Sunday, December 30, 2012

Best of 2012: Albums

So here we are. After 12 months, 52 weeks and 365 days we have now reached the end of 2012. And what better way to celebrate this year with a big bang. Oh yeah, and also my top 20 albums of 2012. I have listened to 177 albums this year. Some were good, others were mediocre and some was just awful. But a handful of artists raised to the occasion and delivered some great albums. Let us check them out.

20. Ne Obliviscaris - Portal of I

Exciting new band from Australia that blew me away with their long, symphonic melodies. But it takes a couple of listening sessions to remember the beautiful and stunning music.

19. Meshuggah - Koloss

Well I have to say the name fits perfectly with this album. This album takes a hold of you, shatters you into a thousand pieces, run you over with a steam roller and then backing you over. Really, really heavy s**t.

18. Battle Beast - Steel

These guys won Wacken Open Air in 2010. The album "Steel" shows why they won. So much power and punch in the music. A band that you really have to watch out for in the future.

17. Katatonia - Dead End Kings

If you want a band that has music that is remembering you of Tool then Katatonia is the band you are looking for. "Dead End Kings" is filled with music that is hard to catch and has a feeling that it is not of this world. Easy listening, metal style.

16. Woods of Ypres - Woods 5: Grey Skies & 
Electric Lights

The death of David Gold was indeed tragic but where there is sadness there is hope. Woods of Ypres fifth album is a dark history but the mood is stunning and everything is done with such a delicate touch. It is such a shame that this will probably be Woods of Ypres last album.

15. The Very End - Turn Off The World

The best with The Very End is not the awesome songs or the darkness they bring. It is the uniqueness of their style that is really pushing their latest release up in this list. Great modern dark metal that has never been seen before. And the variation is not bad either.

14. Grave Digger - Clash of The Gods

I usually say that if your band is doing a concept album you have to go big or go home. And Grave Digger sure went big with their album about the Greek mythology. "Clash of The Gods" may not be a perfect concept album but the band made sure to pack the album with some killer songs. Music worthy enough for Zeus and the others.

13. Serj Tankian - Harakiri

Thank god that Serj did not do as the title suggested and instead went back to a more SoAD sound in his music. Wild accusations here and there from reality TV to democracy and Serj has several valid points to back them up. oh, and the music is great as well.

12. Katana - Storms of War

Katana may be the ultimate culture crash. A Swedish band playing NWOBHM-styled music with lyrics about the Japanese culture. "Storms of War" takes everything that made "Heads Will Roll" great and adds  an upgrade to the band chemistry. I am very intrigued about how far this band will go.

11. Engel - Blood of Saints

Engel keeps evolving and with "Blood of Saints" the band is securing their status of being one of the best in industrial metal. The speed and passion the band is bringing is just astounding. And to top it off, an evenness that is very hard to match.

10. Accept - Stalingrad

I have to admit that this is no new "Blood of The Nations" but "Stalingrad" is confirming the fact that the new Accept is the real thing. A even album with true heavy metal a la Accept. And with the theme I think even Mother Russia must be very proud of the Germans.

9. Herman Frank - Right In The Guts

From Accept to present guitarist for... Accept. Herman Frank has had a wonderful 2012 with the releases of "Stalingrad" and "Right In The Guts". But his solo album is better because it has more power and more variety in the music. And the singer, Rick Altzi of At Vance, is sounding better than he usually does.

8. Sparzanza - Death Is Certain, Life Is Not

These guys are pretty dark for being so popular. For every album Sparzanza steps one more steps into the shadows and the darker side and with those steps comes some fantastic and stunning music. Cannot wait to see how much darker this band can get.

7. Shadows Fall - Fire From The Sky

Probably one of the biggest surprises all year. After some rough years I did not believe that Shadows Fall would deliver such a assault as "Fire From The Sky" did. Filled with great modern metal and a hard to match evenness. Best album from the band since "The War Within".

6. Gojira - L'Enfant Sauvage

The Frenchmen of Gojira has really outdone themselves this time. "L'Enfant Sauvage" is just as a awesome groovy death metal album should sound like. Heavy riffs, good craftsmanship and a groove that is virtually irresistible. So much genius and care going through the entire album. And just as the band, it is environmental friendly.

5. Overkill - The Electric Age

I thought "Ironbound" was great but "The Electric Age" may even be better than its predecessor. Lot of "up your ass" attitude and groovy thrash metal makes this release one of the best the band has ever released. Never one quiet moment on the entire album. A true sign that Overkill is back in the game.

