summer.

Website: Grooveyard Records

2 HEADED CHANG
Deliver Us
Independent Release

Metal warriors 2 Headed Chang deliver up their second full release in Deliver Us. Nine blood-curdling tracks of fierce brutality with engaging song titles like “Glass Coffin,” “Candy Ass” and “Skin Her for Dinner” prove the band have a keen sense of humor to match their unyielding shredfest. However, Coleman Thornburg and Brian Valentino take their twin-guitar assault seriously with bassist Adam Debock and drummer Joel Hiatt kicking down the door right behind them. Growler Kurt Caron keeps it dark and sinister even when the band drift into Michael Jackson “Smooth Criminal” breakdowns in “Dead and Gone.” It may be hardcore/death metal/thrash but the band is having serious fun. Even a Van Halen-style lick pops up “Disgusted” complete with a set of machine gun solos.  “The Inner Workings of a Perpetual Victim” is clearly the standout track with dense heavy riffing complete with a Maiden-ish section break, a pounding bottom end and Caron’s hard-as-nails vocals. Both “Bonded with Vengeance” and “We Will Not Be Moved” tighten the whole record up as lumberjack anchors. For all their hellfire and thunder “Candy Ass” is a must hear, complete with anti-MTV lyrics that chant “Quit your whining/there’s nothing wrong with you.”

Website: 2 Headed Chang

GET VEGAS
Self-titled
Independent Release

Get Vegas are a tasty little treat from Middlesbrough, England. As we’ve said before, never underestimate an EP – sometimes four songs is enough. Like American Minor, these well-toned and highly skilled Brits are out to strut their influences and maybe land a few fans of their own along the way. No debut, Get Vegas are listening to their Dad’s Humble Pie/Free/Bad Company collection. The riffs are incredibly well structured – frantic yet subtle, catchy but not overdone. “Sweet Honey” exposes us to Ric Gingell’s Allman Bros guitar tone with Martin Saint’s heavy footing the bass drum. Jonny Cole’s soulful voice sounds much older than its 19-years breathing maturity and emotion into the hook-filled lyrics. By the time the laser gets to the Bad Company-inspired “Burning Soul” the whole stereo is rocking’ at full volume. Textured guitar rides the funky groove laid down by Adam Laing, who is certainly a protégé of Andy Fraser’s strutting bass walk. “What Did Your Mama Tell You” is nuts-and-bolt Free set in a mid-tempo swamp and boasting a mammoth signature riff. The song comes complete with bass solos between verses and a churning, breathtaking solo. Not a band to sit too comfortably in the past, they quickly bring their sound up to date with full-throttle hard rock and a cracking production. Check out “Gypsy Lane” (on their myspace page) for proof. Seeped in the blues with a distorted - almost stoner element, the track lumbers along keeping pace with a gruff ZZ Top/Savoy Brown lick. For kids under twenty playing old school rock this good…dude, four songs is enough.

Website: Get Vegas

DORO
20 Years – A Warriors Soul (2-DVD Set)
Locomotive Records

Hailed as the high priestess of metal, German vocalist Doro bares it all in this double packed DVD set. A spectacular range of highlights from the premier singer showcases her true determination in keeping metal alive and well. Still looking amazing, she spends the first disc behind the scenes in an up close and personal documentary of last year’s European-Russian tour in support of Warrior Soul. We get to meet the crazy fans, her band and the metal queen herself as she runs through a fantasy set-list going all the way back to “Earthshaker Rock,” “All We Are” and “True As Steel.” A second segment divides out the “20 Year Anniversary: The Movie,” a theatrical presentation shown in Germany that is packed with live footage. A stunning array of guests step out to help her celebrate her career-building high-lights including the original members of Warlock (her first band), Zak Steven (Circle II Circle), Tom Angelripper (Sodom), Lemmy (Motörhead), Udo Dirkschneider (Accept) Sabina Classen (Holy Moses) and Saxon. The set not only includes Doro’s originals but cover songs like “Whiter Shade Of Pale” (Procol Harum), “White Wedding” (Billy Idol), “Born To Be Wild” (Steppenwolf), “Egypt” (Dio) and “You Got Another Thing Coming” (Judas Priest).

