Ray Van Horn, Jr. is a veteran entertainment journalist whose writing and live photography has been featured in Blabbermouth.net, Dee Snider’s House of Hair Online, Fangoria.com, Horror News.net, About.com Heavy Metal, MetalManiacs, New Noise, Music Dish, AMP, Hails & Horns, Unrestrained,Noisecreep, Impose, Pit, The Big Takeover.com, Rough Edge.com, Pitriff and others. His blog The Metal Minute won a “Best Personal Blog” award in 2009 from Metal Hammer magazine and he wrote and produced his own hard rock e-zine, Retaliate.

He has contributed essays to UK author Neil Daniels’ Iron Maiden and ZZ Top biographies. Ray’s fiction has been published in various periodicals and anthologies, including his flash fiction piece “Off the Record” for Akashic Books’ “Mondays Are Murder” noir series. His recent short stories “Before the Ball” and “Widow” were featured in subsequent editions of Alex S. Johnson’s Axes of Evil anthologies. Ray wrote serialized original superhero fiction for Cyber Age Adventures and five of those stories appear in the anthology Playing Solitaire. He was the winner of Quantum Muse’s fiction contest in 1999.

Ray is a former NHL game analyst for The Hockey Nut and one-time host of the forum “Comic Books” at ReadWave. He has done beat reporting, photography and lifestyle articles for Metromix, an affiliate of The Baltimore Sun, Carroll Magazine, The Northern News and The Emmitsburg Dispatch.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Most "Blab" Worthy Album of the Prior Month for Blabbermouth

My reviews from last month for Blabbermouth should be going live any day now as I dig in and prepare for this month's listening sessions.  Instead of picking the album I gave the highest rating to last month (that honor is shared by Boris and Goatwhore with a 9 out of 10 each), I'm going with the album that arrived this week and was already under fire on the basis of a mere few samples prior to. 

The new Mastodon album is another milestone in their esteemed careers and both Helstar and Volume IV likewise impressed me last month with their latest offerings.  However, Judas Priest's Redeemer of Souls is currently the hottest topic in new metal music releases, so by all means, it deserves this month's most "Blab" worthy acknowledgement.  While hardly perfect, the Priest did an honorable job with Redeemer of Souls, as I note here in this sample from my review:

"Gauging the pre-release fan chatter out there, “Redeemer of Souls” rings more like Judgment Day than the release of a new JUDAS PRIEST album.  This should be cause for celebration, since it’s JUDAS freakin’ PRIEST, damn ya.   Nevertheless, “Redeemer of Souls” arrives amidst skepticism following their sprawling metal opera “Nostradamus” that sent most of their fans into a panic.

Of course, PRIEST’s been here before.  As commercially successful as “Turbo” may have been for them in the late eighties, the band recognized they’d attracted the wrong crowd and set out to make things right for their long-timers.  “Ram it Down” was a valiant step back to where they once belonged and the same opportunity is presented them now with their 17th album.  KK Downing is unaccounted for on “Redeemer of Souls,” which only fuels the pre-game hate.  Richie Faulkner, tie your shoestrings extra tight, young man; you’re in for a wild ride.

So let’s get one thing straight, people.  Inhale, exhale.  Stay calm.  “Redeemer of Souls” is not another “Nostradamus” or even “Angel of Retribution.”  Despite the appearance of a few mini-epics on the new album, which hardly wank, this is a straightforward rocking JUDAS PRIEST album.  Rob Halford and the band have alluded they’re out to satisfy their fans by giving them what they want.  There are a couple of a new tricks revealed from their leather-clad sleeves on this album, but for the most part, “Redeemer of Souls” sits snugly in a vibe caught between “Ram it Down” and “Painkiller” with a few faint touches of “Defenders of the Faith.”

Stay tuned for the full review at Blabbermouth!

          Listenin' to:  Johnny Cash - Johnny Cash at San Quentin

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