Monday, May 26, 2008

Review: CRESCENT SHIELD - The Last Of My Kind

Background: My musical voyage has taken me from one shore to another, exploring many different sounds and lands. While I have spent a lifetime discovering a multitude of different musical genres and styles, the initial focus of this blog will be Metal and Progressive Rock. After being a co-editor of the Suck City fanzine in the 80's, I drifted far from Metal, only to pick it back up in a huge way around the year 2000. Being an ultimate maniac, obsessive and completist, somehow I MISSED the genesis of the new Traditional Metal revival here in the United States. I guess this is because I was so incredibly focused on Metal and Prog in Europe and Scandinavia. I was bitterly disappointed in my home country's lack of contribution to the types of Metal I enjoyed most. Agalloch and Iced Earth were the great exceptions. But stupid me, I missed some incredible Metal being created by some new bands who have taken up the Traditional EPIC F*&king Metal banner. I am here now to help correct the errors of my ways, to promote and hopefully inform listeners about some great new bands, whether they come from the US, Greece, Italy, or wherever. One of the bands that has kicked my butt clear across the globe and to the moon and back (all in one piece) is CRESCENT SHIELD, with their debut album "The Last Of My Kind." Although this album came out in 2006, and they are hard at work recording their next opus, I wish to write about this great album, because I know there are people out there who have not heard it, but would f*&king LOVE it!!!!

The Meat Of The Matter: "The Last Of My Kind is Traditional Metal, pure and simple, the kind that morphed into being during the 1980's by such bands as Jag Panzer, Liege Lord, and Fates Warning, all being influenced by the ultimate masters, Maiden and Priest. Whenever I hear a new metal album or band, and the first song plays, and the guitars, tempo and melody is blasting my butt, my hopes go high, only leading to the terror of hearing the lead vocalist's voice for the first time. So many times I have been momentarily stoked about a band, only to be crushed amongst the rocks by a totally negative 8 cents singer who's obnoxious style and voice sends me to the shores of disappointment. I guess I am a bit picky about singers. So as the stomping intro to opener "Above Mere Mortals" came pulsating out of the speakers, my hopes were as high as the moon, and I braced for impact. When vocalist Michael Grant belted out the opening line of "Honor the dead that have fallen," I rejoiced, pissed my pants, and sighed, HE IS EIGHT and GREAT! Yes indeed, the dude's voice reminds me of the legendary "The Tyrant" (Harry Conklin) of Jag Panzer, legend of legends Brian Ross of Blitzkrieg & Satan, and to a lesser extent Andy Michaud of Liege Lord (their original vocalist)!!! Of course, the next to last thing you want is a clone singer, and I must say Grant has his own significant personality, but he definitely comes from the school of the aforementioned greats.

So I was off and cruisin' to this new disc, but unexpectedly was then saddened as I figured out that the first song was a Metal Anthem! Erckkk, stab me with a million toothpicks, but I NEVER have been a real fan of Metal Anthems. Testimonials to the great METAL LIFESTYLE and MOVEMENT have never really invoked passion within me. Call this incongruous, or sinful, I don't really care, I just never really liked them. The second song is entitled "Slave To The Metal Horde," and I thought, "Uh-oh, this is sinking fast... Please don't s(t)ink!" A quick look at the lyric sheet helped reduce my fears significantly, as I learned this song was inspired by H.G. Wells' "War Of The Worlds," and that the lyrics were intelligent and somewhat poetic. I felt greatly relieved.

When the third track, "Rise Of The Red Crescent Moon" arose from my speakers, I began a great dance of joy and fierce air guitar. Now this is the SHIT! A mid-tempo riff pounder, with a great chorus, tasteful and forceful lead guitar, and gorgeous imagery in the lyrics, this has all the earmarks of a classic! The swirling vortex of guitar leads and vocal enchantments at the conclusion of the song made the hairs on my arm stand up.

In this song, I was especially taken with the poetic lyrics (yes, I mean it, and I rarely call Metal lyrics truly poetic!). These are so cool, I have to share some of them with you...

