WITHOUT LOVE
Trouble
Metal Mayhem Music

Trouble is a set of demos provided to Metal Mayhem Records by guitarist Rick De Paoli. Evidently, Without Love had been trying to get some interest in their brand of harmony-based guitar rock in the early Nineties but was turned away at every corner. Says De Paoli in the CD’s liner notes, “It was shopped around by heavy weight lawyers for about 12-months, who jerked off for a year while the industry only signed bands that had a zip code in Seattle.”

The demo tapes stayed in De Paoli’s studio for several years, collecting dust. However renewed interest in Melodic Rock turned the once hidden demos into a goldmine. The recording has ripened like a fine wine. The vocals of Chali Cayte, (Tour De Force) are as fresh as if done today. Revving up with Give Me Your Love, the album takes a firm hold on the best in ‘80s rock.

Cherished gems include Trouble, Lose Control and Rock Till You Drop plus power ballads Angels Eyes and Always And Forever. Says De Paoli, “Just as a painting only comes alive when one views it, music can only live if there’s a listener. This is for you, the listener.”

Website: www.metalmayhem.com

FIREBIRD
Firebird
The Music Cartel

Led by Billy Steer, this new concept in Stoner Rock is punishing all who dare hold high the banner. Steer is hailed as the creator of the classic grind sound that influenced a whole generation of extreme metal with his Birmingham outfit Napalm Death. He quickly became a cult hero and after some years with ND he formed the legendary Gods Of Gore – Carcass.

For the past several years Steer has remained in relative obscurity with the occasional rumor of a new band circulating on the scene. Mr. Steer was, in fact, working on several projects. However he claims he couldn’t find the right musicians for the job. That was until Steer met bassist Leo Smee (Cathedral) and drummer Ludwig Witt (Spiritual Beggars).

Firebird, the trio’s first platter to hit the rack’s has taken Steer’s ‘70s influence further. The album goes back to the very roots of blues/hard rock, creating a sound altogether more pure and convincing than a lot of today’s Stoners. The grind has been replaced by groove and noticeable influences can be likened to Mountain (Leslie West), Johnny Winter, Grand Funk Railroad, Cream, Free and Humble Pie.

Website: The Music Cartel

White Widow
Turn It Up
Metal Mayhem Music

White Widow are a Minnesota-based band who take their loud guitars very seriously. The quartet consists of Brian Spindler (vo), D.D. Feally (g), Johnny Larson (g), and Scotty Miami (d). Together with producer Lance Sabin, Turn It Up has purified a monster sound with exceptional vocals and well-crafted songs.
A bit similar to Cinderella, Dokken and Winger in places, White Widow capture the earthiness of tough Hard Rock with European finesse. Love Comes, Love Goes, Shakin’ All Over and title track Turn It Up (with its slide guitar) have the sophistication of Tesla – straight arrangements with dexterity and opulence.

The power ballad, Fallin’ In And Out Of Love, brings one in for the girls while Time, Time, All Dressed Up and United We Stand are nicely built with educated lyrics perfect for FM radio. And what more can be said for a band that includes a track called Hangin’ Bangin’ – a quintessential stadium rocker.

The band are tentatively scheduled to release a second album titled Bustin’ Out later this year.

Website: www.metalmayhem.com

AXE
The Crown
MTM Records

Axe is back with their sixth studio album. Fifteen years after their break up in the early '80s, original members Bobby Barth, Edgar Riley, and Teddy Mueller teamed up with bassist Blake Eberhard and former Frank Zappa vocalist/keyboardist Bob Harris to record the highly acclaimed Axe re-union album Five in 1997.

Two re-recorded “best of” CDs followed (Twenty Years From Home Vol. 1 & 2) that recaptured the classic cuts from their first four albums. Following a short European tour in the summer of 1998, Bobby Barth went on to produce albums for Guild Of Ages (Vox Dominatas) and Jaded Heart (IV) at NEH Studios in Colorado. This led to some collaborative songwriting with Jaded Heart front-man Michael Bormann. Axe re-entered the studio in late 1999 with a new drummer (Christian Teele) to record The Crown.

While the songwriting and mood on this album is clearly and distinctively Axe, the style is heavier with a harder-edge than most of their previous work. With a maturing direction, the group crystallizes a beautiful sound – full, distinctive and inspiring.

Website:
www.mtm-music.com

CAIN’S ALIBI
Sanctified
Nightmare Records

Cain’s Alibi began when Paul Miller and Neal Anthony met at a mundane sales job. Anthony was an accomplished musician and Miller had played in several bands in the Minneapolis area. The two became fast friends and soon quit their day jobs, built a home recording studio and started pumping out jingles.

The duo’s intrest in heavier music led them to record the first Cain’s Alibi. It took off and forced them to put together a rightful band and hit the clubs. The tough schedule forced Anthony to pull out and the bands chemistry changed slightly when Derrick Dotterwech (d), Mark Christenson (b) and Krister Pihl (g) joined.

Today, the band’s rapport with each other, and with their audience is unparalleled in the Minnesota Hard-Rock / Heavy Metal music scene. Their second disc, Sanctified represents six months of writing and six months of recording. The disc is packed with well-crafted songs full of heavy, melodic hooks. Check out www.nightmare-records.com for other noteworthy releases including Van Ee (ex-Highway Chile), Empyria, Hobbit and Baltimoore.

