shadowdoom9 (Andi)'s Reviews
Could be my age here, but I honestly don't get much of the appeal to NWOBHM. We have bands like Iron Maiden, Motorhead, and of course, Saxon dominating the popularity of metal in the 80s, yet the less overrated American power metal scene is hidden under our noses. Still this is a great try to check out what the Brits have made...
British metal legends Saxon created a pretty great piece of work to show they're not d*cks f***ing around for commercial success, which I've heard can pay off sometimes and other times don't. They can go as slow as Danzig and as speedy as thrash while staying in their classic heavy metal reign. The variable tempo and balance of melody and slight aggression continues in the less travelled roads of Thunderbolt!
The album starts with the unnecessary intro track "Olympus Rising". The title track makes up for that with their signature sound of compact power. The heavier "The Secret Of Flight" works greatly as well. Then we have the darker symphonic ambitions of "Nosferatu (The Vampire's Waltz)". This haunting power metal waltz continues the astounding vocals of Biff Byford and memorable guitar leads.
Some songs might make you wanna call this album "Thunderfart" (lol), like "They Played Rock and Roll", a poor attempt to tribute to Motorhead and their passed members. See, that's another problem with 70s British metal; it sounds closer to rock and roll, and that's the style Motorhead insist they have (...right). References to that band's classic songs also appear too obvious, and their guitar imitation-flattery is weak. But I say "Predator" hammers away that sh*tter with an amazing crusher that has Biff singing along with Amon Amarth's Johan Hegg growling. Annihilator-like dark riffs with harmonized vocals spread around. The slow majesty of "Sons of Odin" has a Manowar-Sabbath blend with powerful bass, simple riffs, and vocal emotion to work well live.
"Sniper" is the heaviest track here, sounding slightly heavier than Judas Priest and making sure your hand stays clenched into a fist. Another melodic headbanger "A Wizard's Tale" continues the hymn feeling they've had for so long. "Speed Merchants" has a faster vein of speed metal with riffs closer to the Canadian thrash scene of the earlier Annihilator and Razor, sticking to the song title well. The vocals and riffing are what many metalheads should here! However, dipping slightly is the closing track "Roadies' Song" with less inspired guitar work with staying distinct. That doesn't quite reach the incredible metal strength of other songs, but it stays pure to the sound.
Maybe later on, if I ever feel up to checking out more NWOBHM, I can try one of their earlier albums, but for now the stylistic Thunderbolt is what I'm sticking around for. This band can still stay consistent and awake in their 22nd album, and I believe many other Saxon fans would like it more than I do and stay faithful....
Favorites: "Thunderbolt", "Nosferatu (The Vampire's Waltz)", "Predator", "Sons of Odin", "Speed Merchants"
Genres: Heavy Metal
Seeing a review for this album appear in this site made me wonder, "I've reviewed all of my metal milestone bands, but can I review the metal albums of a rock band that would eventually shape my taste into 'true' metal, beyond this nu metal sh*t?" Answer: I CAN!! Linkin Park is probably the most successful 21st century rock band, yet metal fans call them "sellouts for kids". Some say they've expanded on the nu metal atrocity started by Korn and Limp Bizkit, others say they're a boy band with guitars. It's sad to see all this hate towards a super successful band. I might not enjoy this band as much as the metal bands I listen to now, but I won't take them for granted, that's for sure.
Linkin Park released their debut album Hybrid Theory (taken from their earlier band name) in October 2000, just a few months shy of what people think is technically the start of a new millennium (2001), and the technical new millennium started in a bang for this band. Excellent reviews and gigantic sales skyrocketed, hence making this a genuine well-sold platinum album. There may not be a big improvement in the popular music industry but Linkin Park's debut would remain one of the best-selling albums of nu metal and all time. Yep, there are 12 heavy industrial-infused nu metal tracks in this album produced by Don Gilmore. In fact, would you call nu metal "metal"?? It's cleaner and less edgy (in the music anyway)! Well whatever you want them to be called, Linkin Park have their best skills of heavy metal guitars, hip-hop rapping, and pop hooks.
It starts with...the rap rock hit "Papercut", where the rapping verses by Mike Shinoda make a great blend with the melodic vocal chorus by Chester Bennington (RIP). "One Step Closer" is their breakthrough single worth checking out for both metalheads and radio listeners. The riffing is both heavy and kid-friendly, the latter adjective maybe not the killer screaming bridge ("SHUT UP WHEN I'M TALKING TO YOU! SHUT UP!!"). This is metal for Sesame Street-level beginners and that song is probably the heaviest one allowed in karaoke (I know because I've been there). The low-toned loops in "With You" are performed by the Dust Brothers in a rap metal track where its gravitation center strikes your jaw off. "Points of Authority" sounds as if Bennington and Shinoda are each reading their own poetry written in a lyric sheet, acting as a lyrical exchange. That song is kinda killer though.
The emotional hit "Crawling" is where icy synths and bass crawl through the intro before getting mudded out by the guitar heaviness and Bennington's cries. The more industrial fans might compare the song to Nine Inch Nails. The lyrical subject matter deals with Bennington's teenage years of torture and meth addiction, and he's so upset about it that he needs help from the crowd when performing the song live. More of the band's skyrocketing hooks appear in "Runaway", where the primitive tune's melodies can probably get the song into alternative radio. The fairly appalling "By Myself" is a weak track that is a real example of nu metal's bad side. The hip-hop smash-hit "In the End" has piano performed prominently by Mike Shinoda as he raps along. I don't know if that's what made that song the most popular of the album, but it is what it is.
"A Place for My Head" continues the poetic lyrical exchange between Bennington and Shinoda. This is again used in "Forgotten" but more apparent with the vocal battle between the two vocalists in the pre-chorus. That song is probably another real example of nu metal tainting the second word of the genre's name. The two and a half minute experimental jungle track "Cure for The Itch" is probably the weakest point of the album, but it's where turntablist Joe Hahn really shines. The perfect formula of the singles continue once more in the closing song "Pushing Me Away", which I still like since first listening 9 years ago. Oh how I wish that was a single...
What remains of this review is the conclusion, and that is this; Linkin Park's debut album is excellent, at least compared to what the heavier metalheads think. Surprisingly, the songs I like are perfect choices for all 4 singles and two promo singles, all that's missing is that final song. The only weak songs are the remaining 5. Seems as if my like for Linkin Park before switching to real metal has infected my mind. Sure it's mainstream, but I couldn't skip to where I am today without this band, right?! Thanks a ton, LP....
Favorites: "One Step Closer", "Points of Authority", "Crawling", "Runaway", "In the End", "Pushing Me Away"
Genres: Alternative Metal
Celtic Frost was one of the most diversely stylistic metal bands to start in the 80s. First was their black/death-influencing thrasher To Mega Therion, then they released the avant-garde Into the Pandemonium, followed by the glam-infected Cold Lake. They released a gothic-influenced thrash album Vanity/Nemesis before splitting up, and later reformed for one more extreme doom album Monotheist. Since I'm listening to Mega Therion to settle a DIS vs DAT debate, let's get right into the review!
Heading right to the point, To Mega Therion (The Great Beast) is actually one of the best 80s metal albums I've heard. I'm still not very tolerant to albums that old nor that obscenely extreme, but I can see why people consider this the most fascinating Celtic Frost album. However, there are some things to argue about...
The pompous intro "Innocence and Wrath" starts the album with a doom-ish march with background brass, specifically french horns. Perhaps that part of the inspiration for Therion, the band who got their name from this album. Then kicks off the sinister fast pace of "The Usurper". That song and its aforementioned intro very well beat other openings of albums like Into the Pandemonium. Next track "Jewel Throne" has chord patterns to reflect the balance of primal composition against riffs of thrash energy and muscular drum groove intensity. I'm sure there are many other great thrash examples throughout the decades that followed, but a true thrashy metalhead would bang their head and swing their fists to those interestingly brutal riffs. I'm not even a fan old-school dark thrash metal and I'm already doing that!
With a song title like "Dawn of Megiddo", you know how well Celtic Frost would attack. The song itself once again has the strange french horns. "Eternal Summer" continues the chord balance between primal and despair. "Circle of the Tyrants" pumps you up with apocalyptic heaviness. "(Beyond the) North Winds" needs a little time for you to really see its full potential as mid-tempo-ish piece that's absolutely underrated compared to Metallica. The upbeat ghost-like guitar leads in the bridge give the song its special scent that would inspire later extreme metal bands.
"Fainted Eyes" is an aggressive piece of heavy shock that works as a black metal prototype song, once again having its apocalyptic heaviness. "Tears in a Prophet's Dream" is an extravagant yet incomprehensible sound collage that wouldn't blow any minds. Finally we come to the gigantic closer "Necromantical Screams" complete with horns, timpani, and female vocals without neglecting the morbid heavy black thrash. OK, that has to be what inspired Therion!
Was this review convincing enough for anyone who hasn't listened to this 1985 classic to do so? Either way, you definitely don't wanna miss out on its highlights (see below) for their best extreme delivery. This important album needs more attention! Sadly, Celtic Frost would never reach the brilliance of this album ever again.... AAAARRRGGH!!!!
Favorites: "The Usurper", "Jewel Throne", "(Beyond the) North Winds", "Necromantical Screams"
Genres: Thrash Metal
In the dark vast near-Arctic tundra fields, feedback, doses of speed, a gloomy near-psychedelic aura, and ambient traces of post-rock and shoegaze are all mixed into a blizzard of flowing guitar melodies. And in the snowstorm is a beast whose growls are louder than the storm itself. His harrowing growls tell miserable tales of numbing feelings, dissolving love, and fading life. At one point, an ethereal clean voice floats in monotone atmosphere, telling his own tale of past and present life gone wrong. This young man's dreamy voice (Jonas Renkse) wants the beast to remember the happy past of innocence, but he's thrown out by the snowstorm, and the beast (Mikael Åkerfeldt) continues his harsh screams of the unhappy present of anguish. The present day is the Brave Murder Day!
I've tried listening to a few Katatonia songs in my happy melodic past a few years ago, but it was too dark and extreme for me at the time. Their early material is the obscene black-doom and their later albums are just depressing gothic rock/metal. I'm glad Brave Murder Day got recommended to me because this was in their in-between era of death-doom, which was common in the mid-90s for the Peaceville Three; Anathema, My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost. Yeah, since I already enjoy those 3 bands, how am I not interested in Katatonia? However, something different about Katatonia at that time is, while the Peaceville Three played a romantic kind of atmospheric doom metal, this band has a raw hard-to-classify soundscape. And what makes it hard to classify is their change of style in each of their few albums. Like I said, Dance of December Souls is depressive black-doom, Brave Murder Day (this album) is death-doom, Discouraged Ones is gothic doom, and since Tonight's Decision, they play dark rock/metal. Normally, genre labels aren't totally necessary but I was making a point there. However, Brave Murder Day is so diverse than anyone can interpret the sound to be anything else, not just death-doom. The diverse music is distorted and dark, sometimes mellow, sometimes aggressive. Mikael Åkerfeldt does most of the lead vocals, growling in abrasive despair to tone down some melody. Jonas Renkse could no longer do any growls because of vocal issues, but he can still do clean singing, which occurs in only one soft song. Yes, there are acoustic passages instead of symphonic gothic metal keyboards and violins. Another uncommon element is the varying rhythms, some a little faster, some slow.
A great example of the slightly faster rhythm is the opening song "Brave", the longest and best song of the album. It starts with a mid-tempo drone-ish section then goes into a melodic doom section, then back again. 10 minutes really fly when you're having a fun yet depressive listen! "Murder" is slightly faster, more upbeat, and just half of the previous song's length. "Day" is a calm dreamy song sounding more like shoegaze. This is where Jonas Renkse uses his clean vocals, and it's the first time anyone has heard them! Even though they sound somewhat amateurish, they still fit well.
"Rainroom" continues the heavy mid-tempo fashion of the first two songs, this time with stronger old-school doom metal riffing and more notable growling vocals. "12" is a darker heavier song that is the closest resembling to the epic black-doom of Dance of December Souls. It's actually a re-recording of a song from that old era called "Black Erotica". I haven't heard the original version, but I assume the original is better for the more brutal metalheads.
The album ends strongly with "Endtime", the darkest heaviest song in the album. It's a little disturbing with strong growls and a haunting guitar riff. That song is definitely much darker than most other death-doom songs I've listened to, and it's more suitable for me in my unhappy present of anguish (NOT that my present is ever unhappy).
Brave Murder Day is, in a word, COLD. Like as cold as those near-Arctic tundra blizzard from earlier, to the point if you end up in that snowstorm, you would feel nothing but the freezing hypothermia in your body that's now in critical sickness. The freezing is an unpleasant sensation, but you would be numb to feel it and that would be much less pleasant. Your body is now empty, you have nothing left to feel, and all you can do is die in the storm. You see what I mean by that metaphor about that album being so dark? If you can't handle the cold darkness like I couldn't when I was younger, stay out of the storm. But if you enjoy all that melancholy, then please stay in. I knew I would have to listen to this album after getting interested in Paradise Lost. Who knows what other bands I might go down their dark paths in the future, like October Tide, Rapture, Swallow the Sun, Opeth, Agalloch... But for now, Katatonia had stirred up a death-doom classic!
Favorites: "Brave", "Murder", "12" (you didn't think I would say "Day", would you?)
Genres: Doom Metal
We interrupt my Horde Death Metal Modern Era challenge journey for a different nice polite review. So please sit down and watch me talk the WORST F***ING ALBUM TO EXIST IN THE WHOLE UNIVERSE!!!!
Much worse than My Dying Bride's "Heroin Chic", much worse than Between the Buried and Me's "The Man Land", much worse than Septicflesh's "Underworld" series... Exterminator's Total Extermination album is a real bag of sh*t that stinks far beyond worse than a skunk with B.O. sleeping in a Rafflesia flower (the largest and smelliest flower, can be found in my country, Malaysia) in a wasteland of garbage and sewage. That's how sucky this album is! I HATE IT!!!
And yes, I know... "Hate" is a strong word. But maybe I should use an even STRONGER word than "hate"!! This is a f***ed attempt to combine all the fast extreme metal genres (black, death, thrash, speed) into a messy stew that furthers proves the old saying, "Too many cooks spoil the broth". Well those "cooks", more like "c*cks", are a bunch of a*****es who can go f*** c**ts with their d*cks!
And if you think I'm gonna hurt their precious little feelings if they find this review, well.... SCR*W THEIR FEELINGS!!! Just like what that serial killer Aileen said, they're an inhuman bunch of f***ing living b****rds and b****es and they got their a**es nuked in the end!
You know how people who don't appreciate metal think it's nothing but highly distorted noise, but that's not true at all? Well that's because they never listened to this d*****bag! The guitar "soloing" is indeed just sh*t that sounds like a chainsaw massacre in a violin orchestra concert. Would you even call that music!? WOULD YOU!?!
And don't even get me started on track 6, "Speed Metal". Fortunately, that crap-track isn't credited for helping pioneer the speed metal sound. It would've given speed metal a bad rap! That's a middle finger for speed metal that can p*ss speed metal fans off. F*** THAT SONG HARD!!!!
Not even the cover artwork can score some points for this garbage. It just looks like an execution happening in a dungeon with that racist Nazi symbol the swastika on the wall! And the drawing is weak as a motherf***er, I can draw so much better when I was in preschool, which by the way, was long before I can even draw. It's not artful, it's just AWFUL AS F*CK!!! The album even sounds like it was recorded in that dungeon, if not one of the so-called "metal warriors"' bedroom!
If you want a conclusion, fine then! This. Is. BULLSH*T!!!! This dirt-wipe of an album is not worth anyone's time, whether you're a metalhead or not! If for some reason, you have a copy of this album on vinyl, cassette, or CD in your old-school metal collection, I highly suggest you either stomp it into pieces, shoot it with a gun if you have one, pour gasoline on it and set it on fire, or throw into a junkyard garbage crusher Lord of the Rings style. As for anyone who has listened it to yet, DON'T F***ING BOTHER!!!!!
Final grade: F--- (triple minus) and an "F--- YOU!!!"
One more time, DO NOT GET THIS SH*TTY ALBUM. PERIOD!!
(heavy panting after all that rude fury, then switches back to polite mode)
And that concludes my nice polite review. Thank you for reading!
