Sunday, June 30, 2013
So it is back to basics for the Maiden then, and the big guns are the fast songs "Holy Smoke" and Bring Your Daughter... To The Slaughter". Two songs that has had its plays in rock radio stations all around the world, but are not mentioned as some of Maiden's greatest works. For me, these two songs may be catchy and groovy, but there is no depth in the music to make them long lasting. But surprisingly, those two are on the stronger side of this album, which is a proof that "No Prayer For The Dying" is weaker than the average Maiden album.
Other strong parts of the album are the adventurous "Tailgunner", the beautiful title track, the epic closer "Mother Russia" and the underestimated "The Assassin". But just like the rest of the album, these songs are very pale compared to what the band has created before. But at the same time, there are no really bad songs in "No Prayer For The Dying". Sure, "Run Silent Run Deep" is pretty sluggish and "Hooks In You" is a little corny, but the overall standard is acceptable.
"No Prayer For The Dying" is not a complete train wreck, but it was the weakest Maiden album at that time. It has some satisfaction factor, but in the end, it does not fulfill ones need for great music. I definitely miss Adrian Smith's furious guitar playing on this album, but Janick Gers is doing his best, and it is not easy too be new in the gang that has made some amazing records in the past couple of years. So "No Prayer For The Dying" is an ok album. No more, no less.
Songs worthy of recognition: Bring Your Daughter... To The Slaughter, Tailgunner, Holy Smoke
Rating: 6/10 Assassins
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
I have to start this review with my thoughts of Todd La Torre. He was the previous singer of Crimson Glory, but he never released an album with the band, so I did not know what I should have expected from him. After listening to "Queensrÿche", my first thought was that he almost had the exact same voice as Geoff Tate. I did not know if I was happy or sad about the fact, but one upside was that you recognized the band instantly and you can easily accumulate to the vocalist change. So yeah, choosing Todd was a good idea by the band, even though the similarities to Geoff are way too big.
When it comes to the music, the band has definitely gone back to their old works and tried to find what once made the band too what they are today. "Queensrÿche" has a lot of vibes from the band's earlier works, but it still feels refreshed and new. But the thing that strikes me most is the passion that the band has rediscovered. This is definitely a proof that Geoff was holding the rest of the band back.
The clear star of "Queensrÿche" is the opening track "Where Dreams Go To Die". A beautiful, but also a dark song that chugs it way through your mind like a snow plow after a long night of snowing. The riffing is great and Todd sets the mood perfectly. It definitely feels like the band has found its way back to the right path already after hearing that one song. Another great song is "In This Light" with its uplifting chorus and amazing guitar work (seriously, the guitars in this album is just unbelievably amazing). Then we also have "Redemption" that amazes with its interesting song structure and, once again, amazing guitar work, but I feel that they could have worked the chorus better since it feels a little misplaced with the rest of the song.
And the strong songs keeps on coming. The powerful "Spore", the fast and uplifting "Vindication", the soothing "A World Without" and the groovy "Don't Look Back" all helps making "Queensrÿche" one of the best albums that the band has ever made. It definitely feels like the band has been reborn since Geoff got sacked.
However, this album is far from perfect. First off, the album is way too short (a mere play time of 35 minutes) and while the overall standard of the songs are good, it could have been a little better (but there is no filler to be found here). So do not think that this album is a new "Operation: Mindcrime", but if Queensrÿche would have put in one or two more songs in with the same quality as the rest of the album, I would probably rated this album even higher. But what ever, I am happy as it is right now.
So who wins the first round? Queensrÿche or Tatesrÿche? It is a clear win for Queensrÿche, but Tatesrÿche rises up on the stroke of nine before being counted out. "Queensrÿche" is without a doubt the best album by the band in a long time and it feels like they have gotten rid of the shackles that Geoff Tate had been placing. After this release, I really hope that the court makes the right decision and gives this band the right to be named Queensrÿche. Because unlike Tatesrÿche, this band deserves it.
Songs worthy of recognition: Where Dreams Go To Die, In This Light, Spore, Don't Look Back
Rating: 8,5/10 Redemptions
Friday, June 21, 2013
"Deceiver of The Gods" is the first album by the band that was recorded outside Sweden and also the first album with Andy Sneap as the producer. But the production is the least important part of the album, it is the music that stands in the front. It is the typical Amon Amarth sound that we all know and love. Heavy death metal with fine musicality that could be linked with folk metal and catchy melodies. The band is truly one of a kind with their music and the fact that they mix power, heaviness and melody in one big cauldron is just very intriguing, and let us not forget the Nordic mythology theme that gives the band its image.
