Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Best of 2014: songs

As usual, this year has brought us a fair share of great metal music, making it hard for me to cut down 100+ songs to 50 for this list. But it is done, and I am now ready to show you what songs from 2014 are most listening worthy. Enjoy.

50. When I Remake The World (A Key Flaw) - Steel Prophet
49. Waldschrein - Equilibrium
48. End of Days - Aenimus
47. Essence (feat. Whitfield Crane) - Sight of Emptiness
46. Midnight Meditation - The Vintage Caravan
45. End of Days - Engel
44. Flesh For Flies - Rigor Mortis
43. Is It So Hard To Be You? - Besserbitch
42. Crescent - Animals As Leaders
41. Dying Breed - Accept
40. River - Opeth
39. Wo Es Dich Gibt - Die Apokalyptischen Reiter
38. Something Different - Godsmack
37. Hell Funeral - Grave Digger
36. Beyond - Freedom Call
35. The Fire - Evergrey
34. One Night In December - Primal Fear
33. Infection - Lacuna Coil
32. The Devil In I - Slipknot
31. Sing To Me - Delain
30. Hector's Hymn - HammerFall
29. A Mind Insane - Devil You Know
28. The Box - Threshold
27. Tower of Lies - Axel Rudi Pell
26. Dreamlike Perceptions - Júlio Stotz
25. InSect - Persuader
So what if Jens Carlsson sounds a lot like Blind Guardian singer Hansi Kürsch? He still kicks ass, and so does the rest of Persuader in the song "InSect". A powerful attack where their ammunition is speed, strong singing and frenetic drumming. Nice work Blind Gua... I mean Persuader.

24. Dangerous (feat. Howard Jones) - Within Temptation
Dangerous is not quite as good as "Paradise (What About Us?)", but that song was in last year's list. Anyway, it is still a kick ass song that will get you pumped up with its speed and catchy chorus. Former Killswitch Engage singer Howard Jones does a nice guest appearance.

23. Megitsune - BABYMETAL
I know what you are thinking. Why the hell is this song in the top 25? The simple answer is that I just can't get enough of the groove in this song. I have no idea what they are singing about and I know the whole image is not so metal, but it is catchy as hell and the death metal break down is just marvelous. So kawaii.

22. Bruce Campbell - Psychostick
Bruce Campbell may not be the biggest actor in the world, but he does have the coolest chin of them all. And now, he has the coolest tribute song of them all. Psychostick's love for Bruce really comes out in this amazing little piece. And yes, I would love to live in Bruce Campbellville with 8000 Bruce Campbells.

21. To Kill A Man - Crucified Barbara
This song contains the best lyrics of the year, singing about the urge to kill after seeing your sister being abused by men. And since the song is sung by an all female band, the message comes out even stronger. Still get the shivers from the strength of Mia Coldheart's vocals.

20. Trend Killer - The Haunted
Seeing The Haunted in good old thrash form is fantastic. "Exit Wounds" was a much better album than I anticipated and the track "Trend Killer" was the icing on the cake. It is a fantastic steam roller that takes you back to the time where The Haunted was the kings of the death thrash metal scene, a place they might take back if they continue down this road.

19. Mask Machine - Flying Colors
Mike Portnoy have been quite busy since he left Dream Theater, but this is the only project in which he has been involved in that has succeeded somewhat. "Mask Machine" is a groovy rock tune where Muse meets Dream Theater in a surprisingly cool combo. And yes, Mike himself is playing some sweet beats in this one.

18. The Second Stone - Epica
I was unsure of where Epica stood, if they ever would get back to the fantastic quality they had some time ago. One listen to "The Second Stone", and all those doubts were gone. The song structure is fantastic without being overly catchy and Simone Simons sings beautifully as usual.

17. O Father O Satan O Sun! - Behemoth
The Polish death metal legends Behemoth came back in full force with "The Satanist", and the track "O Father O Satan O Sun!" was the ultimate testimony of that. With a rock steady tempo and a fully focused determination, the band delivers a punch of demonic proportions. This song would even make the devil scared and excited at the same time.