4. Rush - Clockwork Angels

What do you do if you and your band mates have been in business for over forty years, reached great commercial success and been introducted to the Rock 'N Roll Hall of Fame? Well, how about releasing another stunning album. That is exactly what the Canadian trio Rush did. "Clockwork Angels" is as grand, diverse and deep as some of the bands greatest albums. It may miss some overall strength in the concept but it is still a proof of that these old men still can make awesome music.

3. Testament - Dark Roots of Earth

"Dark Roots of Earth" is like a 2.0 version of Testaments last album "The Formation of Damnation" but this release beats its predecessor in a couple of elements. It still has the same speed as TFoD had but the songs are much more diverse and the lyrics a little more sharpened. And it also feels like the band has moved up a notch in the performance as well. This is definitely an album that just makes me think if we should at least have a "Big 5" in thrash metal instead of "Big 4".

2. Devin Townsend Project - Epicloud

When the Canadian mad man Devin Townsend sets his mind into something he does not give up (except when he tries to make a follow up to "Ziltoid The Omniscient") and when I heard that he was doing a pop-metal album I was thinking "Has he finally lost his mind?". As it turned out, he did not. Instead he released one of the most surprising albums I have ever experienced. "Epicloud" was so epic that I almost fainted. Devin made the most out of Anneke and the quire to make this album perfect. But the best part is that the pop did not take over the album. Effervescent quality!!!

And the best album of 2012 is ( insert drum roll)...

1. Between The Buried And Me - The Parallax II: Future Sequence

After a promising EP I looked forward to the second part of the parallax saga but I never thought that BTBAM would deliver one of the best albums the band has ever made. A wide variety of songs, styles and beats together with an exciting concept makes this album as close to perfection that you can come in musical form. Not one boring second on this record. So thank you Tommy Giles Rogers, Paul Waggoner, Dustie Waring, Dan Briggs and Blake Richardson for making this masterpiece of a album. You have made my year much more exciting and better.

Which album of 2012 is your favourite and which album sucked worst? Write in the comments below. Also, a happy new year to everyone. See you in 2013.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Best of 2012: Songs

As I have said before, this year has been a great year for heavy metal and we have seen some incredible stuff from both established artist as well from rookie's. We have witnessed some fantastic guitar works, soaring vocals, exciting structures and some mind blowing solo's. So let us now see which songs stood up against its competition. Here is the 50 best songs of 2012

50. Cradle of Filth - Succumb To This - The Manticore And Other Horrors
49. Dynazty - Love Junkie - Sultans of Sin
48. Jorn - A thousand Cuts - Bring Heavy Rock To The Land
47. Testament - Last Stand For Independence - Dark Roots of Earth
46. Unisonic - Souls Alive - S/T
45. Dr. Living Dead - Signs From The Other Side - Radioactive Intervention
44. Soundgarden - Been Away Too Long - King Animal
43. Threshold - Staring At The Sun - March of Progress
42. Grand Magus - Draksådd - The Hunt
41. Anarchy Club - All The Fires Burning - Life In The Underground
40. Shadows Fall - The Wasteland - Fire From The Sky
39. Between The Buried And Me - Extremophile Elite - The Parallax II: Future Sequence
38. I Am I - Wasted Wonders - Event Horizon
37. Black Majesty - Voice of Change - Stargazer
36. Nekromantheon - Rise, Vulcan Spectre - Rise, Vulcan Spectre
35. Freedom Call - Terra Liberty - Land of The Crimson Dawn
34. Ne Obliviscaris - Xenoflux - Portal of I
33. The Agonist - You're Coming With Me - Prisoners
32. Kreator - Your Heaven, My Hell - Phantom Antichrist
31. Raubtier - Besten I Mig - Från Norrland Till Helvetets Port
30. Mustasch - Speed Metal - Sounds Like Hell, Looks Like Heaven
29. Domination Black - Cold Touch - Dimention: Death
28. Grave Digger - Death Angel & The Grave Digger - Clash of The Gods
27. John 5 - The Hill of The Seven Jackals - God Told Me To
26. Blessed By A Broken Heart - Holdin' Back For Nothin' - Feel The Power
25. Stone Sour - Tired - House of Gold & Bones Pt. 1
24. Lillasyster - Dra Åt Helvete - 3
23. Tenacious D - Roadie - Rize of The Fenix
22. Paradise Lost - In This We Dwell - Tragic Idol
21. Wolfsbane - Blue Sky - Wolfsbane Saves The World
20. Demon Hunter - God Forsaken - True Defiance
19. Slash - Anastasia - Apocalyptic Love
18. Accept - Revolution - Stalingrad
17. Prong - Revenge... Best Served Cold - Carved Into Stone
16. Adrenaline Mob - Undaunted - Omertá
15. All Hail The Yeti - I Am Wendigod - S/T

You can not get any more groovier than this spectacular song from All Hail The Yeti's debut. It is a simple, but a very effective, song that still makes a hell of a impression. I see a bright future for this band.

