Hard 20

Hourcast | Prototype | Derek Sherman | J.D. Bradshaw | Morbid Sacrifice | Liberty N Justice | Bluebeard | Artimus Pyledriver | Wednesday 13's Frankenstein Drag Queens | Journey | Interrogate | D'Amato | Hed p.e. | Wake Pig | Knowfear | Mucuclords | Theatre of Tragedy | Sahg | Caveat | Wolverine

"State Of Disgrace"
(Alkamedia Recor)
by Paul Autry

There's a good balance to this album. I like that. It's heavy without being too heavy. It's one part rock...one part metal. I also sense a bit of hardcore here and there. One might even consider Hourcast to be nu-metal. I don't know if that's a label that I'd be willing to stand behind though because, for me, the whole nu-metal thing was interesting for about 15 minutes...and then everything started to sound the same. "State Of Disgrace" doesn't sound like anything I've heard before. Well, maybe I should say that it doesn't sound like anything that I've bothered to keep in my collection. I didn't think I'd end up keeping this one because, in their bio, they mention how they incorporate the heavy flavor of The Deftones and Tool with the dark electronic atmosphere of Nine Inch Nails and Depeche Mode...four bands that I have no real interest in...and, the way I saw it, if they sounded like that, I wasn't gonna like 'em. But, I gave the disc a listen and I was rather impressed. I'll be honest with you...I'm not really sure what to say about the band. Either they rock or they don't...and from what I heard, I'd have to say that they rock. The songwriting is good. The production is good. "State Of Disgrace" is a solid release from begining to end. I know my opinion doesn't amount to a whole hell of a lot when it comes to the "big picture," so to speak. But, I think Hourcast is gonna be huge. There's a lot of potential here and I could see them being one of the top rock/metal/whatever you'd like to call them bands for at least the next ten years, maybe more, especially if they continue making records like "State Of Disgrace."


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(Nightmare Records)
by Jonathan Mariante

Prototype are a power/thrash metal band, very akin to Iced Earth, although a bit more melodic and polished. Vocalist Vince Levalois (who also plays guitar) has a voice that is smooth and operatic but also bombastic and powerful. The guitar playing (courtesy of Vince and Kragen Lum) was one of the things that really stood out on this album. It is very technical and skillful, and they crank out some mean, speedy, classic style metal riffs here. They play fast and furious, but also with sophistication and some classical influence (classical guitar is used quite frequently). Their playing is heavily influenced by John Schaffer, also with some from other guitar heroes like Yngwie and Alex Skolnick. The songwriting also stood out for being very sophisticated, intricate, and classically oriented. Prototype are 100% pure metal with a lot of talent and sophistication put into their music. They play blitzing metal but they do it with elegance, and really stand out among many of today's metal bands. They take classic style heavy metal and bring it into the present. These guys deserve some major props. Here's hoping they get a break, they deserve it. Someone needs to show the world how real metal is supposed to be played.


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Derek Sherman
"Blood Of The Snake"
(Inside Out Music)
by Chris Forbes

This was a really cool release. This was a mixture of metal, prog, jazz and everything in between. This was real metal not all that groove crap. The music is a mixture say Black Sabbath meets Dream Threatre at times. The production is right on the money too. A very solid release that all metal fans should want. Info: http://www.insideoutmusic.com

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J.D. Bradshaw
"3rd Time Around"
(Acacia Entertainment)
by Paul Autry