The title track opens up the album with a typical Amon Amarth speed that is only matched by Odin's eighth legged horse Sleipner. This could be an instant classic with the epic chorus and fine riffing, but that little special something is missing to make the song truly shine. Otherwise, there are not that many power packed songs in "Deceiver of The Gods". The band has chosen to focus on the more delicate part of their sound, which means that the melodies and the mood is more important then raw strength. Not a horrible choice, but I wished that they would have done at least one or two more power songs. So do not expect to find a new "A Beast Am I?" or "Where Is Your God?" on this particular record.
So yeah, the structure and lyrics is in the focus, and the song with the most interesting structure and lyrics is "Shape Shifter". A great song that explains Loki's ability to change his appearance to deceive others, but also a song that has a melody that is so groovy that your head just cannot stay still. Another evidence of the bigger focus on the structure is the two last songs "Coming of The Tide" and "Warriors of The North". Two great songs that ends the album in a very elegant way
I have one big problem with "Deceiver of The Gods", and that is the memory factor. No song on this album is really catchy and that makes an album filled with just mediocre tunes. I guess that the most memorable chorus goes to the excellent "Father of The Wolf" , but not even that song stays in my mind after the first couple of listening sessions. That is a shame, since I find the catchiness is one of Amon Amarth's greatest strengths, but luckily, they have many other strength to back this flaw up (like Johan's amazing vocals and the fantastic musicality).
We also get a special guest appearance by Messiah Marcolin (singer of Candlemass) on the eighth track "Hel". It is probably the song that stands out the most in this album, and Messiah does an excellent job together with Johan Hegg on the vocals. I also like the doom like touch of this song, but some parts of the song reminds me of the Primal Rock Rebellion song "White Sheet Robes" which kind of annoys me. Still, it is one of the highlights in this album.
You know what too expect when it comes too Amon Amarth, and "Deceiver of The Gods" is no different story. It is brutal and melodic death metal at its finest. And even though this album is another great, solid piece by the band, it lacks that little extra something that the previous three releases from the band had. But it is still another proof that Amon Amarth is one of the best in their league. So start brewing your mead, put on your viking helmet, grab your axe (or other weapon) and prepare yourself for the assault that is entitled "Deceiver of The Gods"
Songs worthy of recognition: Deceiver of The Gods, Coming of The Tide, Father of The Wolf, Hel
Rating: 8/10 Shape Shifters
Saturday, June 15, 2013
So let us start with how the band itself sound. I can agree with a lot of fans that Rick Rubin's production is not only good, but too good. Black Sabbath sounds best when the production is a little dark and rough, so the production on "13" takes away some of the magic. But I will give Rick Rubin this, he did not change the typical Black Sabbath sound that we all know and love. The guitar is dark and heavy, the bass is loud and Ozzy's voice may be weak, but it sets the mood perfectly. And the drums? Well, Brad Wilk is doing a swell job behind the kit, but it is still not the same without Bill Ward. Brad tries to play like Bill would probably have done, and he is close, but it is like listening to a tribute band. He can try all he want and put his whole heart out, but he will never reach the same heights as Bill did. Still, I give Brad Wilk a thumps up, because it still sounds good and it is obvious that he had a good connection with the rest of the band.
The album starts with the two longest songs, "End of The Beginning" and "God Is Dead?". They may be slow and some what uneventful, but they make it up with the heavy atmosphere and the classic Sabbath sound is definitely there. "God Is Dead?" also has the best guitar riff in the entire album. The real album starts instead with the third track "Loner". It is a song that mixes the heaviness of Sabbath and the spiritual sound from Ozzy's early solo efforts. Think of "Loner" as a mix between "N.I.B" and "Diary of A Madman". In other words, a fusion of two classic that creates a great track.
Next, "13" takes a slower route with "Zeitgeist" (German for time spirit). I am usually no big fan of these kinds of songs since I am expecting heavy metal, not easy listening, but "Zeitgeist" surprised me. It is calm and it is a good listen at a day on the beach, so it was not that horrible. But I am glad that "Zeitgeist" was the only one of its kind in "13". "Age of Reason" is pure classic Sabbath with a sluggish starter that later develops into a groovy onslaught that makes your head rock back and forth. And let us not forget that typical "aw, yeah" from Ozzy that appears from time to time in this track. "Live Forever" is one of the faster songs on "13" and it is a listenable piece with its rolling guitar riff and interesting song structure, but they could have done more work on the boring chorus. That chorus gives the song a "go-stop-go" sensation, which is not pleasant. The remaining two songs on this album, "Damaged Soul" and "Dear Father", are sure too be appreciated by the Black Sabbath community, but for me, they were blended in to the rest of the songs too much to make them stand out. They are fine songs that closes this album in a good way, but there are finer moments on "13".