16. Halls of Valhalla - Judas Priest
The men that make Judas Priest are pretty old, something that is showing in "Redeemer of Souls". Fortunately, there is one song that show off what they once were. "Halls of Valhalla" is that nice mix of "Painkiller" and "Defenders of The Faith" that makes you shiver from excitement. A ball buster that has the power of Mjölnir and the experience of Odin. Amazing solo.

15. The Road of Bones - IQ
The mood in this song is fragile, beautiful and neck hair rising, and the delicate musicianship makes the song even better. IQ have really hit the head on the nail with the title track from "The Road of Bones". And that ending... THAT ending is just so good that it is ridiculous. Amazing track, despite being slightly too long.

14. In Kingdoms of Rain - Words of Farewell
This is one of those songs that seem to go on half the speed, not because it have to, but because it want to, and tries to show off some amazing musicality instead of just laying down the most technical beats the band can handle. A soothing piece that everyone can enjoy in serenity. God, I wish there were more songs like "In Kingdoms of Rain".

13. Godmaker - Vanden Plas
Feels weird to pick a Vanden Plas song that is not very progressive, but I cannot overlook the awesomeness this song brings. "Godmaker" has one of the best riffs made this year and the singer Andy Kuntz does a fantastic job in bringing this song to life.

12. A Triptych Journey - Rise of Avernus
Being one of the more interesting newcomers this year, Rise of Avernus came and impressed me with its smooth progressive goth sound. "A Triptych Journey" is... well, a journey that you can look back at and relive with a smile. I am expecting great things from this Australian band in the future.

11. Black Rainbow - The Oath
Great old school metal that mixes sweet riffs and all female power. The gloomy, almost scary mood goes perfect with the production that is just as dirty as it should be with this type of music. It is a big shame that the band has already called it quits after only one full length release.

10. Reaching For The Stars - Allen/Lande
Timo Tolkki has not had a fun time since he left Stratovarius, but he did some killer song writing for Russell Allen and Jorn Lande in their project Allen/Lande. "Reaching For The Stars" is just a typical, epic mid tempo power metal song that reaches its destination thanks to Allen's fantastic voice. And the solo from Tolkki is nice as well.

9. Steal Away The Light - Triosphere
Triosphere deliver so much power in "Steal Away The Light" that it is overflowing your mind. The drive and force they come at you is really impressive, but they also impress with some fine technicality in both riffs and solos. Probably one of the more underrated performances this year.

8. World On Fire - Slash
Slash has just been spitting out songs left and right since he started his solo band, but the quantity does contain some quality. The fast and catchy "World On Fire" mixes excellent singing from Myles Kennedy with frenetic Slash riffing. This bromance is indeed one of the nicer once in the rock world.

7. The Motherload - Mastodon
Yes, this is probably the most commercial song the band has ever released, but that comes as no surprise since it is so catchy that even the most grumpy metal lovers can't stop singing to it. And with those typical Brann Dailor drum beats and the psychedelic Mastodon sound mixed into it, it just cannot go wrong, even with that mindfuck of a music video.

6. Howl From The Coffin - Vampire
This kind of music never gets outdated, and Vampire is showing that in impeccable style. The darkness, speed and riffing in "Howl From The Coffin" is insane, making the band look like they have been in the business for over 20 years. Old school metal will always rule, no matter what year it is.

5a. Fallout - Devin Townsend Project
5b. Ziltoid Goes Home - Devin Townsend Project
I could not decide which one of these two fantastic songs from "Z²" were the superior one. Coming from each part of the double album, "Fallout" and "Ziltoid Goes Home" works as the perfect polar opposites, showing the wide range of Devin. One being a fast, catchy pop metal tune while the other being a angry, heavy metal song with an epic chorus. Gotta love that diversity.

4. Thales - Mechina
Mechina opened up 2014 with an amazing industrial death metal assault that has the strength of an asteroid barrage, and the biggest one of the bunch is "Thales". With super fast blast beats and an apocalyptic choir, "Thales" impresses the listener with its ultra heavy impact. I now know what I will be playing when judgement day strikes upon us.

3. The Divulgence Act - Teramaze
This was one of the bigger surprises this year since I had no idea who Teramaze were before listening to "Esoteric Symbolism". "The Divulgence Act" is just how a want a heavy progressive tune to sound like. Epic, melodic and extremely well crafted. The Australians are really showing off some progressive goodness that no one should miss out on.