I'm usually not one for instrumental music...mainly because it's just a way for people to show off. A lot of instrumental releases that I've heard gave me a "Hey, look at me...I'm so great!" kind of vibe and that's a huge turn off for me. I have well over three thousand CD's in my personal collection and the instrumental releases that I have, well, you can count them on one hand. So, that should tell you something. When it comes to J.D. Bradshaw's latest release, "3rd Time Around," I was really impressed. This four song EP has that "something special" that I look for in music that I decide to keep in my collection. First of all, it has a raw sound, which I think adds to the charm of this release. That's the way the guitar was meant to be heard in my opinion. Opening track "Hydra-Shokk" has an old school rock/metal vibe. "Victory Lane" is a good rock 'n' roll song...without lyrics of course. This is the kind of music that I'm really into. If he put out an album like this, with lyrics, it would probably be something I'd be talkin' about forever. What can I say...I'm a simple guy and I just like to rock. "Ostara" is a bit too mellow for me. It's the only track on the album that I couldn't really get into. This was probably put on the album so he could avoid being typecast as nothing more than a shredder. I know a guy who's played rock 'n' roll for most of his life and a lot of people think, "Well, you can rock...but...that's all you can do," which isn't the case. Just because someone does a certain style of music doesn't mean that's all they can do. Know what I mean? Anyway...finishing off the disc is the rockin', high energy "Mindsweeper." I'm sure this album is just a small taste of what J.D. Bradshaw can do and while I'm not too fond of short releases, I think it works rather well here because you're not getting a ton of stuff thrown at you all at once. I mean, I've heard releases that got off to a good start. But, they put me to sleep halfway through the record due to the fact that someone thought it was a good idea to show you every single style of music that they're able to play. It's like that old saying...sometimes less is more and, in this case, that statement holds true. You flip through this disc, get a small taste of what J.D. Bradshaw can do and you end up wanting to hear a little more. That's the way you should do an instrumental album and that's why I would suggest checking out "3rd Time Around."


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Morbid Sacrifice
"Severed Death"
(Open Grave Records)
by Chris Forbes

8 tracks of basic, non frills death metal with chunky riffs and blasting beats that will numb the skull. The vocals are growls and the band sort of reminded me of Obituary. The riffs are big time heavy and the blast beats are big time blast beats. i like the raw production too. Worth getting. info: http://www.opengraverecords.com

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Liberty N Justice
"Soundtrack Of A Soul"
(LNJ Records)
by Jonathan Mariante

Liberty N Justice is a Christian rock project that is the brainchild of an individual named Justin Murr, along with "a lot of help from his friends". Those friends include a number of well known rock singers and musicians, who participate in this project, lending their vocal and musical talents to the songs. They include Sebastian Bach, Stephen Pearcy, Mark Slaughter, Mikkey Dee, Ted Poley, Oni Logan, Tony Harnell, Leif Garrett (of all people!), and number of famous Christian rock musicians, among others. The music is basically melodic hard rock that's a little rough around the edges, influenced by both classic and current styles. The songs range from rockers to ballads to laid back, Pearl Jammy tunes. There's even a humorous cut in "Surreal", which was good for a laugh. There's something for everyone on here, and everyone does a good job. There are some booty kicking hard rock songs on here like "Grenade" and "Killer Grin" (Stephen Pearcy's song), while at the other end of the scale, we have some emotional ballads like "Malice In Wonderland" and "If The World Could Be Mine", and a whole bunch of "in between" kind of songs. This is an enjoyable collection of songs done with some help by some of the rock icons of the 80s, along with some other talented musicians. And you don't have to be a Christian to appreciate it.


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"Deluxe With Reverb"
(Shelter From The Storm Records)
by John Haseltine

You may know Bluebeard. Having form in the early '70's, these guys have been slinging their "Original Classic Rock" for many years. It was 2004 when original founder/vocalist Robert Barry Leech took his own life. And through this tragedy, the remaining members found a new meaning and wanted not only for the band, but in memory of Barry to bring the music of Bluebeard to the world once again.

'Deluxe With Reverb' is the bands first new release in 25 years. On this release there a couple re-mastered tracks from the debut album 'Bad Dream', a couple live tracks, some re-recorded tracks with the newest line-up and five new originals. Two of which were inspired by Leech and a cover of "Pretty Vegas" by INXS.

You may think you are traveling back in time with this one. Well in a way you are. But it's the bands sound. It's what it was in the '70's and is what it is now. So you will hear that classic rock vibe from those early days that has "shifted many melodies from then to today and is rich with contemporary textures."

So check out their latest timeless classic. It is a great listen. You can hear in their material how they have inspired so many over the years. And the new material sounds just as new as it does 'classic'.