Genres: Black Metal Thrash Metal
A few people might think Vektor is a Voivod ripoff, but...BOY WERE THEY WRONG!! They just don't see how much of a difference this band makes! First off, the instruments really work well together with precise drumming, tight riffing, and bass with more than one note per bar. The instrumentation is really cool, but what's really amazing is the vocals by David DiSanto. Forget about his domestic violence present for a while and check out his vocal range that's beyond belief. His vocals are in the same kind of level as Destruction's Schmier, but his high soaring screams are near-impossible! I bet he does what Michael Jackson used to do, grabs his own b*lls hard.
The guitars are so unique and really stick out in this album. One unique thing that marks a different approach is the F-tuning (a half-step higher than standard E tuning). I think more bands should start tuning their guitars up to F or F# 6-string, or even C or C# 7-string. When they play a riff that sounds familiar (other than the higher tuning), suddenly a different never-before-heard riff smashes into your face, while keeping constantly high quality. What's also pleasant is, the solos are magically placed in fields where you would never expect. But in the parts where you do expect a solo, they are short and end up coming out anti-climatic. However, the guitarists are really skilled, and despite those solo setbacks, they can master them as super well as DragonForce.
The title opener is probably the best track of the album. They really balance the thrash and progressive styles perfectly without having to copy anything. "This song won't write itself," rushy people say, but it's as if that song did! "Oblivion" is another great song, but it gets a little dull. It's late-Emperor-esque intro is actually the "Spiral Galaxy" intro from their demo Demolition. After that, it's on to the actual old-school speed metal intro before the Destruction-like shrieking comes in. Also, the end is a bit rushy, another good reason why I prefer its Demolition version. "Destroying the Cosmos" is another song that was re-recorded from the Demolition demo, and while I like this one better than the demo version, it doesn't quite reach the standards of the other songs besides "Oblivion". However, that solo-riff combo throughout literally the last minute is one of the most epic song endings I've ever heard! Great strength in an otherwise "meh" song!
"Forests of Legend" is an absolute highlight and the first of three 10+ minute epics. It begins with an eerie acoustic intro that sounds like the progressive thrash "Bard's Song (In the Forest)", before the heaviness begins building up before crashing safely into early-Megadeth-style speedy thrash. After that, it's back to the eerie acoustic section before another glorious outro! "Hunger for Violence" is a Voivod-like composition, opening with strange symmetric chords before heading into Theory in Practice-like violent heaviness. "Deoxyribonucleic Acid" which is what "DNA" stands for, opens with a speedy version of an Iron Maiden riff before its scientific thrash ascension.
"Asteroid" is less technical and more rock-ish in the first few minutes, and while not quite reaching the climax, an incredible charge thunders in with solid bass, sounding like when Lemmy's bands Hawkwind and Motorhead collide and travel into the future. The second 10+ minute epic "Dark Nebula" is probably the least superior of the epic trio, but it's still great. It shows a bit more of a Pink Floyd influence than Voivod while keeping the technical thrash virtuosos. "Accelerating Universe" is the 13 minute true diverse crowning highlight, initially starting with Metallica hammering thrash, it gets more epic and heavier throughout, even developing an amazing psychedelic atmosphere in the halfway point, before building back up into a heavy speedy ending.
Black Future is an almost flawless work of progressive thrash metal art, despite a couple weak points. But those weak points are really tiny flaws and they don't bring down this 5-star rating. With this album, Vektor has reached for the progressive thrash metal stars!
Favorites: Black Future, Forests of Legend, Hunger for Violence, Accelerating Universe
Genres: Progressive Metal Thrash Metal
With their 2005 sophomore breakthrough Ascendancy and since 2008's Shogun, Trivium has marked their spot as one of the greatest discography-expanding bands of modern times, despite the flaws of albums #1 and #3. The slightly underrated 2011 masterpiece In Waves began their venture to show great concepts and executions that would carry on in subsequent albums, except in 2015's Silence in the Snow when vocalist Matt Heafy temporarily lost his growling ability. So where does it all lead?
Into the Court of the Dragon! In 2020 after the previous album What the Dead Men Say, when Trivium was in lockdown during the virus and couldn't do any live performances, they decided to not waste any time. They spent the rest of that year writing an album that would later be recorded as almost a sequel to the epic thrash-metalcore of Shogun with greater hints of its surrounding albums' sounds. While staying stellar as ever, their performance is probably the most powerful since Ascendancy. The guitars have more fire and crunch than the spiciest crunchiest KFC meal. The drumming is more brutal as well, and the vocals add a greater blend of mature cleans and convincing screams.
In the Court of the Dragon begins our descent with the anticipation-building intro "X", but unlike the previous album's heavy intro, this one is an ominous orchestral intro composed by Ihsahn. Then the furious title track erupts with Matt Heafy's f***ing beastly growling vocals. The blast-beat onslaught carries on into the cleanly-sung chorus, occurring before a brutal breakdown. The shredding soloing makes you visualize a bad-a** battle with the dragon in the pit, with your weapon being that guitar soloing. A tune of heavy brilliance! "Like a Sword Over Damocles" showcase the band's Nevermore influences in a prog-thrasher where Matt adds aggression to his singing then rises to the usual growling. The d*mn epic clean chorus should definitely get fists pumping in future live festivals. The title fits well with the perilously powerful pandemic and how our leaders are trying to prevent it from spreading further. Some more epic guitar fire in the dueling solo trade! After those first two real songs starting the album heavy, the radio anthem "Feast of Fire" has a different riff that spawned from an unknown demo. There's killer strength and maturity that levels this song up more than the similar mid-tempo songs from The Crusade. The balance between heaviness and melody continues to suit the album and makes sure it's not just a sequel to the one from last year.
Ascendancy-style heavy throwback "A Crisis of Revelation" still manages to fit well with the other high-quality tracks. The different brooding "The Shadow of the Abattoir" is the first of not one, not two, but THREE 7+ minute epics!!! This one might just have Heafy's best vocals EVER!! The verses go slow like a power ballad from Blind Guardian or Slough Feg with deep baritone vocals before rising to higher power in the chorus in a depressive journey ("Don't go searching for the battle, you won't find any beasts to slay, you'll rip yourself to pieces, you'll drive yourself insane, in the shadow of the abattoir...") The heavier bridge is more complex with key-switching breakdowns and extensive soloing that ends by perfectly replicating the chorus vocal harmony, before the final chorus itself where the background vocal harmony of bassist Paolo Gregoletto puts more emphasis in the harmony than before. EPIC!! "No Way Back Just Through" continues the heavy rage, while having a great chorus ready for future gigs.
While it's tough to pick highlights for perfect albums like this one because of how strong the songs are that make the album as cohesive as true heavy metal classics from the 80s, "Fall Into Your Hands" comes close, a headbanging epic that is the longest song by the band to not be an album's title track or a cover song. It has vocally the best chorus of the album with all 3 vocalists (one lead + two background) uniting. You get to hear killer thrashy riffing along with lots of soloing and instrumentation good for air-guitar. Besides the album's intro, Ihsahn has performed strings that are buried in the background, but this song is where those strings really shine, especially in their own glorious outro. Next up, "From Dawn to Decadence" really combines blasting thrash in the verses with hard rock in the chorus worth humming to. The triumphant closer "The Phalanx" starts with grand intro riffing before a mid-tempo verse that starts building up speed when Heafy starts his usual screaming. Strings return to prominence again in the pre-chorus before the chorus of heroic glory. This epic pretty much summarizes everything they've had in the album, with sublime soloing by Corey Beaulieu. Drummer Alex Bent really keeps his pace with the riffs and elevating them. The song's lyrical theme of fighting demons fit the song's music video like a glove, and that video is a collaboration with Bethesda Game Studios based on the Elder Scrolls Online. And to cap it all off beautifully is an ultra-epic two-minute outro as Matt's vocals lead the band and the one-man orchestra to victory, until next time...
So going out on a whim here, In the Court of the Dragon marks the band's best and strongest album since In Waves. I would recommend this to anyone who has followed the band far through their over two-decade career. The band's later greatness continues in power and glory. An amazing masterpiece that's probably, for me, the best of the year!
Favorites: "In the Court of the Dragon", "Like a Sword of Damocles", "The Shadow of the Abattoir", "Fall Into Your Hands", "The Phalanx"
Genres: Melodic Metalcore
Rivers of Nihil is back! And I guess I am too, temporarily, after my departure from death metal that occurred earlier this year. Based on what I've heard about this album, far more progressive while staying tech-death, this might just be the listening return to this band I've truly wanted! Well, maybe not completely, but this is still very cool. Fans of their heavier tech-death sound might be p*ssed off, but I guess you can't please everyone...
This band has the rights to be different from all the other prog/tech-death bands like Alarum, Anata, Arsis, Atheist, and other bands that start with A. Here they go the Cynic Focus route and far more progressive metal tools in the box while staying tech-death. Would they keep the tech-death elements or start discarding them? Who knows...
First song "The Tower" you might expect to be an extreme opener, but NO. Instead there's a weird soft tone I f***ing hate. It starts the album with a numb boring waltz that is unlike the progressive metal that's more extreme than Dream Theater. Only the heavier growling part adds promise. What a relief when "Dreaming Black Clockwork" starts! This is the extreme tech-death riff-wrath to enjoy! However, after only over a minute of that, the soft instrumentation returns to unfairly steal the spotlight. But hold on to your seats, because there's still more extreme to the prog to continue, while switching back and forth. A killer highlight! "Wait" is a twist in the prog-death script, close to that radio pop sh*t I'm trying to get over. Here we have melodic singing, straight rhythm, classic soloing, and a sobering vibe. The stylistic journey has been taken slightly too far, while making sure nothing is sacrificed. "Focus" shows a bit of influence from Cynic and that band's similarly titled debut, albeit with slight industrial.
"Clean" can be described as anything but the title, with the vibe and riffing pounding like a jackhammer, especially that monolithic djent-death section around the two-minute mark. The next song, "The Void From Which No Sound Escapes" adds some sweet melody and jazz that only naysayers would hate and not understand. Fortunately, the djent-death drives again for a minute surrounding the two-minute point, yet still doesn't add hope to those haters. Now do you want "More?" More?! MORE?!? There's heavy riffing in the beginning that persists in later sections for a greater prog-djent-tech-deathcore mix than that of Within the Ruins. How better can that genre mix be?
"Tower 2" is a reprise of that boring intro, with slightly more Pink Floyd influence in the acoustic strumming, still not getting any better... "Episode" starts soft, then catchy, then chaotic. Not much else to say there... As if colliding a bunch of genres into one could be done more, "Maybe One Day" is unlike anything Rivers of Nihil has done before, an uplifting ballad that would be more appropriate in a recent Opeth album, but those previous few somewhat poor tracks... "Terrestria IV: Work", holy f***, now this is a closing epic!! It's the longest track by the band at 11 and a half minutes (as much as the title track of Trivium's Shogun) and not only concludes this offering but also keeps up the "Terrestria" song suite from all their albums. Probably more epic than Cult of Luna's "Cygnus"! This is too astonishing for words. Hope you have a rewarded listen!
The Work is indeed a pretty great work of art. Not quite the best of the year, but needs respect and focus for a deserving experience. Excellent writing and nearly perfect arrangement should convince people to go with this album. They were more deathly earlier on, but now look how mature and progressive they've become. Just try it!
Favorites: "Dreaming Black Clockwork", "Focus", "Clean", "More?", "Terrestria IV: Work"
Genres: Progressive Metal
So... French hardcore metal, eh? Um, NO. This CD, Les 150 Passions Meurtrieres doesn't really do metalcore a lot of favors. Sure there is intense brutality, but it seems like their "inspirations" are mainly rip-offs. There may be some lyrical copying from Whitehouse and De Sade, especially in the title track, all mangled in the French tongue. I'm not really pleased by this. I still appreciate a bit of the heaviness though, along with its mix with melody in that title track. However... well, better luck (and review) some other time....
Favorites: just the title track
Progressive metal is one of the most characteristically difficult genres of all time, when it comes to playing, composing, and sometimes listening. If you're an expert at composing excellent progressive music, you'll create wonderful results, otherwise everything would be incorrect. If you're new creating progressive metal, surely a 10-minute epic would be difficult to start with, but it's still easy to keep interesting. It would definitely be more difficult to attempt a 20-minute track with half of it is long instrumental sections and the other half is filled with ambitious vocals, all with no coherent pace. You can even challenge yourself further with 30 minutes. Now 60 minutes, an exact hour, THAT's the ultimate challenge! You have to be the master of getting used to prog to enjoy this hour-long epic, Green Carnation's Light of Day, Day of Darkness!
Green Carnation's music for this album can be described as progressive metal with slight doom. Dark sorrow in the atmosphere fits well with the high-quality composition. Probably a third (20 minutes) of the track is instrumental while not straying away from the concept, with a continuous pattern throughout the progressive complexity. Unlike Dream Theater or Rush, the album is more doom-inspired than upbeat, including the mid-range vocals and the riffs that contain slow dark heaviness to fit nicely with the sorrowful leads. The album also includes saxophone, sitar, strings, synthesizers, and other instruments starting with "S", greatly enhancing the guitar and atmosphere.
It all begins with an intro that might've made any metalhead who bought this album on the month of its release think this is a brand new Dream Theater album. Of course, the heavy doom-paced riffing might make you think otherwise. The instrumental sections are enjoyable despite being colorless. Then death growls start roaming in as of around the 8-minute mark before the pace continues being changed. Another 8 minutes later, at near the 16-minute mark, the pace picks up and flows easily. Another 16 minutes later, sometime after the 32-minute mark comes an out-of-place stretcher; 5 minutes of female operatic chanting. That almost made drop the score a half-star. You could've added some Kreator-like thrash soloing, but nope!! Fortunately, the perfection is redeemed with more heaviness, at slightly over the 40-minute mark is followed by a two-minute acoustic/piano solo, before the excellent guitar solo I've waited for. Finally, the last 5 minutes are mostly soft instrumental and be considered the track's "end credits".
What an achievement in the progressive metal realm! You can probably guess Light of Day, Day of Darkness, as the longest track from a prominent rock or metal band, but it's surpassed by Fantomas' Delirium Cordia, Transatlantic's The Whirlwind, and Bell Witch's Mirror Reaper. Everything flows without being too loose or out of place (for the most part). This is a must-have for all progressive fans, and while I didn't start my prog journey here, for anyone wanting to start on this genre for the first time....welcome!
Favorites: The entire track (though I've struggled with the female operatic chanting)
Genres: Progressive Metal
Hopesfall is an alt-hardcore band that had a more metalcore sound 20 years before this review. They were signed to Trustkill Records, an infamous record label that took their own name seriously. This EP, No Wings to Speak of acts as a bridge in the 3-year gap between their debut The Frailty of Words and The Satellite Years. The band's Christian-themed debut is an under-recorded under-promoted album that failed to spread through a greater audience. The EP No Wings to Speak of is a greater display of their earlier work with underground spirit dug into the surface. And when I finally got the chance to listen, it was indeed a jaw-dropping experience!
Hopesfall was part of the rising hybrid band scene that included hardcore bands like this one and the more famous rap/metal hybrids like Hybrid Theory-era Linkin Park. For Hopesfall, they were one of the earliest metalcore hybrid bands, mixing the genre with emo and post-hardcore, and slight hints at the indie rock that would dominate their sound in the mid-2000s and beyond, all in dense sound layers. Despite this hybrid, their main focus isn't on metalcore's moshing chaos, but rather on smooth beauty in their sound. These 4 songs are harmoniously written compositions while still using heavy grooves and breakdowns in the song structures. Heavy but mellow compared to what their previous record label Takehold Records had then. The band stays strong with emotional chords and beautiful riffs overlapped with harsh vocals in spiritual purity.
The opener "Open Hands to the Wind" is not bad at all, but it's my least favorite song and not the best song to start with. It's a less unique melodic metallic hardcore song that seems to rip-off from Poison the Well and Evergreen Terrace, yet a minute into the song onwards, the subtle sublime changes commence so it stays good. That's where I know that the hope for perfection has never fallen! "April Left With Silence" starts with somber groove and discordant melody with pounding bass to spread out throughout at least the first half. Then you get stunned by the heaviness of dissonant chords over melodic riffs like a spring flower blooming on top of a cold winter mountain. "The End of an Era" is the best one here, with nearly 7 minutes of beauty and fury combined. A haunting opening riff turns into a towering breakdown overlapped with bright guitar which, in turn, adds dense chords and fast drums, followed by highly emotional passages, stunning tempos, dark beautiful screams, and finally a soft gentle instrumental passage at the center. So d*mn beautiful... "The Far Pavilions" runs through the snare drum more frantically before ending the album with bright power.
