All posts by Ken Pierce

Ken Pierce is an NYC based Music Journalist and the Editor In Chief of; He's been documenting the live Metal and Rock scene of the Big Apple since 2003 and believes that there is always something exciting happening in this Metropolis.

“Doctor Butcher” by Doctor Butcher

Artist: Doctor Butcher
Title: “Doctor Butcher”
Label: Black Lotus Records
Release Date: 9/27/2005
Genre: Heavy Metal
Rating: 8/10

Attention Savatage fans you may rejoice! If you were in need of some of the dose of the type of Metal that the classic band delivered you need look no further. Back in 1993 (around the time that Savatage released “Edge Of Thorns”) Jon Oliva and Chris Caffery were not active members of the group and had formed Doctor Butcher. With Butcher, the pair recorded an amazing number of powerful tracks that were released on a self-titled record which was unfortunately next to impossible to find. Now, thanks to the efforts of Caffery and Oliva as well as the folks at Black Lotus Records you are able to own this gem of music and an important release from these two musicians. As you listen you will find it almost to be a heavier version of the already heavy Savatage. One would expect a similar sound especially from the principle writer of many of the classics ‘Tage fans loved. Vocally, Jon still possessed the powerful pipes that he was known for in all of the Savatage tunes and now they burned with anger in these tracks. Chris’ guitar work was ripping continually and the bass and drums steady and powerful. Songs like “Season Of The Witch”, “The Altar” and “Reach Out And Torment Someone” clearly defined the piece and almost assured this band a place alongside their counterparts as an equal Metal power. Sadly, the material went un-toured and limited in release and availability until now. The CD is a double-disc and features a brand-new Butcher recording that also features the guitar talents of Metal Mike Chlasiak. Drums are handled by John Osborne on a large amount of the songs and Jon and Chris handled bass for the larger recordings. Lyrics and another excellent package are par for the course with all the Black Lotus releases it seems and this one is no different. I lean towards a release that also gives me a lot to look at and find it more worth my time when extra care was placed into it. I had heard this music as a friend owned the original CD (now many years lost) and it was great to hear it all once again.
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“W.A.R.P.E.D.” by Chris Caffery

Artist: Chris Caffery
Title: “W.A.R.P.E.D.”
Label: Black Lotus Records
Release Date: 9/27/2005
Genre: Heavy Metal
Rating: 8/10

When you begin playing your copy of “W.A.R.P.ED.” you will probably find it to be a little familiar to you. You see the reason is because this new CD release by Chris Caffery is not entirely new at all. If you were one of the smart ones, when Chris released “Faces” in 2004 he included a bonus CD that was meant for a future release. This CD was entitled “God Damned War” or “GDW” for short. It was a great inclusion as a bonus and really gave the Chris fan a large amount of music for the money. Very different however from the musical explorations on “Faces”, “GDW” is a bit heavier and now with added tracks this has been released on the public as “W.A.R.P.E.D.”. Chris explores deeper into the themes of the War as he introduced on “GDW”, the piece is definitely meant to be listened to from start to finish. “Home Is Where The Hell Is” kicks off the CD now but I did feel that “GDW” was the better track to start. I have liked the “Saddamize” track since I first heard it, and this one features Mark Wood of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. The rest of the recording lineup on this piece is Jeff Plate (drums), Dave Z. (bass) and Paul Morris (keyboards). Jon Oliva makes an appearance in “Iraq Attack”.
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“The Second Coming” by KISS

Artist: KISS
Title: “The Second Coming”
Label: Image Entertainment
Release Date: 1/4/2000
Genre: Hard Rock
Rating: 8.5/10

The phenomenon that is KISS ruled the concert stage and record books on album sales during their heyday. Known mainly for the bombastic shows and presentation as well as catchy music there was literally no stopping them. The end of the 70’s saw core member Peter Criss leave and by the early 80’s Ace Frehley had moved on as well. The band chose to continue with new members and eventually found themselves wiping off the trademark face paint. It was still a great band, but the whole super-hero mystique and appeal would be gone. Years passed with KISS maintaining a steady release of albums, videos and selling out arenas but the fans always wondered if the makeup and original lineup would ever come back. The makeup idea was used as a teaser in the video for “Rise To It” from Hot In The Shade which finds Gene and Paul backstage in their glory days donning it before they hit the stage. They jibe how it will remain on and never off. I remember seeing this video and being on edge about it since it made me really crave a reunion of the original four. Fast forward to the KISS episode of MTV’s “Unplugged” show and fans are given a non-makeup reunion of the original four. The response was quite amazing for not only did we have the appearance of Ace and Peter but we were treated to an all out jam with new and old lineups. History was re-written that day and the wheels were set in motion on a reunion that was to be like no other. As a result we get this DVD that serves as a “Rock-umentary” of the classic KISS lineup, how they reunited and put together this world tour.
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“KISS: eXposed” by KISS

Artist: KISS
Title: “eXposed”
Label: Universal Music
Release Date: 2/19/2002
Genre: Hard Rock
Rating: 7.5/10

I remember when this DVD first came out as a VHS tape very clearly. When it was advertised we were told that not only would we get to have a lot of KISS’ videos on one tape but we would also for the first time-ever get an authorized product that featured 8 makeup years live performances. These clips would range from very early in the career to just before the makeup was taken off. Originally released in 1987 I don’t think that there was a KISS fan in existence who did not race to the store to get a copy. The video was setup as a “mock-umentary” with a member of the short-lived television show “Fridays” as the host who would be interviewing the members of KISS in their homes on a normal day. Obviously the outrageous settings of these homes was not true to what living was like for them yet in the needs of the video it fit in. Cutting between comedic lines we do get some good information on some of these clips and the old live performances especially. The earliest footage suffers a little due to its time of record while the later material such as the 1977 stuff is crystal clear and makes you long for a full show. At the time the band was Gene, Paul and Eric Carr and Bruce Kulick and sadly these last two members are hardly visible in the video and do more of a “Walk-In” appearance rather than contribute to anything being discussed. There is no commentary from original members Ace Frehley and Peter Criss either.
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“20th Century Masters: Millennium Collection 2” by KISS

Artist: KISS
Title: “20th Century Masters: Millennium Collection – The Best Of KISS v.2”
Label: Mercury/Universal Records
Release Date: 6/15/2004
Genre: Hard Rock
Rating: 5/10

Released as a follow-up to the 1st volume in the Millennium Collection comes volume II which continues its “Best Of KISS” editions. The first CD handled a brief sampling of the bands earlier material from the “KISS” to “Dynasty” albums. This release delivers some choices from “Creatures Of The Night” to “Hot In The Shade” and as you can see the pickings are on the slim side. These releases under the “20th Century Masters” label seem to be merely a nice way to introduce a person to a particular band as they leave far too many seminal tracks off to fully be a “Best Of” with any note to it. In a nutshell this CD features 2 songs from each of the 6 albums that it covers and while there are a few highlights among them they have left off tracks that should be represented. For an introduction piece this is fine but for a retrospective piece it falls very short. This CD leaves off “Revenge”, “Carnival Of Souls” and “Psycho Circus” so perhaps a Volume 3 was being planned but of that I am not all that certain.
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