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Old 08-09-2015, 08:53 AM   #981 (permalink)
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09. Exciter Long Live the Loud 1985 (Combat)
Speed Metal

Feel the mighty blade of the exciter.

The Lowdown

After the rip-roaring speed metal gem Heavy Metal Maniac (see 1983 review) and an album that should’ve been much higher that year as well, the band had displayed that there was an extremely thin line between speed metal and thrash metal. Canada’s Exciter showed that when it came to Canadian metal they were just as essential as Anvil around this time, due to their potent fusion of both speed and thrash. The band then released their sophomore set Violence & Force which despite being a good album just missed my hectic 1984 listing, but the album still managed to display the band’s iconic sound despite the fact that most reviewers viewed the album as quite a bit weaker than Heavy Metal Maniac. Things though were firmly back in their court and back to business for their third album Long Live the Loud, where the band acquired the services of Guy Bidmead who had worked with Motorhead. Overall the album comes fairly close to matching the heights of their debut set but instead of opting for the raw power of that album, Exciter have gone if for a more controlled power metal type assault here, surely in order to impress the commercial metal market, but this is not to say that there aren't a number of rawer sounding efforts on the album. This change of direction becomes obvious with tracks like the album intro “The Fall” a heavy and controlled power instrumental and this leads into other similar sounding material a bit later like "Victims of Sacrifice" a track which really benefits from having a slightly knocked back feel to it in terms of its speed but its powerful momentum and aggression make it an album classic. Their is a surprising organ into for the following song "Beyond the Gates of Doom" again another essential in the same vein as the previous track, but does feel a bit faster. "Born to Die" sounds a bit too much like an AC/DC track for my liking here and its corny chorus chant does it no favours either. The awesome 10 minute closer is ambitious to say the least but in "Wake Up Screaming" the band have one of the epic sounding tracks of the year and surely something that Manowar had wished they'd put out. It's business as usual though on the pure speed of "Sudden Impact" which sounds as mean as anything else out there at this time and comes across as premium Exciter. It should be noted that Exciter operated as a three piece outfit like both Tank and Raven, but in Exciter’s case vocalist Dan Beehler (who at times could sound like Rob Halford) was also the band’s drummer and to be honest this is a combo that I’ve never fully embraced but there are exceptions and Dan Beehler just happens to be one of those exceptions. Heavy Metal Maniac had contained a slew of fantastic tracks and none had come any better than “Mistress of Evil” “Rising of the Dead” and the slower “Black Witch” and as can be seen the band had a penchant for great song titles. This time around the great song titles have been swapped for great cheesy metal lyrics and these are littered across the album and listening to the title track “Long Live the Loud” that song alone is clichéd up to its eyeballs. Again the tracks here are driven on by the relentless and exciting riffs of John Ricci, whose electrifying riffs are a real characteristic of the band and probably the vital element and these punctuate the album's best tracks like the already mentioned "Victims of Sacrifice" but his guitar equally turns out as well punk-fuelled efforts like "I Am the Beast" which could easily be a Venom track. The bonus CD edition of the album comes with a number of bonus tracks which really extend the album's original playing time. The album cover reaches hilarious levels though and I’m certain the band were looking at the type of album covers that Manowar would fully embrace and so had no trouble using this type of thing. The end result of the album is a prime example of where a speed metal band knocks back on the raw aggression of their early days, to install a more controlled sound with better production values, something of course that a band like Tank had done with This Means War 1983 (see review) which shows that even the most dedicated ‘raw bands’ whether on their own decision or the record label’s were often looking to make their sound more commercial and ear friendly. Overall the album in many ways is a prime example of where speed metal starts looking into a more controlled power metal direction but without betraying its roots and it's really an album for a metal enthusiast and as Martin Popoff would say knock it back!

Dan Beehler- Drums/Vocals
John Ricci- Guitar
Allan Johnson- Bass

Production- Guy Bidmead

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If you can't deal with the fact that there are 6+ billion people in the world and none of them think exactly the same that's not my problem. Just deal with it yourself or make actual conversation. This isn't a court and I'm not some poet or prophet that needs everything I say to be analytically critiqued.
Metal Wars

Power Metal

Pounding Decibels- A Hard and Heavy History

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Old 08-19-2015, 04:25 AM   #982 (permalink)
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08. Accept Metal Heart 1985 (RCA)
Heavy Metal

A well-oiled heart, makes a smooth running machine.