14. Engel - Blood of Saints - Blood of Saints

With every album released, Engel has gone one step forward and "Blood of Saints" was no exception. The title track is hard on the verse and epic on the chorus. A good mix if you ask me.

13. Rush - Headlong Flight - Clockwork Angels

There are few bands that can take you on such a journey as Rush can. "Headlong Flight" has a catchy riff and a Geddy Lee in great shape (both bass and vocals). A enjoyable rollercoaster ride.

12. Herman Frank - So They Run - Right In The Guts

Well this is a song that I am not running away from. Herman Frank is doing a great job on the guitar and At Vance singer Rick Altzi has never sounded better. Also, one of the best choruses this year.

11. Devil's Train - Room 66/64 - S/T

Swedish newcomers Devil's Train is not taking s**t from anyone, something that reflects well on the powerful and breathtaking "Room 66/64". That song just breaths self esteem.

10. Overkill - Drop The Hammer - The Electric Age

"Drop The Hammer" is actually one of the calmer songs from "The Electric Age" but what it lacks on speed it takes back on grooviness. And just like with the rest of the album the band is doing a swell job. Three cheers for the black and blue.

9. The Very End - Maelstorm Calling - Turn Off The World

This song is strong, not strong strong but the darkness "Maelstorm Calling" is bringing is giving me a big lump in my guts. You would have thought that was a bad feeling but it actually feels so great. Probably the most emotional song of 2012.

8. Epica - Monopoly On Truth - Requiem For The Indifferent

"Monopoly On Truth" is a pretty strange song but it is very symphonic and the chorus is just so god damn beautiful. Simone Simons is doing some of her best vocal works on the entire album in this song. Another great feature on this song is that it is pretty unpredictable.
7. Devin Townsend Project - Liberation - Epicloud

Since the album is called "Epicloud" it would be fitting that I would celebrate one of the more epic songs from that album. Naaahhhh. "Liberation" may not be a super epic song but it is a great song to shake things up. A dazzling riff together with warp speed is making this fantastic piece. The only epic with "Liberation" is the chorus where the quire is being used to the max. Effervescent quality!

6. Katana - In The Land of The Sun - Storms of War

Sweden may not be the land of the sun but that big round thing is always shining when I am listening to this song. A lot of epicness together with soaring vocals, great riffing and many tempo shiftings. Katana sure knows how to make a song with japanese theming.
5. Fozzy - Storm The Beaches - Sin And Bones

11 and a half minute to explain a young mans despair during the second world war. That is what this song is all about. And for a band with a pro wrestler on vocals, Fozzy is making quite a good work here. Never a boring second on this. The most theatrical song of 2012.

4. Primal Rock Rebellion - Savage World - Awoken Broken

It was hell to choose between "No Place Like Home" and "Savage World" but I chose the latter one because it was more modern and Adrian Smith's guitar work was a little better here (even though the solo was way too short). And the drums are just slamming.
3. Cloudscape - Your Desire - New Era

Power metal may not have its best year but some artist made some big impressions. One was Cloudscape and the song "Your Desire". Setting a furious tempo instantly and then shifting a gear down on the chorus. This song is just as modern power metal should sound like.
2. Blaze Bayley - Dimebag - The King of Metal

There are a lot of songs that is celebrating the murdered Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell but I think this is one of the better songs in that category. "Dimebag" may not be a great lyrical experience but the music and the performance Blaze Bayley is just incredible. Blaze sets the mood perfectly and makes this song as grand as it should be. And we must not forget the solo. A long and tempo shifting solo that is purely awesome. Best solo of 2012.

And the best song of 2012 is (insert drumroll)...

1. Gojira - The Gift of Guilt - L'Enfant Sauvage

Where should I start? First off, the riff is pure perfection. I could listen to that riff for days and still love it. Then I must mention that the songstructure is great, the band performs like clockwork, the balance between heaviness and melody is absolutely astonishing, the song structure is great and the ending may be long but that works as a big advantage. The only complaint I got against "The Gift of Guilt" is the lack of a solo. But who cares. This song does not need a solo. it is as good as it is. "The Gift of Guilt" truly deserves the title best song of 2012.

Which songs are your favourites from the past year? Are there any songs in this list that you think does not deserve its spot? Let me know by posting a comment. And btw, Merry Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or what ever the f**k you are celebrating at this time of the year.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Best of 2012: Best album cover

According to the old saying you should not judge a book by its cover and the same goes with albums. But you can judge the cover. That is exactly what I am going to do. Here are some criteria that every good album cover should have.
1. Band name and album title clearly visible on the cover.
2. The cover should give a picture of the albums story (if it has any).
3. If the band has a mascot or emblem that appears on merch, shows and other occasions then it should be in the cover as well (not a requirement).
4. The album should be full with details and extras.
5. The album does not have to be colorful but an album with only one or two colors is not favorable.
No more explanations of what a good album cover is, let us see the best covers of 2012.

