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Blu-ray Review: Fates Warning ‘Awaken the Guardian Live’
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Fates Warning Awaken the Guardian Live banner

Fates Warning
Awaken the Guardian Live
Blu-ray | 2-CD/1-DVD | Vinyl
Label: Metal Blade Records
Release date: April 28, 2017

In 1986, progressive metal outfit Fates Warning released their Awaken the Guardian album up against such seminal works as Metallica’s Master Of Puppets, Slayer’s Reign In Blood, and Megadeth’s Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying?. With competition like that, it’s no wonder that the band’s third effort didn’t skyrocket to the top of the metal world, even though it deserved to, as Awaken the Guardian is a masterpiece, plain and simple.

The album marked the Connecticut band’s final release with original singer John Arch before continuing till today with frontman Ray Adler. But last year, for the 30th anniversary of Awaken the Guardian, guitarist, songwriter, and mastermind Jim Matheos reassembled the album’s line-up to play two festival shows. Now, Metal Blade Records has released the performances on DVD and Blu-ray as Awaken the Guardian Live, and if you’re a fan of this album and line-up, then this release is going to blow you away.

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Massive Metal Monday: Charred Walls Of The Damned “Soulless”
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Charred Walls of the Damned Band Photo

If you like traditional, clean-vocal heavy metal like Judas Priest, Queensryche, Dio, and Iron Maiden, have I got a treat for you! I stumbled across a band called Charred Walls of the Damned while downloading the advance copy of another band’s album from Metal Blade Records. I decided to check these guys out based solely on their name and, man I could not be more pleasantly surprised! It turns out that CWOTD is a metal supergroup consisting of drummer Richard Christy (ex-Iced Earth, ex-Death, and The Howard Stern Show), singer Tim “Ripper” Owens (ex-Judas Priest, ex-Iced Earth), bassist Steve DiGiorgio (his list of credits is as long as your arm and includes Iced Earth, Death, Autopsy, Testament, and Obscura), and guitarist (and metal super producer) Jason Seucof.

It also seems that this is their third record. How on Earth I’m just now finding out about this band is beyond me because their new album Creatures Watching Over the Dead (all of their record titles follow the CWOTD motif) is absolutely amazing! It’s out this Friday (September 23, 2016) and you should definitely check it out.

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Massive Metal Monday: Lizzy Borden “Give ‘Em The Axe”
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Ides Bergen   |  @   |  
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Lizzy Borden Band Photo

Lizzy Borden may not be the most famous band to emerge from L.A.’s Sunset Strip glam metal scene in the ’80s, but it is certainly one of the longest-running and most influential. Starting out in 1983 and first gaining notoriety when their track “Rod of Iron” appeared on Metal Blade Records’ Metal Massacre IV compilation, the shock rockers would go on to create some of the greatest and most influential and enduring metal of the era.

Despite numerous lineup changes (including those brought on by the deaths of two members in separate traffic accidents), the singer and mainstay who also happens to be named Lizzy Borden (after the notorious 1800’s figure Lizzie Borden who was accused and later acquitted of killing her parents with an axe) continues to write, record, and tour to this day.

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Black Metal Friday: Anaal Nathrakh “Depravity Favours The Bold”
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Ides Bergen   |  @   |  
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Anaal Nathrakh Band Photo

There is heavy metal and then there is Birmingham steel. England’s most famous foundry town has been an epicenter of extreme music ever since Black Sabbath (arguably) invented heavy metal there in the late 1960s. Birmingham has given us some of metal’s most seminal bands such as Judas Priest and Napalm Death. But perhaps the most extreme and currently influential band to hail from the midlands town is one that not many people outside of the genre of black metal have ever heard of. They are the two man force of nature known as Anaal Nathrakh.

Their name comes from a charm recited by the wizard Merlin in the 1981 film Excalibur and for the last eighteen years they have been casting a spell of their own on extreme metal fans across the globe. Their abrasive elixir consists of black metal with heaping helpings of death metal, grindcore, and industrial music.

