What are you listening to now? : The Guardians Edition
Black Sabbath - "The End: 4th February 2017, Birmingham" (2017)
The triple disk set featuring "The Angelic Sessions" on the third disk. It's actually a fantastic way for Sabbath to go out as the production is outstanding & the instrumental performances are all top notch. The band's sound is extra heavy due to the fact that they've down-tuned a bit to cope with Ozzy's reducing range. I actually think this might be my preferred Ozzy-fronted live album from Sabbath although the Dio-fronted "Live Evil" would be my favourite overall.
Gaskin - "End Of The World" (1981)
The debut album from this underground NWOBHM trio from Lincolnshire, England. It's really pretty uneventful with some flat vocals being the biggest negative. It's not horrible though.
Black Alice - "Endangered Species" (1983)
The debut album from a tragically overlooked Perth-based heavy rock outfit whose sound sits somewhere between the hard Australian pub rock of AC/DC & the European heavy metal of Judas Priest, Saxon & Accept. Their powerful frontman sounds like Brian Johnson (AC/DC), Udo Dirkschneider (Accept) & Blackie Lawless (WASP) at various times. If these guys were from England we'd know all about them.
More - "Blood & Thunder" (1982)
A seriously underrated hard rock record from the NWOBHM. This is better than their "Warhead" debut from the previous year. And how much does the singer sound like Chris Cornell from Soundgarden/Audioslave??
Heaven - "Where Angels Fear To Tread" (1983)
Heavy rock from Sydney, Australia. This is some pretty decent stuff & should appeal to fans of Bon Scott-era AC/DC, Rose Tattoo & early 80's Saxon & Krokus.
Y&T - "Black Tiger" (1982)
The fourth album from this Californian heavy rock outfit is unfortunately a noticeable step down from its predecessor "Earthshaker" from the previous year. There's little doubt that "Black Tiger" is the more metal record but unfortunately there's a thick layer of 80's cheese coating a few of these songs & the high quality guitar solos & Sammy Hagar-eque vocal delivery aren't quite enough to warrant return listens.
Turilli / Lione Rhapsody - Zero Gravity (Rebirth and Revolution)
Luca Turilli (Guitarist for the original Rhapsody) and Fabio Lione (Vocalist for the original Rhapsody) are back together for a release under the Rhapsody subtitle that is actually worth listening to after many blunders from Luca Turilli's Rhapsody and Rhapsody of Fire. Everything you would want from a Rhapsody release is in here, and it's great to hear these two back together doing what they do best with their grand, fantastical, and more classical style of Symphonic Metal.
I really wish that Turilli would give the word "Rhapsody" a rest moving forward with all of these projects. Trying to unravel the story behind the Rhapsody name is getting harder and harder and Turilli just keeps adding random projects to the Rhapsody name, which I think is going to hurt this album in particular in the long run. Who is going to find this album other than current Rhapsody or Turilli fans with a name like Turilli / Lione Rhapsody? It's currently seems like it's not getting a whole lot of traction but I'm interested to see how it shakes out, given how good it is.
Scorpions - "Blackout" (1982)
I've never been the biggest Scorpions fan but I generally enjoy their classic material & this album is one of their more celebrated releases. Of course it definitely includes a few overly cheesy duds but the highlight tracks are very strong & the guitar solos are excellent. In fact, "Blackout" is my second favourite Scorpions studio album after 1978's "Taken By Force".
Dio - "Dio at Donington UK: Live 1983 & 1987" (2010)
A high quality double live release compiling two of Dio's triumphant performances at Donington. The production isn't amazing with the rhythm guitars sounding a little muffled but Ronnie's performance is superb & you can't really go wrong with a tracklisting spanning classic material from Dio, Black Sabbath & Rainbow. Lead guitarist Craig Goldy absolutely slays on the second disk too.
Pretty Maids - "Pretty Maids" E.P. (1983)
The self-titled E.P. from Danish heavy metallers Pretty Maids is an inconsistent release whose highlights aren't quite strong enough to overcome the two cheesy AOR numbers on offer. It's a shame really as the production & performances are all pretty solid for a debut & the other four songs all rock pretty hard. You can definitely hear hints of the more synth-driven sound they'd champion on the debut full-length the following year but in a more subtle way. Unfortunately I don't think the song-writing is as strong as "Red, Hot & Heavy" though. It kinda sounds like a cross between W.A.S.P. & the NWOBHM with some Thin Lizzy & UFO thrown in for good measure.
Man, remember when Sonata Arctica were somewhat good? Well the decline continues with their newest one Talviyö, which just dropped today. This is the most dead this band has ever sounded and some of the songwriting is almost laughable. I don't think Sonata Arctica are coming back at this point, they've worn themselves out.
Ostrogoth - "Full Moon's Eyes" E.P. (1983)
Ostrogoth's debut release sits amongst the most celebrated Belgian examples of the traditional heavy metal sound. It draws heavily from the NWOBHM with Iron Maiden & Grim Reaper being strong points of reference but there's also more than the odd nod towards speed metal. In fact, the title track even crosses over into fully-fledged European power metal territory which unsurprisingly didn't sit all that comfortably with me. The tracklisting is a little hit & miss but the couple of stronger tracks make it worthy of your time. I have to admit that I slightly prefer their more mature & refined debut full-length "Ecstasy & Danger" over this one though.