Yeah, I already noticed this band being Christian, and I've heard about their debut album The Frailty of Words being a Christian album. Whether they intended to keep that going, and whether your religion, Hopesfall made one of the most spiritual metallic hardcore releases to this day with No Wings to Speak of! Their music combines elemental metaphors of wind and water, and that's already seen in the bleakly beautiful cover art of black & blue & green clouds. The band has indeed taken on less Christian influences than their debut album, with its simplistic beauty that can almost be suitable for a Buddhist monastery. If you can just take that soft gentle instrumental passage from "The End of an Era" and have it seamlessly repeat without any of the heavier parts, that would be excellent meditation music. No Wings to Speak of is also more suitable for a night drive with yourself or friends than just a live show. With music filled with brilliance, beauty and a breakdown or a few, metalcore youngsters like myself would love it!
Favorites: "April Left With Silence", "The End of an Era"
Well it has been so long since I last got my hands on an album full of Breaking Benjamin material. With my recent transition to The Gateway after a couple months of planning and anticipation, I now know it's time to say a proper hello to an old genre friend, alt-rock/metal! Breaking Benjamin is one of those bands of that genre, and the album I chose to review that was recently added here, We Are Not Alone is an incredible a**-kicker, showing that the band began reaching higher fame at their second album, not their first or third. As of right now, I'm currently of college-age, and a few people aren't lucky enough to find a band this good until that age. Fortunately, my older brother and I have listened to this band since 2012... Well, at least my brother still listens to them. I was 13 back then, and trying to find a set music taste to run away from the radio pop sh*t I had enough of. For one of the very first rock/metal bands to peak my interest, I was h*lla impressed. The songs from the 4 albums that were released were some of the heaviest (and the first) music to reach my old computer's headphones. And while their self-titled EP and debut Saturate have more of a post-grunge/hard rock sound than alt-metal (which is why they're the only releases still not present in this style), songs from both albums like "Polyamorous" and "Shallow Bay" marked some of the best and heaviest hard rock songs I've heard (probably still are), though I struggled a bit with the strong themes and a bit of swearing (again, I was 13 back then), which I can definitely handle now, so maybe I can have a better chance with those songs soon...
Anyway, We Are Not Alone also had a couple great songs to delight me including "So Cold", the lead single that I would talk about in the next paragraph. Little did I know, Breaking Benjamin and a few other alt-rock/metal bands would be responsible for guiding me to a new light that is my metal interest, though it would be much different from that style. While there are so many people to thank for getting me to where I am, the ultimate person I'm thankful to is my alt-rock/metal-loving brother. I've had an exciting feeling about giving this album a full listen and review, and it has really fit my expectations once I got there. Expect the usual edgy songs with heavy riffs and drum slams. The tone seems more serious than their debut. While still heavy, they have more focus on improvement than complexity, with impressive results...
With no other option, let's begin with the aforementioned "So Cold", a softer way to start the album while still rocking out with the intro and chorus that showcases the band's talent. There's wonderful guitar dueling and rhythmic drumming, the latter with toms and splashes in the verse, more than a water splash caused by a car in the rain, all in momentum being built up. Finally, the bass tightens the rhythm with its groove through the guitars. Wonderful! A track sounding closer to the more conventional alt-metal is "Simple Design", sounding edgy and broken down while built back up with Benjamin Burnley's fantastic vocals. Third track "Follow" continues the strong formula with heavy guitar riffs guiding the vocals through the verses before suspense builds for a heavier chorus. "Firefly" catches my attention with clever vocals sung by unique vocals leading the desirable instrumentation. Excellent one!
Moving on, fifth track "Break My Fall" combines heavy guitar with Burnley's singing in steady motion, a wonderful achievement! Yet nothing else worth writing about there... The next track and the best of the album is "Forget It", which is co-written and guest-performed by The Smashing Pumpkins' Billy Corgan. For a very long time, this remains one of my favorite songs from the band. It sounds so emotional even before the singing starts, with lyrics of lost love and emotion and the song title being softly repeated over melancholic yet uplifting-sounding riffing after the verses. While not the heaviest song I've heard, that one is arguably the strongest and most powerful song of the album and by the band. I don't think my brother would find the best interest there though. While the album is still very good, seventh track "Sooner or Later" is probably the least interesting song there, though the soft tone tries to say otherwise in the verses along with a cool pre-chorus and heavy chorus. Following this is "Breakdown". After a "Fur Elise"-like piano intro, Burnley screams "BREAKDOWN!!!" to begin a hardcore riffing part of the intro similar to the heavy parts of their debut. That should've been a single!
Then we have two more hard rock tracks, starting with "Away". The other song "Believe" sounds like one the band would've made in the late 90s in the first couple years of their formation. The acoustic closer "Rain" is a mellow way to close the album, with the chorus referencing a certain old nursery rhyme. A year later, the band released a full-band version as a single that was later released as a re-release bonus track for this album. It's the band's own "To End the Rapture"!
Breaking Benjamin has done what people think it's the unthinkable for a sophomore album; breaking the mold and spreading the pieces further. They provided a further challenge and added more softness and heaviness than their hard rock debut. This band really knows how to stay confident by expanding their sound while letting their earlier fans know who they still are. It's an unpredictable refreshment! I like it slightly more than nearly a decade ago, and what rock fan would you be without it? Even Saturate-era purists should listen. We Are Not Alone is one of the strongest albums to be more focused on rock while staying metal in my opinion. The band is not alone!
Favorites: "So Cold", "Follow", "Firefly", "Forget It", "Breakdown", "Believe"
Genres: Alternative Metal
It was this album, American Capitalist that caused Five Finger Death Punch to reach the Billboard album chart higher than before. Just when the band is feeling like they're drowning under abuse, these warriors of hate fight back to claim their throne of modern heavy groove metal/hard rock, something my brother still enjoys and I used to before developing my own different metal taste...
The negative reception the band has received can really fuel the fire. They're the kind of band who would take their anger out on writing songs to gouge out naysayer's eyes with their middle fingers, all in violent aggression within their primal attitude.
The relentless title track is an example of the band never giving a doubting f***. "Under and Over It" once again fulfills their resolution with their revolution against critics. Continuing such a confrontation, "The Pride" adds a little more melody while staying as deadly as the rest of that opening song trilogy. Then we get to the power ballad "Coming Down" that sounds closer to the softer side of Mudvayne while continuing the band's layering exploration.
"Menace" continues the punishing aggression. Then you hear the nihilistic call of "Generation Dead". After that, "Back for More" is another defiant anthem worth moshing to. The magnificent "Remember Everything" once again shows how heavy even the ballads can be for 5FDP.
"Wicked Ways" is another killer song that shows their praise towards their a**-kissing fans and their middle fingers up the a**es of people trying to p*ss them off. "If I Fall" continues the heavy madness that would impress fellow bands of the NWOAHM such as Trivium. Once more, in full force is the art of "100 Ways to Hate", which is both a love song for fans and a hate song for haters.
5FDP won't please everyone, especially not those people who believe in Maiden, Metallica, and Pantera being actual metal. What works is the sides of love and hate. So which side are you on? Some things in the album might be inaccurate for me, but I have a bit of good judgement for them. In a world of opinions, 5FDP have prevailed....
Favorites: "Under and Over It", "The Pride", "Back for More", "Remember Everything", "If I Fall"
Genres: Alternative Metal Groove Metal
Avenged Sevenfold was a band that nearly broke me out of my brother's alt-rock/metal path that I was following, but a certain DragonForce song pushed them aside and sealed my deal to start my "true" metal path. But let's go back to the underrated beginning of the A7X, when they were college teens trying to make an impressive metalcore album, and they kinda did it for their debut! However, without Synyster Gates, there weren't a lot of harmonics, though a song here would be re-recorded with him.
The lyrics were more fitting in the metalcore scene, sounding more emo, which also makes sense for a debut album. Also part of the metalcore sound were the screams by vocalist M. Shadows that sometimes sound a bit annoying and stuffy, but I'm used to it since reviewing Waking the Fallen, their second album and last with those screams.
As you hear the opening track "To End the Rapture", you're already all set for what's to come later despite being just a piano intro, unless you have the re-release with the aforementioned re-recorded version with bad-a** soloing by Synyster Gates. "Turn the Other Way" sounds really cool here with dark mood for the heaviness. Midway through "Darkness Surrounding" is a drum solo to end all drum solos. Absolutely solid work from The Rev! RIP... "The Art of Subconscious Illusion" has an impressive beginning riff. "We Come Out at Night" is filled with excellent metalcore with harmonic vocals over sonic atmosphere.
"Lips of Deceit" rules despite the screaming sounding like dog barking. The album ballad "Warmness on the Soul" is probably the most emo-sounding song by the band, consisting of only singing and piano, then a small solo and slow drumming comes in to start the second half. It's A7X's "My Immortal", and just a waste of time... Unlike the next epic metalcore track, "An Epic of Time Wasted", about a wasted relationship. "Breaking Their Hold" is another 1-minute track, this one being fast hardcore in the face!
"Forgotten Faces" is a never forgotten hero of a metalcore song. "Thick and Thin" has amazing guitar riffs and bass, the latter from former bassist Justin Sane, another different part of the band's lineup. He also sails along with the intro riffing of "Streets", which is actually a song from M. Shadows' former punk band Successful Failure. Speedy drumming and riffing is maintained, but he sings cleanly throughout the song for a punk-ish feel that's unlike even the band's later cleaner albums. "Shattered by Broken Dreams" is the album's 7-minute epic, beginning with an acoustic intro verse, rising in heaviness before returning to the album's metallic hardcore. As well-done as Bleeding Through's "Savior Saint Salvation" in which M. Shadows and Synyster Gates guest-contributed.
And that's it, their debut Sounding the Seventh Trumpet, a great headbanger of an album as one of only two metalcore offerings by Avenged Sevenfold. The original edition is good, but definitely get the re-release with the heavy version of the intro. However, after their second album, they would never have their hardcore kicks again....
Favorites: "Turn the Other Way", "Darkness Surrounding", "We Come Out at Night", "An Epic of Time Wasted", "Forgotten Faces", "Shattered by Broken Dreams"
Genres: Melodic Metalcore
In Flames was once a band that I listened to before leaving the death metal realm, a Swedish metal band that started with glorious melodeath but (d)evolved into the alt-/nu metal that metalheads hate. And while this live album isn't as terrible as some of their later albums, the fault is in the quality...
Seeing this live album in the anniversaries thread yesterday as of this review, I thought it would be worth giving this band another go to see if anything's good in this album. As it turns out, some things are very good, others are horrible, like the production sounding more stereo-like. The vocals sound horrible compared to their studio works, f***ing up the songs that stand out, while some others still sound good. Do I dare talk about them all? I guess so...
Kicking off the show and the album is "Bullet Ride", with a nice riff before Anders' singing takes over, though only the bass and drums stand out more than the rest, thereby butchering the song. Anders sounded much better and less sucky in studio than this live sh*t. "Embody the Invisible" stays close to the original from the Colony album, but nothing special is added except for the bad quality of the production and vocals. "Jotun" kicks real a** in the instrumentation, but the vocals hit a new low there. "Food for the Gods" has much better vocals to bring the quality to higher average. "Moonshield" is one of the best songs from the melodeath era of the band, but for the performance here... WHAT THE F***?!? Why in the h*ll did they skip the acoustic intro?! That's the best part of the song!! The f***ed up production does not help at all. This is sad, man...
"Clayman" is just sh*tty here, too whiny-sounding. "Swim" is another one from the at-the-time latest album Clayman, still cr*ppy enough to skip. The next track begins with Anders shouting to the audience, "We're gonna take all of you behind space!" Cheesy, right?? Anders once again ruins it all with his Rabbid-like voice. That's why I prefer only the original version with Dark Tranquillity's Mikael Stanne. "Only for the Weak" is the best song of Clayman and almost this live album, though it's degraded by the cheesy "Jump!" chant and the absence of background vocals. The way he pronounces the next track title "Gyroscope" is amusing, but the rest of this song still sounds sh*t here.
"Scorn" sounds much worse than the original. The only upside is the "Raining Blood" break in the middle. "Ordinary Story" does a good job doing the original justice, but I'll still complain about the production and vocals. "Pinball Map" is absolutely worth skipping and the live version should be called "Pimple Map". The title track for Colony isn't as bad as the other songs from the album performed here. "Episode 666" is very good, almost not lame at all, with kick-A singalong moments, though not too spectacular.
All in all, this is a good live album in some parts. Their previous albums, especially their first 3, are much better than this live sh*t. D*mn bummer, man, especially since this was meant to be a nice throwback for me. The production and setlist should've been made better. Now if you'll excuse me, my time away from death metal continues....
Favorites (one song per album, I liked the original versions better): "Food for the Gods", "Moonshield", "Behind Space", "Only for the Weak", "Colony"
Genres: Death Metal
Well well... What have we here?... Industrial black metal!? Thankfully, more influences from the former metal genre than the latter. If this was one of their earlier black metal albums instead of Passage, I would prevent my attention from being grabbed. Industrial metal also wasn't my thing, but that I look forward to expanding.
Fortunately, I think I just found one of my new all-time favorite metal albums in Samael's Passage, containing the power of unique beauty! As I've implied above, Samael was initially in the 2nd wave of black metal. I haven't heard their earlier black metal material yet, but I'm glad to start with the album where electronic keyboards overpower most of the heavy satanic black metal until the latter is almost no more...
I can hear it clearly in "Rain", an amazing opening highlight, starting with a killer yet smile-inducing riff. The hard-to-miss beginning of "Shining Kingdom" sets up the drive that the rest of the song would take. The keyboards nicely blend over the heaviness in beautiful melody, making Samael the bridge of difference between industrial metal and black metal. Those melodic keyboard passages would continue shining on in this fantastic album. The haunting intro of "Angel's Decay" proves it right off the bat. "My Saviour" is an amazing standout classic. This is industrialized Hell that's so great!
"Jupiterian Vibe" would keep bashing up your face until you bleed. "The Ones Who Came Before" has a chorus that acts as a galactic greeting from a cold dark place. "Liquid Soul Dimension" is one of only a couple songs where guitars and bass take the front stage, instead of the keyboards. The guitars and bass are still around for a solid sound.
There's soothing melody within "Moonskin" that almost reminds of In Flames' "Moonshield" from this year, though Samael's song is slightly faster. "Born Under Saturn" has more demanding power while staying as varied as the other tracks to make the release brilliant. The intro riff of "Chosen Race" is another example of great guitar heaviness. "A Man in Your Head" once more has great devotion, making it clear that the band has departed the black metal of Worship Him until at least Above.
All in all, Passage is an album I would recommend to fans of either the industrial metal of Godflesh or the symphonic black metal of Limbonic Art, or both. Again, this might just be for me one of the best industrial metal albums of space and time!
Favorites: Rain, Shining Kingdom, My Saviour, Moonskin, Born Under Saturn, A Man in Your Head
Genres: Black Metal Industrial Metal
When I made my departure from death metal back in April, I also moved away from a few extra bands, one of them being Between the Buried and Me. I wasn't interested in this band anymore and thought there wouldn't be anything exciting to come after the Coma Ecliptic and Automata albums... Then two months later, they announced a new album, the highly anticipated Colors II, the sequel to their grand creative breakthrough Colors, you know, their 2007 album that reached their progressive heights compared to their first 3 metalcore offerings. With the original Colors album, the band began to seamlessly flow everything into a sequence, and this sequence strategy would persist in future albums to come. There's no doubt that the first Colors album would be the start of a greater era for BTBAM, so I'm quite confident to see how this sequel would turn out after its release 3 years after the Automata pair. Once I had my full listen two months after the announcement, it seems like their mission has been accomplished! It's a miracle of old and new, mixing the first Colors' album extreme bizarre elements with the recent dull-ish prog-rock of Coma Ecliptic, so it could also be Coma Ecliptic II.
The one album I think might have competition with this one is The Parallax II: Future Sequence. They're both perfect sequels! However, while you can consider Colors II their longest singular album, if you combine The Parallax II with its prequel EP, then technically that would be their longest full album. While that Parallax album focuses on epic substantial storytelling, Colors II has kind of the same, but its main focus is on theatrics, cleanliness, brutality, and throwbacks, all in a huge package that shows the best fans can expect from BTBAM. The band made this sequel the previous year in 2020 to "show the world we’re still here" during the industry's shutdown due to the pandemic. To make this sequel, well, a sequel, they had to continue the twists and turn they had in the first Colors album, and it has really paid off. Everything they had throughout their two-decade career is compiled into a brand new potential masterpiece of glory!