In creating the spectacle, organizers arranged for the entire concert to be shot as a single live event. Therefore the second disc is one continuous concert with the special guest coming on and off the stage. We get the full lighting rigs, wide expansive shots and Doro’s amazing voice. Additional song “Fur Immer,” “You’re My Family,” “My Majesty,” “Above the Ashes” and new song “Everything’s Lost” are added to the already impressive list making the visual over thirty songs. Highlights include “Metal Racer,” the football anthem “Burn It Up,” (complete with scantly-clad cheerleaders) and the ultimate version of “Hellbound” and “Burning the Witches.” Jean Beauvoir (Plasmatics, Crown of Thorns) guests on “White Wedding,” Blaze Bailey on “Bad Blood” and the whole Warlock crew on “Fight for Rock” and “Evil.” Priceless is Doro’s banter between songs – sometime Germany, sometimes English. A remarkable collection with stunning cinematography and sound, this is a must have for all who claim to be fans! To continue her celebration, Doro returns to the States this summer for a run through the hits on US soil. Get tickets quick as several dates have already sold out.

Websites: Locomotive Records

TANKARD
Disco Destroyer
Locomotive Records

This record was never released in the States when it first saw the light of day in 1998. It was an import only and that was before online ordering made it easy to obtain. (However, they did write the dotcom slammer “http://www.Planetwide-Suicide.com” just to stay hip with the times – ed). So, here it is almost ten years later now getting the full recognition it deserves. The band continue their beer guzzling ways with cherished titles “Tankard Roach Motel,” “Death by Whips” and “Mr. Superlover.” Guitars are blazing with the hot breath of thrash metal breathing down their necks. Humor is at an all-time high as they roll out “Hard Rock Dinosaurs,” “Face The Enemy” and the bass-heavy “Splendid Boys”  - which actually sound punk with chainsaw riffing and bone-rattling drums. Only slowing down for a brief spell in “Queen of Hearts” and the title track “Disco Destroyer” the German four-piece lumber long enough to find second gear and kick it in at full-speed. Standout cutz include the fret-burning “Serial Killer,” “U-R-B” and the stammering “Another Perfect Day.” Though they break no new ground – actually they never break new ground, still this is a much stronger piece then their earlier ‘90s mix. Bonus track of Manowar’s “Fast Tracker” shuts this baby down with a thunderous roar.

Website: , Locomotive Records, Tankard

AMERICAN DOG
Hard
Independent Release

For the true spirit of mid-western, true grit, American rock and roll, put this disc in and hit play. Lord have mercy what a noise. The Columbus-based power trio continues to cut the sod with a host of power chords and a deafening backend. Seven records into their beer-guzzling legacy, Hard finds Steve Theado at his all time guitar-wielding high. From the opening instrumental “Brock” to the beefy riffs of “Another Day in Paradise” to the AC/DC-styled “Spell on Me,” the guitarist continues to impress with his big, fat hooks. Drummer Keith Pickens and bassist/vocalist Michael Hannon lock-and-load in a clash of vibrato for overall dominance. Each gets their day in the sun with Hannon leading the intro to “Little Short” and Pickens barreling through “Bloodsucker”. The band’s blurry-eyed humor is up close and personal in “Sometimes You Eat the Pussy (Sometimes the Pussy Eats You)”, “Magnificent Bastard” and standout track “No Pity”. It all comes together in the Nugent-inspired “Hypnotized”, the piano boogie of “Rock N’ Roll Dog” and the country picking “Long Time Comin” with its two-minute acoustic intro. Mid-record breather, “Beaten Broken, Etc.” is the perfect Sunday morning blues soundtrack. When you order the disc from CD Baby you not only get a rock record that smells of stale beer and reefer but a patch and a sticker. Quotes Michael, “See, Kiss was educational.”