15. Battle Beast - Steel
With a slight touch of comic style I really find the cover of Battle Beast's debut "Steel" really appealing. It is something with that lion attacking that robot that just screams metal. Also love the post apocalyptic background.

14. Overkill - The Electric Age
No Overkill album cover would be complete without their mascot Chaly and he looks great. Those electric wings are fantastic and the surroundings fits perfectly with him. But he looked more bad ass on "Ironbound", an attribute I miss here.

13. Accept - Stalingrad
There are two different covers of this album but this one is far more impressive than the other one. Great colors, the twin guitars and the bird on the top is just awesome. Just missing something that will remind you that this album is about communism.

12. Luca Turilli's Rhapsody - Ascending To Infinity
Never quite enjoyed any Rhapsody album that have been made but the band always manage to bring forth great covers. Truly beautiful and epic. The color choices are some of the best in this list as well.

11. Firewind - Few Against Many
Was pretty disappointed with the latest album from Firewind but I cannot complain about the cover for that album. Bright and dark shades here that blend perfectly together and it was a genius move to put their emblem on the banners. Great job.

10. Rage - 21
Even though there is basically one color here I like the lines in this cover. Soundchaser really pops out from the picture and coming at you. You can really tell that they went all in on this one. A straight flush when it comes to covers.

9. Devin Townsend Project - Epicloud
An epic album deserves a epic cover and it does not become more epic than this. You can instantly see greatness just by looking at the logo. Effervescent quality.

8. Mustasch - Sounds Like Hell, Looks Like Heaven
The title is right, it does looks like heaven. I have always been a sucker for skulls and this is just an amazing skull from the heavens. But why did the band not fit in their whole name in the cover?

7. Destruction - Spiritual Genocide
So many details, so much to see, so much carnage. "Spiritual Genocide" may not have the prettiest album cover but it sure does have the one with most gruesome details. And I love it.

6. Black Majesty - Stargazer
Now this is a power metal album. True power in almost everything on this picture and the huntress and lion are, as always, there for the ride that Black Majesty is bringing.

5. Testament - Dark Roots of Earth
This album feels prehistoric and I just love it. Everything from the praying people on the ground the the huge bearded man with moose horns is just well thought out. A cover that fits Testament perfectly.

4. Sparzanza - Death Is Certain, Life Is Not
God and the devil playing chess? Hell freaking yeah. A perfect balance between good and evil, something that you also will find in the music this album is giving. Good enough for the sixteenth chapel if it was to be repainted.

3. Adrenaline Mob - Omertá
Was pretty disappointed with the super group Adrenaline Mob's debut "Omertá" but the cover is great and, once again, I am really weak for skulls. Probably the classiest album cover of the year.

2. Jorn - Bring Heavy Rock To The Land
Love practically everything with this album. The background, the colors, the mist and not least, the crow (name?). He looks so great and really fits as a high priest. This cover shows no weaknesses.

And the winner is drrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.......

1. Grave Digger - Clash of The Gods
Why is Grave Digger the winner? Well it is pretty simple, it got everything I want in a perfect album. Great color scheme, the reappearing skeleton, the band name and album title and last, but not least, an clear image of what the album is all about, Greek mythology. Also love the fact that they put Medusa hair on the skeleton. Such a great album cover, without a doubt the best one of 2012.

Which cover is your favourite? And which cover was the worst from 2012?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Best of 2012. Special awards

Here we are, the conclusion of 2012. According to me this has been a great year for heavy metal. Many highs and very few disappointments from the experienced bands and the new bands that has come through this year has mostly been over expectations. So let us start these lists I have been preparing, starting with the things we will probably remember from 2012. Here are the special awards from 2012.