Just like in the first Colors, the intro, "Monochrome" starts with a minute of piano that continues the prophetic charm of preludes. Then the heaviness rises while staying in cosmic serenity, before the intrinsic aggression fully takes over, the most brutal since The Parallax era! In contrast to the intro's beginning beauty, so similarly to the transition between two "Foam Born" parts in the first Colors, "The Double Helix of Extinction" keeps up the tech-death after the intro's crescendo in a hammering groove breakdown that violently switches tempo every now and then. Finally, Tommy Rogers screams the band's name before it all quiets down to a mysterious outro. Next up, "Revolution in Limbo" continues blending various characteristics including tricky shifts in instrumentation and catchy hooks, all in brilliant repetition that's never boring. The singing is around as often as the growling, and similarly, the guitars can range from acoustic cleans to violent shredding leads. Drummer Blake Richardson does killer death growls in the massive breakdown, which is in return for what's to come in the next track... "Fix the Error" would contain a drum soloing showdown between Ken Schalk (ex-Candiria), Navene Koperweis (ex-Animals as Leaders), and Mike Portnoy (ex-Dream Theater), and the rest of the song evokes the barbaric side of the first Colors.
The wonderous spiral of "Never Seen/Future Shock" is a nearly 12-minute epic in an arena battle switching through brutality and melody. Then "Stare Into the Abyss" takes a break from the action for a slightly draggy hypnotic interlude that once again reaches a crescendo. So that's kind of an intermission between this album's equivalent to the first 3 tracks of the first Colors and the 3-track equivalent to the next 3 tracks. "Prehistory" hearkens back to "Sun of Nothing" with the fusion of jazz and metal, topped off with cartoony sound effects and country-western bass. "Bad Habits'' mixes extreme prog blast beats, triumphant sections, strange organ duels, and celestial acoustics, having a greater cauldron than in The Great Misdirect, along with a lyrical reprise to "Ants of the Sky" at the end.
"The Future is Behind Us" is a spiritual sequel to "Prequel to the Sequel", this one starting with orchestral disco-rock before a devastating mathcore breakdown. "Turbulent" starts with a synthwave-pop loop, and the expanding soundscape rises from there, though slightly more predictable without soiling the album's perfection. "Sfumato" is a short instrumental calm before the final storm, with piano and guitar in spacey ambiance. And just like between the final two tracks of the first Colors, in comes the 15-minute epic finale "Human Is Hell (Another One with Love)". So climatic, so catchy, so heavy... Just listen to it! No other words can describe this massive journey's end.
It's been over a decade since the masterpiece that changed BTBAM's path, and it all came full circle with Colors II. Everything the band had in the past is combined into a rewarding adventure. Sure the first Colors album and The Parallax II would remain memories in my long-lost metal archives (no pun intended...maybe), but this is still an album to remember for generations. I wish I hadn't broken away from this band, because Colors II is pretty much the best progressive metal album for this year!
Favorites: "The Double Helix of Extinction", "Revolution in Limbo", "Fix the Error", "Never Seen/Future Shock", "Bad Habits'', "Human Is Hell (Another One with Love)"
Genres: Metalcore Progressive Metal
I find many concept albums interesting because of its variety of subjects, but the ones that reach absolute perfection in the writing are rare. While I'm lucky enough to find albums that come close, this gem has reached its destination. Traveller has great tunes and an epic story for the listener's attention. The tracks are all memorable! The unique concept is based on an RPG that's like D&D but more sci-fi. (The Lord Weird) Slough Feg can handle sci-fi more than progressive metalcore bands these days.
Mike Scalzi is a top-notch vocalist that should be recognized more. His unique talents are very well inspired by Bruce Dickinson, with passion and strength. Those vocals can echo a futuristic atmosphere that this album needs for a good spacey imagination.
"The Spinward Marches" begins the album with a slow marching intro that has kick-A bass. Then the strong passages of high solos and low riffs roll out in "High Passage/Low Passage". That's where the main character of the story is introduced within well-written lyrics to keep you interested. The fast energetic highlight "Asteroid Belts" continues those strong solos and riffs, along with a fantastic intro. The finest drumming occurs in "Professor's Theme", which also has a fantastic intro.
The doomy highlight "Vargr Moon" stays strong as ever. I kinda think of the "Vargr" duo of songs to be slightly better than Blind Guardian's "Bard's Songs", in the same pace but heavier and faster at times, and less acoustic. "Vargr Theme/Confrontation" makes a fantastic transition from the previous "Vargr", though not as superior but still great. The acoustic ballad "Baltech's Lament" is a necessary break from the action of the first half of the album, much better than Blind Guardian's acoustic "Bard Song" when played it on its own, though Slough Feg's ballad adds some metal to this brilliant structure before the outro. "Gene-Ocide" has some more fine drumming.
The slower "Curse of Humaniti" loses some of the band's bouncing energy and is a weak link in quality, though not affecting the album's perfection. The galloping "The Final Gambit" proves the band's unique style that's inspired by Iron Maiden without sounding too much like them, with melodic soloing and the bass and drums at great heights. "The Spinward Marches (Return)" reprises the intro before the album's finale... "Addendum Galactus" has the most diverse soloing in the album, a grand ending to this story!
Slough Feg made one of the finest metal concept albums that is Traveller. Almost every song is perfect, containing Mike Scalzi's incredible notes to fit in the well-written lyrics, plus amazing riffs and melodic solos. The bass is strong and prominent, along with dynamic drum energy. Any metalhead shall travel through this unmissable journey!
Favorites: "High Passage/Low Passage", "Asteroid Belts", "Vargr Moon", "Baltech's Lament", "The Final Gambit", "Addendum Galactus"
Genres: Heavy Metal
I've been in the hardcore/metalcore zone for longer than 3 years now, and I barely despise anything from that genre. I enjoy many Revolution classics, even ones before this album like Calculating Infinity by The Dillinger Escape Plan and We are the Romans by Botch. Maybe someday I can get into other metalcore bands like Poison the Well and Hopesfall, but this band, Skycamefalling is what I'll start with, all thanks to another one of Daniel's Revolution recommendations!
This is one of those albums that essential for the hardcore/metalcore scene in the new millennium. The sole Skycamefalling album 10.21 and Converge's Jane Doe are two of the first metalcore albums with more poetic lyrics than just uniting a brotherhood of rebellion.
The instrumental "Intro" starts the album. Then "With Paper Wings" kickstarts the action. This is probably the band's greatest hit, filled with driving guitar intensity, one of my favorite metalcore songs to remember! I might just feel up to screaming along to the chorus. After grabbing your throat throughout the song, there's a beautiful piano outro that would inspire hundreds of other bands to add something like that to their songs. You know who "Laura Palmer" is, a murdered girl whose investigation serves as the plot to the series Twin Peaks. This is more aggressive than when Swallow the Sun made a song about Laura Palmer. "The Nothing" is a great way to describe where a relationship leads to: "So where were you when one heart became two?! When three words became more than you could chew?!?" I highly recommended listening to that song!
"-" is just a short instrumental. "Porcelain Heart Promises" covers pretty much everything you need to hear from this band. Another recommendation! "Healing Yesteryear" shows what TDEP and Botch should've done the previous year. "Shallow Like the Sand" is definitely what you should come for poetic lyrics: "Trees fall like iron on their way down, we bury our hands in their hearts and waste away again, because I have tried to turn words to stone, tried to fight the day with my eyes closed." Way more thought out than other hardcore bands! "The Truth Machine" continues the classic metallic hardcore, at a time when progressive innovators like Devin Townsend were on the rise.
The instrumental title epic contains 9 minutes of acoustic guitar, clean piano sounding a bit Eastern, and light percussion, leading to an ending crescendo. A soft break while you breathe in the flames of creativity! "November’s Neverending" gives you the idea of an eternal dark winter with no point in moving on. The album closes with "An Ocean Apart", staying strong even after 5 minutes of silence. A fitting end to a hardcore metal album of a beauty and intensity!
I still can't believe this talented group of musicians split up after only one album, but hopefully there would be more after a few recent reunion shows in the 2010s. As much as I enjoy other metalcore bands, I already miss these guys and hope they'll come back again. A metalcore classic of sheer poetry!
Favorites: "With Paper Wings", "The Nothing", "Porcelain Heart Promises", "Shallow Like the Sand", "10.21", "An Ocean Apart"
It wasn't until Ray Adler joined the band when the more progressive era of Fates Warning came to full force, but after 5 years of trying to get into listening to Fates Warning, I've finally done so starting with the John Arch era. As early as their debut Night on Brocken, they had a bit of power/speed metal influenced by Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. While not super impressive, their debut has brooding rhythms and Arch's searing vocals that place him between Dickinson and Kotipelto (the latter from Stratovarius).
Apparently, all the songs were re-recorded from a couple demos the band made, the first demo containing two-thirds and released under the band name Misfit, yet the lineup stayed during those first few years, consisting of not just John Arch, but also dueling guitarists Jim Matheos and Victor Arduini, bassist Joe DiBiase, and drummer Steve Zimmerman. The tones work well in the album with purely sung melodies despite sounding raw compared to the other two albums of the Arch era. I can understand why this album is shunned by even the remaining active founding member Matheos. Still there are some solid guitars and memorable vocals with rage nostalgia in the atmosphere.
Guitar feedback buries you alive in "Buried Alive" before digging you back up into a chord sequence similar to Queensryche at that time, though that band has taken US power metal to a more commercial level, but what they both have in common is, by the late 80s, those roots for both bands would be discarded for full-on progressive metal. The riffs really slay, though Arch's high vocals really take the stage, sounding a bit like a male siren. "The Calling" has some bruising melody a bit like Iron Maiden at that time, while great drumming is let loose alongside the guitar rhythm in mysterious verses. "Kiss of Death" sounds greatly influenced from Accept, Judas Priest, and Metallica at that time, the latter especially in the viciously composed rhythm. The band continues their earlier characteristics of melodically shrieking vocals, despite sloppy guitar leads.
The title track is quite lovely and follows the album's main lyrical inspiration, German mountain witchcraft in old fantasy folklore. Those lyrics really drive with what I love, a nice break from the usual progressive metal feelings of reality. This is probably one of the best songs of the album, especially in the last two minutes with beautiful vocals soaring through the climax before ending in nice acoustic tranquility. "S.E.K." (no idea what that stands for) is a short acoustic instrumental. There's more Maiden power in "Misfit" (the band's former name), where the lyrics recall a hero's tragic epic. Once again, the last two minutes are climatic, this time with nice speedy solo dueling.
"Shadowfax" is an instrumental cruiser that almost has a groove metal pace before that genre was even established. The title is a name of Gandalf's horse, and that's not the only time a power metal instrumental has something to do with Gandalf, another time is Blind Guardian's "Gandalf's Rebirth". Then we come to a couple over 6-minute epics to conclude the album, the first one being "Damnation", a tranquil ballad that gets transformed by the power of Sabbath, as amazing melodies continue on from the vocals and the guitars. One of the best songs here besides the title track! The second 6-minute epic "Soldier Boy" (Tell 'Em) stays strong while not too extreme with riffing in melodic grace lurking under the vocal shadows. The guitars kick a** with deep dueling melody before blasting off to end the album, literally with cannon fire.
You might feel let down by the poor production, but Night on Brocken strongly connects this Connecticut band to a career ahead of them from a buzz to a roar, though the vocals and direction would end up changing. I would recommend it for anyone collecting 80s records from Queensryche, Riot, and Omen for US power metal nostalgia. If those collectors have an old format for this album on vinyl, they can listen along while smoking, drinking, and playing D&D. There's no chance this would ever be my ultimate favorite Fates Warning album, but it's a fine powerful Guardians feature release choice for you to get your US power metal on....
Favorites: Buried Alive, Night on Brocken, Misfit, Damnation, Soldier Boy
Genres: Heavy Metal
Live Evolution is one of a few live albums Queensryche has made through their tenure so far. What do they have in common? Audio and visual formats! However, this album was record in two live nights in a row, with selected songs from all the albums they've made before then. The first disc I like because it compiles songs from their mighty starter trilogy and self-titled EP, though it's a bit redundant to include over half of Operation Mindcrime. However, the second disc's evolution has not worked so well...
I'm just glad they haven't stuck with the non-metal phase of their material from the millennial turn forever, but that has caused quite some negative effect to their earlier metal albums as well, sounding a bit sloppy and unpleasant in a few songs from there. The guitars are still strong, unlike the vocals.
Like this song's original version, "NM 156" brings forward the progressive style they pioneered, with tasteful keyboards and odd time signatures. However, the weakness in the vocals starts there. The otherwise classic tune "Walk in the Shadows" really lessens the vocal quality. What makes the original song a highlight is Geoff's vocals of stylistic howling like a wolf, but here it sounds more like squawking like a chicken with a small bit of volume loss. The main riff and chorus melody still remain infectious enough to stay in your brain like a hotel visit. And now, "Roads to Madness"... WHAT THE F***?! They shortened a progressive 10-minute epic into a 5-minute radio edit by removing the second half! WHY?!? Shorter is NOT better!! Still the riffs and melodies can transport you all over the 70s and early 80s without actually going that far in time. The original version is what I prefer! The self-titled EP's ballad "The Lady Wore Black" is decently good, even the live version, with Tate's vocals ranging from excellent power to restrained melody to stay with the song's mellow style.
"Take Hold of the Flame" is a rather uplifting and optimistic ballad as opposed to the dark thought-provoking lyrics of the other songs along with the quality weakening them. What's interesting is, they started tuning down to E-flat tuning, which actually helped improved the vocals here a bit. Up next is "Queen of the Reich", the band's very first song and their own "theme", a fast track with amazing vocals by Geoff Tate, once again proving himself as one of the best vocalists in all of metal. Despite the different tuning, the Maiden-inspired guitar talent is still around. Even the speedy solo fits well with the tuning! This is a g****mn great metal song instead of the sh*tty rock they had in the studio albums at the time of this live one. Then we get to the third ballad here (THIRD!!!) "London", a reminder of the capital of heavy metal's origin country (UK) with melancholic atmosphere in this good song. There's spine-chilling sadness in both the music and the vocals. Not too commercial-sounding and not even close to complex, but still good. Up next is "Screaming in Digital", sounding weird yet interesting with the music fitting well with the lyrics of the technological invasion, first experienced in the aforesaid "NM 156" from their debut album.
Now it would've been great to get to the ballad "I Will Remember" to not only keep up the Rage for Order streak, but they didn't, instead going straight to Operation Mindcrime, starting with the mood-setting intro "I Remember Now". A man named Nicky (it's spelled Nikki but that original spelling was a little girly, no offense) lies in a hospital bed, near catatonia. Suffering from amnesia, he was unable to remember any past memories, when suddenly all those memories start flooding back into his mind. Then instead of an overture, we head straight to the first actual song of the album "Revolution Calling" that has a great catchy chorus. Nicky remembers that he was addicted to heroin and a future political radical frustrated with society's economic inequality and corrupting hypocrisy. He was manipulated into joining a secret revolution organization.
Then we head to "Spreading the Disease", which for whatever reason is split in half, divided by sneaking in the "Electric Requiem" interlude! Through one of Dr. X's associates, Father William, a corrupt priest, Nicky is hired the services of a nun who was formerly a teenage prostitute. Things starts heating up in "The Mission". The prostitute/nun's name is Sister Mary, and Nicky has a friendship and growing affection towards her. He begins feeling emotional doubt, wondering what the h*ll he was thinking, wondering why he would accept a deal to kill a friend of his. He begins to realize Dr. X's nefarious agenda. "Suite Sister Mary" is the 11-minute long epic of this album. Pamela Moore singing her part of Sister Mary in a duet with Geoff Tate is a good touch of affecting tension. Dr. X, seeing Mary as a potential threat to his cult, orders Nicky to kill her and Father William. Nicky murders the priest in Mary's church but felt unable to murder Mary, not even at Dr. X's command.
In "I Don't Believe In Love", he further degenerates into distress as he continues running and screaming. However, the police, who happen to be around and know about the death of Mary, notice Nicky holding a gun and jumped to the conclusion that he is the murderer of Mary (false) and Father William (true). They capture Nicky and knock him out hard with a nightstick. Instead of a short interlude, we go straight to "My Empty Room", when Nicky wakes up in a mental hospital, having lost most of his memory after that knockout and all he could think of was his last moments with Mary. The final song and major single "Eyes of a Stranger" is the second most-memorable song of the original album and has the best chorus. Back in the present, Nicky has regained his memory, but staring through a mirror, is unable to recognize himself anymore.