Website: American Dog

GARY MOORE
Close As You Get
Eagle Records

Close as You Get is another foray into the electric blues genre from Thin Lizzy guitarist Gary Moore. Ever since his Grammy nominated Still Got the Blues (1990), Moore has stuck to his roots and only occasionally drifted back into the hard rock territory that built his fan base. His innovation with the medium has drifted from red-hot to lukewarm and his last two blues releases have been somewhat lack luster – even run-of-the-mill for what we’ve come to expect from the guitar heavy. Innovation is the key, even with a 12-bar shuffle, and for Moore the inclusion of “blues” in the record title was becoming – well exhausting! [Six of his last records have all included the word “blues” in the title, we get it already – ed.] With Close as You Get Moore is finally starting to venture out of his shell. Maybe it’s the influence of innovative bands like The Black Keys or Jon Spencer but Moore is taking notice and pushing himself within the confines of the Delta structure. The distorted “If the Devil Made Whisky” is a right fine example as a soul grinder with Moore’s vocal scraping the bar room floor.

Joined by ex-Lizzy drummer Brian Downey, Moore feels at home delivering standards by Sonny Boy Williamson, Chuck Berry and Son House as well as his own compositions. The record tips to his emotional ballad side – which lately has become his greatest strength. Songs like “Trouble At Home” and John Mayall’s gospel tinged “Have You Heard” swirl around Vic Martin’s organ keys building momentum into the signature guitar solo. The late night shuffle “Evenin” is bathed in blue light as each note is measured and counted. “Nowhere Fast” may be the best of the slower tracks but shows the musician’s conservation with a single note setting the mood. His voice embraces and strokes the song, finding its real magic in the delicate chorus. Then there’s the Irish-tempered “I Had a Dream” which makes full use of Pete Rees’ subtle bass line.

Rave-ups include the ripping Chuck Berry classic “Thirty Days” and the chugging “Hard Times” where Moore can almost be heard stomping his feet in time with the music. The full-volume double-header of Sonny Boy Williamson “Eyesight to the Blind” and “Checkin’ up on My Baby” have that sonic bravado only 35-year of experience can deliver. They are also the closest Moore gets to hard rock territory. Closing the disc is the Son House “Sundown” which breathes underneath Moore’s steel slide. His sincere authenticity illuminates the piece and gives hope that the blues can be new and refreshing. Mastering was done at Abby Road and when combined with the booklet’s close-up snap shots of Moore’s well-used and thoroughly beaten guitar, it makes for a nice vintage package.

Website: Eagle Records, Gary Moore

TERRAPLANE
The Sky in a Different Shade EP
Independent Release

Terraplane is an often, possibly over used slogan in rock n roll. A name given to a luxury sedan built by the Hudson Motor Car Co. in Detroit, Michigan between 1932-39, the car become famous in Robert Johnson’s “Terraplane Blues” as a metaphor for sex. Not to be outdone, Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin) in “Trampled Under Foot” - which was based on “Terrapplane Blues” - uses car parts as sexual metaphors. Both Rory Gallagher and T. Rex’s Marc Bolan make the reference as well. Here we have a band out of the UK attaching the name to their brand of psychedelic blues with sex appeal. Their EP is a three-track wellspring including the funky mix of “Indian Summer”, the bass-driven “Gypsy Clouds” and the cross-cutting “White Boy Blues”. Part Robin Trower, part Sly and the Family Stone “Indian Summer” pushes the vocals back giving the bass and guitar plenty of room to roam. The song stretches out into a jazz jam midway through with acid drops of Hendrix guitar, before settling into a languid haze. The song ends with a rev up just to get the blood pumping. “Gypsy Clouds” is all about the bass – a simple mid-tempo number strummed not picked and totally in the pocket. The vocal mix is careful, not too erratic and balances the song well. “White Boy Blues” could be dirtier. It plays safe in an Allman Brother kind of way but does have some interesting layered bits especially with the congas. Those who remember Bronco will warm to their country porch approach.

