HardReviews 5
by Martin Popoff

Doctor Butcher - Doctor Butcher
(Black Lotus)

Simultaneous with the reissue of the classic, caustic, black and blueing Doctor Butcher album, Black Lotus has done a similarly plush and elegant job with Chris Caffery's W.A.R.P.E.D., an album title actually more of a pain to type than W.A.S.P. (it's the single issue of God Damn War, the adjunct disc to Faces). Slam one, use the other as chaser. Anyway, what we have here is basically a heavy, heavy Savatage album, as accomplished as any, now remastered for added punch and fidelity. It was a solid 10/10 then, and it's the same now. Housed in triple gate digipak, the album comes with five bonus tracks, one being the brand-new Inspecter Highway, which is quintessential top-flight Doctor Butcher, Oliva howling as only he can, Caffery's riff earthy, gothic, timeless, slyly mutating. The other four tracks are demos from way back in '92, also well recorded, all non-LP, each as intelligent, crazily metal and entirely successful as if they fell of Sirens, save maybe for Bridges which is a sort of bluesy power ballad. Superlative, detailed but still potent and aggressive traditional metal - quite a mouthful that can only be used to describe this band, heavy Savatage, Chris solo, and perhaps Eidolon, Evergrey and Nevermore.
Rating 10

Victor Griffin - Late For An Early Grave

Late For An Early Grave is a culling of demos that the scary Place Of Skulls/Pentagram guitarist recorded from '88 to '94. The production is mostly quite adequate, with full-bodied guitars, although the drums are drum machine (full set style), and the vocals vary in tone and volume quite a bit - up a notch from demo, I can imagine this as a badly recorded '80s album. Compositionally, the first three songs blow, but then Griffin dishes the doom and all is well. Later still, we get a couple of Dead Boys covers (Son Of Sam: yeah!), plus Motorhead's Iron Horse. Best part is the photo-studded booklet, in which, as well, all is explained generally by Griffin and label head Omid Yamini, and then track by track by Griffin, which is both interesting and helpful, exposing a glimpse into the life of this semi-legendary doom toiler.
Rating 5.5