Then it all goes downhill with the second disc, compiling songs from the band's fall from metal grace, starting with "I Am I" that might've influenced the semi-active hard rock/metal band with former DragonForce vocalist ZP Theart. "Damaged" was an embarrassing attempt to fit in with the grungy alt-metal of Soundgarden and Alice in Chains. Seriously, the 90s alt-metal scene was killing the 80s metal stars. "Empire" is the heaviest song of its eponymous album with corruption-related lyrics and majestic chorus harmony, but doesn't really pack much of a punch in the rhythms. Then there's the frustrating yet catchy ballad "Silent Lucidity". UGH, thank God my high school years (not that I ever was in high school) only a minimum of 5 years ago when I was (and still am) homeschooled, unlike those people who had their high-school years 30 years ago, when they end up listening to the song in proms, radios, MTV, and even practicing the song in music lessons. I'm tried of ballads like "Stairway to Heaven" and "More Than Words" being played on the radio more than the heavier songs from their respective bands. Give heaviness a chance for metal's sake!! "Silent Lucidity" is Queensryche's "Bard Song" but lamer and more overrated. Another successful track (though sadly not as much as the previous one) is "Another Rainy Night (Without You)", driving through chorus progression and strong guitar notes, though that strength seems to have dried out here. "Jet City Woman" is quite classy, though not really strong enough to keep me conscious, not even in the live version.
"Liquid Sky" shows the band skipping ahead to their latest album at the time Q2K, right in the middle of their first non-metal trilogy. That song's pretty strong though. "Sacred Ground" is upbeat in a relaxing way, though the lyrics are a bit suggestive. The stronger "Falling Down" comes on with refreshing vocals and drum beat. The guitar duel I really like, showing what then-new member Kelly Gray could do with long-time member Michael Wilton. Then from the album Hear in the New Frontier that can be considered the band's Skunkworks, "Hit the Black" is never really powerful and inspirational, and while it still has good riffs and decent vocals, they're nowhere near as amazing as the 80s trilogy of perfection. The weakest track "Breakdown" can very much qualify as the worst ever song from the band, its album, and the entire f***ing century, twice as worse as "Silent Lucidity". I should've added it to my "greatest sh*ts" list! The guitar riff is probably the least inspired of all riffs. There's not a SINGLE MOTHERF***ING METALCORE BREAKDOWN!!!! They never really meant to take their break from metal that far!! The ending track "The Right Side of My Mind" makes up for that sh*t-fest, but it doesn't really reach the strength of the good but not to great early 90s or the nearly perfect 80s trilogy. Either way, I'm just glad that this half-abomination of an album will soon end. After that final climatic guitar outro, I shall relieve myself from their in sweet relief...
All in all, this live album has some important and interesting songs all around, especially in that first disc. That includes songs from the amazing 80s trilogy and self-titled EP, but a few of those songs were butchered here. And I'm not sure if you should get the second disc with some poor songs from the not-so-great 90s material, unless you're a fanboy who really wants to complete the collection. Those sh*tty songs don't help this unfulfilling album, though their setlist was in broader range, covering songs from every album back then. For anyone wanting interesting entertainment from this band, you might be better off elsewhere.... (I can't believe I wrote a long review for a poor album!)
Favorites (one song per album): "Roads to Madness" (despite its shortening), "Queen of the Reich", "Screaming in Digital", "Suite Sister Mary", "I Am I", "Another Rainy Night (Without You)", "Falling Down", "Hit the Black"
Genres: Heavy Metal Progressive Metal
So for about two months now, I love this band, and I kinda wish I enjoyed it more 5 years ago in my earlier melodic times of listening to Dream Theater. Queensryche can truly think more than the Thinker! The lyrics provoke thoughts with bold intelligence, most of which are greatly written and arranged by guitarist Chris DeGarmo, a great helper of the band who sadly left during the band's first non-metal trilogy; quit after Hear in the New Frontier then briefly returned for a few songs in Tribe.
Queensryche has much more progressive art in Rage for Order that was first hinted in their debut album The Warning. Keyboards, synthesizers, and acoustics are brought to the front stage, arranged with complex time changes. There's well-done production, clear and not too polished, that would continue in subsequent albums. And there's no doubt for top-notch vocals from Geoff Tate that marks some of the best in metal. Kicking a** with shining guitar harmonies are DeGarmo and Michael Wilton, emphasized by the bass of Eddie Jackson. Scott Rockenfield does simple yet great drumming. Love, politics, and technology would act as the lyrical themes of this album and next few.
Beginning the album is the classic heavy metal track "Walk in the Shadows", staying purely metal while beginning the more artistic direction. What makes this song a highlight is Geoff's vocals of stylistic howling. The main riff and chorus melody are infectious enough to stay in your brain like a hotel visit. "I Dream in Infrared" continues that mid-tempo groove but in a more ballad-like pace. The cool keyboard effects and simple drumming help this song become a good tune. "The Whisper" sounds much closer to mid-paced classic metal. A little keyboard flair comes on, but the two guitarists' dueling harmonies shine the most. Following this is my personal favorite, "Gonna Get Close to You", a cover of the Dalbello hit. The lyrics tell a disturbing story of a man stalking his crush, and the vocals and keyboards add to the catchy dark atmosphere.
"The Killing Words" is another ballad of sorrow with nice keyboards and good chorus. I'm surprised this didn't become a single, it's the most commercial-sounding song here that deserves some radio play and brings to mind a mix of Dokken and Iron Maiden. Still good despite sounding a bit cheesy. Next track "Surgical Strike" is also influenced from Iron Maiden. The keyboards don't show up until a brief midsection, while the rest is the usual classic metal. "Neue Regal" is the most complex of them all here, full of keyboards, synthesizers, guitars alternating between acoustic and electric, and operatic vocals, with a catchy chorus and time changes added to the mix, all in 5 minutes!
"Chemical Youth (We Are Rebellion)" once again continues the band's straight metal roots and would leave in more nasty bruises than a banana in a boxing match. Almost absolute zero keyboards or acoustics in this awesome favorite of mine. Then we get to the third ballad (THIRD!!!) "London", a reminder of the capital of heavy metal's origin country (UK) with melancholic atmosphere in this good song. There's spine-chilling sadness in both the music and the vocals. Not too commercial-sounding and not even close to complex, but still good. Up next is "Screaming in Digital", sounding weird yet interesting with the music fitting well with the lyrics of the technological invasion, first experienced in the debut's "NM 156". Ending the album is the acoustic f***ing fourth ballad "I Will Remember" that hints at the ballads the band would have in their next two albums. Incredible guitar work here, including a flamenco-like acoustic solo. A sad haunting ending track that seems like a prelude to their next album. ("I Remember Now...")
Rage for Order is a transition album for Queensryche in natural change. You can hear the classic elements of Judas Priest and Iron Maiden combined with the progressive art of Rush and Pink Floyd. The stage has been set very well, and would lead to a third album that would mark another all-time progressive metal favorite! To be continued....
Favorites: "Walk in the Shadows", "Gonna Get Close to You", "Neue Regal", "Chemical Youth (We Are Rebellion)", "Screaming in Digital", "I Will Remember"
Genres: Heavy Metal
The Spectre Within and the album after that Awaken the Guardian are part of a Maiden-inspired melodic speed/classic heavy metal format of riff-powered compositions with vocalist John Arch. Then Ray Adler came in as lead vocalist for the album No Exit, transitioning into a more progressive saga for that band. That saga I haven't completely heard yet, but perhaps I will, along with their debut, sometime after this review for one of the greatest American melodic heavy/progressive metal albums ever!
Each track narrates a bold vision in mystical compositional plots sung by the hauntingly wonderful voice of John Arch. His vocals some might find annoying isolated, but he shines when singing over a soundscape of old-school speedy progressive metal.
Similarly titled to the first song of the third album by Blind Guardian (whose name was inspired by the third Fates Warning album), "Traveler in Time" flows through insane bass and catchy riffing hinting at their more progressive albums. The acoustic segments creep in with amazing vocals and awesome drumming. "Orphan Gypsy" is powered up by sad-ish melodies after the intro riff-force. There's an amazing speedy verse with adventurous riffs the band would have more of in the rest of their journey. Besides the heavy yet traditional composition, the lyrics reach a poetic level farther than most other bands can.
A couple raging metal tracks come in to break up the mystique, starting with "Without a Trace", a song that's too progressive for even Iron Maiden to make. "Pirates of the Underground" has incredible riffing, especially in the verses that can go as slow as doom then as fast as speed in no time flat. "The Apparition" has the most memorable vocals by Arch, with infinite grandeur in the riffs.
"Kyrie Eleison" has some chanting in the intro (makes sense for that song name) then, I kid you not, probably the earliest example of the atmospheric doom you might find bands like Saturnus and the early 90s eras of Tiamat and Anathema occurs in the intro before the usual amazing speedy verse riffing. The album's closing 12-minute epic "Epitaph" is absolutely perfect! After monolithic doom riffing in the intro comes a grand progressive journey ending with sunny synths. With that, I think it might very well surpass Queensryche's "Roads to Madness" as the best 80s heavy/progressive metal epic!
The Spectre Within is a timeless classic with some of the most technical and progressive metal in the middle of the 80s helped out by superb riffing. There's nothing weak, boring, or cheesy. Instead it's all dark, serious, and haunting, with a couple tracks to pump some fists. This is one of the best American heavy/progressive metal releases that is not only an early masterpiece for Fates Warning but also for their labels Metal Blade and Roadrunner. This band is another fine progressive metal legend!
Favorites: "Traveler in Time", "Pirates of the Underground", "The Apparition", "Epitaph"
Genres: Heavy Metal Progressive Metal
People seem to trace the origin of progressive metal back to Rush from the 70s. Rush was recognized for their virtuoso progression away from traditional structures with storytelling subjects ranging from sci-fi to fantasy to politics. Rush isn't metal, but they would inspire a progressive revolution in metal, with one band helping from the start...
While the progressive innovations of Rush were already experimented with by heavy metal bands as early as Black Sabbath, Queensryche took those progressive influences further in the adventurous The Warning! This might not confirm the invention of the progressive metal genre, but it's very promising in the potential hybrid. This is often US power metal with progressive experimentation and lyrical subjects that would inspire bands like Dream Theater and Ayreon to push that Rush-influenced style further.
The music influenced from the NWOBHM is already hinted in the awesome title track. "En Force" shows the band's progressive sound at force. "Deliverance" continues the Priest/Maiden influences, though the vocal style sounds a bit close to the former band.
"No Sanctuary" adds a mix of acoustic/clean guitar and operatic vocals in the dark quiet sections with triumphant metal choruses to inspire later US power metal bands like Sanctuary. "NM 156" once again brings forward the progressive style they would pioneer, with tasteful keyboards and odd time signatures. "Take Hold of the Flame" is a rather uplifting and optimistic break from the dark thought-provoking lyrics throughout the album.
"Before the Storm" is another British-influenced storm. "Child of Fire" is the first of two closing highlights that are different from one another, this one being pure Iron Maiden-inspired heavy metal. The sections drive from fast to slow, clearly showing similarities to earlier Iron Maiden. "Roads to Madness" is a progressive 10-minute epic, yet the sound is closer to that of almost every Black Sabbath album before this album. Those sections filled with riffs and melodies can transport you all over the 70s and early 80s without actually going that far in time. That's what I prefer!
In conclusion, this masterpiece has made metal history with the band's barrier-breaking sound, and I recommend it to any fan of heavy/power/progressive metal. This has surely made me appreciate what this band has made. Probably the most top-notch pioneering album to conclude the first half of the 80s decade!
Favorites: "Warning", "En Force", "Sanctuary", "Child of Fire", "Roads to Madness"
Genres: Heavy Metal
Is there ever a need for a greatest hits compilation? Sure there is! Depending on good or long a band/artist's career is. I'm not really a fan of Iron Maiden, since the metal wave I prefer is from the US, not the UK, but I like Bruce Dickinson's solo material, and his own "Best of" compilation helps you know what his material is like outside Iron Maiden. While some listeners might complain about one of two of their favorite songs not being in the album, this has all you really need to know, with rare gems in Disc 2.
I'm going to mostly talk about the first disc so I wouldn't spoil the surprises to be found in the rare second disc if you only have the one-disc version. Plus it's easier for me to talk about the more common songs than the rare B-sides. Besides disc 1 containing songs from his first 5 solo albums, there are two new songs and two live versions.
Opening track "Broken" is the first of the two new songs, with modern sound and vocals spaced through soft verses and heavy chorus power. The guitar harmonies are amazing sounding closer but not too similar to Iron Maiden. A fresh song that's out of ordinary and has the right to be the album opener! Now we go back to when this metal legend took some time off in the hard rock realms with "Tattooed Millionaire", a catchy song with interesting lyrics. "Laughing in the Hiding Bush" is more ordinary in the original album Balls to Picasso, but more intense in the live version that's included here. "Tears of the Dragon", also from that album but this time the original studio version, is a grand power ballad with diverse emotion. There's authentic vocals, touching lyrics, and a stunning guitar solo, all in an emotional piece essential for all metalheads.
"The Tower" marks our trip towards Bruce's modern Maiden-sounding albums, this one being from The Chemical Wedding. The song has rhythmic bass and dueling guitars, along with a melodic anthemic chorus. "Born in '58" is another great track from his solo debut, a melodic hard rock tune with a memorable chorus. The title track of Bruce's metal-returning album Accident of Birth is a diamond jewel with blistering strength and heavy devastation, especially in the rhythm. The lyrics very much reflect on his return. Welcome home, Bruce! The second new song here "Silver Wings" is good but not as outstanding as the other new song, with lyrics sounding too close to early 90s Maiden. At least the intro is nice along with the catchy chorus. The 7-minute epic of Accident of Birth, "Darkside of Aquarius" is characterized by the pace of the guitars and drums, along with one of the best solos here, then a serene passage, and blasting off into the finale.
The title track of the Chemical Wedding is dark and catchy, unique to Bruce's solo material. Then we come to his grungy album Skunkworks, away from the heavy metal/hard rock sound, with only one track, "Back From the Edge", a catchy commercial song from an otherwise failed experiment. But what's really the best track is "Road to Hell" with absolute genuine metal. The dynamic drums blast through an awesome metal riff storm with no way to deny how superb the lineup performs. This is the Maiden I prefer to hear! "Book of Thel" is also more interesting as the live version included here, sounding more emotional as Bruce displays his vocal talent and passion. A grand ending epic!
I said I wasn't gonna mention much of the second disc, but a couple highlights are worth mentioning, starting with Iron Maiden's successful single "Bring Your Daughter...to the Slaughter" that was originally made by Bruce himself for the fifth Nightmare on Elm Street movie. Bruce Dickinson's very first song is "Dracula", the last track of the entire compilation that was from a demo as early as 1977 (slightly older than Riot's debut album!). Very nice...
All in all, this is a nearly perfect album with important and interesting songs all around, especially in that first disc. That includes songs from the amazing Accident of Birth and The Chemical Wedding, and a couple great songs from earlier albums. This is a great album for fans of Bruce Dickinson and/or Iron Maiden. You should definitely get the version with the bonus second disc if you're a fanboy who really wants to complete the collection with rare B-sides. For anyone wanting interesting entertainment from this man's voice, you really must get this compilation that's so Bruce!
Favorites (one song per album, plus a couple of the rarities): "Broken", "Tears of the Dragon", "Born in '58", "Back From the Edge", "Road to Hell", "Book of Thel", "Bring Your Daughter...to the Slaughter", "Dracula"
Genres: Heavy Metal
Any fan of heavy metal in the 90s would listen to Guns n' Roses and Bon Jovi before getting into Iron Maiden and finally the lead singer's solo material. For a 21 century metalhead like me, it's kind of a step backwards; I've gone through many different metal genres before getting into one of metal's greatest vocalists Bruce Dickinson. His temporary departure from Iron Maiden came with a change of style for his first two or three solo albums, but this album marks the return of the British metal king!
Accident of Birth is simply perfect! You can hear Bruce's singing in his own album that's both similar to and different from a band that has been in the top for far too long. With guitarists Maiden mate Adrian Smith and Tribe After Tribe's Roy Z by his side, Bruce dropped the experimentation act for a more unique album resembling Maiden. Back on track with his metal, there are epic raging songs of furious thunder and incredible ballads of exquisite peace. The Dickinson-Smith duo really brings up some Maiden vibes, and Smith can perform better compositions. Roy Z is also good at his guitar, and so are the bassist and drummer in their respective instruments, ready to kick a**...