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Artimus Pyledriver
(DRT Entertainment)
by Jonathan Mariante

YEE-HAW AND HOT DANG! The South has indeed risen again and Artimus Pyledriver are leading the charge. This is one potent dose of Southern rock. Pyledriver do live up to their name, playing hard as nails, fast and furious, supercharged, rough and raw, deep fried rock and roll from the deep south! They put the pedal to the metal and barrel on down the highway like a souped up pick up with super size tires! They are very influenced by classic hard/Southern rock of the 70s but also dabble in current styles of hard rock/metal as well, kind of in the same vein as Nashville Pussy but all male. Their singer Dave Slocum has an aggressive, gravel-throated voice, similar to Bon Scott, with a Southern tinge. Guitarists Jimmy Hall and Damon Goldsmith really burn rubber on their axes, cranking out some mean riffs, fast as lightning and tough as steel, but also playing with quite a bit of skill and precision. I hear a lot of Ted Nugent influence from them. There is some technicality involved here, which gives the band a savage but refined sound. The band is very talented as a whole. They use their talents to the max, playing up a Southern rock and roll shitstorm here! When you hear the blitzing riff that open the first song, "Swamp Devil", you'll know you're in for a ride! This is Harley revving, monster truck crushing, beer chugging Southern rock that'll leave a lasting boot mark on your ass!


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Wednesday 13's Frankenstein Drag Queens
"Little Box Of Horrors"
by Paul Autry & Pete Madison

When "Little Box Of Horrors" came across my desk, the first thing I did was call my friend Pete. He's a hardcore FDQ fan and he knows a lot about the band. Everything I know about them...I only know because he told me. He was a great source for information. He also had "Little Box Of Horrors" long before I did. So, I asked him to share his opinion with me so I could include it in this review. This is what he had to say.

"This has been a long time coming. When I met Wednesday 13 on tour last year, his wife had asked me how I felt about a limited edition box set with all of the Frankenstein Drag Queen CD's, as well as extra tracks, in a coffin case. I told her that I'd be one of the first to buy it. Well, here it is, in a slightly different form than what was initially introduced, probably because the coffin idea was already done. "The Little Box Of Horrors" is just that...a box...with all five Frankenstein Drag Queens CD's inside, including the never mass produced CD's, "The Late, Late, Late Show" and "Rare Treats." Both were only available through the band or over the internet which, if you didn't get it through the band, you probably paid out the nose...like me. The other CD's, "Night Of The Living Drag Queens," "Songs From The Recently Deceased" and "Viva Las Violence" are included as well. Also, with "Rare Treats," there's a DVD of a selection of songs from their band sold only video, "Transvestite Chainsaw Massacre." I have yet to find out why they didn't include the whole show, which was possible...the show wasn't that long...or why they omitted two songs from the collection, that being the extremely limited "Chop Off My Hand" single, which also included a song called "Hey Mom, I Just Killed A Chicken." Being a long time fan, I already had the bulk of the material included in the box, including the full show which they cut, with the exception of the "Rare Treats" CD. This, to me, was worth the price of the box alone. Included is the full six demos that were limited and a few songs that were done acoustically in a radio station studio. The remastering of the CD's were fine EXCEPT for two instances. One, there is a whistling sound before "197666" on the "Rare Treats" CD, which is not present on the actual LP. Two, the demo "Snotty Nose Nappy Hair" fades out at the end, where as the original does not. Why this was done either...I have no clue. "Little Box Of Horrors" is worth getting because of high prices that the original CD's are commanding. So, if having reprints doesn't bother you...and you want an affordable way of getting almost all of the Frankenstein Drag Queens songs, as well as songs that were never heard by most before, then this will be right up your alley."

I'd have to agree with Pete about the "Rare Treats" CD for a number of reasons. The first being that there's a wealth of great material on this album. I love "Whoop D God Damn Da Doo" because I really dig strange music and this is one strange fuckin' song. I'm also a sucker for a good cover song and this disc features quite a few of them. They do an excellent version of Alice Cooper's "Hello Hooray," which is just as good as the original. Actually, they give you a double shot of The Coop as they also cover "Levity Ball." They also rip through AC/DC's "Shoot To Thrill," Sweet's "Fox On The Run" and "I Wanna Be Your Dog," which is, of course, The Stooges. Another reason why I like this disc is because, as a music fan, I tend to like everything that an artist does. But, there's a lot of music floating around out there that you won't get to hear because it's either hard to track down and/or the band doesn't want you to hear it. I hate when people do that. If you recorded something, you should allow your fans to hear it because...believe it or not...some people would actually enjoy it and they'd probably like to add it to their collection. So, to put a lot of your rare material on a disc...that's a good thing. Even if I thought this whole box set sucked...I would have still praised FDQ for including the "Rare Treats" disc because that's just a cool fuckin' thing to do. Also, the "Rare Treats" disc comes with a DVD, "The Transvestite Chainsaw Massacre Live '98," which gives you an idea of what the band was like in a live setting. The video was kind of raw and, as Pete mentioned above, it wasn't the complete show. But, it's still worth watching and it's a nice addition to the collection.