The Lowdown

There were three essential albums from Accept in this their key commercial period and these albums were Restless and Wild with its thrashy overtones, Balls to the Wall one of the most bombastic metal releases of its time and Metal Heart which would be a toned down version of the previous releases. Metal Heart was probably the least of these albums in terms of the impact of its material and in any other year probably would’ve finished well outside the top 10, but as said on previous reviews 1985 was certainly weaker than preceding years. Accept were an archetypal metal band from this period, proudly roaring down the centric metal highway with thrash or hair metal bands occupying the gound either side of them, but also having enough in their locker to appeal to either camp. Metal Heart would be the last album with pint-sized vocalist Udo Dirkschneider until his return in the 1990s and his departure from the band saw their fortunes as a commercial metal giant quickly start to subside, showing that Accept’s relationship with the higher echelons of the metal world to be a very tenuous indeed. The album was produced by Dieter Dierks who had produced all those classic Scorpion albums, as the band issued out another album designed to appeal to a North American audience. Its name Metal Heart is also not exactly a world away from Quiet Riot’s monster metal seller Metal Health from a few years earlier, so in my mind there is a definite commercial link working away there in terms of the album title similarity. A number of the songs on the album contain catchy choruses and melodies to add to the band’s already trademark blazing twin-guitar sound and to be honest the fist-pumping metal of earlier releases has been severly toned down here. The songs on the album that personify this newer approach come in the shape of the catchy “Midnight Mover” which was the first single from the album. “Screaming for a Love Bite” sounds exactly like the type of melodic track that the band were looking for here and unsurprisingly was another single. Straight forward metal sounding material comes in the shape of the AC/DC sounding “Up to the Limit” the guitar driven “Wrong is Right” both are rather repitive efforts but do drive the album forward. “Living for Tonite” seems to lift its main rift right out of the Scorpion’s school of thought but is still a solid heavy track. One of the best tracks is the delightfully titled “Too High to Get it Right” which really would’ve gone down a treat on the Balls to the Wall album and the same can be said for “Dogs on a Lead” another one of the best here and both sound like vintage Accept in hindsight. Some diversity though is on offer in the shape of the album’s title track “Metal Heart” which uses two famous classical themes at the beginning and its middle, and the song really does have some distinctive European power metal overtones as well. “Teach Us to Survive” has the odd use of jazz applied to it in places and I think it works really real and Udo also gives us a very brief impersonation of one of Ian Gillan’s jokey sounding vocals as well. Despite the watering down of the band’s sound for even greater commercial accessibility, the vocals of Udo Dirkschneider sound as potent and gruff as always and for this reason will keep Accept fans happy. Metal Heart wasn’t well received at the time, but as said earlier it’s one of the band’s better efforts and certainly superior to some of the albums that followed it. The album has a couple of almost euro-pop vibe sections sewn into some of its catchier songs, which I’m certain would be a detraction for some of its listeners. In terms of sales it wouldn’t be anywhere as near as successful as Balls to the Wall, despite the band attempting an even more streamlined sound, in fact the band themselves seemed to predict this in their ominous album closer "Bound to Fail". Some of the tracks from Metal Heart would also appear on the band’s live EP Kaizoku-Ban which came out later the same year.

Udo Dirkschneider- Vocals
Wolff Hoffman- Guitar
Hermann Frank- Guitar
Peter Baltes- Bass
Stefan Kaufman- Drums

Production- Dieter Dierks

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If you can't deal with the fact that there are 6+ billion people in the world and none of them think exactly the same that's not my problem. Just deal with it yourself or make actual conversation. This isn't a court and I'm not some poet or prophet that needs everything I say to be analytically critiqued.
Metal Wars

Power Metal

Pounding Decibels- A Hard and Heavy History

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Old 08-30-2015, 09:31 AM   #983 (permalink)
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07. Icon Night of the Crime 1985 (Capitol)
Heavy Metal
Can you feel the throb of my heartstrings?