Kicking off the album is "Freak" with a strange guitar intro before exploding into a pure metal riff through your speakers. The bombastic drumming will have you headbanging in no time along with Bruce's deliriously grand voice. The brilliant charm of the song is its midway break. Perfect starting track! "Toltec 7 Arrival" is a short atmospheric pathway to what comes next. The killer "Starchildren" has f***ing heavy guitars to amaze your brain. The catchy chorus would make sure you sing along for a long time. "Taking the Queen" makes a beautiful acoustic entrance with mesmerizing vocals before the guitars get more cleverly aggressive. Nice! The 7-minute epic of this album, "Darkside of Aquarius" is characterized by the pace of the guitars and drums, along with one of the best solos here, then a serene passage, and blasting off into the finale.
But what's really the best track is "Road to Hell" with absolute genuine metal. The dynamic drums blast through an awesome metal riff storm with no way to deny how superb the lineup performs. This is the Maiden I prefer to hear! The first ballad here is the wonderful "Man of Sorrows", where Bruce's emotional singing shines over beautiful piano. I can feel my spine shiver like h*ll with that background violin tone. Bruce has made cool ballads before, but this is his height of balladry! The title track is a diamond jewel with blistering strength and heavy devastation, especially in the rhythm. The lyrics very much reflect on his return to metal. Welcome home, Bruce!
"The Magician" is the catchiest song here, entertaining you with groovy rhythm in a hard rock/metal vibe. "Welcome to the Pit" is not bad, but it kinda falls flat and minuses one point from the album's perfection (now at 99%). The slow dark atmosphere doesn't really fit right. "Omega" is such an epic word but it's wasted on a semi-ballad. That's OK because it's a beautiful song with excellent guitars and singing especially in the explosive chorus. "Arc of Space" is a peaceful acoustic composition to end the journey.
The emperor of metal reclaimed his throne, and with that, thank you Bruce! Also thanks Daniel for the recommendation and Ben for adding this album and using a cleaner (yet still a bit creepy) album cover than the original one that is like some graphic Alien sh*t that would make you unable to sleep for a while. This singer is so Bruce!
Favorites: "Freak", "Taking the Queen", "Road to Hell", "Accident of Birth", "The Magician", "Omega"
Genres: Heavy Metal
It was not until just a couple hours before this review when I saw a review for this album that made me remember a missing piece of the puzzle of my metal life. So without a recommendation, I got into this album right away. As a former fan of Trans-Siberian Orchestra, I know that project did a few Savatage covers/reworks (including the famous and epic "Christmas Eve / Sarajevo 12/24"), and with my oldness tolerance rising, it was time to get interested in Savatage for real. I stayed in my seat and listened to the album which blew me away. This is too good to listen once, I should listen to this more!
The greatest thing about the album is its diverse stylistic variety from heavy riffing tunes to soft acoustic ballads. The worst thing is a tragedy that occurred 6 months after the album's release. Guitarist Criss Oliva was killed in a car crash caused by a drunken b****rd. His wife Dawn (who's also the scantily-dressed Eve-like woman in a forest of evil trees in the cover art) survived, but she passed away over a decade later (depression maybe?). Here you get to hear Criss' amazing guitarwork for the final time. RIP...
Starting this album is the amazing title track with good piano, great instrumentation, and standing out with an emotional guitar solo halfway through. It's impossible not to talk about the great singalong chorus. The following track "He Carves His Stone" shows great singing from Zak Stevens, who took over the vocals after Criss' brother Jon Oliva stepped down from the mic (at least the full-time mic). The ending verse shows Stevens hitting his notes high enough for Judas Priest and Iron Maiden to hear. Incredible! After that, "Lights Out" adds more variety, being more fast and rocky than progressive. There are cool gang vocals that you just gotta participate in. Next up, "Skraggy's Tomb" is not bad at all, but not as strong as the other songs. The lyrics sound poor, but the instrumentation help maintain the album's 5-star perfection.
The piano/guitar interlude "Labyrinths" doesn't help a lot, but it's a nice addition. "Follow Me" is another one of my favorites here, being a more progressive song, starting calm, then heavy, then mellow again. After another verse, Criss does one of the most heartful shredding solos ever! So sad that his life was taken when he was at the height of his game... Then there's another piano interlude "Exit Music", greater than that other interlude and reminding me how useful the piano is. Following this is "Degrees of Sanity", a great song with a heavy riff. "Conversation Piece" has the catchiest chorus here, soaring through singalong fun. Love that one!
Next up, the ballad "All That I Bleed" is actually not that bad in my opinion. The song begins with piano and Stevens' soft vocals singing great lyrics. Then the drums and guitar come for a chorus of amazing emotion. The vocals stand out in that otherwise average song! The pounding "Damien" is the heaviest song here with the best riffing, and great piano as well. "Miles Away" is another highlight with excellent vocals. "Sleep" is a beautiful acoustic ending, but little did they know who would be sleeping forever...
My first time checking out a full Savatage album, and I'm already blown away! Riffs, solos, vocals, choruses, keyboards, pianos, all great enough for a heavy metal classic. I recommend this for any fan of heavy/progressive metal/rock and heartful shred soloing!
Favorites: "Edge of Thorns", "He Carves His Stone", "Follow Me", "Degrees of Sanity", "Conversation Piece", "Damien", "Miles Away"
Genres: Heavy Metal
Altesia was the result of a progressive metal brainstorm in France by vocalist/guitarist Clément Darrieu, a life-long passionate fan of music in general. Formed in 2017, it took two years to write and produce an album with members of a few other bands. With this new lineup and an album ready for release, they set off to play live shows until the virus put everything on hold. Fortunately, their debut had already came out in late 2019, their beginning offering Paragon Circus!
The overall album length is 57 minutes, just slightly over the length of the Born of Osiris album I just reviewed. However, instead of 14 short songs, you get 6 tracks (an intro and 5 long songs) that deal with the self-destruction of the society we've created and are trapped in, with issues including economic wars and lack of happy reasonability. That's what this "Paragon Circus" is, a circus we've designed but can't escape from. The style is basically progressive rock/metal with hints of jazz, funk, and death metal. There's something special about this unity, especially the virtuoso guitar soloing and even violin and saxophone (another similar small element to that Born of Osiris album).
"Pandora" is the intro that would keep you spellbound with the atmosphere that would persist throughout the album. Following this is "Reminiscence", a nearly 12-minute epic with the first third being instrumental, showing great confidence especially in the beginning to warm my prog-filled heart.
"Amidst the Smoke" starts heavy before changing into beauty with polyphonic vocals. Clément can sing amazing melodies and great harmonies to combine with the rhythm. "The Prison Child" is a pace-lifter. Knowing very well that they couldn't go anywhere during quarantine, they made a playthrough music video under the title "The Confined Child" to fit with this ongoing situation.
"Hex Reverse" begins with beautiful vocals and piano in slow tension, then builds up into an amazing piece that I first listened to when it was shared in the Track of the Day thread. The song's video description said "For fans of : Haken, Opeth, Dream Theater, Between The Buried And Me, Leprous, Steven Wilson, Porcupine Tree…", and I can totally understand when it sounds as if they took at least one piece of each band, formed into a unique mix. "Cassandra's Prophecy" (the more I see the name Cassandra, the more I think of my Audiomachine-loving friend) is the grand 17 and a half minute epic finale, with different moods, rhythms, and instrumentation, all fitting together gloriously!
Paragon Circus is very mesmerizing for a debut album with Altesia creating great writing and impressive flow. However, it's not entirely perfect and a few things seem a bit lumpy, so it's better to be mesmerized by the entire album without thinking of those flaws. Nonetheless, the beautiful melody and varied rhythm keep the music in interesting drift. Perhaps one day I can like this album to perfection after several more listens....
Favorites: "Reminiscence", "Hex Reverse", "Cassandra's Prophecy"
Genres: Progressive Metal
Like a book-writer having finished making his anticipated masterpiece and what started as a small decay turned into a big one when the pandemic hit, prog-death/metalcore masters Born of Osiris suffered a similar fate. The band made a 26-minute "studio album" (nearly as long as Cryptic Shift's "Moonbelt Immolator"), The Simulation, released in early 2019. After spending the first half of the year touring, they started writing the album that was supposed to follow, but for the production, like I said, a small decay turned into a big one. Their pre-recordings fell apart when the world was altered. After spending 2020 writing more material, they were able to hit the studio again to record what turned out to be a 55-minute actual studio album, Angel or Alien!
The band has made quite a 12-year prog-death/metalcore journey of studio albums since A Higher Place (Happy 12th anniversary as of this review!!). Throughout their tenure, their passion and dedication have never died out, with their sound evolving in a time when very low tunings where a thing in the djent lands. Bands are like some foods; you wanna keep enjoying it but eventually you might end up spitting them out before you can swallow. To make sure Born of Osiris is a relevant band and never an acquired taste, they still have the will to continue to push away from the complacent dark abyss. The band that has consisted of Ronnie Canizaro (unclean vocals), Joe Buras (keyboards and clean vocals), Lee McKinney (guitars), Nick Rossi (bass while switching to guitars), and Cameron Losch (drums) make the right turn of igniting the inner fire of their roots that they embrace along with new authentic surprises through this 14-song offering.
Beginning this collection is the catchy danger worth facing that is "Poster Child". At the end of that killer opener, some of their newer elements come in such as the synth-infused saxophone to smooth out the electronic synths. Then the explosion into "White Nile" is detonated with their expected matured refinement taken to the next level. What you may hear in the title track is a long-time-no-listen infectious hook, in which you can't deny its resemblance to their past material while moving the evolution forward. "Waves" conveniently waves for its needed attention. The more brutal "Oathbreaker" continues the expected mix of melodic synths and djenty explosion to please your ears.
The present once again allows the past to stomp through in "Threat of Your Presence", another notable highlight. The emotional "Love Story" is filled with confessional sincerity, far better than that Taylor Swift song. "Crossface" howls like a wolf, reaching a Crossfaith-level of metalcore mixed with EDM synths. "Echobreather" is so beautiful yet pummeling, as the heaviness and growls is balanced with Buras' synth melody and cleans. "Lost Souls" is another astounding composition.
The brutal slaughter continues "In for the Kill" as McKinney's fine guitar work dominates over the cinematic flourishes. A gut-punch of madness is unleashed onto you in "You are the Narrative" (can this "Narrative" really be beaten up??). The self-inflicted deliverance of "Truth and Denial" has Canizaro keeping his vocal edge and pushing it up with his earlier New Reign-era shrieking. The grand finale "Shadowmourne" is almost an anthem for my earlier Horde/Infinite/Revolution clan lineup. This instrumentation in this song alone is almost superior to those other songs and almost every other band with a similar style, and the saxophone makes its triumphant return throughout this piece.
While the semi-massive delay was the virus' fault, Born of Osiris continue igniting the inner fire of their roots as their sound continues evolving beyond bounds. While other bands try and fail, this band creates a strong storm of grace that never falls, and every track in Angel or Alien proves that point. This may not be the direct follow-up to The Simulation, but it's the start of a new era that will continue with another upcoming album Born of Osiris is currently writing. Whatever comes next, I'll be ready. Bring it!
Favorites: "Poster Child", "Angel or Alien", "Threat of Your Presence", "Love Story", "Lost Souls", "In for the Kill", "Shadowmourne"
For the first time in the longest time, I've returned to the pure power metal business from my earlier epic metal taste with this band. The songs are some of the best and highest quality in the genre. The inspiring guitar and drum work by Wojtek Lisicki and Christian Nyqvist respectively will leave you in awe. The out of this world vocals by Daniel Heiman are incredible with more powerful falsetto than the lead vocalists of bands like Gamma Ray and Judas Priest. His powerful emotional vocal range allows him so high and so low. Unbelievable! The bass by Martin Furangen sounds muffled when it follows the drums, but that doesn't change the phenomenal talent of the members.
And one thing I wanna get out of the way before the songs is the lyrics. They're all set in a metal fantasy realm, but the main topics they cover is truth and self-empowerment, the latter much more than the self-empowerment radio program I used to listen to in the morning (back when I was into the radio pop sh*t before I began developing my metal interest). The lyrics can be found in all the songs, and I don't wanna cheapen them when describing them song by song, so there.
"The Quickening" is a short intro with thunder in the background and synth effects. I like intros the best when they set the mood, and that's done perfectly. "Heart of Storm" is the perfect real song to start the album. After a quick drum roll, we blast off into incredible power metal. Keyboard passages add more depth. OK, there's one thing to note in the lyrics, and that's during the thunderous ending with Heiman screaming lines from the movie Highlander, and with the last full song of their next and currently last album titled "Highlander", it all comes full circle! Excellent power metal perfection!! "Sworn in the Metal Wind" is slightly better, the best of the album! Heiman's vocals are incredible in the intro, continuing the vocal perfection from the previous track. The chorus might not sound like a real one, but it doesn't stop the energy rushing from start to finish. Absolute true metal! "The Song of Air" is another keyboard interlude. I'm not a fan of instrumentals that are put in the middle of an album as they sometimes disrupt the flow, but those crystalline keyboards soothe things out for a relaxing break.
"World Through My Fateless Eyes" is back to the speedy power metal business. None of the progressive death metal of The Faceless or the alt-metalcore of Coldrain, just pure power metal and nothing else! However, while it's not bad at all, it's close to weak and forgettable compared to the rest of the album. Still it's pretty killer especially the chorus. "Perfect Warrior" is the perfect inspirational mid-tempo semi-ballad. The vocals are slightly subdued but ring in joyful emotion for the lyrics. There's also a great solo here. "Denial of Fate" kicks things up in a more vengeful pace. If there was ever a single released for this album, it would be this one, rushing through the pure adrenaline of fantastic keyboards and a singalong chorus. One of the most humbly powerful tracks of power metal!
"Welcome Back" opens as almost a ballad with soothing keyboards and bass, along with fantastic vocal effect though less powerful. Then the heaviness kicks in with a killer chorus with full effect on the instrumentation. The song ends thunderously, and you only have a few seconds to breathe before something even more breathtaking... "The Kingdom of My Will" is an absolute epic! You may take my word for it, but it's better to hear to truly believe. This is the perfect 9-minute closing real song, changing speed while keeping the listener's attention. There's yet another superb chorus, mesmerizing guitar soloing, and fully shining bass. The drumming really pounds with fast energy, and Heiman continue his powerful shriek-singing. A fantastic power metal song like no other! "The Redintegration" is an almost pointless outro, like add this one in when you already had a perfect closing epic?! Still it keeps the amazing quality, and if the album already has an intro and an intermission, an outro would make sense, wouldn't it?
So there you have it, one of my current favorite metal albums, Awakening The World! While I give it a perfect 5 stars, the percentage rating I would say is more like 95%. They could improve track 5 a bit and replace the outro with a longer song similar to the next album's "Pure" to put after track 5. Either way, this is a power metal must-have album!
Favorites: "Heart of Storm", "Sworn in the Metal Wind", "Perfect Warrior", "Denial of Fate", "The Kingdom of My Will"
Genres: Power Metal
There are a couple reasons why I wanted to give this Megadeth album a listen and review. First off, I enjoy Daniel's story of that Megadeth show he went to 30 years before this review, with a slight hint of jealousy because my country banned Megadeth from performing here because the government thought that band's mascot Vic Rattlehead was too edgy. Second is the reason why I chose this album, because it was near the bottom of the 10+ chart list in this site. It's time to see what went wrong for this album...
So Far, So Good... So What! is pretty much the black sheep of Megadeth's classic era. You can SEE why by the somewhat lame cover with a military space soldier and HEAR why by the fact that half of the album is written 5 years prior. Despite this, half the amount of songs work well, and it would take some adjustment to get used to them.
A rare song from the band to hit so hard in the long instrumental overture "Into the Lungs of Hell". Clean tones and distortion overlap in the intro for great otherworldly atmosphere, before a spiral drive into the chaos speedy riffs and killer leads. That is a grand hint to technical riff power that's the most appealing element of the band. That's right, you won't find any groove rhythms and chords, so if you really need them, find them in another album. Those killer leads would soon dominate with Dave Mustaine's soloing that blends technicality with melody, as you might find in the next song... There's straight thrash variety to be found here, such as in "Set the World Afire", similarly titled to the first real song of Annihilator's third album Set the World on Fire.