There is also three additional songs on the deluxe version of "13" and out off the three, it is without a doubt "Methademic" that is the best. It is the fastest song on "13" and together with some heavy riffs, a Ozzy on the edge, the groovy bass doing its job in the background and Brad Wilk doing his best drum beats in the entire album, we got ourselves a killer song. Add also the interesting lyrics that is sure to be inspired by Ozzy's relapse onto alcohol and the band's previous use of drugs. Together with "Loner", "Methademic" is my clear favourite from "13". The other two songs, "Peace of Mind" and "Pariah", also helps making "13" better than what I could have ever hoped for. The evenness in "13" is impressive and the fact that the music is the classic Black Sabbath sound with a little modern touch is just magical. It goes to show that these oldies are not done in at least 5 or more years.
Finally, for those of you who expected a new "Paranoid", "Master of Reality" or "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath", just get the fuck out of here. We cannot have expectations that is higher then the sky itself on "13". It has been 35 years since these guys made a album together, so it is a no brainer that it may take some time to get all the pieces on the right place, and do not forget the distractions that happened before this album probably contributed to make it a shakier comeback. With that said, I enjoyed "13", and I believe that with all that have happened with the band and its members, I am going to suck everything in as much as possible. Who knows, this may, or may not, be the last album by the grandfathers of heavy metal. And if that horrible thought would come true, then "13" is a worthy closing album of the career of Black Sabbath.
Songs worthy of recognition: Loner, God Is Dead?, Methademic, End of The Beginning
Rating: 8,5/10 Zeitgeists
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
"Halo of Blood" is indeed the first album in 10 years that has the heaviness in focus. Sure, the melodies are still there, but besides "Transference", they keep a more laid back role in the songs on this record. Instead, it is the heavy riffs and the overwhelming power that plays the main part on "Halo of Blood". It is like the band has gotten hold of a time machine and turned the clock at least 10 years backwards. The perfect example of the new heavy direction is in the marvelous title track that with a doom like atmosphere takes a hold of you and attacks you with high precission blast beats until you are beaten senseless. And it also has a great melodic solo to wrap up the old and new.
But it is not only the heaviness that is putting a big impression on me. Just like in the last release, "Relentless, Reckless, Forever", the band is showing a good variation. From the intoxicating and catchy "Transference" to the smooth flowing "All Twisted", Children of Bodom is showing off most of their register. And fortunately, the variation is not so vast that it makes "Halo of Blood" fragmented. There is a clear red line that goes through every song in this album, so the overall experience on the album is not damaged.
Now to some of the highest points on this album. First off, we have "Screaming For Silence" with its mid-tempo sound that stands out and almost seem beautiful compared to the other songs. It surprised me that the band could write such mellow songs without making it sound wimpy. Then we have the exciting "Bodom Blue Moon (The Second Coming)" that clearly has the best guitar riffs and a groovy tempo that should make most of you happy. "Dead Man's Hand On You" is the slowest song in the album, but the dark mood makes it one of the more emotional tracks in "Halo of Blood". Definitely a great song for those of you who like heavy ballads. And what would a CoB album be without a thrashy segment. That segment is delivered in the beginning of "Damaged Beyond Repair", a song that is a okay listen, but otherwise from the intro, there is nothing really special with this track.
So there is not much to complain about on "Halo of Blood". The production is sleek, but still heavy, the band is doing what they do best, and even though the true depth of Alexi's vocals is not as great as before, he is still doing a great work on his part. The only real problems with "Halo of Blood" is that the album miss a complete killer. The title track is the closest, but it does not quite stand up against songs like "Needled 24/7" or "If You Want Peace... Prepare For War". But instead of have a couple of killer songs, the band has put together 10 songs that are more or less equal in strength, and together, these songs create a highly enjoyable album.
"Halo of Blood" is definitely superior against albums like "Are You Dead Yet?" and "Blooddrunk" and it is a test of strength that CoB is showing. The band has taken the best parts from the old and new Bodom, and mashed up a record that was way over my expectation. Now let us hope that they keep their roots in their future material, but also have the guts to develop their sound even further. Because if the band continue down this route, then I am certain that they will create more killer album like this one.
