By Gary Wright

Alister Hag 'Man Of The House' (2013)

Alister Hag was a 4-piece hard rock/heavy metal band from Des Moines, Iowa. It featured Aaron Peltz on vocals/guitar, Ryan Braaksma on lead guitar, and the Thompson brothers - Wade and Paul - on bass and drums, respectively. The album, 'Man Of The House' (2013), has 8 tracks which mark a sound that's the result of Aaron's love for classic UK 1960s/70s hard rock and heavy metal bands such as Iron Maiden, Saxon and Thin Lizzy. The music is fun, catchy, high octane stuff. Aaron's vocal style is fairly different from his other outings, but his trademark tone breaks through on some songs. There's some awesome guitar work by Ryan, funky bass work from Wade, and truly impressive drum work by Paul. One of the favorites on this album has got to be the opening track, 'Admiral Of The Sea', which combines just about all the quirks of the band's upbeat sound. You must hear this, if you love classic rock and metal, but with a modern twist.


Mars On Fire 'Exploding Into Life' (2013)

Mars On Fire was a 4-piece hard rock/metal band from Des Moines, Iowa. With Eugene Waage on vocals, Tommy Westrom on guitar, John Hatterman on bass, and Jared Albertson on drums, the band's music is described as 'high energy emotional metal'. The album, 'Exploding Into Life' (2013), has 8 tracks which often sound reminiscent of modern Stone Sour in a lot of ways, but almost a cleaner (less gritty), purer (less profanity) version. I just love everything about Mars On Fire. I love the vocals, I love the guitar, I love the bass, and I love the drums. Eugene is an incredible vocalist, and Tommy is an awesome guitarist who can convey the emotion of the vocals even further. I love the whole album, but highlights for me are the songs 'Darkest Skies' and 'Useless'. The harmony and emotion in the vocals, along with the melodic hooks of the guitar parts, really makes me uneasy with all these emotions that come flooding to me... they almost bring me to tears. This is music, at its absolute finest.