Their cover of Sex Pistols' "Anarchy in the UK" is an attempt to metalize a classic punk hit, and well... The band wasn't even thinking of or wanting to cover this song, and yet that's what they've done. Their lack of care hasn't done the song justice, leaving this something I don't really like. For a rebellious band like Megadeth, they haven't seemed to spread that message the right way. The kind of rebellion I like is metalcore screaming about breaking free from the injustice of society, and with the band f***ing up that kind of theme, it's no wonder I still don't feel up to trying one of their most popular albums like Peace Sells... But Who's Buying? Those 4 guys just set the original motion of the vocals and instrumentation, but the new elements they added never spice up the blandness. Not even the guitar solo by Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones can level up my mood. I prefer covers that are straight-on metal versions of songs. Like why the h*ll sound so much like the original!? At least Mustaine's great vocals make the cover more interesting, but not enough. "Mary Jane" really kicks a**, starting mid-paced before evolving into f***ing powerful thrash. A memorable song surrounded by two fillers... The other poor track is "502", in which the chorus, samples, and drum solo are some of the worst I've heard. I do not need to describe the awful lyrics, just listen for yourselves.
"In My Darkest Hour" is a semi-mellow song that sounds it could've been written for their debut, but it's another kick-A highlight. Next track "Liar" also mysteriously sounds like something written for an earlier release like a demo, and it seems like a song they would use only if they don't have a lot of better ones. Yet I'm surprised that a song like this would even be included here, which makes we wonder what a genius like Dave Mustaine was even thinking. This just seems like an attempt to call out on a certain ex-member whom Mustaine accused of for stealing equipment and selling them to buy drugs. There is the whole "Take no sh*t" attitude, but then there's the "Talk sh*t about a former bandmate" attitude that's in poor taste. Those lyrics just don't give Mustaine and his attitude a good rep. Those two bandmates turned enemies might as well have a scream-off through their car windows, wishing out loud that one of them would be killed in a road accident (that other guy is NOT Cliff Burton, don't worry, the previous song is an unrelated diss-tribute to Burton). It's just too d*mn hard to understand! Never mind, let's just end the album with the decent closing "Hook in Mouth".
After all that b***hy whining about 3 tracks from the album, you might've been expecting the rating to be slightly lower. Well despite that disappointing sh*t, I've enjoyed a great amount of this album nonetheless, and you've already known that by reading my thoughts on the other tracks which, unlike those terrible 3, actually work well for level up the mood a slight notch. I've already accepted that even when old, they would conjure nice thrash memories to think of in the future. There's more fun simplicity than aggression and it's fine, despite the flaws. Only a true Megadeth fan would fully enjoy this, and if you hate it to the point where you want it to burn in Hell, well.... SO WHAT!?!
Favorites: "Into the Lungs of Hell", "Set the World Afire", "Mary Jane", "In My Darkest Hour"
Genres: Thrash Metal
I'm the kind of metalhead who thinks even new records can be modern classics, but of course, many other metal listeners believe the classics to be ones that are well known since its release 40 years ago. British Steel is one of those old classics, from the second ever true heavy metal band and the first expand the genre to its own unique sound. However, it's not without a couple terrible songs...
In the middle are two pieces of sh*tty failure contaminate part of this album, and I don't know why they were released as singles. Oh wait, I know, it's the 80s, where the most atrocious metal songs are the singles. Those are why my rating is stuck at 4 stars and why I'm still not close to ready for this band, though I worship the true classic tracks.
"Breaking the Law" was released as a single, but unlike those two sinning sh*ts, this is a real classic that shows Judas Priest at their realest. Even my parents and brother have heard of piece of metal art. The catchy guitars and lyrically rebellious chorus (with a siren after the second one) have a different yet pleasant aura. It's shorter than all the other songs, but still great and exciting. I haven't watched its music video, but based on what I've heard, I should stay away from the video and enjoy the song on its own. "Rapid Fire" is another classic, continuing the band's mission to help forge speed metal that started with the song "Exciter". Its so direct and sharp, that when I get an actual smartphone, this would be my ringtone. Then again, the fantastic guitars would make me look like an a****le if someone calls when I'm in a quiet subway train. Anyway, it's no exaggeration that song would begin the idea of making faster heavy metal. Then we have the metal hymn "Metal Gods". That song and "Grinder" would help define heavy metal to the Earth core with the screams of soloing guitars and Rob Halford's occasional falsetto in his vocals.
And now here we are at the two stinkers that ruin this otherwise perfect classic, starting with "United". OOH, it's so radio-friendly and harmless, and it has a perfect time of 3 and a half minutes to bow down to the mainstream. How great...NOT!!! The lyrics are painfully simple, and so is the repetitive song structure, turning this pleasant aura into a stinky aroma. What a poke in the eye for this album! The other eye is poked by "Living After Midnight" for those same reasons, and needless to say, Disturbed did a far better job on that song when they covered it 3 decades later.
After those two sh*t-bags that work better as radio B-sides, the album is slightly improved by "You Don't Have to Be Old to Be Wise". There's a wicked mantra you can use if you dare to rebel against your school teacher, as a nice follow-up to the vibe they've had as early as Killing Machine. If you're hoping for better songs than that one and those two stinkers, "The Rage" is for you, though as a passable level. A digital-ish bass intro is performed by Ian Hill, and as tough as that gets, Halford takes mean lean control of his vocal duties. The closing track "Steeler" stays fresh in many of its different parts, with no lack of power at all. This is the ending return to classic territory and makes up for two atrocious songs and two passable ones that infect what was meant to be a classic album.
In order to truly appreciate an entire genre, one must like its earlier years and hear the production that might not be as competitive as the present. British Steel is the right start for metal's second decade. Despite not enjoying this album or band too much, I recommend this to any melodic or aggressive metal fan. A promising semi-classic!
Favorites: "Breaking the Law", "Rapid Fire", "Metal Gods", "Grinder", "Steeler"
Genres: Heavy Metal
There are a couple reasons why I wanted to give this Anthrax album a listen and review. First off, I felt a little bad for missing out on that Anthrax concert in my home country that was originally for sometime last year before this review but got postponed anyway because of the virus. Second is the reason why I chose this album State of Euphoria, because it was near the bottom of the 10+ chart list in this site. It's time to see what went wrong for this album...
This album is pretty much the black sheep of Anthrax's classic era. You can SEE why by the trippy cover and HEAR why by the simplified slightly slower sound that thrash fans don't consider a real winner. Despite a small split in the fanbase, the album continued the band's gold-winning streak. It would take some adjustment to get used to this.
Straight into the opening track "Be All, End All", we hear cello. F***ING CELLO!! The heavier fans might think, "That's thrash!? Cello is classical! Blah blah blah..." A strange yet nice addition to a song I find brilliant! If they kept using that cello, they would be an early ancestor of Apocalyptica. "Out of Sight, Out of Mind" is another a**-kicker. Joey Belladonna performs his strongest vocals there despite pressure from his bandmates. "Make Me Laugh" makes me laugh to hear anti-religious attempts to rule television.
What's considered the last winner of the album is their cover of Trust's "Antisocial" that everyone else has heard, but there are several more... The otherwise unimpressive "Who Cares Wins" can rule with Joey's singing from the heart. Another fantastic song "Now It's Dark" is shamefully shunned by other listeners, but it's one of the best for me.
However, I have an issue with the lyrical quality in "Schism", like where is the chorus?! Is that it when Joey scats "sc-sc-sc-schism"? That's quite fake and anti-climatic when expecting something different after the verses. This common issue would be fixed in their next album. Inspired by Stephen King, "Misery Loves Company" can please fans of dark-ish hardcore thrash. The interlude "13" is a small fault. However, "Finale" is a fan favorite that they should play live more often.
In my opinion, while State of Euphoria has a bit of dry gloom in their songs, it's still interesting and the necessary balance of thrash between the apparent light of Among the Living and the apparent darkness of Persistence of Time. F***ing h*ll, I enjoy this more than most other fans would, but it still doesn't get me in the mood for Anthrax....
Favorites: "Be All, End All", "Out of Sight, Out of Mind", "Who Cares Wins", "Now It's Dark", "Finale"
Genres: Thrash Metal
Wanna hear what electro-dubstep mutating electro-rap rock from a nu metal sounds like? Look no further to the second full-length remix album from one of the biggest bands of the world! Here you would find remixes of almost every song in the album Living Things, including the greatest hits of the album like "Lost in the Echo" (now with KillSonik), "Powerless" (now with Enferno), and "Until It Breaks" (now with Datsik), and...
ACK, I just turned the first paragraph of this review that's harsh for the greater good into an advertisement! Let's just get the criticism in here; it's all just bleeding 8-bit dancehall 'n' bass that wails a lot, harmful to those with hearing epilepsy. The only great moments of the album are the one new song "A Light That Never Comes (with famous DJ Steve Aoki) and the remix by Linkin Park's album producer in the non-metal era Rick Rubin. But what's really a disaster is, they never remixed "In My Remains". One of my favorite songs of Living Things DOESN'T HAVE A F***ING REMIX!!! For all you metalheads intolerant to music that's strictly EDM, you might wanna avoid a lot of this at all costs....
Favorites (only songs I truly like): "A Light That Never Comes" (both the original and the remix)
At that point in 2012, Linkin Park had quite a problem in their hands. After the showering fanfare in the first half of the 2000s caused by their first two albums of nu metal/rap rock, they tangled themselves up in a plethora of different sounds in Minutes to Midnight, including a few U2-inspired ballads and a laughable political rap, with very little trace of their actual heavier style. A Thousand Suns shows the band joining the rock opera concept album club that includes Green Day's 21st Century Breakdown and My Chemical Romance's Danger Days, and just like that club, they reached for the mainstream stars while falling from rock grace. Then here we are at Living Things, a return to good ol' rap rock with a better balance of rapping and screaming. However, the electronic elements are still there to divide the band's fanbase. Well I didn't mind the electronic elements in their previous album, but let's find out how they turn out in this one...
I gotta admit, there's a decent amount to admire with the better sense for the band to abandon the heavily electronic direction A Thousand Suns would've taken them. It's good that they know to have balance, and they left the rock opera concept album club to continue working on individual themes they last had in Meteora. That was a great move on their part and I respect them for that.
"Lost in the Echo" is the ultimate album opener for a rap rock album. Mike Shinoda performs an incredible rapping verse while the later Chester Bennington performs an aggressive yet melodic chorus, a much better combo than, say, Equilibrium's Renegades. It's not too catchy or as heavy as Hybrid Theory, but definitely more powerful than Minutes to Midnight. "In My Remains" is another memorable track with a mid-tempo beat. "Burn It Down" sounds similar to the previous track and probably should've had a slightly later position in the track listing, but that doesn't matter. That song has Shinoda's best rapping in the album. 3 tracks in, and while not exactly groundbreaking, they're nostalgic highlights that is a step up from anything they have done in their non-metal era. What could go wrong in this album?
After that interesting opening quarter of the album, "Lies Greed Misery" is the worst ever attempt to recreate their earlier nu metal sound. I say it's too heavily electronic for that resurrection attempt! "I’ll Be Gone" lacks anything worth standing out. "Castle of Glass" is OK, but could've been far better. "Victimized" is the closest sounding to the band's nu metal roots and a hint at their heavier next album, but it's constructed as just a lazy sh*t show. The angsty lyrics are just too redundant, and while you can head-bang to the screaming chorus, I would hit my head on the wall to make myself forget that bullsh*t. "Roads Untraveled" is quite a mystery of how Bennington would sing solo in all vocal positions. This wouldn't be bad if he didn't sound so emotionless and sleepy. And if the excellent rapping of Shinoda was around, the song would be leveled up much higher, like a salesman getting demoted to secretary. That's how poorly the album is suffering. However, "Skin to Bone" is a gem that makes up for those forgettable songs with one of the catchiest choruses here, though containing the trite line "ashes to ashes, dust to dust."
"Until It Breaks" has more beautiful glory in the chorus and ending, though the rapping verses are great as well. "Tinfoil" is the experimental prelude to the final track. "Powerless" is a breathtaking ballad that stands out greatly. The most emotional non-metal album ending I've heard since the end of HIM's final album Tears on Tape.
All in all, Living Things is difficult to enjoy at its fullest, and many of their influences that they had in the first two records were replaced with something less heavy and more modern. They tried returning to their earlier form of Hybrid Theory, but they failed miserably to regain the passion in their music and lyrics. Their calmer mature moments and their earlier heavier glory outshine each other in a war where half of each army is slain. Still there are some songs that sound so emotional, including that last track that they should've used Chester's funeral. It's nice for the band to kick up a little more life, but it's not until their next studio album that marks a heavier comeback....
Favorites (the only songs I somewhat or truly enjoy): "Lost in the Echo", "In My Remains", "Burn It Down", "Skin to Bone", "Until It Breaks", "Powerless"
Like many 21st Century metalheads, my metal interest wouldn't have started without Linkin Park, specifically their diamond-selling debut Hybrid Theory and its sequel Meteora. The anger-angst combo stemming from Mike Shinoda's rapping and the late Chester Bennington is what got me hooked. Of course, I've already moved to heavier things, and while their first albums aren't exactly my favorites, they've planted the seed for my interest in bands that I've called favorites, starting with the power metal of DragonForce, then moving on to the modern metal of Trivium and Lamb of God, and currently in the post-/progressive metal of Meshuggah, Isis, and Rosetta. Those two Linkin Park albums really opened my ears to eventually where I am today. However, Minutes to Midnight really let me down in over half of its songs. Most of their nu metal was discarded for cr*ppy U2-ish pop-radio rock. Upon listening to their 4th album A Thousand Suns, I find a few better moments, but they still don't reach greatness...
To put it simply, the album provides 15 tracks of electro-alt-pop-rap-rock. And if you thought there would be a lot from 15 tracks, well... 6 of these tracks are interludes, the same amount as in Reanimation. Two 5ths of the album are interludes!! This leaves only 9 real songs! 9 songs wouldn't be that bad for an album by DragonForce or Isis, two bands that make longer songs, but this is Linkin Park, g****mn it! Most of the interludes are skippable anyway, like who would want robotic versions of famous speeches?
"The Requiem" is pretty good for the opening interlude, sounding like an actual mini-song. Shinoda sings in a pitched-up vocoder a line from a certain near-closing epic that we'll get to soon. "The Radiance" is a pointless interlude, unless you wanna hear a speech by J. Robert Oppenheimer. The real opening song "Burning in the Skies" is a catchy track for the radio that could've easily been a B-side in Minutes to Midnight and/or the "What I've Done" single. This track is actually slightly better executed than that single without ever reaching Killers-level catchiness. Nice one! "Empty Spaces" is a very short pointless interlude with war sound effects. Having curiously waited for a song with Shinoda's rapping anger, "When They Come for Me" is another highlight, completely returning to his true form that was faked in his rap songs in Minutes to Midnight. There's also a bombastic Indian-like percussion as the main beat, and while the song sounds to p*ssed off to be a single, the rap rock/nu metal fans might be most pleased since 10 years before the album's release.
"Robot Boy" continues the catchy radio appeal, but it sounds so bland, structured and sounding like a repetitive boy band. Another interlude "Jornada Del Muerto" (Day of the Dead) does not make anything better. "Waiting for the End" sounds much more optimistic, and I agree with most of the world that this one of the best non-metal tracks and of the album, highlighted by Shinoda doing rapping, but in a great melodic reggae-ish singing kind of way. "Blackout" is the weirdest of the bunch. The instrumentation is almost completely electronic, and Chester's vocals range from rapping to singing to screaming. That's right, the godly screaming of their first two albums! Those vocal styles all sound catchy though. If they added heavy guitars and had Shinoda doing the rapping verses, that would be their old heavier style. The second of the two rapping songs "Wretches and Kings" starts with an unnecessary excerpt Mario Savio's famous "bodies upon the gears" speech, then the song kicks off with a heavy beat and Shinoda's well-done rapping. Bennington sings the chorus more aggressive, and he seems to have adopted an African-like accent that some find annoying or hilarious, but I don't mind that chorus staying in my head for a while. Again, much better than the rap songs in Minutes to Midnight!
"Wisdom, Justice, and Love" is an interlude that I would let slide, because the speech by Martin Luther King Jr. is very historical, but why did the band ruin it with robotic vocal effects?! "Iridescent" is another song that's highly electronic, only this time with more emotional vocals and piano, and I mean some of the best vocals here! And it fits well with the third Transformers movie end credits that it ended up in, an uplifting song compared to "What I've Done" and "New Divide". The 6th and last interlude is a prelude to an almost 6-minute epic, but is it epic though? Sadly, "The Catalyst" is disappointing with barely any climax, just constantly looping an electronic beat. Though that beat and the vocals going strong and fast are good for a hotel stay in your head. And it's a far better closer than the unoriginal acoustic "The Messenger" that's not worth existing.
Despite many flaws and needless interludes, A Thousand Suns contains electronic tones, emotional vocals, and Shinoda's triumphant rapping that pointed the band towards higher hopes of keeping their mainstream streak going. There may be enjoyable memorable moments, but they were still far away from the revolution of Hybrid Theory....
