Heaven And Hell / The Devil You Know / Rhino Records
You cannot kill the metal. The metal will live on. Heaven and Hell, a band composed of Black Sabbath members Tommy Iommi (on guitar) and Geezer Butler (on bass) and original Ozzy replacement Ronny James Dio, prove this on The Devil You Know. The group’s instruments have never sounded better; Iommi is never afraid to take listeners out on an extended solo or two. The sounds he produces prove that while he has one foot firmly planted in Sabbath’s classic 70s and 80s rhythms he has another foot fixed in the playing and recording techniques of today, giving some solos a refreshingly modern feel. The power stance Iommi and Butler hold astride two generations of metal makes the album worth checking out – even for those wary of Dio’s influence. On “Heaven and Hell” Dio sounds like a maniacal preacher singing sermons on destruction and death – a reverend who finds the evil in the hearts of men a little more interesting than the faith. Like Dio can do, sometimes (often in fact) his overly momentous vocals can sound a little cheesy, like an operatic Chris Cornell, but they’re still attention grabbing. And they’re definitely metal.
Download: “Atom & Evil”, “Bible Black”, “Eating The Cannibals”
The Audition / Self-Titled / Victory Records
There’s not much pop punk hasn’t thrown at its junior high-and-up audience. Even though the last decade has seen a saturation of that particular genre in popular music – the worst offenders coming from Drive-Thru and, The Audition’s label, Victory Records – and even though they don’t bring anything new to the table, The Audition deserve attention. The main reason for this is the surprising versatility and talent of singer Danny Stevens. The relative depth of Stevens’ voice compared to that of his comrades in the pop punk vocalist field helps the band transcend the label of pop punk, earning them a more secure place on generic rock radio. Bluntly, it’s conceivable that Stevens actually has balls, and might have slept with a girl, putting him head and shoulders above the likes of Simple Plan et al. They might be less experimental than a group like Panic! at the Disco (they certainly use shorter song titles) but this doesn’t hurt their appeal, it just makes them seem less pretentious.
Download: “My Temperature’s Rising”, “Sign.Steal.Deliver”
The Chariot / Wars And Rumors Of Wars / Solid State
If a singer is recording a track and they inhale too loudly in the wrong spot, most record producers would have them do the track again, or perhaps carefully remove the mistake from the mix. Changes like that would only take away from the raw angry sound aimed for, and achieved, by The Chariot on Wars and Rumors of Wars. Singer Josh Scogin, formerly of Norma Jean, can regularly be heard loudly gasping or spitting after his righteously angry and intense tirades. This technique is mirrored in instrumentals at the ends of songs like “Teach:” and “Never I” where improvised-sounding jams transition listeners from song to song. The album gives the impression that each track was inspired by spur-of-the-moment hardcore fury and recorded in a single take before the emotions could be cheapened by time or afterthoughts.
Download: “Teach:”, “Giveth”