2. The Grand Circle - Novembers Doom
This doom piece is so dark and so beautiful at the same time, making one scratch your head, wondering how that even can make sense. But when you listen to "The Grand Circle", everything just clicks. The gloomy singing, the simple guitar riffs, and the double bass beat that just seems like it can continue on forever more. Just a nice master piece of doom metal.

1. Never Like This (A Dream) - Anubis Gate
I have had this song stuck in my head ever since I first heard it this summer. Such an amazing track with awesome musicianship, a ultra catchy chorus, and a structure that is simple, but oh so effective. Just one of many proofs that the progressive metal scene has had a great year. Also, do not forget to listen to the track "A Dream Within A Dream" from the same album, a longer, more progressive continuation of this song. Good job lads!

Honorable mentions: The Realms of Baba Yaga - Edguy, Black Hole Halo - Sonic Syndicate, Magic Knight's Destiny - Lord Symphony, Echo - Outtrigger, Sign of The Warrior - Skull fist

Only one list left, doubtful if I will get it done before 2015 settles in, but I will try. Also, let me know your thoughts over this list and tell me about your favourite songs of 2014 in the comment section below or tell me on Twitter (@FATGreviews).

Stay metal
Robert "Sharkruisher" Andersson

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Best of 2014: special awards

Another year has come to an end, and it seems like the time just keeps on going faster and faster. Seriously, I do not know how it can be the end of December already. Anyway, it is once again time for me to summarize the year that has gone, and as usual, we start with the special awards. Enjoy.

Best newcomer

Listening to Vampire is a blast... from the past. The speed and intensity that the Swedes bring is impressive, and it makes you think back to the good old days, where the speed death metal music was new and scary.

Worst album

There is a reason to why Emmure rimes with manure. Dear god, "Eternal Enemies" just stinks badly with its awful mix of death core and edginess. Pure ear cancer.

Biggest disappointment

In Flames is not the biggest disappointment of the year because they still stays away from their death metal roots, but for making something they should not be anywhere close to be doing. "Siren Charms" is just awful, sounding like a boring indie record. Let us hope that this was a one time thing and that they get back on track with some real metal.

Biggest surprise

AC/DC... nah, I am just kidding. I was surprised over the sudden shift of regime in Arch Enemy that came suddenly. But I am even more surprised over that it worked this well. Alissa White-Gluz did a good, strong start with the band and the new album "War Eternal" is the best album the band has done in a long time.

Best genre

The progressive metal scene has had quite a year. Fine releases from Opeth, IQ, Threshold, Vanden Plas and many, many more.

Best album cover




There is so much going on in the Mastodon album "Once More 'round The Sun" that I still find new things almost every time I look at it. A great, psychedelic masterpiece that is worthy of fronting this amazing album.

Worst Album cover 1




What super hero is that on the cover of Van Canto's "Dawn of The Brave"? Metal dude? A Capella Man? Ben Affleck as Batman? I don't know, all I know is that he does not scare any super villains.

Worst album cover 2




The swag on this cover is too much for me. The Prophecy²³ tries to act cool and funny, when in reality they are just stupid. And just like the cover, the music on "Untrue Like A Boss" is bad.

Best instrumental album

Not only is the self titled debut album of Conquering Dystopia a great instrumental record, it is the first of its kind, bringing death metal elements to the scene. There is no doubt that there were experienced professionals who worked on this album.

Best comeback

After 19 long years, Swedish death metal legends At The Gates released new material, and it was some good shit they brought us with "At War With Reality". Who would have thought that they would follow up their legendary album "Slaughter of The Soul" with such an amazing effort.

Mindfuck of the year 1

I still cannot comprehend BABYMETAL. All that brutality mixed with small, sugar sweet, Japanese girls in doll dresses that dances on stage. Japan, not even once.

Mindfuck of the year 2

The video to the Mastodon song "The Motherload" (taken from "Once More 'round The Sun") looks more like a Nicki Minaj video. I still cannot believe that the band is performing in the background while some big assed chicks battle it out in the ultimate twerk-off. It is both horrific and mesmerizing at the same time.