Thin Lizzy - "Thunder & Lightning" (1983)
If you're a die-hard metalhead who's generally scared off by the mere mention of the term "rock" but are still interested to see why these Irish legends were so influential on so many of your favourite metal bands then look no further. This record is the one for you as it sees Lizzy heading in a noticeably heavier & more 80's-oriented direction following the recruitment of former Tygers Of Pan Tang shredder John Sykes & I'll give you the hint that he doesn't let anyone down in the shred department either. There are far fewer of Lizzy's trademark harmonies on display here as the whole band seems to have followed Sykes lead towards a more flashy & modern sound. Unfortunately the album is overproduced with many songs extended further than have any right to go & the compositions often being cluttered with needless keyboards & effects. The song-writing is a little inconsistent too with a few overly cheesy numbers on offer; particularly in the back end which peters out quite badly. But thankfully the highlight tracks are very strong which makes the record worth investigating even if it's not quite as appealing as Lizzy's more classic late 70's heyday.
H-Bomb - "Coup de metal" E.P. (1983)
The debut release from this French heavy metal outfit & it's not a bad example of meat-&-potatoes heavy metal with hints of speed metal. I slightly prefer their full-length album "Attaque" over this one but both are worth a listen. Think Judas Priest & Accept & you won't be far off.
You thought I've completely moved on from power metal... I HAVEN'T!!
DragonForce is back with their brand new album, the aptly titled "Extreme Power Metal"! From the glorious "Highway to Oblivion" to their wild 2x-speed cover of Celine Dion's mega-hit "My Heart Will Go On", this album would surely please some longtime DragonForce fans and newcomers. Epica keyboardist Coen Janssen comes to the rescue after the departure of Vadim Pruzhanov, giving many songs on this album a more epic touch. I know I've already moved on from my earlier power metal taste, but I don't wanna completely forget about the one band in my metal interest that started it all. I'm still in the Horde, Infinite, and Revolution clans. And maybe I'll write a full review about this album once it gets added here. But for now... 4.75/5
Mötley Crüe - "Shout At The Devil" (1983)
The only Crue album I really have time for. They'd dropped most of the punky vibe that dominated "Too Fast For Love" in favour of a cleaner production, more competent performances & more metal-oriented sound. Vince Neil is the biggest improver as he's now singing in key most of the time. The quality of the tracklisting does tend to fade across the B side but they'd gotten enough wins on the board early to justify my time.
Turbo - "Dorosłe dzieci" (1983)
The debut album from these Polish heavy rockers.
Alcatrazz - "No Parole From Rock 'n' Roll" (1983)
Yngwie Malmsteen teams up with Graham Bonnet for an epic combination of hard rock & heavy metal with Yngwie's signature neoclassical style being showcased in no uncertain terms. Bonnet's performance leaves nothing in the tank either & it's a real shame that the two commercially focused singles are so poor (particularly opening track "Island In The Sun") because the rest of the album is top class. Fans of Scorpions, Rainbow & Deep Purple should enjoy this as it's probably Alcatrazz' best work. Steer well clear of the subsequent live album "Live Sentence: No Parole From Rock 'n' Roll" with it's poor production.
Culprit - "Guilty As Charged" (1983)
The sole album from this Seattle-based progressive rock/metal outfit whose sound sits somewhere between classic Rush, 70's Riot & Paul Dianno-era Iron Maiden. It's really well written but is let down a bit by a very thin Mike Varney (Shrapnel Records head) production.
Black Sabbath - "Asbury Park 1975"
This is better than any of the Sabbath live albums in my opinion. You really can't go wrong with a tracklisting like this.
Picture - "Eternal Dark" (1983)
The fourth album in three years from Dutch heavy metallers Picture & their most recent release that I've experienced. I quite liked 1981's "Heavy Metal Ears" album but they really stepped things up for 1982's "Diamond Dreamer" album. "Eternal Dark" is another enjoyable listen & I'd probably rate it somewhere between its two predecessors. The loss of outstanding frontman Sammy "Shmoulik" Avigal was unfortunate but his replacement Pete Lovell does a pretty decent job without ever reaching the same heights. Fans of Judas Priest & Dio will hear some familiar sounds here & I'd be surprised if they don't find some entertainment in "Eternal Dark".
V8 - "Luchando por el metal" (1983)
The debut album from the most important Argentinian metal band of the 80's in Buenos Aires four-piece V8. The production here is very inconsistent with the drums sounding a big strange & the guitar solos being much louder than the rest of the music. Perhaps this is because the solos are of a very high quality & are by far the most interesting thing about V8. The Spanish vocals are pretty inadequate though & don't do anything to enhance the band's chances of global domination.
Musically, V8 are influenced by the greats of 1970's heavy metal & hard rock with Motorhead, Black Sabbath & Rush all playing a part but there's also a noticeably punky edge to most of these tracks. Particularly the few faster speed metal numbers included. I can appreciate some of the song-writing but overall I have to say that I struggle with the vocals on most tracks. I'd suggest that fans of Spanish heavy rockers Baron Rojo might find something of interest here but I'll have to take a pass myself.
Crimson Glory's EPIC debut album has me raising my goblet in delight. I'm assuming it files under US Power Metal, which us always a bit of a hard sub-genre for me to nail down exactly who/what is a part of it, particularly compared to Euro Power Metal which feels so clear cut in it's distinctions.
I think the US power metal term is pretty much redundant to be honest. Ben & I did a deep dive into that scene over several episodes of the podcast & both came to the conclusion that US power metal is essentially just traditional heavy metal with all of its hard rock influence removed. There’s no need for a unique label really.
Oh... & “Crimson Glory” is an excellent heavy metal record.