Best newcomer: We have had several newcomers that have impressed us this year but the band that impressed me the most was finnish Battle Beast. Their debut "Steel" was a speedy onslaught that definitely caught me of guard. I am really looking forward to what this band will bring in the future.
Worst album: Even though this was one of the best years of the 21st century I had quite a few albums that was competing for this award. But the winner is Casablanca with "Apocalyptic Youth". This is not rock, it is s**t. How could anyone even like this band?
Biggest disappointment: After a great debut with "Living A Sick Dream" I was really looking forward to Age of Evil's second full length album entitled "A.O.E". Was it any good? It was one of the worst albums I heard all year. It was so far away from the band I first heard that it was not even funny. I was so close to crying. This band had it all and lost it in one shitty album. Hopefully their third album will bring them back to the sound I want to hear from them.
Biggest surprise: I thought that I would not be so impressed by the new album by the canadian trio Rush but "Clockwork Angels" was a lot better than I expected it to be. That definitely shows that the old guys still got a place in the rock world today.
Memorial award: Unfortunately, there is no year without a huge profile leaving us for the afterlife. And this years biggest name that left us was the keyboardist of Deep Purple and Whitesnake. Rest in peace Jon Lord. You will be missed.
Best decision: This should have been done a long time ago but finally Queensrÿche kicked out Geoff Tate from the band. A very wise decision since Geoff has dragged the band to the bottom in their last few albums. The only thing the band can do now is to rise again and start from scratch. Can they do it? I both think and hope so.
Best peace: Well, I do not know if this is going to last forever but it seems like Metallica is finally realizing that the Internet is not just a fluke. Earlier this year (a short time after they created their own record company) Metallica bought the rights of all of their discography and also released it on the streaming service Spotify. Finally we can enjoy some sweet Metallica tunes on a streaming service without the band bitching about it. Fuck yeah!!! Let us now hope that this peace will last.
Best genre: This year was the year of melodic goth metal. Bands like Woods of Ypres, Paradise Lost, Gojira and Katatonia really nailed it with their latest releases. And a couple of other bands in the genre did a great work as well.
Best music video: Many contenders for this award but I find huge satisfaction in the psychedelic video "No Place Like Home" from Primal Rock Rebellion. Great song and great music video.
Ugliest album cover:
Cancer Bats must be the most boring band when it comes to album covers. Always their logo on the middle with the album title in the bottom and a bland background. Well this year they have outdone themselves. What is this crap? Seriously? Come back another time with an actual cover please. (btw, the best album cover will be revealed in the next list).
Best new species: You know that you are a big person when you get a species named after you. Well, that is exactly what happened to Megadeth's singer Dave Mustaine. Earlier in December he got a spider named after him called Aphonopelma Davemustainei. Pretty cool but he is not the first heavy metal artist to get an animal species named after itself. The same thing happened to Lemmy Kilmister in 2006 when  a polychaete got named Kallopiron Kilmisteri.

Something I have not mentioned that you think will be rememberable from 2012? Leave a comment and let everyone else know. what happened this year. Rock on!!!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Malice - New Breed of Godz (2012)

With a murdering competition during the mid-80's there was bound to happen that several heavy metal bands would eventually just give up. And who can blame them. Standing up against Metallica, Iron Maiden, Slayer and several other great names is not something you would look forward to. But time's have changed and has given another chance for these older, forgotten bands to rekindle their flame and once again stand up for their music. One of these bands are the American band Malice, a band that have released two previous albums in the mid-80's. But the band's popularity was only mild at best and surely enough they broke up after the EP "Crazy In The Night" in 1989. Now the band is back and re-united since 2006 with new vocalist + drummer and with their third album entitled "New Breed of Godz" the band is once again trying to reach greatness in the music industry.

Even though this is a new full-length album there is only four newly written songs on this album. The rest of the material is re-recordings of old songs. The new songs are the title track, "Branded", "Winds of Death (Angel of Light)" and "Slipping Through The Cracks". Out of these four I would say that the title track is the only one of the new songs that holds a high standard. The song is overall exciting and the instruments cooperate pretty well here. But there is no doubt that it is the older songs that are the stars of "New Breed of Godz". Songs like "Hell Rider", "Against The Empire" and "Sinister Double" definitely shows how good Malice was back in the day.

But to completely understand how the band has evolved during the 25 years since the last full length album I had to go back and compare how the old and new versions stands against each other. The production is of course better now than it was back and there is a significant difference between the singers styles but other than that I feel that there is no great differences between the originals and the re-recordings. I have to say though that "Against The Empire" feels more epic and grand in "New Breed of Godz" than it did on "License To Kill" which is a great improvment. But I think the only meaning with bringing these older songs on this record is to make the younger listeners backtrack to the bands previous album and then get hooked on the band. Did it work on me? Not quitly but I got at least a little interested in the band and I will follow them in the future.

If "New Breed of Godz" did not have the older songs I think this would have been an album that would have reached up to 7 in the rating scale but since the majority of the songs have already been released I am lowering the rating for this album despite the good production and the powerful singing from James Rivera. But if the band is tempted to continue what they have started I would gladly follow them and see what they could do with an album filled with only new material. So let us consider "New Breed of Godz" as a warm up for Malice and instead look forward to what they will bring next.