That is it for this year's special awards, next up is the best songs of 2014

Stay metal
Robert "Sharkruisher" Andersson

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Megadeth - So Far, So Good... So What! (1988)

Between the all time classics "Peace Sells... But Who's Buying?" and "Rust In Peace" lies the close to forgotten album "So Far, So Good... So What!". It is not easily over looked because it is bad, but because it is squeezed between two albums that are much, much better. Still, this album helped the band continue their journey from being a underground band to one of the biggest bands in the business.

The reasons to why this album does not quite reach the same heights as its predecessors are many. First off, there were two new band members since last album, Chuck Behler on the drums and guitarist Jeff Young, two guys that were not long lived in Megadeth, leaving the band before the end of 1988. Then the production is far from perfect since there were some struggles within when it comes to the mixing. The third reason is the quality of the music. While not being bad per se, the overall quality of the song writing in the album is not in the same standard as the music in the two previous Megadeth album.

However, the biggest reason to why this album failed to reach the same level of greatness is the obligatory cover. This time, the band covered the classic The Sex  Pistols song "Anarchy In The UK". A great punk song that was literally slaughtered by Megadeth. There is almost no speed what so ever in it, and the overall mood is way closer to being hippie happy than anarchy angry. This is by far the worst cover so far by the band and it drags the album so far into the dirt.

But I have bitched enough for today, The fact of the matter is that "So Far, So Good... So What!" is a pretty good album that is easily overshadowed because of its slower and darker sound. It is a slightly more mature album with more variety, but less of the best parts, which is the riffs and the speed. So it is just natural to initially get disappointed over this record, but the more you listen to it, the more you will enjoy it.

The clear star of the show is "In My Darkest Hour", one of the best songs in the entire Megadeth discography. It is not only a beautiful song about loneliness and death wishes, but also contains a second half that just thrashes the shit out of you. The solo in this song is just amazing and Dave does some of his best vocal performances in this track. A must hear for every metal head. "Mary Jane" uses similar techniques as "In My Darkest Hour", but without the thrashy speed in the end. It is still a good listen, just like the groovy "Hook In Mouth".

So what if this album is not as good as "Peace Sells"? It is still a good album that gives the listener some fine quality thrash music. It may contain a shitty cover and a lackluster production, but the band gives it their all and performs like the professionals they are. I can definitely see why some people could forget... what's the name of this album again? Oh yes, "So Far, So Good... So What!". Anyway, check out this album, it is a good little gem that will surely put a smile on your face.

Songs worthy of recognition: In My Darkest Hour, Mary Jane, Hook In Mouth

Rating: 7/10 Liars

Thursday, December 11, 2014

AC/DC - Rock Or Bust (2014)


Hmmm... *strokes imaginative viking beard*

Yep, it is an AC/DC album

Songs worthy of recognition: Dogs of War, Play Ball, Baptism By Fire

Rating: 5,5/10 Sweet Candies

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Megadeth - Peace Sells... But Who's Buying? (1986)

The year 1986 is one of the finest years in metal, especially when it comes to the sub genre thrash metal. It was in this year both Slayer released "Reign In Blood" and Metallica released "Master of Puppets", two of the greatest metal albums of all time. Besides them, we also have the Dark Angel release "Darkness Descends", Kreator's "Pleasure To Kill" and the Flotsam & Jetsam release "Doomsday For The Deciever". It was also on this year Megadeth got their big true breakthrough with the album "Peace Sells... But Who's Buying?".

The title has an interesting story behind it. Apparently, Mustaine came up with it while searching for food at a place he had crashed on (should be noted that he and the rest of the band was homeless and broke at the time), and he stumbled upon a Readers Digest magazine that discussed over peace, saying that it is good and all, but nobody wanted to buy the concept of it. The album itself has a lot of both social and political awareness in its lyrics, which is also reflective in the album cover where we see the band's mascot Vic Rattlehead as a realtor, trying to sell a UN building that lies in ruins. It is a side of Mustaine that is both good and bad.