Now, I'm kind of a simple guy and it doesn't take a lot to make me happy. If I would have wrote this review on my own without any outside opinion, I would have said it's worth picking up for "Songs From The Recently Deceased" because this is the disc that features one of the greatest rock 'n' roll tunes that I have ever heard, "I Love To Say Fuck." Sure, it might offend those of you with virgin ears. But, if that's the case, you shouldn't be listening to FDQ in the first place...and, for the record, in 4 minutes and 41 seconds, they say the F word a total of 94 times. Yes...I sat here and counted them. I wasn't too fond of the edited version, which featured the beep of an old fashioned car horn everytime the offending word was mentioned. That doesn't make this song easy to listen to, that's for sure.

For those of you who aren't into FDQ, it doesn't take a lot to describe what they're all about. If you take everything that's good about rock, metal and punk music...throw in a bunch of cross dressing zombies who are obsessed with horror and you've got Frankenstein Drag Queens. One might think this concept would get old really quick. But, it doesn't. They keep it interesting through five albums and a nine song live performance. With this much material to go through in one sitting...you're bound to find a lot of tunes that you like...maybe some you don't. Each album, of course, can stand alone and still be great because there's strong material to be found on each disc. A quick list of tunes that stood out for me..."Hit & Rape," "I Dismember Mama," "God Damn I Am," "Mr. Motherfucker," "Twist My Sister," "Rambo," "Crossdressing...G.D.S.O.B.," "Going To Hell," "Eat Drugs First" and an amazing version of Ozzy Osbourne's "Bark At The Moon" to name a few. I could mention a lot of other songs. But, if I mention any more, I'd probably end up printing the entire track listing because, to be honest with you, there's not a lot that I didn't like.

Another reason this is an amazing box set is...well...common sense. I mean, think about it...they could've included a few tunes on here from each album, a few of the rare tracks, top it off with the DVD and called it a box set. Hell...Ozzy Osbourne did it...and he didn't even include a DVD. With "Little Box Of Horrors" you get damn near EVERYTHING that the band has ever done in one nice, neat, affordable package. You can't beat that even if you tried.

Of course, anyone who's familiar with FDQ is probably gonna pick this up. While I don't know a lot about the FDQ fan base, I do know that they're a dedicated and loyal bunch. So, they probably already have this in their collection. However, I believe this collection of material will bring in a whole new audience. People who are willing to open their mind and experience something different should be turned on by what FDQ have to offer. I know I was. When Pete let me hear some of this music...a little bit here, a little bit there...I thought it was okay. I didn't jump on their music right away. I wouldn't have said I was a fan or anything. Now that I've had the chance to actually sit down and go through their music and give it a proper listen...yeah...I'd say I'm hooked. I'm a fan now and if you give the band a chance, the same thing will happen to you. I can pretty much guarantee it. What it boils down to is this...if you take away the makeup...or whatever the band might call it...let's say the image or the concept...will you still enjoy the music? Is it still good. After all, you listen with your ears, not your eyes...unless you're watching the DVD. But, you know what I mean. Anyway...yes...this is a fuckin' great band and you can't go wrong with this release. So, be sure to check it out.


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"Live In Houston 1981"
(Columbia Records)
by Jym Harris

What can be said about this band that hasn't been said already? Love 'em or hate 'em, Journey refuses to be ignored. For the purists who have been disappointed lately with the addition of Tall Stories singer Steve Augeri (or the absence or Steve Perry...whichever the case) this is sure to bring back the warm fuzzies. 'Live In Houston' is a CD chock full of classics from what most listeners consider to be 'real' Journey. It's all here, played flawlessly, the way you remember. I was genuinely shocked at these amazing performances. If you want traditional 'Escape' tour at it's best, this is the disc for you. Included are guitar, bass, and drum solos. Good stuff.

