Force of Evil Force of Evil (Escapi/Navarre)
Consisting of guitarists Hank Shermann and Michael Denner of Mercyful Fate, two members of King Diamond's “solo” band and singer Martin Steene, Force of Evil is essentially Mercyful Fate (or King Diamond) without King Diamond. To his credit, Steene doesn't often attempt to mimick Diamond's caterwaul, but he does manage to employ every Satanic cliché in the metal canon. The lyrics are laughable, but the music is Don't Break the Oath-era piercing, with Shermann and Denner offering up a solid duel attack. Not exactly groundbreaking, but not entirely bad, either.
Jonas Helborg, Shawn Lane, Jeff Sipe Time is the Enemy (Bardo)
This is a reissue of the 1997 album conjured up at several live performances by bassist Helborg, drummer Sipe and the late shred guitar master Shawn Lane. Largely improvised and featuring no songs under six and a half minutes long, you'll either fall instantly in love with Time is the Enemy or return it instantly to your local record store. Eric Johnson fans and avid readers of Guitar Player magazine will love this. The other 99 percent of you will not. At all.
Greg Brown Honey in the Lion's Head (Trailer Records)
For the 18th full-length studio recording of his quarter-century career, folk icon Greg Brown finally presents listeners with what he regards as a life-long dream: an album of traditional folk tunes that in some way, as a younger man, urged him toward the troubadour's path. Ten of the album's 12 tracks are so traditional as to be public domain, and all but Brown's own “Ain't No One Like You,” are obscure enough that they sound representitive of some hazy bygone era when music and the land were pure. A lovely record.