Songs worthy of recognition: Against The Empire, Sinister Double, New Breed of Godz

Rating: 5/10 Hell Riders

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Dream Theater - Falling Into Infinity (1997)

Sometimes the record companies can be a true pain in the ass. Oh, I am sorry, I mean that they are always a pain in the ass. Especially if your band had one successful single. Cause as soon as your band becomes popular the record company will try to pressure you and your buddies to repeat that success, a manoeuvre that is rarely successful on metal bands. In Dream Theater's case, that pressure nearly led to an early retirement for the band. But luckily for us fans the band chose to continue their musical journey with their fourth album entitled "Falling Into Infinity", a album that has received a lot of criticism from DT fans. Why? Well, "Falling Into Infinity" is much more mainstream than its predecessors and because the band seemed to get away from the metal shell. There is almost no heavy riffs in the entire album, which is of course a shame, but the progressive part is still there which is pretty much enough for me as long as the songs held a high standard.

As previously stated, there is few parts in this album that would fit in the metal file but the lack of heaviness is made up with a more melodic sound. Unfortunately, this new sound is not completely convincing. It sounds  way too smooth for its own good. Take for example the opener "New Millennium". Overall a good song but I believe it could have been a little better with a heavier foundation and a more powerful chorus (an attribute many songs on this album is missing). That definitely shows that the record company had a huge role in Dream Theater's song writing on this album. The only song that can be reckoned as a heavy piece is "Burning My Soul", a mid-tempo song that shows just how good this album could have been. Some great guitar work, LaBrie's voice on high gear and a very epic and exciting chorus. Without a doubt the best song in this album.

Most of the songs on this album is more or less ballads and most of them are actually quite well written. Especially "You Not Me" which succeeds on bringing out emotion, something every good ballad should be able to do, with its beautiful chorus and well balanced melody. But not all ballads on "Falling Into Infinity" stands on top. "Anna Lee" is one song that just leaves me completely empty. What is it trying to tell me? All I know is that it is a boring and bland song. Nothing else.

So how about the two mastodon's on this album then? Well, I like the first one at least ("Lines In The Sand") since it is a song which keeps your interest during the entire time (12:06 to be exact) but I feel that Dream Theater could have done a lot more with the other song ("Trial of Tears", a song that is 13:06 long). I keep getting lost in that humongous jungle and I cannot find something on this track that is anywhere near interesting. Probably one of my least favourite Dream Theater epics of all time.

So is the hate from the fan base righteous? No, at least not in that big of a degree. "Falling Into Infinity" is clearly the worst Dream Theater album so far in their carrier but that does not mean that it is a horrible album. Sure the sound is more mainstream than it should be but some songs on here are well constructed and does the job. "Falling Into Infinity" may not reach all the way but it still reaches relatively far.

Songs worthy of recognition: Burning My Soul, You Not Me, Lines In The Sand

Rating: 6,5/10 Peruvian Skies

More reviews of Dream Theater
When Dream And Day Unite
Images And Words
Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes From A Memory
Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence
Train of Thought
Systematic Chaos
Black Clouds & Silver Linings
A Dramatic Turn of Events
The Astonishing

Distance Over Time

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Green Day - !TRÉ! (2012)

So here we are, the third and last album in the trilogy by the pop-punk band Green Day. The previous two albums was both having minor punk intentions and some horrible choices when it comes to expanding the bands sound. In other words, the two predecessors to "!TRÉ!" was far from impressive. So it is now up to the band to man up and show that they still have some great puns left in their yet unreleased musical catalog.

Now this album was supposed to be released in approximately January or February next year but the band chose to push the release a little earlier since the compilations with Billie Joe and the drugs. For fans of the band it is a blessing from above. But for me it is just a faster way to get rid of the pain of listening to this trilogy. But I remained positive before listening to "!TRÉ!", and thank god for that. I cannot imagine how angry I would have become if I heard this album when I was in a bad mood. So where should I start? Well, "!TRÉ!" is at least not expanding the bands horizons as much as the two previous albums. You will recognize Green Day in this album. Unfortunately, it is more pop than punk in these songs and even worse, you probably have heard these songs before. No innovative riffs, recognizable drumbeats and deja-vú moments everywhere. It just bores the crap out of me. It is like the band just did not care to make new songs and just copied old songs and putting in new lyrics. That is probably as low as you can get when you get to creating songs.

Let us now look at the songs that did the most impression on me. First of is "Dirty Rotten Bastards" which reminds me of a long and tempo shifting song from "American Idiot" (like "Homecoming" or "Jesus of Suburbia"). A pretty decent song that is one of few bright spots on this album. Another one of those bright spots is the following track "99 Revolutions", the only song that shows some speed. But otherwise there is nothing that is showing as an advantage for Green Day. For instance, did you know that the concluder, "The Forgotten", is on the soundtrack for the latest Twilight movie! That is enough for me to loose all respect for the band (well not all but at least 90%) and a perfect reasong to give this album a low rating.