Website:
Nightmare Records

GUILD OF AGES
Citadel
MTM Records

Guild Of Ages is a melodic hard rock band from Denver, Colorado. Formed by high school friends in the late 1980's, the band consists of Danny Martinez (g, vo), Antz Trujillo (g, keys and vo), Steve Stuntz (d, vo), and Jim Lostetter (bass guitar and vocals). The band incorporate strong guitars, big vocal harmonies and keyboards to their unique sound.
Website:

In the early Nineties, after garnering regional recognition, the band was brought to the attention of Bobby Barth (Axe, Blackfoot) who produced their first record Relapse Of Reason (under the band name CITA). The release created a large fan-base throughout the world. Due to copyright troubles the band changed their name to Guild Of Ages and have now released three CDs. They have toured Europe with Axe and played to sold out crowds.
Website:

During 2000, while sharing the studio with Jaded Heart, the two bands hit it off. Jaded Heart vocalist Michael Bormann co-wrote several songs with GOA that would ultimately find their onto Citadel including the monster This Could Be You and Feeding The Fire.

Website:
www.mtm-music.com

ZAO
Zao
Solid State Records

Solid State Records are pioneering the future of ‘God Rock’ with the release of a new ZAO and Living Sacrifice. Self-Titled is Zao’s third major release and remains heavy, even terrifying in its intensity. The band, who claim influences from Johnny Cash to Nick Cave, are dealing with extreme issues this time around. With an almost completely new line-up they are charting new musical territory and pushing their own sound to new levels meshing electronic, death metal, grind core and black metal elements.

Kerrang gave them a 4 K rating (out of 5) and called Self Titled, “Head pummeling guitars with machine gun drumming...providing a deafening crunch like the one that rattles around your head when you smash ice cubes between your teeth.” The group has an impressive tour schedule this spring so check ‘em out.

Website:
Solid State Records

LIVING SACRIFICE
The Hammering Process
Solid State Records

The Hammering Process has got to be the sixth LS record. Having been together almost ten years, the group still remains a vital driving force. One review said, “Their genius lies in their off-time beats that somehow catch up to themselves…there isn’t much to grab onto, rather lots of sharp little shards of shiny, splintered metal that will sooner cut your hand than give you a memorable verse or chorus.”

The disc blends crucial elements of hardcore and metal creating a sound that is both riveting and immense. The production gives each instrument it’s own voice, but heavy rhythms are the centerpiece of the group’s sound.

Website:
Solid State Records

STEEL PROPHET
Messiah
Nuclear Blast Records

Steel Prophet is the brainchild of guitarist Steve Kachinsky who believes heavily in the band even when they were turned down by just about every major label in the 80s. A Number of member changes and a couple thwarted attempts at studio recording held the band up for a few years until a five song EP called Continuum was released in 1996.

Once good production and a record deal were secured the band started making serious waves. The critically acclaimed Dark Hallucinations included a hosts of guest from Roy Z. (Tribe of Gypsies/Bruce Dickinson) and Bernie Versaille (Agent Steel, Fates Warning, Engine) to Joe Floyd (Warrior). A thrilling showing at the Wacken Open Air Festival polished their star appeal preparing the road for this years Messiah. Power Metal at its finest, songs like The Idles of March, Messiah, Vengeance Attained, Dawn Of Man and 7/30/47 have become highlights.

Rick Mythiasin, vocalist for the band for more than ten years is brightest in the spotlight not only for his soaring vocal range, but his superior stage presence. The group mostly tour Europe so if you see a local ad go see them! Steel Prophet will have a new disc, Genesis, out on October 24th.

Website:
Nuclear Blast Records

BABYLON A.D.
American Blitzkrieg
Apocalypse Records

Vocalist for Babylon A.D., Derek Davis and drummer, graphic designer James Pacheco were set up at the Ultrasound band booths to plug their new CD American Blitzkrieg. “We spent about two years getting this album together,” says Derek. “We’ve been on the road a lot and feel this is the strongest stuff we’ve done to date.”

This is the fourth B.A.D. record issued from the band and easily the most brutal. The guitars and time changes are more chugging and the vocals are gruffer. The lyrics paint a darker picture than the melodic band of the 80s (remember Bang Go The Bells, Hammer Swings Down?) Derek admits, “We wanted to do this kind of ‘end of the world’ thing, maybe Y2K had something to do with it. We have songs like I Wanna Live, Sinking In The Sand, The Sky Is Falling and One Way Ride that kind of sum our frame of mind when we were writing this record.”

Tagging along with the title track American Blitzkrieg is a sooped-up version of War, What Is It Good For (by War). There’s no power ballads like 1989’s Desperate but loads of loud guitars and rumbling rhythm. Superstar hits the mark right on the head. See their web site at:

Website:
www.babylonad.com

JIMMIE VAN ZANT
Southern Comfort
J-Bird Records

The Jimmie Van Zant Band had nothing to do with Ultrasound 2000. The CD arrived in our mail box and soon became an office favorite so we decided to include the review here. Jimmie is indeed part of the southern rock Van Zant dynasty. He is cousin to Ronnie, Donnie and Johnny, the Van Zant brothers who have defined the South’s rock and roll heritage for the last 30 years. He wears his roots proudly.

The CD cover boasts both the rebel flag and an old confederate 500 dollar bill, but it’s what’s inside that really turns up the volume. Get Up, the CD’s kick off track was a result of a Thanksgiving family gathering where Jimmie, Donnie (38. Special) and Johnny (Lynyrd Skynyrd) put their heads together to write the lyrics. It’s full of trademark southern guitar courtesy of Ron Little and Tony Bullard along with a good ol’ party atmosphere.

The style stays consistent through all eight of the album’s selection. Bad Habits, Southern Comfort and Party In The Parking Lot are standard house rockers. Ronnie’s Song is an ode to our long lost friend and Jimmie pays tribute with Simple Man. Angle in the Night lightens it up while Here To Stay goes for the Pure Prairie League crowd.

Website:
Jimmie Van Zant Band