The Lowdown

The second album from Icon was actually one of the first albums I considered for a top ten placing this year based on memory, but then as I always do I listened to the album again and started to have doubts about it being in a metal listing. These doubts though were nothing to do with its quality but more to do with its style, because Night of the Crime sounds a lot like it should be in an AOR listing rather than a metal one and in fact when looking the album up on Wiki I saw that Kerrang! had placed it as the third best AOR album of all time and me being a whopping AOR fan never even knew that this album had been considered like so, but in the end I decided to go with it as it will still appeal to mainstream metal fans that like a strong AOR feel to their metal. The band’s debut album and also one of the best releases from 1984 had been an album that had solidified what mainstream metal should be all about which was a loud and pounding experience, with punching choruses, catchy anthems and nearly every song ending up just sounding so damned good to boot as well. In many ways Icon kind of remind me of Y&T that LA based band that helped to set the stage for the west coast hair metal scene a few years earlier and much like Icon they were also a superior metal band that just never got the commercial success that they deserved based on their talent, for example less talented bands like Quiet Riot and Ratt etc ending up hogging the limelight instead. Night of the Crime is an extremely polished album as you’d expect anyway from an album that is revered by some AOR fans, which is a surprise when you consider that its producer Eddie Kramer of Kiss production fame was in my mind a producer that like to go in for a rough around the edges approach, but given that fact that he had produced some big or AOR orientated acts over recent years that may have something to do with his more polished approach, artists like Angel, Foghat, Triumph and Pete Frampton had been amongst a sizeable listing. The album also sets a tone with the use of some outside songwriters in Bob Halligan Jr. and Mike Varney. Now the use of outside songwriters was nothing new of course in rock, but towards the end the decade and into the 1990s a number of rock acts that weren't overly commercial by nature had writers like these, that were employed on a whim by the record labels to give these artists a guaranteed commercial sound and a possible hit single, just think Cheap Trick and Lap of Luxury circa 1988 as a prime example of this. Night of the Crime starts with prime AOR material like “Naked Eyes” which in hindsight sounds like one of the great AOR tracks from this period and its truly a glorious song heightened by the vocals of Stephen Clifford. Second track "Missing" sounds like it could've been on a Heart album from this period and "Danger Calling" is the kind of AOR style track I love anyway and it's no surprise that it was chosen to be a single here and shows just how stellar the album material is overall. Night of the Crime surprisingly doesn't have a title track but any number of its tracks could've easily accommodated in that department. Tracks like "(Take Another) Shot at My Heart" and "Whites of Their Eyes" are just simply great tracks with so much energy. The most metal offering comes in the form of "Out for Blood" which actually threatens to come off like an instrumental for the first part of the song. "Raise the Hammer" is one of the other muscle songs on the album and ended up being the second single from the album and the even better "Hungry for Love" falls into similar territory, and album closer "Rock My Radio" is a loud finale from the band. The sedate "Frozen Tears" was another contender for a single despite the fact that it's the most generic and weakest sounding song on the album. Despite the album being revered in AOR circles most metal reviewers who were big fans of the debut were less sympathetic to the album’s change in direction with Allmusic called it ‘MTV fluff’ but most of these negative reviews really just allude to the band’s change in direction from a loud metal outfit to a more polished AOR orientated one, but either way Night of the Crime is a credible record from a very talented band and forms an important part of the mid 1980s rock commercial scene. Finally if this wasn't a metal orientated journal then Night of The Crime could've easily ended up as a top 3 album for the year, so I kind of took its overall style into consideration here.

Stephen Clifford- Vocals
Dan Wexler- Guitar
John Aquilino- Guitar
Tracy Wallach- Bass
Pat Dixon- Drums

Production- Eddie Kramer

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If you can't deal with the fact that there are 6+ billion people in the world and none of them think exactly the same that's not my problem. Just deal with it yourself or make actual conversation. This isn't a court and I'm not some poet or prophet that needs everything I say to be analytically critiqued.
Metal Wars

Power Metal

Pounding Decibels- A Hard and Heavy History

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Old 09-03-2015, 03:32 AM   #984 (permalink)
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06. Possessed Seven Churches 1985 (Relativity/Combat)
Death Metal

An eye of horror from the altar.