Favorites (the only songs I somewhat or truly enjoy): "Burning in the Skies", "When They Come for Me", "Waiting for the End", "Wretches and Kings", "Iridescent"
Linkin Park has caused adoration and hatred from music fans worldwide. I used to be a Linkin Park super-fan myself when I was like 13, a year before my "real" metal interest. I built my collection with more than just the singles that everyone knows; I collected album tracks and B-sides. They never p*ssed me off...until recently.
When Minutes to Midnight was announced, the band said it would mark their departure from most of their nu metal sound, causing uncertainty from fans. I still appreciate the decent brilliance of both the Hybrid Theory and Meteora albums, but other fans think the latter is straight-up copied. Even the early announcements of their third album are total sh*t-starters when the late Chester Bennington mentioned "a mix of punk, classic rock, and hip-hop standards". That's one way to think of this album, I suppose...
Starting the album is the minute-and-a-half intro "Wake". It builds up slow and steady through promising ambience and a background campfire, but then it soars into alt-rock riffing over dense drumming. A well-done intro that sounds like the prelude to a certain brilliant single... However, this is what get instead as the first real song, "Given Up". It has an edgy punk-ish riff that's pretty cool, along with the unique clapping and key-jingling, both from Brad Delson, but they both don't sound right together as if he's trying to multitask poorly. And as if that wasn't poorly produced enough, Chester's vocals aren't the heavy type I like, more like a whining teenager after having his iPod taken away. All just 3 minutes of misery, except for the interesting moment of Chester's 17-second scream of "MISERYYYYYYY!!!!!!" After that roaring start comes the first ever ballad of the album and by the band, "Leave Out All the Rest". It's all right, but weaker than the previous track. The song shows a bit of the band's U2 influences. Chester sings nice clean vocals over average lyrics. "Bleed It Out" is much worse. Trying to create a "live" soundscape sounds a bit sloppy. Mike Shinoda raps as decently as in the previous albums, but the lyrics are more vulgar and nonsensical. Chester sounds more worn out in his edgy moments, as if that 17-second scream a couple tracks back strained his voice.
Once again following a hard song is another ballad, "Shadow of the Day", with more of their U2 influences. In fact, people have accused this song of being a rip-off of U2's song "With or Without You", and I kinda agree. They slowly build up into a pop rock climax, but it turns out to just be a boring anticlimax. Then the song ends, but not without an ambient prelude to one of Linkin Park's greatest non-metal songs ever... "What I've Done" is heard by practically everyone, especially those who have watched the first Transformers movie up to the end credits. It may sound like plain ol' pop rock, but it's done much better than any other song like that. I have nothing else to say about that beautiful piece. However, "Hands Held High" is something to rudely laugh at. It is the latter of the two rap songs here. Starting with organ and a marching beat like a cheesy march into an 18th/19th Century war, Mike's rapping is once again decent, but the lyrics are inspiring yet too cheesy to take seriously. The ending choir is so LOL-inducing!
After the lightest track of the album comes its heaviest one, "No More Sorrow". A sinister atmospheric intro allows the instruments to build up one by one, leading to a riff as well-done as my favorite type of steak. The lyrics basically graffiti-paint "F*** Bush" on the walls that don't help the poor vocals. However, making up for it is the chorus and instrumentation that is the best of the album. "Valentine’s Day" is where Chester's vocals sound the best, his vulnerable emotion singing nice lyrics that flow over light clean guitar. Then a buildup commences to a rock climax towards the end that might sound a bit cheesy but mostly well-done. "In Between" is another track with Mike taking the lead on the vocals, for the first time trying a clean singing style. However, he sounds so bored, like I am throughout that song. "In Pieces" really stands out, sounding dark and haunting with good vocals by Chester, and Brad's cool rare guitar solo. The final epic "The Little Things Give You Away" was the longest and slowest song by the band at the time with Chester vocals to highlight though sounding a bit annoying. The lyrics are the best here, a nice tribute to victims of Hurricane Katrina. The build-up is a bit bland though, sounding too drawn-out before the solo. However, that solo is worth the wait, and so is the good final part where Shinoda sings the lyrics much better than a couple tracks earlier, with Chester's background wails. What an epic!
Sadly, Minutes to Midnight shows how f***ed up the band had become. They reduced most of their earlier nu metal sound so they wouldn't get slammed for making another similar album in a row, and yet the end result is a pleasant yet sh*tty album. And they were the guys who made Hybrid Theory....
Favorites (the only songs I somewhat or truly enjoy): "Wake", "What I've Done", "No More Sorrow", "Valentine's Day", "In Pieces", "The Little Things Give You Away"
I'm no fan of rap. I'm too metal for rap! Yet I'm so familiar with Linkin Park for almost a decade now. They made waves of success with their coin-flipping hybrid rap/metal sound of the late Chester Bennington singing/screaming and Mike Shinoda rapping, and Shinoda can be quite the MC, far better than most other rappers. Shinoda's rapping skills were shining the most in the remix album Reanimation. They have a middle finger reserved for those who say that rock and hip-hop shouldn't co-exist.
Linkin Park still didn't feel like they had fulfilled their hip-hop/rock fusion vision, but they took things ONE STEP CLOSER with a new project dawning, Collision Course! However, it wasn't Linkin Park's idea to fuse songs by rap legend Jay-Z into their own, nor did Jay-Z come up with the idea by himself. MTV wanted to create the "Ultimate Mash-Up", so they gave Jay-Z the opportunity to do with a mashup album with a group of artist, and it's obviously who he chose... He and Linkin Park recorded their tracks via email exchange for their studio take, then they got together for a live performance of the whole album. The live set is redundant, so let's focus on the studio version...
The 21-minute EP starts with Bennington yelling, "I ordered a Frappuccino, where's my f***ing Frappuccino?!", beginning the "Dirt off Your Shoulder/Lying from You" fusion. The original Jay-Z beat is slowed down with Shinoda rapping his verse. Then Linkin Park's rock/metal music plays as Jay-Z emphasizes the guitar crunch and drums with his verses and chorus. After that, the original "Lying From You" song comes back second verse onwards, busting out those lyrics and music until the end, when the "Dirt Off Your Shoulder" beat returns briefly as Jay-Z shouts "B***H!", laughs with the rest, saying "You're wasting your talent, Randy!" So that first mashup turned out slightly better than the original "Lying From You" song, sounding less annoying and a little more complete, despite the rapping overdose. However, some mashups don't work as well, such as the "Big Pimpin'/Papercut" mashup. It just sounds too odd when the original Jay-Z melody plays throughout with Shinoda rapping over it with none of Linkin Park's rock sound around. You just can't have your cheese and spend it!
"Jigga What/Faint" makes more sense, returning to actually taking both sides of both the music and lyrics. The Jay-Z track blends perfectly with the Linkin Park rock/metal, as the rapping sounds great with the actual drumming and guitar. Jay-Z feels comfortable with this incredible rock crunch/rap beat mix, and so do I. You already heard the "Numb/Encore" mix nearly as many times as the original "Numb" song, being the EP's sole single. That's probably the best mashup here. "Numb" makes everything better!
"This is fun", Shinoda says, which is mostly true, but not so much in "Izzo/In the End". I mean, it is pretty fly, and Shinoda can almost turn you into the Kool-Aid guy, smiling greatly and going "OH YEAH!!", but again they could've used the "In the End" music besides the "Izzo" beat. Another missed opportunity... The ambitious last combination, "Points of Authority/99 Problems/One Step Closer" is a great way to end the EP. However, I still feel a little picky in some places, like when Shinoda awkwardly raps the line, "rap mags try and use my black a**", that he knows is unlike his style. But the nu metal magic of the two LP songs makes up for all that, especially the SHUT UP!! bridge.
This mashup album Collision Course is quite an experiment where the two artists bond well with their collaboration, especially since Shinoda and co. were hip-hop fans from the start. I think MTV mashups work the best when a rock/metal band is involved. A couple mashups might not work well, but the rest of the EP has good entertainment....
Favorites: "Jigga What/Faint", "Numb/Encore", "Points of Authority/99 Problems/One Step Closer"
Genres: Alternative Metal
So by another recommendation, I've checked out this month's feature release, the second Lucid Planet album, and while there are a few other progressive metal albums that have the potential of being the best, Lucid Planet II is still an absolute belter. Why just read? Give it a listen during the reading!
An underrated band from Australia, Lucid Planet play a style of heavy-psych-prog-metal that brings Tool into the minds of their listeners. Before this album, Lucid Planet made a more psychedelic rock debut, and while I haven't listened to that debut, I'm never really a fan of just psychedelia, so I'm not gonna try that one. If the psychedelia is elementally part of a progressive metal sound though, I can't say no to that. The band made an astounding mind-blowing evolution, though a few things seem a bit lumpy.
"Anamnesis", the long 12-minute opening epic, begins with a minute of supernatural-ish ambient music, then the rhythm and vocals kick in. I love the vocals by Luke Turner that have a d*mn lot of melodic expression, in beautiful contrast with the deep riffing from the guitar and bass. You can already hear the versatile genre fusion, heavy-psych-prog-metal with bits of electronic trance, to be enjoyed whether or not you love progressive metal. The name "Anamnesis" can have a few different conceptual meanings of medical history, religion, philosophy, and past recollection. The band has the confidence to move the latter meaning forward as the album goes on. "Entrancement" begins with a more natural ambient intro, using chanting and traditional instrumentation, as if it's an effective shaman mantra to summon a beast of primordial malevolence. As Luke plays the beast, guest vocalist Jade Alice plays the beauty, as the two voices combine for eerie entrancement. Not a lot of complex technicality at all, but still kinda great. Next track "Organic Hard Drive" I really love as it takes a hard trip that slows down before an electronic groove halfway through. It really works!
After a few minute calm-down from the previous track, "Offer" offers a less edgy rush in a new stripped-down offering of peace. Once again, Luke Turner's vocals are great-sounding. The calm dubstep elements work well with the heavy-ish rock/metal sound, probably better than Blindspott. While staying stripped, it still has a climatic powerful crescendo before a beautiful segue into the next track. The very strange yet beautiful "On the Way" shows the vocals by Jade Alice having more harmonic impact before slowing building up to almost a black/folk metal sound that almost makes the song suitable for the North clan, something Lucid Planet had never dared to go before. This aural effect adds to an epic journey with changing textures and sounds. This could very well be suitable for long mountain treks like in the Lord of the Rings movies, and I can feel the tiring side effects even when I'm just sitting down and writing this review, thanks to the strong feeling of movement.
"Digital Ritual" is the modern polar opposite of "Entrancement", sounding much closer to dubstep than before but in glorious light. Symphonic elements build a strange contrast to the surrounding electronic sounds. Then it nicely leads into "Face the Sun" with a modernized Egyptian-like melody you just gotta hear to believe, resuming the old-new contrast of the previous track. At that point, you've already climbed down that Hobbit-like mountain and you're riding a camel in a desert. Then we're leading into the 10-minute grand finale "Zenith", and this Z track is more epic than the A track, know what I mean? This is the right way to close the album, with everything coming together in a glorious revolution. With this conclusion, all these journeys and trips may be over, but there's more to resolve. For now, this is the highest zenith!
Well I hope you've enjoyed this story and album you have transcended through, and while it's not entirely perfect, I would suggest passing it on to many more listeners who would enjoy it. It's up to us where and what the journey would bring....
Favorites: "Anamnesis", "Organic Hard Drive", "On the Way", "Zenith"
Genres: Progressive Metal
Remix albums were once a mainstream artist/band's way of keep their listeners hooked between studio albums, but it can be very rare for metal. A nu/rap metal band who already made a remix album is Limp Bizkit with their album New Old Songs. Elsewhere, a different rivalling band of that style would redefine their sound for credibility in the remixes. They were really hitting their charts with their hip-hop-infused metal sound, but they wanted more respect earned for their hip-hop side...
Linkin Park's Reanimation is a remix album project of 20 tracks; all 12 songs from the Hybrid Theory album, 2 B-sides, a medley, and 5 new interludes. While they still had their fists of alt-metal fury, a number of rappers and DJs were hired to give the sound an edge of dark electronic hip-hop. While I'm not very pleased as a fan of their rock theatrics, I find a few parts of the album more d*mn interesting, once again adding balance to the rap rock torture they're trying to distinguish from. Yes there are many rappers taking over for the remixes, but there are also a few rock/metal singer as well including Korn's Jonathan Davis. I say any non-drastic change is welcome!
The "Opening" hints at a closing remixed epic that we'll talk about when we get there. "Pts.OF.Athrty" (Points of Authority) has been given a more NERD-ish side thanks to Jay Gordon of Orgy. Astounding! "In the End" was remade into "Enth E Nd" by rappers/DJs Kutmasta Kurt and Motion Man, taking it much closer to hip-hop than the original song. Let's stop talking about it there. "[Chali]" is just a pointless voicemail message interlude. I certainly recognize Mike Shinoda as a professional MC, though not a lot of the rap community can, and his MC skills are proven his "Forgotten" remake, "Frgt/10" with rappers Alchemist and Chali 2na, the latter from Jurassic 5. If the original verses and chorus weren't included, I wouldn't the original song there, that's how different the remix is. "P5hng Me A*wy" (Pushing Me Away) adds more beats and scratching, but is redeemed by the bridge sung by Stephen Richards of Taproot. Good highlight, but doesn't do the original song justice. The annoying "Plc.4 Mie Hæd" (A Place for My Head) with Amp Live and Zion is not worth talking about here, let's move on...
"X-Ecutioner Style" is a two-minute medley exclusive to this album, with rappers Sean C, Roc Raida and Black Thought. Besides those new rapping verses, I recognize a few vocal parts from "One Step Closer" (the SHUT UP!! bridge) and "Cure for the Itch" ("Now wasn't that fun? Let's try something else"). Up next, "H! Vltg3" (High Voltage) thumps through hip hop beats and piano notes inspired by a free Dre songs, with vocals performed by Evidence, Pharoahe Monch, and DJ Babu. Sweet highlight, but both the Hybrid Theory B-side and the remix still don't beat the original from the Hybrid Theory EP. Then there's another pointless interlude, "[Riff Raff]", which I thought there was going to be actual riffing but there isn't any. After that, "Wth You" (With You), featuring Aceyalone, adds way more beats and scratching than the original. "Ntr\Mssion" is not as bad as most of the previous interludes, again giving a small hint to the upcoming closing epic.
"Ppr:Kut" (Papercut) adds more twists with a group of rappers that include Cheapshot, Jubacca, Rasco and Planet Asia. The "Runaway" remake "Rnw@y" actually adds more truth to the original, keeping the skyrocketing hooks and primitive melodies of the original to please listeners of the original song. Even the rapping bridge with Backyard Bangers and Phoenix Orion is worth headbanging to. Nice job! "My Dsmbr" is also better than the original "My December", with the otherwise weird hip-hop beats by Mickey P. making it sound more real than just a ballad. Former Sneaker Pimps vocalist Kelli Ali does background vocals in the chorus. Beautiful! "[Stef]" is another a pointless voicemail message interlude. "By_Myslf" (By Myself), produced by Josh Abraham, adds heavier industrial power in the guitars performed by Deftones' Stephen Carpenter, with blazing drum machine insanity. However, the vocals are f***ed up, especially the screams sounding more screechy. "Kyur4 th Ich" is almost the same as the original "Cure for the Itch", other than strange new vocals, so that's kinda lame. The two nearly 6-minute closing remixed epics are by far the best of the entire album, starting with their smash hit "One Step Closer" remade into "1Stp Klosr", with production by The Humble Brothers guest vocals by the aforementioned Korn lead vocalist Jonathan Davis. A great escape from the rappers and MCs from earlier! Further distancing from most of the hip-hop sh*t is what you've all been waiting for, "Krwlng", an epic dramatic revisit of "Crawling", with Staind singer Aaron Lewis, where the beat and brief rapping have earned a greater edge for a crossover with less emphasis on hip-hop. Well done, guys...
So, some of these remixes are well-made, others are kinda ridiculous or just flat-out boring, and some of the instrumentation is unrecognizable from the original. However, Reanimation has taken Linkin Park closer to the rock hall of fame with bands like Radiohead and Flaming Lips, and is the right direction for their next album Meteora....
Favorites: "Pts.OF.Athrty", "P5hng Me A*wy", "H! Vltg3", "Rnw@y", "My Dsmbr", "1Stp Klosr", "Krwlng"
Genres: Alternative Metal