Contact http://www.journeymusic.com for more information.

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self release
by John Haseltine

Hailing from Northern Ireland, Interrogate mixed it up a bit with a blend of hardcore, thrash and a full on crushing heavy metal sound. They have been ripping up the live circuit back home. Although they have a wide range of styles, I can't consider them as having a sound of their own. The songs are very well done, just nothing out of the ordinary or too terribly original sounding. The music is played well. This is the debut EP so we'll see what the future holds for these guys. I'm sure live, they must put on a pretty cool show. On this CD you get five fairly heavy and aggressive tracks. For fans of Godsmack, Drowning Pool, Slagg and Conspiracy Of Silence.


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independent release
by Jonathan Mariante

This band compares themselves to Audioslave, and that's a good comparison. D'amato are in a very similar kind of vein. They play hard-edged, grunge influenced, groove oriented rock, with some driving guitar work, and a dark atmosphere. All four songs are balls-out rockers. with singer Anthony D'amato belting out the words in his strong, gutsy voice. The band are pretty straight forward and keep things basic, with nothing fancy, just a rough and raw rock sound that's in the current style with a bit of a classic flavor, especially in the guitars. They play well and are worth checking out if this genre is up your alley.


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Hed p.e.
"Back 2 Base X"
(Suburban Noize)

by Paul Autry

My introduction to Hed p.e. was the "Only In Amerika" album, which is one of my all time favorite releases. I'm talkin' top five material. When I put "Only In Amerika" in my CD player, I don't flip through a few tunes before I stop listening to it. I go all the way...all the time. It's a fan-fuckin'-tastic album and my copy is all beat to hell because it's used on almost a daily basis. When I got "Back 2 Base X," which I was really looking forward to hearing, I was expecting more of the vulgar, in your face style that caught my attention the first time around. On top of that, it was being released on Suburban Noize Records, a label which has been floating my boat with a number of high quality releases for the past year or so. Anyway, the first time I gave "Back To Base X" a spin, I made the mistake of comparing it to "Only In Amerika." If you approach this album that way...I'm not gonna bullshit you...you're gonna be disappointed. I did that a few times and the end result was always the same. Since I didn't wanna come out and say I was disappointed with this release, I decided to throw it down to the bottom of the pile for a week or so. I didn't listen to this release at all...and I didn't listen to their previous effort either. When I finally got around to pulling "Back 2 Base X" back up to the top of the pile...I could listen to it again with fresh ears and form a more honest opinion. Some of the tracks on this release still didn't appeal to me. I'm talkin' about some of the "mellow" stuff. It wasn't for me. However, there was enough of the heavy shit to keep me satisfied. The second track, "Novus Ordos Clitorus" was a killer punk rock/rap tune that could've been featured on the tail end of "Only In Amerika." "Lock & Load" was another high energy, hard rockin' tune that caught my attention. "Peer Pressure" is a tune that will fuck your shit up in the 45 seconds it takes to get through that one. "Sweet Chops" is kickin' and "Let's Ride" was kind of "mellow." But, I got into that one anyway...especially when it got to the chorus and they got a bit more aggressive. A local magazine that I really like said it best. In their review, they mentioned that the band tried a few new things. They said...and I quote..."some work, some don't." I couldn't have said it better myself. The only song I absolutely don't like on this release is "The Chosen One," which is at the tail end of the album. Other than that, I can dig this release...just not as much as "Only In Amerika." What can I say...I like Hed p.e. when they're just balls to the wall aggressive. I love that high energy/in your face style and they do bring some of that vibe to this release...they just don't do it from start to finish this time around, which I can understand to a certain degree. You've gotta be able to grow as an artist. I'm sure they'll get back to the business of fuckin' your shit up. They might not do it on their next album...maybe not even the one after that. But, I know they will do it again. Until that time comes, you can listen to "Back To Base X" to get your rocks off.

Besides....Hed p.e. and Suburban Noize Records...that's a match made in heaven. You know they're gonna bring it on. Word!