The Lowdown

Since the turn of the decade metal had been getting decidedly nastier, not so much in the form of how its artists acted and behaved on and off the stage but most notably in the content and sound of its music. Gone were the days where bands like Black Sabbath had been largely ‘tongue-in-cheek’ with their evil sounding satanic musings, because now in its place the San Francisco bay area had unleashed a far more potent menace in thrash, who in just a few years through its two most important bands Metallica and Slayer had started to seriously push the boundaries on how evil metal as a genre could really get and it’s therefore no surprise that Slayer were probably the biggest influence on Possessed. Possessed just happened to be another local ‘bay area’ band and on first assessment back then, could’ve easily been passed off as just another thrash metal band that were aiming at the genre’s more hardcore end that was headed up by Slayer. Their debut album Seven Churches is often labelled as being the first true ‘death metal’ album and takes the direction hinted by bands like Slayer and Venom to its logical conclusion, by taking the intensity of thrash and turning it into an even more brutal beast with barely decipherable vocals. Frontman Jeff Becerra would largely get overshadowed by Chuck Schuldiner of Death just a few years later as the progenitor of death metal, but in chronological terms Jeff Becerra could take this dark crown instead, depending on how the listener views the importance of death metal roots. The Wiki article for the album describes Seven Churches as an album that connects the dots between thrash metal and death metal, which in effect crosses that all important creative bridge that most sub-genres need to get recognized. Needless to say the album has the poor production values one would expect from a grass roots release, but who cares when the album sounds like this, because Possessed were brutal for 1985! The album intro namechecks the Mike Oldfield Tubular Bells instrumental from the original Exorcist film which sets the evil tone for the bludgeoning and spiralling sound that soon comes on the classic "The Exorcist" which of course introduces us to the grunted vocals of Jeff Becerra who would go onto characterize death metal vocals. In fact additional intros can be found on a couple of other efforts like “Pentagram” which starts with a bestial effect intro. The whole album plays with the intensity of thrash and the spiralling guitar solos are some of the best I've heard from this period, but its the bestial almost mad dog barking vocals of Jeff Becerra that blow the roof and these don't come any better than on a song like "Evil Warriors". Despite its seminal status there is a certain lack of diversity here from those that might like the idea of the band mixing things up a bit, but to their credit the band keep the accelerator floored right through to the end as later album tracks like "Twisted Minds" and "Fallen Angel" are more top-notch material. The other star turn on the album is provided by guitarist Larry Lalonde who would go onto greater recognition in Primus, but in Possessed he had the perfect playground to push his musical boundaries as a developing guitarist, as extreme metal often attracted a certain type of musician. Producer Randy Burns who would also work with the newly formed Megadeth around this time as well, plays keyboards on a couple of tracks here. The album cover is the standard satanic red on black and the name seven churches is a reference from the Book of Revelation. Seven Churches besides being one of the essential death metal albums around, just happens to be the smart place in which to start listening to this sub-genre, better death metal albums would come later, but Seven Churches was the molotov cocktail that blew the gates open for these albums to later burst on the scene.

Jeff Becerra- Bass/Vocals
Larry Lalonde- Guitar
Mike Torrao- Guitar
Mike Sus- Drums

Production- Randy Burns

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Metal Wars

Power Metal

Pounding Decibels- A Hard and Heavy History

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Old 09-06-2015, 04:04 AM   #985 (permalink)
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05. S.O.D Speak English or Die 1985 (Megaforce)
Crossover Thrash
Just switch your brain off and do the blitzkrieg.


