HardReviews 3
by Martin Popoff

Lynch Pilson - Wicked Underground

Part classic Dokken, part Lynch Mob and part the moody, Beatles-esque Dokken everybody (wrongly) puts down, Wicked Underground should please fans of each triangle-fangled corner. No fooling round here, the production is awesome, as are the performances, the detailing and surprise... Pilson's vocals, the man emoting and acrobatting it around on par and often above the level of his ex-band leader. The album rips its paisley sleeves off come track #4, Vaccine, before an acoustic track, that leads into yet another slinky, atmospheric number in Zero The End, Lynch finding all sorts of accessible, vaguely Van Halen-esque riffs and tones to spice up the album's serious vibe.
Rating 8

Jack Starr's Guardians Of The Flame - Under A Savage Sky
(Cult Metal Classics)

Virgin Steele axeman Jack Starr returns with an all-new album of power metal that expertly embraces the dirty old school without sounding embarrassing or out of touch. Part of the reason this works so well is that the songs are covered in a shower of sparks, the production of this thing exploding in carnage as if attacked by whirring circular saws. Writing-wise, Jack locates then exploits the magic of old Virgin Steele (no surprise, he was there), which is namely this: the idea of Americans writing in a New Wave Of British Heavy Metal style. Vocalist Shmoulik Avigal is a scream, literally, again, the NWOBHM coming triumphantly to mind, the man bellowing as if witches were bearing down on his family from the north, advancing from an ancient mound standing sentinel on some Scottish rise. Adding to the electricity is drummer Joe Hasselvander, a man with an old school pedigree that is legendary, Hasselvander practically leading the charge, if not for the overbearing riffs and ornate twin leads from the band's central cast member. So yeah, even if much of this (purposefully) courts convention, it is the performances that take it over the top, Under A Savage Sky being attacked from all sides with the spitting vipers of live wire heavy metal electricity. Faves: I Stand Alone and Personal Demons Dethroned, both of which practically take the band into the rarified air of Savage's Loose 'n Lethal. For some reason, the production quality decreases sharply for the last two tracks, but small fault on an album of pure metal played convincingly in a vintage style. See www.jackstarr.com for more info.
Rating 8

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