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Wake Pig
self titled
(Metal Blade Records)
by Chris Forbes

What a great band this is. The band write some amazing music with some amazing vocals. This band hooked me in 2 minutes and never let me get off their ride till the last note was played. The singer has a one of kind voice and his vocals are clear, but very powerful and fot the music quite well. The music is a weird combo of like Faith No More meeting thrash and progressive metal. One of the best new bands I have heard in quite some time. Info: http://www.metalbladerecords.com

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"Meat Garden"
(H.M. Productions)
by Chris Forbes

Hell yeah this was some good ole grinding death metal. 12 tracks of death metal played the way it should be played. Real death metal vocals, brutal, low, but not too low, and with authority. Riffs that will skin your bones alive. the slow parts are just wicked, crushing, slow riffs that will make any death metal fan smile. Fast blast beats to make any fan of the fast stuff smile. Awesome release. Info: http://www.humanmulch.com

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"Carpe Diem"
(Akom Productions/Cool Blood)
by Paul Autry

Muculords is not my cup of tea. No...not at all. I gave this album a listen and I will never listen to it again. That much is true. Usually, I would slag a band such as this. However, I can't really say anything bad about Muculords because...suprise, suprise...they actually have some talent...and that kind of threw me for a loop. I mean, this is some sick/insane music. Extreme, if you will. It's a combination of thrash, death, black, grind and noise metal. Maybe even a little punk. It is, without a doubt, brutal beyond words and, while I wouldn't say the entire disc is perfect, there's a lot of tunes on here that prove that this band can play some serious fuckin' metal...and play it well. Of course, it's the screaming/death metal vocal style that turns me off. That's the only thing that's really holding me back from enjoying this album. I'm not a huge fan of instrumental music. But, if this was an instrumental album...it would be freakin' killer. I mean, it's got a great sound for an extreme album. Believe me, you can crank this one loud. But, as soon as the vocalist starts to do his thing...that does it for me. If you're a fan of brutal/extreme music, you will dig this release, I promise you that. As for me...one listen was more than enough.


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Theatre of Tragedy
(Candlelight Music)
by Chris Forbes

This was an amazing emotional display of music. 10 tracks of some classic metal with some melody and a bit of prog and goth mixed in. Oh the female vocals kill me as they fit the band like a nice pair of heels. The songs just flow really well and the melody and passion is felt in each song. One of the best of 2006 so far. Info: http://www.candlelightrecordsusa.com

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"Sahg I"
(Candlelight Records)
by Chris Forbes

This was a doom metal band and I didn't like the let's speak through a bull horn vocals at times and the music got in the groove mix a bit too much for me. The band is no doubt heavy and I think fans of Soundgarden would love these guys, for me just wasn't my cup of tea. Info: http://www.candlelightrecordsusa.com

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(Scarab Metal Productions)
by Paul Autry

I couldn't figure out if I actually liked this band or not. I had to let this one grow on me. I had to listen to it a number of times before I came to appreciate it. There's only five tunes on this release. But, each one has a lot going on and it takes a little thought to decide what kind of label to slap on 'em. If I wanted to be simple, all I would have to say is that they're a metal band which, of course, they are. However, they're also a progressive metal band with a touch of death metal and hardcore, which I would say mainly because of the vocal style. Old school meets new school. That statement would work as well. I don't know...maybe it's just me...but...I'd also say there's a little funk thrown into the mix as well. If I'm wrong about that, maybe I should stop trying to write reviews in the wee hours of the morning. I won't even attempt to figure out what kind of audience Caveat is trying to reach. But, from what I've heard here, I'm sure they'll reach a mixed crowd. Obviously, they'll get the metal audience, the progressive audience...maybe some hardcore/death metal people. Hell...there's something here for everybody. So, if you like heavy music but you're looking for something that's different from the stuff you usually listen to...this is probably the band for you. Give 'em a listen and see if they hold your attention. I'm pretty sure they will.


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(Candlelight Records)
by Chris Forbes

This was a pretty good progressive metal band and yes they do sound like Dream Threatre as times. The vocalist sounds like the guy from D.T. big time. The music is heavy and it is still melodic enough and has some melody that it won't go over your head. The production is right where it needs to be and if your into the progressive style, here ya go. Info: http://www.candlelightrecordsusa.com

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