When it comes to the music, it is a continuation on what the band did on "Killing Is My Business... And Business Is Good!", times 3. The riffs are faster and tougher, the speed is insane and the cover (this time the Willie Dixon song "I Ain't Superstitious") is once again filled with alternated lyrics that would enrage all fans of the original artist. Dave and co. thrashes like there is no tomorrow, but does it with such precision that would make surgeons jealous.

All of the songs have a red string going through them, all starting off pretty slowly, but is steadily accelerating in speed further into the song. You would think that it would make the album monotonous, but there is no lack of variety thanks to the instrumentation in the songs. That would not have mattered very much anyway, because Dave have written 7 killer songs that are all magnificent in their own way. From the catchy title track and groovy "Devils Island" to the seemingly never ending "Good Mourning/Black Friday", "Peace Sells" is over filled with great thrash tunes, making the album an instant classic.

Unlike Peace, this album both sells and is bought by others. It is really no coincidence why this album lunched the career of Megadeth. "Peace Sells" is an amazing masterpiece that still holds up very good, 28 years after its release. If it was not for that questionable cover and the short play time, I would rate this album as one of the all time best, all categories. 1986 was indeed the finest year for thrash metal, and this album is just another proof for that fact.

Songs worthy of recognition: Good Mourning/Black Friday, Wake Up Dead, Peace Sells, Devils Island, My Last Words

Rating: 9,5/10 Bad Omens

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Engel - Raven Kings (2014)

Since In Flames flopped royally with their latest release, I was hoping that the guitarist Niclas Engelin would do a better job with his other band, the industrial metal band Engel. This band has gone step by step up the ladder of success with their heavy, and accessible style. There have been some slight turbulence in the band since they have gone through two member changes since the last album, so I was not fully convinced that "Raven Kings" would keep the progress going.

So how are the new guys stacking up? The new singer, Mikael Sehlin, does have a tougher voice than what Magnus Klavborn have, but he does not add anything new to  the band. He just does most of the work that Klavborn did, which includes both growling and clean vocals, and the band is fine with it. And the new drummer, Oscar Nilsson, does a fine job with the beats. The main factor with the music is still the guitars were Engelin and Sunesson attacks with both melodic and energetic riffs, bringing a lot of dynamics to the music.

However, most of this dynamic impact is lost throughout the album since the band puts out around the same kind of force in almost every song in "Raven Kings". I do like it that the band has this grand, powerful sound, but they are over doing it in this album, creating a blob of an album where the only real stand out is the spiritual "I Am The Answer".

Another strength with Engel is that the band knows how to write a good chorus. And together with some great musicianship, the band can really create some highly memorable tunes. In "Raven Kings", one should check out "Broken Pieces" that impresses with its pain and heaviness. One should also listen to the epic "End of Days" where Sehlin does a great job with his voice. Other notable tracks are the fast paced "Fading Light" and the well constructed "My Dark Path".

"Raven Kings" is definitely a fine metal album where Engel show off their muscles, but we have already seen them, and they are not getting any better with age. Compared to its predecessors, "Raven Kings" could probably be considered as the weakest Engel album up to date thanks to its monotonous sound, but also thanks to the fact that the rest of the Engel catalog holds a high standard. If you are a fan of the band, I am sure you will enjoy the hell out of the album, but will not be surprised at all over what the record offers.

Songs worthy of recognition: End of Days, My Dark Path, Broken Pieces

Rating: 6,5/10 Sanctuaries

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Megadeth - Killing Is My Business... And Business Is Good! (1985)

What do you do if you get kicked out of a band, just before they get their breakthrough and releases a groundbreaking record? Dave Mustaine probably asked himself the exact same question when he got sacked by the rest of Metallica, and he came up with a genius answer. He started a new band, just to get even with his former band mates, and challenged them to a ultimate match between two of the first and biggest thrash metal bands in existence.

And his first strike with this new band was the 1985 album "Killing Is My Business... And Business Is Good!", which Dave created together with bassist David Ellefson, guitarist Christopher Poland, and drummer Gar Samuelson. The goal for the album was to make it faster and heavier than whatever Metallica was doing. Did Dave succeed with his plan? I would say yes and no. This album is indeed faster than both "Kill 'em All" and "Ride The Lightning", but it is not really as heavy as them. You can however not deny that it is a strong punch that Dave delivers towards his former band mates.