Website: Terraplane

VICTIM EFFECT
Self-titled
Independent Release

Utah-based Victim Effect are quickly becoming all the rage in the regional rock clubs. Blending Iron Maiden riffs with power pop keyboards, the six-piece make for a tasty morsel, yet it’s their live show where they really kick it into gear. Known only by their first names, vocalist/guitarist Brandon and sister Dawn (keys) stand out as the star attraction while Micah (guitar), Warren (drums), with brothers Dallin (bass) and Rex (guitar) pack in the musical muscle. Synchronized in unison they bang their heads with three guitars blazing while Dawn, using her accordion-strap keyboard, moshes with the best of them. Highlights in the live set are the same posted on the band’s myspace page including “Alice Alice,” “Stutter” and “Go Fight.” The songs are intricately layered and constructed around a central hook. “Alice Alice” stands as their proudest moment as it follows progressive songwriting building into a captivating chorus. Brandon’s unique voice is a contributing factor in separating the band’s sound from the million other up and comers. His full tenor range pulls passion from the lyrics with seasoned maturity. Keeping it simple, straight-forward and memorable is their ticket in the door. Production by Joe Johnston (Cake, Deftones) is top-notch showcasing the band ability to not only capture their original sound but package it with class.

Website: Victim Effect

THE FLESH HAMMERS
Riding Dirty
Independent Release

Local Reno, NV bar band The Flesh Hammer are determined to bring as much dirt, grime and filth back into good ‘ol rock and roll as possible. The three-piece (sometimes four-piece) crank it up with your usual Motörhead meets Ramones fervor. Their secret weapon lies in the nimble hands of Ben “the guitar God” as he unleashes one mind blowing lick after another. Bassist Blackie is the gravel-voiced singer in the band and though not always on key makes up for it in his whiskey-soaked delivery. Retired restaurant cook Todd “Sunny Beech” sits on the skins and bashes out his surf textured fills with all the skill of a meat tenderizer. Together they make a mighty fine noise. To get them out of town and make the move to arena superstars – and to help pay their gas bill, they have released their self-financed Riding Dirty LP. Ten tracks of hell-raising fun bask in the shimmer of a celluloid sheen with “In the Gutter,” “Demon Surf” and “Apathy Park” rising as major crowd pleasers. Their aggressive brand of songwriting stems from hard-life experience and whether it’s “Lynchburg’s” piano-laced, full-throttle attack or “Living In LA’s” broken-neck whiplash the band have your best interest at heart – and it you don’t like it they’ll bludgeon you with the hyper-speed of “Don’t Ask” or the Sabbath meets Alice Cooper “Mausoleum.”

Website: The Flesh Hammers

BEATALLICA
Sgt. Hetfield’s Motor Breath Pub Band
Oglio Records

Here’s a new spin on an old idea. Picking up where the Rutles left off are Milwaukee-based Beatallica. Formed in 2001 as a satire-tribute band by singer Jaymz Lennfield and guitarists Krk Hammetson (later replaced by Grg Hammettson), bassist Kliff McBurtney and drummer Ringo Lartz as a one-off spoof. To the surprise of many, they not only survived legal entanglements but are now unleashing Sgt. Hetfield’s Motor Breath Pub Band as a legitimate release. Riding the coattails of two or the world’s première bands has been a tricky one. After the release of A Garage Dayz Nite EP in conjunction with Milwaukee’s Spoof Fest 2001, a crazed fan built a website that contained several mp3s in tribute to Beatallica’s interesting (though bizarre) approach of combining songs, lyrics and musical styles of The Beatles and Metallica. A year later, a flourishing internet fanbase demanded a second record so Beatallica the EP was released primarily through the web. By 2004 they were opening for major acts including Dream Theater whose drummer Mike Portnoy sat in for a jam.