A swollen tired sun will soon die
The stars will form above and below me
My moon it closely follows it's light
A razor thin reflection will humor
And crack the

Smile of the red crescent moon
Solace on the crimson horizon
Pride of the red crescent moon
Rule within the sky of forever

The city and high clouds remain blind
My eyes can be the only witness
Glisten to the atmospheres curse
And follow the fate of the light who creates you

Time of the red crescent moon
The night governor has fallen
Night of the red crescent moon
Slips into the sea of the fallen

Yay Michael Grant. Great job bud! You get a Shakespearian Abominogacious salute!

There are other classic songs all over this sucker. One that really makes me fly to the Cosmos and back is the phenomenal title track, the fantastic "The Last Of My Kind," written by guitarist Dan DeLucie. This stands toe-to-toe with any great 80's classic... Hell F*&K the decade comparisons!!! I am sick of that shit! This is as good as Traditional Metal gets!

I also freak out on "North For The Winter." Anybody who really knows me, knows that any song that has to do with Winter and the North is almost always golden in my book! "The Great Devoid" is another fantastic epic, "Unfinished Ash" is really cool, and the closer "The Passing" is another classic. The rest of the songs are really good too. One thing I can say is, Crescent Shield sure knows how to write a good chorus. For more info on all the songs, click here for notes on each one from vocalist Michael Grant.

There really is no dead weight on this album, and the musicians really wail. Although I call them "new," these are veteran Metal MO's, who have done their time in other bands. Michael Grant has sung in more bands than "Carter Has Pills," and the others have been a part of Destiny's End, New Eden, Engine, among many others, and bassist Melanie Sisneros used to be in the immortal Iron Maidens! None of the musicians are virtuosoes, but they are all extremely good. Guitarist DeLucie has lots of inspired solos that are melodic, but also sharp yet swirly, prickly and harmonic, pointed and blended, often referencing eastern melodies. Craig Anderson's drums are bashing, exact, and tribal, while Sisneros' bass is propulsive and on-the-money (hey, anybody who had to be Steve Harris in another life has to be good!).

I think one thing that really brings the 80's feel to the record (besides the song's themselves) is the production. It has that kind of distant, compressed feel that is only missing the occasional pop-and-crackle of vinyl. This is both a blessing and a curse (wellll, not a curse, but maybe not everybody's cup of tea). Whether this is from lack of budget, or a purposeful attempt to evoke that era, I am not sure. To me, it is *NOT* a problem. I like it. I think it adds to the atmosphere that conjures up 80's Jag Panzer or Satan. However, in the year 2008, some Metal fans might be looking for something more modern sounding. We'll see what things sound like on their new opus, "The Stars Of Never Seen," which is being produced the legendary Bill Metoyer (of old Fates Warning/Metal Blade fame).

In Closure: "The Last Of My Kind" is a great record, one that makes me proud to be an American Metal 8-Center again! I think it is the perfect choice for my first review on my new blog. In the future, I will certainly venture beyond Traditional Epic Metal, for I have many, many Metallic styles that I want to explore. But this goes back to my roots, and the earth from which my 8 Cent Egg was hatched. BUY THIS! It is very, very good. SAY YEAH, NO SCREAMING DOUBT!

One Last Question: But what exactly is an "Unfinished Ash?"

For more on Crescent Shield, click here, and here!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Ol' "Brocas Helm" Ball!

The Crafty Old Veteran, the relief pitcher from Hell, is widely known for his amazing "Brocas Helm" ball, that has baffled hitters for decades. The pitch is associated with Metal band Brocas Helm because it possesses the same qualities of a Brocas Helm song - meaning it goes in all directions at once, and just when you think it is going to split into a million pieces, it darts over the plate to kill you! STRIKE THREE!!! Now, the Crafty Old Veteran reveals his inner secret of how to throw the Brocas Helm ball. Just look!

Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, the ball is dented! No wonder the Cirith Ungol softball team is undefeated! The aerodynamics of the pitch are scary, and puts batters into a starchy catatonic state. R8CM (Rudo's Eight Cent Marvels) learned that Baseball Hall of Fame relief pitcher Hoyt Wilhelm invented the pitch back in the 1950's, and gave it the apt 8 Cent name. R8CM recently asked Wilhem why he named it after Brocas Helm, especially since they wouldn't appear on the music scene until 30 years in the future. The relief ace replied "Snararoo! Kelpwashers! Brocas be Helm, how could it be called anything else?" What makes this all the more amazing is that Hoyt Wilhelm died in 2002.