I think Green Day has bitten more than they can chew. Releasing three albums in such short notice is a bold, but foolish, thing to do. "!TRÉ!" defenitely shows that the band was running out of ideas at the end. There is only one advantage with "!TRÉ!". It does not have any horrible songs like the last two albums had. But just because it does not have songs that makes the ears bleed it does not mean that it can get away with having dull deja-vú songs. Finally, if you are going to make another album trilogy Green Day please take your time and make sure that you make three different albums instead of three similar ones.

Songs worthy of recognition: 99 Revolutions, Dirty Rotten Bastards

Rating: 3,5/10 X-Kids

Monday, December 10, 2012

Dr. Living Dead! - Radioactive Intervention (2012)

During the 21st century there has been a new wave of thrash metal that has not only lifted the genre itself but has also made the old legends in the genre come back with incredible strength (Overkill, Testament, Anthrax with more). But these new bands is giving the old men a run for their money and one band that is in the top is the swedish quartet Dr. Living Dead!. They may be a little ridiculous since all of the members have fake alias (Dr. Rad, Dr. Ape, Dr. Toxic and Dr. Dawn) and that they perform wearing skull masks but the thrash music they are making is nothing to laugh at. Their self-titled debut album from last year was powerful and insane and showed that even Sweden has some skilled thrash metal musicians among their approximately 9 million citizens. But now the real test is here. Would this interesting project deliver an equaly strong follow up to last years success?

Now for those of you that are true thrash metal geeks you may be wondering what type of thrash metal does Dr. Living Dead! play? Well, it is a sort of dead thrash metal which means that the band plays short songs with a lot of room to riff, scream out the lyrics and, of course, to make an incredible and big mosh pit! Some great names in that category are Suicidal Tendencies and Municipal Waste. But does Dr. Living Dead! keep up with the big boys? Yes, I would definitely say that this band keeps the same standards as the giants in this type of music. One thing that makes the band stand out (besides the fact that they wear skull masks) is that the band has a little more groove on their sound. Especially on the songs "Signs From The Other Side" and "Suffering". Both songs reminds me of Anthrax for some reason which is a good thing since I love Anthrax. And another upside with this bands music is that it has some good variation, something many bands in this genre does not have.

Unfortunately, just like most of the albums in this genre it can be a little too much of the good stuff on "Radioactive Intervention" and the short, intense songs have a tendency to wear themselfs out pretty quickly. For instance, I was somewhat bored by the songs "They Live" and "You're Lost" already after a couple of listens. Fortunately, the band did not include a lot of those songs in "Radioactive Intervention". Otherwise I love the riffing and the speed the band is bringing. Just the intensity you would expect from a band like Dr. Living Dead!.

So yeah, Dr. Living Dead! delivers some great thrash but these guys are still relatively new in the game. "Radioactive Intervention" is a good album that deserves it recognition. But the whole picture is not there yet. With some experience and a little more maturity I think that we will see some big albums coming from these guys in the future. But for now this will do. And I do not complain.

Songs worthy of recognition: Signs From The Other Side, Dead New World, Suffering

Rating: 7/10 Mental Warzones

Friday, December 7, 2012

Yngwie J. Malmsteen - Spellbound (2012)

I wonder why the swedish guitar virutuoso Yngwie Malmsteen even bothers to put the words Rising Force in his project any more. This is more of a solo album to me, not an album by a band. Yngwie writes all his music himself and he even sings on this album now that Tim "Ripper" Owens (Ex-Iced Earth, Ex- Judas Priest) has left Rising Force. Anyhow, "Spellbound" is Yngwie's 18th studio album and the first album with yours truly on vocals. A wise decision? I am not sure. Yngwie is not a terrible singer but he does not have the same strengths in his voice like Owens have. But one pro with Yngwie being a singer is that we may finally have some continuity when it comes to the vocals. The singer that lasted the longest was Doggie White and he lasted only 6 years (about 1/6 out of Yngwie's musical carrier).

But do not expect Yngwie to wear himself out on the vocals. Just like in "Relentless", the instrumentals has the majority of space on this record. A pretty big majority. Only three out of the thirteen songs have lyrics in them. In other words, Yngwie is letting the riffing do the talking instead of the vocals. A seemingly good decision since Yngwie is not so familiar with the singing. But I got to say that he does a really good work on the singing section, especially on the slow and delicate "Let Sleeping Dogs Lie". His voice is ruff at some spots but with some work I think that Yngwie will master that too. The other two songs ("Repent" and "Poisoned Minds") are good but nothing really special.