The Lowdown

Whenever band members start a side project a lot of the time it tends to be a self-interest type project where a member/members tend to indulge in an aspect of music, that they really don’t always have the freedom to do in the confines of their own band. A lot of the time these are really hit and miss affairs and usually end up only really appreciated by fans of the artist, but now and again there are exceptions and Speak English or Die is one such exception. Speak English or Die is actually an album that should never be as far as Anthrax members Scott Ian and Charlie Benante were concerned, because it’s a side project that ends up being far superior to their main project which of course was Anthrax the up-and-coming east coast thrash metal band, whose second album Speading the Disease is much further down this year’s list (see review) Speak English or Die can be classified as a crossover thrash metal album (for those that don’t know that’s hardcore punk fused with thrash metal) and the album has roots thrash metal engineer Alex Perialas on production duties (check out his impressive credentials) The amusingly titled Stormtroopers of Death known as S.O.D with their debut album at just 29 minutes long, is an album that ended up as being a hastily put together album after the recording sessions for Spreading the Disease had finished. The two Anthrax men called in ex-Anthrax member Dan Lilker and little known vocalist Billy Milano, and the whole thing was recorded in a week. Needless to say due to its high position here the album ended up as being a classic and an influential piece that is essential for any extreme metal devotee, it’s an album that usually needs just one listen to get you hooked and I’m not even a crossover thrash fan! Despite the controversy surrounding both the album’s subject matter and lyrical content, where it was accused of being both macho and racist, Speak English or Die is really just a goofy sounding metal album that happens to be loud and frenetic, and full of macho overtones rather than having any type of politically incorrect statement. The album also largely keeps within the spirit of Anthrax and on the whole is not really meant to be taken seriously anyway and the album members have often stated this over the years. The album cover and band name certainly denote the comic book sensibility of the Anthrax members who were big comic fans anyway and the whole album plays like an outrageous comic as well. Speak English or Die is loaded up with 21 tracks ranging between 2 seconds to 2 minutes and 32 seconds, and its blitzkrieg rampage which sounds like Anthrax on speed has great song titles like "Kill Yourself" "Milano Mosh" "Freddy Kreuger" "Pre-Menstrual Princess Blues" "Pussy Whipped" "**** the Middle East" and "Hey Gordy". Now from a listening perspective I've never been a fan of ultra-short tracks and so to get around by prejudice in these matters, I just treat this album as one long piece with some gaps between its sections and for me this works like a treat and that's how I enjoy to the maximum an album like Speak English or Die. From such humble and rushed beginnings Speak English or Die is widely considered to be one of the greatest crossover thrash metal albums of all time, which again goes to show just how important spontaneous musical ideas and effort can end up being, as the hastily formed Stormtroopers of Death were completely on fire when they recorded this album. The predilection of the project members is clear and that was an album’s worth of aggression with fantastic riffs that run the course of the album and it’s the kind of album that you can just pop it back on again for another rousing session. Just a year later Slayer would do something similar with their seminal Reign in Blood album which goes to show that this approach was en-vogue as well. For anybody wanting a continuation from the Stormtroopers of Death project, Dan Lilker’s new band at this time Nuclear Assault was probably the way to go with their impressive Game Over album.

Billy Milano- Vocals
Scott Ian- Guitar
Dan Lilker- Bass
Charlie Benante- Drums

Production- Alex Perialas/Scott Ian

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If you can't deal with the fact that there are 6+ billion people in the world and none of them think exactly the same that's not my problem. Just deal with it yourself or make actual conversation. This isn't a court and I'm not some poet or prophet that needs everything I say to be analytically critiqued.
Metal Wars

Power Metal

Pounding Decibels- A Hard and Heavy History

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Old 09-17-2015, 11:18 AM   #986 (permalink)
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04. Exodus Bonded By Blood 1985 (Combat)
Thrash Metal

Another harsh lesson in violence.