For more on Brocas Helm, click here!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Mystery Woman Drinks Giant Can of OM

Check it out here, this bizarre but true story of the Mystery Woman Who Was Gonna Drink A Giant Can Of OM (Old Milwaukee NA - non-alcoholic, you nerds). OM was originally brewed by Allen Ginsburg, who Bob Dylan once wrote a song about.

An 8 Cent Marvel if I ever saw One.


Metal Mix CD: Island Of The Silver Skull

Ever since I got my first stereo tape recorder, a Sound Design 8-Track deck in 1974, I have been putting together my own mix tapes, or now mix CDs. It has been a non-stop part of my life, and I really can't think of anything more fun or creative to do. One of my goals for this blog was to inflict some of these homemade collections on you, much to my sadistic glee. Too bad... You deserve it, and I can finally get some of this off my chest and into the eardrums of folks who would like to hear 'em!

Even though I am an OLD MO and am prone to wax nostalgic at times, I do not live in the salad days of the past, forever stuck in old glorious musical eras. Sometimes I dread reliving certain scenes and sounds, and duly want to stay rooted in the Here and Now. So I do! But there are times I am attracted to an OLD SOUND being recreated and revitalized by YOUNG MO-FO's. Such is "Island Of The Silver Skull." An old sound being revived by newer bands.

I f*&king love Traditional Epic HEAVY METAL, and ate it, drank it, slept it, smoked it, and kissed it back in the glorious 80's, in the proverbial Days Of Yore. Ever so often, I get nostalgic and pull out the old classics, and revere them in all their ceremonious glory. But lately I've been GROOVING on 80's style Traditional Epic Heavy Metal, performed by a bunch of talented young'uns, who bring the bacon home when the bugle is called.

And it kicks my god-damn egg. Actually, I made this disc fast as hell. Once I heard this material, I just *HAD* to get something down on CD as fast as possible. And it had to be really well done, so I was up for the challenge!

Here is the track listing, with the band name linked to a web page where you can learn more about 'em, and possibly hear some more songs. The download links are after the track list.


1. Ironsword - Under The Flag of Rome 4:57 - "Ironsword" <2002> (Portugal)
2. Battleroar - Oceans Of Pain 10:23 - "To Death And Beyond" <2008> (Greece)
3. Crystal Viper - Island Of The Silver Skull 5:43 - "The Curse Of The Crystal Viper" <2007> (Poland)
4. Spirit Web - From A Prince To A Pauper 7:49 - "Far Beyond The Visual Mind" <2003> (USA)
5. Pharaoh - Buried At Sea 7:00 - "Be Gone" <2008> (USA)
6. Crescent Shield - The Last Of My Kind 7:20 - "The Last Of My Kind" <2006> (USA)
7. Rekuiem - Werewolf 8:24 - "Time Will Tell" <2006> (UK)
8. Overstep - Karrig An Ankou 8:04 - "Karrig An Ankou" <2001> (France)
9. Manilla Road - Totentanz (Dance Of Death) 7:56 - "Voyager" <2008> (USA)
10. Sacred Blood - Gates Of Fire 11:41 - "The Battle Of Thermopylae: The Chronicle" <2008> (Greece)

Download Part 1

Download Part 2

The disc starts of with the Neanderthalic Primal Poundations of Portugal's Ironsword, who beckon the listener with the age old proverb, "If you live by the sword, You will die by the sword!" UNK! This is followed by Greecian urns Battleroar, who perform a majestic epic, in three movements. The first is classic Epic Metal gesticulations, followed by a gorgeouoso electric violin interlude that is quite oceanic, all leading to the obligitato and perfectly executed searing majestic guitar solo, rooted in beauty and restraint. Crystal Viper sports a female vocalist that sounds like a much more TR00 Metal version of Lee Aaron, with a healthy dose of Doro thrown in for good measure. Spirit Web shoots this baby into the stratosphere with the righteous "From A Prince To A Pauper," which stands side-by-side with any ultimate 80's Vlassic Classic. Pharaoh then buries me at sea with their mob rules approach to harmony and integrated sounds. The Crescent Shield track sounds like a long lost song off of an old Blitzkrieg/Satan or Jag Panzer vinyl. I really freak out on their "The Last Of My Kind" CD!