Sgt. Hetfield’s Motor Breath Pub Band, the group’s first full-length disc, works surprisingly well. Lennfield does a dead-on vocal impression of James Hetfield throwing in all the singer’s nuances while Hammettson peppers the songs with Kirk Hammett-like solo breaks. For the most part the disc’s 13 songs follow The Beatles structure with Metallica overtones. “Sandman” and “For Horsemen” are really the only two that lead with a Metallica foundation. Tracks like “Revol-ooh-tion”, “Leper Madonna” and “A Garage Dayz Nite” are easily recognizable and include some very funny lyrics that pay homage to the metal community. Examples: “We drink our share of Absolution” from “Revol-ooh-tion”, “Listen to Metallica ringing in your head” from “Leper Madonna” and “I play all day to bring you metal from the grave” from “A Garage Dayz Nite.” The classic is “Hey Dude” - which starts with the sound of a beer bottle being opened and includes in its acoustic intro “take a gray song, make it better” and “remember metal is in you heart.”

Yet, once you get past the laughter you realize the incredible musicianship it takes to pull this off. The straightforward “Ktulu (He’s So Heavy)” and “Anesthesia (I’m Only Sleeping)” play off the band’s ability to mimic and distort with melodic sensibility. Chainsaw guitars in “Blackened the U.S.S.R.” and the power behind “Helvester of Skelter” give the record some serious chops especial when they run the later song right into “Sandman”. The title cut “Sgt. Hetfield’s Motor Breath Pub Band” is reprised at the end of the disc just like the original Sgt Pepper and is followed by an endearing “…And Justice for All My Loving”. Funny how these songs get under your skin in a Weird Al kinda way. Give it a couple listens and you’ll find yourself pleasantly surprised. For fans of Dread Zeppelin, Richard Cheese and Spinal Tap.

Website: Beatallica

VAINGLORY
Self-titled
Independent Release

Vainglory is yet another spin-off from Georgia-based Leviathan Records – the label that gave us Firewind and discovered Gus G. Combining the incredible talents of Chastain vocalist Kate French and riff master Corbin King the power metal quintet offer up classic American metal like it was played two decades ago. Before the hair, the make-up, the sleeze, there was balls-to-the-wall shredding and that’s what we have here. French brings years of experience as a real belter along the ranks as Doro or Cristina Scabbia (Lacuna Coil) with a thick, aggressive register that could rival Rob Halford or Geoff Tate. Guitarist Corbin King is one of the true master craftsmen that have come out of the South in recent years. He can be as heavy-handed as Slayer’s Kerry King or as delicate as Duane Allman. Joining the ranks are guitarist J.M. Youngblood, bassist Chris Banja and drummer Danny Lynch. Together they proudly bash, grind and chug their way through 12 original monsters.

The disc gets going with signature scale screams in “Walking Dead”. King and Youngblood duel it out in a rage of fret warfare that is so dense they almost obscure the rhythm section. Judas Priest-like scales fill up “The Only Way I Know” and the chopper-fueled “Midnight Hellfire” with plenty of point-and-shoot solos. The pace gets more frantic with “Face of Death”, “Decapitation Attack” and “Endlessly” all played at hyper speed amidst chainsaw guitars and a pummeling rhythmic beat. Undying Love” falls in as a pseudo-ballad. French’s voice has an edge to it that ooze with emotion and conviction weather at full howl or hidden in the shadow of the thunder surrounding her. It is that kind of dynamic gusto that gives the record’s title track “Vainglory” and the breakout single “Burdened” that catchy hook even if it does come close to Dragonforce. An alternative favorite “Blackened Soul” borrows from Marilyn Manson macabre to give it that extra dose of creepy whereas both “Act of God” and the brilliant “My Living Hell” are a force to be reckoned with. Included on the CD is the video for “Burdened,” an excellent way to check out the band in full fury.

Website: Vainglory