The thing that really drives "Killing Is My Business..." forward is the excellent guitar work. The riffs and solos are bone crushing and the album is overfilled with them. Megadeth just crams them down through your ears one by one, and you do not want them to stop, you just want more of the same, great thing. One thing that is not so great though is Dave's singing voice. I will say that his voice fits the music, but it is far from the finest voice in metal. Apparently, Dave spent six months in searching for a singer before he decided to take the job himself. I can only help but wonder if nobody could meet Dave's high standards or if it was that nobody could handle Dave's personality that forced the decision.

The main problem with this album is production. Sure, it is raw and some people might even enjoy the lack of production value, but I feel like the music would have been even better with a professional production. This album has some sweet thrash gems in it, like the title track, "Rattlehead", "Last Rites/Loved To Deth", "Mechanix" and "The Skull Beneath The Skin", so the album itself is fantastic, but it is dragged down thanks to the production.

We also have the Nancy Sinatra cover "These Boots", which has some altered lyrics, something the original writer of the song, Lee Hazlewood, was not very fond of. He even threatened the band to get rid of the cover since he felt the lyrics was wild and offensive. That is why the song in the re-released version from 2002 have those lyrics bleeped, making the song sound dirtier than what it really is. Otherwise it is an interesting cover with an amazing bass line, and the new lyrics are quite humorous.

For a debut album, "Killing Is My Business.." is far from a bad one. The speed and riffing in the album is pure thrash candy for your ears and a good display on how good of a guitarist both Mustaine and Poland is. But there are still some things the band needs to work on to make their product perfect, like the production. None the less, this statement from Dave Mustaine is a strong one, and a good showing on what a fantastic career he would accomplish with this band. So take a listen to this album, and rattle your god damn head.

Songs worthy of recognition: Rattlehead, Killing Is My Business... And Business Is Good!, The Skull Beneath The Skin

Rating: 8/10 Chosen Ones

Friday, November 28, 2014

Thomas Giles - Modern Noise (2014)

After the release of a fantastic concept EP + album and some immense touring, the singer and keyboard player of Between The Buried And Me is once again ready to present a album in his solo project. "Modern Noise" is the second solo album made by Thomas "Tommy" Giles Rogers, a album I have looked forward to since I am a huge fan of BTBAM. And even if Rogers does not have a perfect vocal range, I still respect him as a musician and as a song writer.

The fans of BTBAM should recognize the music in "Modern Noise" since it has clear similarities with the band. The only thing that makes Thomas's solo work any different from his work in BTBAM is the lack of metal. There is no growling, no complex rhythms and no pure metal sound in "Modern Noise. Instead, it is the more jazz influented side of BTBAM that is present in this album, which really does not surprise me. I think it is nice that Thomas expands this side of the band since it is only a small part of their overall sound.

But just because there are more jazz influences in here, it does not mean that it is a jazz album. "Modern Noise" is more of a heavier, progressive indie rock album that may not speak to some of the BTBAM fans, while others might enjoy it. Besides fom the weirdly named "Lkcvjvhljbvj≥˜∆˚nnnjmkjijm", there is no track that really stands out as a strong piece. Most of the material here are decent and enjoyable, but there is nothing groundbreaking nor overly impressive. It is just solid music.

A few songs do catch my interest a little better than others. "Siphon The Bad Blood" has a solid beat and some great guitar work. It is without a doubt the catchiest song in the album. The best chorus goes to the one in "M3", a groovy, fast paced song where Thomas is on his toes with his voice. And for the the true BTBAM fans I would recommend "I Appear Disappear" and the title track with their interesting structure and space like feel. Two songs with some slight modification would have been a good fit as a bonus track in "The Parallax II: Future Sequence".

As a huge Between The Buried And Me fan, it is a relief that I find Tommy Giles Rogers's new solo album to be enjoyable. Sure, I am not a fan of jazz or fusion and I do miss some heaviness in the music, but Thomas has put in so much effort in this album that it becomes hard to not commend his work and devotion. The music is enjoyable and has enough references from his main band to make the fans pleased. A good solo album that unfortunately is not anywhere close to the quality his band has put out the last couple of years.