Well, how good are the instrumentals then? They are what you would expect from Yngwie. A solid mix of crazy ass shredding and slower, but more well composed, song structures. And the sound is, as usual, a neo-classical sound. A sound that Yngwie masters extremely well. But overall there are 3 instrumentals that is standing out from the rest. The title track has probably the best and unique riff in the entire album and the speed on that song is nice. Then we have "Majestic 12 suite 1, 2 & 3", a nine minute long epic that holds surprisingly well for a song of its size. Otherwise instrumentals that is around this length tends to be pretty boring and repetitive. The third and last instrumental on "Spellbound" that deserves a recognition is the album closure "Requiem For The Lost Souls". This song ends the album in a brilliant way with its beautiful sound and well organised structure. But there is one more instrumental that I would like to point out. "Iron Blues" is something I wish was never even in this album. I mean really? Blues? You may have taken a bit more than you can chew Yngwie. Please, no more of that kind of music in the future.

All in all I feel that "Spellbound" is the best album Yngwie has done since "Perpetual Flame". "Spellbound" has some really interesting instrumentals and the fact that Yngwie made literally everything for himself makes this album even more impressive. It is not a fantastic album but clearly above average. But for next album I would like to see less instrumentals and more of Yngwie's voice (if he is going to sing more in future albums).

Songs worthy of recognition: Let Sleeping Dogs Lie, Requiem For The Lost Souls, Spellbound

Rating: 7/10 Repents

Monday, December 3, 2012

Dream Theater - Awake (1994)

Writing an album that is the successor of a bands big commercial success and breakthrough is one of the hardest things any big band have to face. If you fail your band may always be remembered as the band that made that one great record. But if you succeed your band will most likely be lifted to the skies as the next big thing. So it was pretty much make or break time as Dream Theater was ready to release their third studio album titled "Awake". The expectations for this album was huge since "Images And Words" was such a giant success. But unlike most "flings", Dream Theater chose not to reinvent their last album. Instead, they tried to write something new and different. A tactic that later proved to be very successful.

Anyhow, "Awake" is maybe not mega different from "Images And Words" but it shows another side of the band that the world had not seen in that time. This album is more versatile than its predecessor. And even though the band was pressured by their record company to write a song that would bring as much success on the radio as "Pull Me Under", Dream Theater did manage to put in more elegant and not so radio friendly music here on "Awake". The first single that tried to reach the same heights as "Pull Me Under" was "Lie", a heavy and catchy song with a pretty quiet and numb verse but also a great epic chorus. Perfect for those who likes to sing-a-long. And even though it failed to reach commercial success I really enjoy "Lie" for its chorus and heavy riffs. Two other songs from "Awake" made it as singles. Those songs was "Caught In A Web" and "The Silent Man". Both great songs but they both do not have something that will make a song rememberable. An "it-factor". But I do like the symfonic chorus on "Caught In A Web".

How about the other songs then? Well, every song shows great creativity and muscisianship. Everything from the heavy "The Mirror" to the symphonic and psychadelic "6:00" is just a blast to listen to. There is ony one weak spot on this high quality record. I think the instrumental "Erotomania" could have been better if the band had put in more effort in this piece. Let us make a comparision. "Ytse Jam", from their debute album "When Dream And Day Unite", is crazy and has a great passion put in to every riff, beat and fill while "Erotomania" is more of a delicate instrumental. It is not challenging the muscisans, something I almost always want to see in a instrumental. Sure, an instrumental can be slow and does not need crazy ass riffs but if it must be that way then it must be perfect. Not a single mistake can be made in that kind of an instrumental. Something "Erotomania" failed to manage.

There is only one song on this album that reaches over the 10 minute mark and that song is "Scarred". A pretty hard epic that has its moments but it is not one of the bands finest mastodon songs. It is still a great song but I bellieve it could have been a bit better. But I have to admit gets better as the songs goes. Something that all great epics have in common.

Yeah, so this album failed to reach a commercial success but I still believe that this is one of the finest albums Dream Theater has made in their carrier. A great pack of songs that has great musicality and versatility. But just like in "Images And Words" there is some power missing for this album to reach the highest of peaks. But who cares when you get to experience a fantastic masterpiece by some of the greatest progresive musicians of all time.

Songs worthy of recognition: Lie, The Mirror, 6:00

Rating: 9/10 Voices

More reviews of Dream Theater
When Dream And Day Unite
Images And Words
Falling Into Infinity
Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes From A Memory
Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence
Train of Thought
Systematic Chaos
Black Clouds & Silver Linings
A Dramatic Turn of Events
The Astonishing

Distance Over Time