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  • Slayer: South of Heaven/Seasons in the Abyss- hadn't listened to these post-Reign in Blood albums in easily 15-20 years, and the truth is they are much stronger than my opinions of them from the early '90s. Sure, still a slight step down in ferocity, but there are killer riffs galore throughout both, despite my still prevalent reservations of Tom Araya's more laid back vocal approach on both.

  • Rhinoceros: Rhinoceros/Satin Chickens/Better Times Are Coming- one of my latest discoveries, Rhinoceros were a rock supergroup put together by Elektra Records from the late '60s/early '70 that made 3 albums, all very strong if slightly unspectacular. With former members of Iron Butterfly, Buffalo Springfield, Checkmate, The Electric Flag, Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention, and The Daily Flash, the line-up made for an interesting mix of styles, from hard rock, prog, pop, blues, folk, and jazz.

  • Edgar Broughton Band: The Harvest Years 1969-1973 - solid 4 disc set that covers the EBB material on the Harvest label, as well as a bonus live set from Hyde Park in 1970. Still haven't fully warmed up to Edgar's somewhat harsh vocal delivery, but the music is a warm smattering of heavy blues rock, folk, proto-punk, and psychedelia.

  • Armored Saint: March of the Saint/Delirious Nomad/Raising Fear/Symbol of Salvation/Revelation/Nod to the Old School/La Raza/Win Hands Down - yes indeedy, I'm on a bit of a Armored Saint kick lately! New album is killer, and it's made me revisit all the fine albums they've created throughout their lengthy career. A vastly underrated metal band!

  • Badlands: Badlands/Voodoo Highway/Dusk- another criminally underrated act that disintegrated way too soon. If you love the marriage of heavy metal and funky, '70s styled raunchy blues rock, you've come to the right place. Jake E, Lee and Ray Gillan were a great pairing!

  • Bruce Springsteen: Greetings From Asbury Park/The Wild The Innocent and the E Street Shuffle- after reading the recent Bruce biography, I've revisited some old Boss favorites for the first time in a few years. Still love these first two albums, showing a naive but massively creative Springsteen just finding his footing with the early line-up of the E Street Band.

  • Al DiMeola: Elysium- the jazz fusion master is back!!!

  • Symphony X: Underworld- can't get enough of this one, just another fine effort from a band that can do no wrong.

  • Kamelot: Haven- easy contender for prog/power metal album of the year. Another of those bands who consistently pump out one great release after another.

  • Chris Caffery: Your Heaven is Real- latest solo album from the Savatage/TSO guitar shredder is easily one of this best. Killer riffs, strong vocals, and hooks aplenty!

  • George Kollias: Invictus- new Nile record is coming soon, but we've been lucky to be treated to this fine solo death metal release from their powerhouse drummer.

  • Lucifer: Lucifer I- debut album is a great one from this new powerhouse doom outfit

  • Van Der Graaf Generator: Trisector- really strong effort from the modern day incarnation of the band, which contains some really aggressive material from the prog legends.

  • Ozric Tentacles: Technicians of the Sacred- really loving this addictive new 2 CD set from the masters of psychedelic prog/jam

  • Lucifer's Friend: Mean Machine- 1981 release from the veteran German/British act, which saw John Lawton return after spending a few years with Uriah Heep. As always, Lawton sounds terrific, and the tunes are solid early '80s heavy rock.

  • Royal Southern Brotherhood: Royal Southern Brotherhood/Heartsoulblood/Don't Look Back- really cool new Southern Rock supergroup that's seen some line-up changes, but the quality is still top notch.

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