Songs worthy of recognition: Halo of Blood, Bodom Blue Moon (The Second Coming), Transference, All Twisted
Rating: 8,5/10 Bottles and knees
Sunday, June 9, 2013
The answer comes in eigth songs that covers every musical styles, from epic and catchy to heavy and melodic. And not only that, we also have one of the grandest and epic tales that has ever been told in musical form. Well, actually there are several stories since this album is not actually a concept album. The extraordinary song writing in this album is some of the best I have ever witnessed and it is the lyrics that makes it seem like "Seventh Son of A Seventh" is a grand concept album.
It all starts with "Moonchild", a semi-fast and groovy song that tells the start of the seventh son saga where an unknown force is warning the parents that their future son will possess a power that is great than what they ever could imagine. An okay opener, but it is certainly one of the weaker tracks in the album. After that comes "Infinite Dreams" that pictures the story of a journey to discover the meaning of life and the meaning of the unnecessary torture that many suffers. This is surely a epic piece that also has its groovy moments and I have always loved how Bruce Dickinson has made the most with his voice to create the perfect atmosphere.
The only real speed freak in this record is "Can I Play With Madness". It may be one of the most overrated Maiden songs out there, but it plays an important part in this album. Without this song, the variation would have been one of the weak spots (now it is one of the strongest attributes). I still enjoy this track with its epic chorus, but there are several songs in both "Seventh Son of A Seventh Son" and other Maiden albums that I would rather play. One of these songs are the fantastic "The Evil That Men Do" I am not kidding when I say that this track got it all. It is beautiful, epic, groovy, sing-a-long friendly and powerful, all at the same time. And let us not forget the lyrics about the constant struggles and problems that will live with mankind forever. Even now, 25 years after its release, "The Evil That Men Do" is highly up-to-date both musically and lyrically. An instant classic, both back in the day and now.
The truly epic piece of this album is the title track. Close to 10 minutes of fine performance work, exceptional vocal excersises and a song structure that even with a 2 and a half minutes of cymbal rolls, guitar picking and verse reading, is more exciting then a 2 hour action movie. If the band was learning to write great epics in "Powerslave", then they had mastered that skill in "Seventh Son of A Seventh Son".The following song, "The Prophecy", is impressing with its lyrics, but the melody is one of the weaker on this album. I do ot say that it is bad, I just say that it looks pale in comparision against the other songs on the album.
The album ends up with two very respectable songs. "The Clairvoyant" is one of the first Maiden songs I ever learned to love and the funny part is that I first thought that it was a sample of some of the band's greatest hits. There was no wonder that I thought that since the verse and chorus could easily have been two different songs fused into one. But the band still finds a way to make the symbios work great and create a truly stunning song. The other song, "Only The Good Die Young", is one of the truest songs ever made. Just think of it. Ronnie James Dio, Jeff Hanneman, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, Cliff Burton and many more has all died way too young, while [insert shit artist that is still alive here] and other pieces of dookie still live to fight another die. It is just sad. But I am just rambling, the song itself is a beautiful finisher that ties up the album in a great way. But it would not hurt to make this song a little bit longer.
Very few bands can follow up a amazing album with a equaly amazing successor, but it takes a legendary band to follow up a master piece like "Powerslave" with two perfect albums. "Seventh Son of A Seventh Son" is the most epic piece that I have ever heard and it is just another proof that Iron Maiden is worthy of its legendary status. Sure, they could have gone fully out with the concept on this album, but who cares when you get spoiled with such great songs over and over again. I have already said this in my review of "Somewhere In Time", but I do not know how the band is going to top this. Perfection, you now have a second name, and that name is "Seventh Son of A Seventh Son".
Songs worthy of recognition: The Evil That Men Do, Seventh Son of A Seventh Son, The Clairvoyant, Infinite Dreams, Only The Good Die Young
Rating: 10/10 Moonchilds
Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Well, at least the band started off strong with the groovy "Kingmaker". This song is probably the only song in "Super Collider" that I would label as thrash metal since it has a heavy riff, intoxicating drum beats and an acceptable speed. I could also complain about Dave's singing in this (and every other) song, but you probably already know that his voice is more or less shitty, so I will not bitch about it in this review.
As stated before, "Kingmaker" is the only song in "Super Collider" that is worthy with the label "thrash metal song". The rest of the songs are either acceptable songs that is just in a different style or just trash. This is not a metal album, this is just a album where Dave is trying out new styles and shit. Take the title track for example. I mean, what the fuck did Dave think of when he created that steaming pile of doo doo? It is slow, boring and probably worst of all, it has hints of southern American rock. In other words, this is hillbilly music with some refined lyrics. I guess the solo is good, but the rest is not. So I will just slap Dave on his fingers and say "No, bad Dave. Never do that again".
