By Bob Nalbandian

City Of Kings
Verismetal Music

It's always great to see indie metal bands that have the ability to release and market their music completely on their own without the support and/or interference from a record label. The debut from the Brooklyn-based band Verismo is proof that metal bands in this day and age don't need to rely on corporate entities in order to achieve success. Released on their self-financed label Verismetal Music, City Of Kings can easily stand-up to the best of major label metal in all aspects from musicianship to production right down to the artwork. And the press and radio-play this band has already achieved surpasses many recent major label metal releases. But none of that really means shit unless the band can deliver musically. And after first listen of City Of Kings that is thoroughly justified. (Once again) this band harkens back to the thrash-metal heyday showing influences from Bay Area titans Testament and Forbidden. But the band is able to stylishly diversify their sound on songs such as "Hope" and "Legacy" which display a more contemporary metallic edge. What's so impressive is the fact that this CD was recorded in one continuous take without overdubs defining the sheer raw-power that this band exudes, again proving you don't need a big recording budget to release a kick-ass metal album. Pretty damn impressive for a thrash-rock trio! All three members, guitarist/vocalist Stephan Laboccetta, bassist Vincent Cruz and drummer Tamas Vajda, are seasoned metal maestros who perform exceptionally well throughout this disc. Strongest cuts include the title track, "The Last Word," "Moment of Clarity" (featuring a great thrash-metal "shuffle") and "Field Report."

Spread The Fire
Metal Blade

It's funny when listening to classic-era thrash-metal nowadays how refreshing it sounds compared to all the over-abundance of current death-metal garbage that seems to be the new MTV trend (if you don't agree just take a look at Headbanger's Ball today compared to 15 years ago when "hair metal" ruled that channel. Or go to an Ozzfest or similar metal festival performance and check out all the second-stage virgin band's brand new tour busses lined outside the parking lot with corporate logos plastered on the side as well as all over their equipment and back-drops. Like it or not, death-metal has become the new corporate commercial-rock.) That's why, for me, hearing a band like Fueled By Fire gets my blood pumping again. This is true-to-form early '80s-style thrash at it's finest. Like Temple Of Brutality (reviewed elsewhere in this section), Fueled By Fire embrace the ferocious speed and attitude of early thrash pioneers Exodus, Flotsam, and Dark Angel while maintaining their own aggressive identity. Sure the influence is prominent (particularly that of Exodus) but the musicianship is first-rate and their overall sound comes across heart-felt and well-crafted fueled by a ballsy production. All eleven tracks on Spread The Fire are relentless and even though it may not be the most original album of the year, damn, it sure does sound invigorating! Highly recommended.

Shockwaves CD REVIEWS ISSUE 14 Page 8