Rekuiem turns up the 8 cent nodules with "Werewolf," sung by an old lead singer of Tredegar (Tredegar? Tredegar!). Overstep is from France, they sing in French, and it sounds weird and wonderful. They can crank. "Karrig An Ankou" is an 8 cent gas. And of course, MANILLA F*&KING ROAD do NOT need any INTRODUCTION... This is from their brand new album, and it belongs here to provide some much needed perspective (or too much f*&king perspective!). Mark St. Shelton is GOD! And lastly, things are capped off by the sacred Sacred Blood, who also are Greecian urns, and this is a mighty epic, a proper summative statement, and a place to hang your hat at the end of this glorious ride through the depths and slime of TR00 Epic Metal in the 21st Century!

I post this disc for two reasons: 1) to share the listening experience 2) to expose you to these bands, and their music, which is far, far, far from the mainstream, and quite removed from what is considered to be the hippest movements in the Metal scene. SUPPORT THE BANDS! BUY THEIR MUSIC! Follow the links to their web sites! They deserve your attention!


Give Me 8 Cents,

Monday, May 12, 2008


Long ago, a young man worshipped the ULTIMATE METAL band, Cirith Ungol!!! That young man was me, and now that I am old MO, I still worship at the altar of the ultimate Lovecraftian slime-mold chain gang, the original mutants of Chaos, Cirith F*@king Ungol! Never had there been a Metal band like them before, and never since. However, I am glad to learn that there are a host of young Metal bands who worship the mighty Ungol, as well as their Midwestern partners in Chaos, Manilla Road.

As I mentioned in my blog profile, I used to be a co-editor of an 80's Metal fanzine, the 8 cent "Suck City." Our modus operandi back then was to be known as "The Mag that Worshiped Cirith Ungol!" We worked hard at it, running numerous interviews, reviews, and the like. Below is a scan of an interview I did with the most resplendent and 8 cents singer of all-time, the AMAZING TIM BAKER! This was done back in 1986, when their "One Foot In Hell" opus was brand new.

Before things get too out-of-hand with this blog, with all sorts of goofy 8 cent stuff, I needed to put things in perspective first. Cirith Ungol, then everything else! (except a 1960 Studebaker Lark stationwagon).

For more on Cirith Ungol, check out:

Give Me 8 Cents,

Saturday, May 10, 2008

I Want a Studebaker Lark

A couple of years ago, I almost bought this Studebaker Lark for $5 on Ebay. It was located in western North Dakota. It would have been a big job hauling it back to the Ancient Region of Indiana. But the main reason I didn't buy it was because it is a 1963, and I don't like the grill as much. However, the price was pretty good. Tough decision!

Here is a Lark that I would love to buy. Ain't it great?

In the Beginning....

In the beginning, there was a small boy who lived in Northern Indiana. He went to this shopping center a lot with his Grandmother and Mother during the 1960's. Why? Nobody knows, except that it had a lot to do with fabric stores. Why is this important? Most people don't care except me. But it has a lot to do with Epic Heavy Metal and Squirrely Progressive Rock. You can tell by the cracks in the cement, that look into the scattered depths of eternity, and the static between TV and radio stations.

So come along for the ride, as I sift my way through the sands of the hourglass. I will post a lot of my own homemade music mix CD's. Many of them Metal, many of them Prog, and quite a few of other persuasions. I will also post my own 8 cent CD cover art, lo-fi as they are. I am a free-flowing, wild-wind blowing MO-FO, with a mind of his own. Now I get to impose it on you! But don't be afraid of the man behind the curtain - the Bob Dole of this joint, for I am benign, and a happy soul. This is a place to sit back, relax, take your shoes off, and y'all come back now, here! (Howdy Jed)