The rest of the songs are not purely bad, but they give me mixed signals. "The Blackest Crow" is actually a cool song, but the weird guitar picking sound (not sure what instrument it is) is just out of place. "Forget To Remember" has some good performance work, but I think that you would agree when I say that it is closer too pop than metal. "Burn!" has a great verse, but the boring chorus kills the song completely. And finally, "Cold Sweat" sounds great even though there is one problem with that song... IT IS A GOD DAMN COVER ON THE THIN LIZZY SONG WITH THE SAME NAME! I will never understand why big bands makes covers. Just put it in a special edition of the album, let the true die hard fans listen to it and move on. I want to hear original material, not interpretations of other bands work.
There is, however, times in this album where I would congratulate Dave and the rest of the band on doing a great job. One of those parts are the quire part in "Built For War" which gives the track a exciting edge to the otherwise ordinary and repetitive song structure. Then I also have to give some praise to Shawn Drover who once again does a excellent job behind the drum kit. When the day that he leaves the band comes, I will definitely appreciate Megadeth's future work a little less. Besides the great drumming, the guitars are also good and helps to make the album a little more intriguing. One perfect example on when the guitars is used correctly is in "Dance In The Rain". At first, the song seems like a ordinary Megadeth ballad, but at the end, the guitars brings up the tempo and throw a bunch of great riffs that makes this song one of the best in the album (and by the way, Dave's voice is actually sounding pretty good in the second half of that song. No wait, that was David Draiman's voice. My bad.). I also have to make a shout for the excellent closing track "Don't Turn Your Back.." that wraps up this album in a awesome way with its groovy rhythm.
If you are scared that this album is "Risk 2.0", then let me calm your nerves with these words. "Super Collider" is not a new "Risk", but it is certainly not a future classic. "Super Collider" was better then I expected it to be, but the lack of metal in this album is frustrating and the quality of the overall song writing is uneven, but thanks to great drumming by Shawn Drover and some sweet guitar licks, "Super Collider" shows a different Megadeth and succeeds to keep its head just above the water. But if I got the chance, I would drown it and instead fish up something more thrashy.
Songs worthy of recognition: Kingmaker, Built For War, Dance In The Rain
Rating: 5,5/10 Blackest Crows
Sunday, June 2, 2013
"Construct" is the band's tenth studio effort and it is a very dark and mellow album that the Swedes are presenting. The whole album is build on an atmosphere that just screams sorrow and despair. There are few times the band is kicking the speed up, but even then, they are not blasting it out in light speed. So it is more death metal with some melodic influences in "Construct", which is good. I have always felt that Dark Tranquillity is at their best when they let the darkness take over.
Another part that is important for Dark Tranquillity is Mikael Stanne's magnificent voice. In "Construct", he is saving his clean vocals to instead focus on the growling. Actually, he only uses his clean vocals in three tracks ("Uniformity", "What Only You Know" and "State of Trust"). No matter what, Mikael makes no mistakes and his contributing is big for this album. The rest of the band is doing a fine job as well, but I wished that the bass would have been more enhanced, but that is a minor bump that is more or less insignificant.
So the problem with "Construct" is not the performance, it is infact the song writing I have a problem with. None of the songs on the album is bad, but they are not great either. The songs lack a own personality, which in turn leads too a album where every song is more or less blended in together. It is like taking small bits of same colored Play-Doh and mashing it together to create a big blob. It took a while for me to seperate the songs from each other and recognize them for what they are. I do not want to listen several times extra just to know which song is which, that is a waste of time for me.
So which songs has most personality? Well, we have the melodic "The Science of Noise", the heavy "Apathetic", the beautiful "Uniformity, the fist pumping "Endtime Hearts" and the epic "Weight of The End". Without these songs, I would say that "Construct" would have been a failure, but here they are, and they are helping the album to become another solid piece in the discography of Dark Tranquillity. "Construct" is not a album that stands out from the masses, but it does its work, and it does it pretty well. If you are a fan of the band and enjoyed their latest effort ("We Are The Void"), then you will probably learn to love "Construct", but I know that the band can do better. Still, this album is a continuous proof that Dark Tranquillity is one of the best bands in the swedish death metal scene.
Songs worthy of recognition: Weight of The End, Apathetic, Uniformity
Rating: 6,5/10 States of Trust