The Lowdown

Exodus were without doubt one of the ‘classic bay area thrash bands’ and one of the most recognized thrash bands of the whole genre, despite never garnering the same level of commercial success as the four other thrash bands that would make up the famed ‘Big Four’ label. Exodus were well described by Kerrang! as being a ‘severely muted guitar chopping band’ making them a suitable founding father figure for the trash genre and their debut album Bonded By Blood is often considered one of the essential and pivotal thrash releases of its time and with it being so high here it’s a description that I’d hardly bother to argue against. In terms of style this album is right out of the Metallica Kill ‘Em All locker and both albums sit side by side as omnipotent thrash albums, even though Kill 'Em All has aged the better of the two. Bonded By Blood was originally titled A Lesson in Violence but as a suitable album cover couldn’t be found (hard to believe) the band opted for the more blasphemous choice of two babies as good and evil twins instead and with this came a title change. When the album was re-issued in 1989 it came with a striking red and black cover that really should’ve been used had it been thought of at the time of its release, as it looks for more dominant and sinister than the comic book look of the twin babies. The album clocks in at a credible 40 minutes and contains a bunch of trademark thrashers essential to any thrash metal collection. The bulk of the material on Bonded By Blood is laid down by vocalist Paul Baloff and guitarist Gary Holt and tears down the tarmac starting with the pummelling title track “Bonded By Blood” and the eponymous “Exodus” completes the opening salvo. The band then show how catchy they can make thrash on a track like “And Then There Were None” which is followed by one of their best known tracks in “A Lesson of Violence”. One of my favourite cuts from this album is the almost Pantera sounding "No Love" which in places has some early groove metal posturing and the song contains great lines like 'the darkness is my lover, she makes me feel strong' and 'turn to look at baphomet, from below and not above'. The late 7 minute "Deliver Us to Evil' is truly the ****ing bizz and as they say worth the price of admission alone. All these torrid and bloodthirsty sounding tracks cover usual thrash territory of murder and rape, and all are backed by healthy satanic leanings meshed into the songs. Paul Baloff shreds his vocal chords across these tracks and was probably frothing at the mouth due to the intensity of his effort. The key formula though are probably the sharp and harsh riffs from the ‘H-team’ of Gary Holt and Rick Hunolt and if anybody were to ask me what archetypal thrash guitar riffs should sound like, then this pair here might be the first from my lips, as I love what I refer to as the constant pick-up riffs from classic thrash bands. Bonded By Blood should have been the band’s stepping stone to the rising heights of Metallica and Slayer at this time, as Megadeth (higher up this list) were on the same level as Exodus and Anthrax had still yet to up their ante to a more reputable level of craftsmanship. In fact Bonded By Blood due to technical problems like finding a suitable album cover as mentioned above, should’ve been released a year earlier and if it had it may have seen the band rise with Metallica’s star. Exodus though like many others before them would be blighted with these kind of issues, which also included the loss of vocalist Paul Baloff to form his own band Piranha a song title on this album, who he no doubt thought would be better than Exodus, but of course they weren’t. Exodus much like NWOBHM band Angel Witch waited far too long to release their sophomore and build from their debut release and missed the fast train. Either way Exodus would continue to put out some good albums over the years despite the fact that the following Pleasures of the Flesh wasn’t one of them, but none of their future releases would come close to the brutal heights of Bonded By Blood.

Paul Baloff- Vocals
Gary Holt- Guitar
Rick Hunolt- Guitar
Rob Mckillop- Bass
Tom Hunting- Drums

Production- Mark Whitaker

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If you can't deal with the fact that there are 6+ billion people in the world and none of them think exactly the same that's not my problem. Just deal with it yourself or make actual conversation. This isn't a court and I'm not some poet or prophet that needs everything I say to be analytically critiqued.
Metal Wars

Power Metal

Pounding Decibels- A Hard and Heavy History

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Old 09-17-2015, 02:27 PM   #987 (permalink)
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Dude, the versions of "And Then There Were None" and "Deliver Us to Evil" you posted are from the rerecorded version of the album with Rob Dukes, and are vastly inferior to the brilliance of the originals.

Also, if some irrelevant AOR metal bands are above Bonded By Blood, we're gonna have problems.
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Old 09-17-2015, 09:50 PM   #988 (permalink)
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Also, if some irrelevant AOR metal bands are above Bonded By Blood, we're gonna have problems.
3. Megadeth: Killing is my Business
2. Pentagram: Relentless
1. Slayer: Hell Awaits
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Old 09-18-2015, 03:42 AM   #989 (permalink)
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3. Megadeth: Killing is my Business
2. Pentagram: Relentless
1. Slayer: Hell Awaits
I'm down with this, though Pentagram would have been below Exodus.
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Old 09-18-2015, 04:31 AM   #990 (permalink)
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Dude, the versions of "And Then There Were None" and "Deliver Us to Evil" you posted are from the rerecorded version of the album with Rob Dukes, and are vastly inferior to the brilliance of the originals.
Fixed, sometimes this kind of thing happens when I try to go for different video picks so they're not all the same image wise and also if I start a song and hear better sound I put it instead.

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Also, if some irrelevant AOR metal bands are above Bonded By Blood, we're gonna have problems.
Nope, not this year.

Also you need to update the album index

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3. Megadeth: Killing is my Business
2. Pentagram: Relentless
1. Slayer: Hell Awaits
Two of those three are here and one is in an add-on section
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Originally Posted by eraser.time206 View Post
If you can't deal with the fact that there are 6+ billion people in the world and none of them think exactly the same that's not my problem. Just deal with it yourself or make actual conversation. This isn't a court and I'm not some poet or prophet that needs everything I say to be analytically critiqued.
Metal Wars

Power Metal

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