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Massive Metal Monday: Allegaeon “Gray Matter Mechanics”
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Ides Bergen   |  @   |  
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Allegaeon Band Photo 2016

Colorado’s Allegaeon is one of the most exciting bands the technical death metal genre today. That’s why fans were given cause for concern when the band announced last year that they had parted ways with founding member, vocalist Ezra Haynes. But recently those concerns have been laid to rest with the release of the first advanced single from their upcoming fourth album Proponent For Sentience. The track is titled “Gray Matter Mechanics” and is our first glimpse of new vocalist Riley McShane. The new frontman seems to be a perfect fit with Allegation’s particular blend of goofiness and scientific nerdy-ness. This is thinking man’s metal that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

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Massive Metal Monday: Whitechapel “Elitist Ones”
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Ides Bergen   |  @   |  
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Whitechapel Band Photo

Knoxville Tennessee’s Whitechapel has come out of the gates swinging with their sixth studio album Mark of the Blade, which was released on June 24, 2016 via Metal Blade Records. The first single is entitled “Elitest Ones” and it takes on the army of know-it-all keyboard warriors that populate online metal forums. The song is exactly the sort of vitriolic, deathcore rager that Whitechapel have become synonymous with.

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Massive Metal Monday: Amon Amarth “First Kill”
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Ides Bergen   |  @   |  
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Amon Amarth Band Photo

Legendary Swedish viking metal band Amon Amarth has just released its tenth album via Metal Blade Records. The disc is called Jomsviking and it is the band’s first concept album.

Jomsviking is already being hailed as the band’s strongest effort in years. The first official single from the album is the opening track “First Kill” and it is our Massive Metal Monday selection for this week.

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Massive Metal Monday: Redemption “Damaged” Feat. Marty Friedman
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Ides Bergen   |  @   |  
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Redemption Band Photo

This week’s featured Massive Metal Monday track comes to us courtesy of Metal Blade recording artists Redemption whose new album, The Art of Loss, was released this past Friday February 26, 2016. The song is entitled “Damaged” and features guest guitar work by former Megadeth virtuoso Marty Friedman.

The Art of Loss is the sixth full-length entry in the band’s discography, which dates back to 2003. In addition to Friedman, the album features guest appearances by two other former guitarists for Megadeth, Chris Broderick and Chris Poland, as well as Armored Saint/Anthrax vocalist John Bush.

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Album Review: Culture Killer “Throes Of Mankind”
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Ides Bergen   |  @   |  
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Culture Killer Throes of Mankind Album Cover

Throes of Mankind
Artist: Culture Killer
CD | MP3
Metal Blade Records
Release Date: November 27, 2015

Culture Killer caused quite a buzz with it’s independently released 2014 EP Denial. So much so in fact that the Florida band landed a deal with powerhouse label Metal Blade. Their full-length debut album Throes of Mankind was released on November 27, 2015 and the buzz continues to build.

The record features ten tracks that showcase Culture Killer’s particularly brutal brand of metallic hardcore interspersed with groove metal and death metal elements. There is also a very strong political slant to the lyrics.

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Black Metal Friday: Denner/Shermann “Satan’s Tomb”
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Ides Bergen   |  @   |  
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Denner/Shermann Band Photo 2015

Michael Denner and Hank Shermann are the legendary guitar duo behind the pioneering Danish metal outfit Mercyful Fate (the band that also gave us King Diamond). These axe masters are back with a new eponymous band. Denner/Shermann has just released its debut EP via powerhouse label Metal Blade Records on October 2, 2015.

Satan’s Tomb contains 4 tracks that would have been right at home on any of Mercyful Fate’s classic albums. Sean Peck‘s vocals even bear a striking resemblance to King Diamond. The band is rounded out by bassist Marc Grabowski and drummer Snowy Shaw, the latter of whom is also a King Diamond alum.

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