Songs worthy of recognition: M3, Siphon The Bad Blood, I Appear Disappear

Rating: 7/10 Blueberry Queens

Monday, November 24, 2014

Best of Black Sabbath

Man, this took way longer than I expected. I know that Sabbath has made a ton of albums (19 to be exact), but I was just slow on this one. Anyway, I am finally done with the Birmingham band and its complete discography, so all that is left is to summarize. Let's get to it.

Best albums

3. Paranoid
The band's most iconic album is a little master piece with some of the band's biggest hits, such as "Iron Man", "War Pigs" and the title track. I wonder how the metal world would have looked like if this album was never released. Probably a little less awesome.

2. Tyr
Almost all of the albums featuring Tony Martin Harford are underrated, but this one is ridiculously so. Great musicianship from the first to last second, and together with some of the most powerful songs in the band's career, "Tyr" is a power package worthy of the asgardians.

1. Heaven And Hell
The entrance of Ronnie James Dio was the best thing that could happen to Sabbath. The Impact and performance he did on "Heaven And Hell" is tremendous, and it gave the band a perfect, fresh start after a couple of turbulent years with massive drug use and the original line-up splitting up. "Heaven And Hell" is a versatile, powerful album that is an instant classic.

Worst Album

Never Say Die!
The irony, and music, is killing me here. This album saw the end of the original line-up, which is so reflective in the music. The band is lost, falling in darkness and just keeps making the wrong decisions in this plane crash. "Johnny Blade" and the title track saves some parts of the album, but the rest is just bad.

Best Songs

5. The Sabbath Stones
A very underrated song that tops of a very underrated album. Great, heavy power from Harford and fine riffing from Iommi makes this song both dark and epic. Nice, groovy finish.

4. Megalomania
This close to 10 minutes song holds well together thanks to interesting instrumentation and an excellent singing performance from Ozzy.

3. Children of The Grave
This is probably the grooviest song that has ever been created. The simple, but effective guitar playing and the interesting bass line blends well together, creating a sound that is irresistible. The solo at the end is one of my favourites by Iommi.

2. N.I.B.
From the bass intro and Ozzy's apocalyptic vocals to the spot on guitar licks, this amazing song from the self titled debut is one of the finest moments in the career of Black Sabbath. An infectious track that brought out the best out of all of the members.

1. Heaven And Hell
Oh god, how I love this song. The slow, intriguing first part that makes the hair rise only builds up for a fast, catchy ending where the band just goes full speed, taking you on a hell of a joy ride. A song that blends all of the Dio influences with the classic Sabbath sound perfectly.

Best album cover

Heaven And Hell


This cover is truly an artwork that should be displayed at some of the biggest art galleries in the world. The cover is just as beautiful as the music in the album is amazing.


Total discography verdict

Quality: 7/10
The uneven performance drags down the rating here, but when the band hits all the right notes, they are phenomenal. Impressive that they got 7 albums with a rating of 8,5 or higher, a little less impressive that they got 3 albums with a rating under 5.

Creativity: 8/10
The band has never been afraid of changing their sound, which I really commend. Some of those changes are for the worse, but most of them work, making Black Sabbath a very versatile band.

Band Chemistry: 4/10
Black Sabbath is not well known for their stable band chemistry, something the amount of member changes witness. A total of 26 musicians have been a part of the band in one point or another, most of them only lasting for a short while.

Musicality: 8/10
Tony Iommi's guitar style is one of the most recognizable in metal and the band have always had some strong singers backing up the music, but Bill Ward and Geezer Butler's replacements in the bass and drum positions have not reached the same heights as the original members.

Lyrics: 8/10
The dark lyrics are what separated the band from the rest in the 70's, and as the year went by, the band has learned to broaden their lyrical abilities. It is always interesting to see what meaning a Sabbath song has, since it can be about almost anything.

Album rating summary:

S/T: 7,5/10
Paranoid: 9/10
Master of Reality: 8/10
Black Sabbath Vol. 4: 6,5/10
Sabbath Bloody Sabbath: 8,5/10
Sabotage: 9/10
Technical Ecstasy: 5,5/10
Never Say Die!: 3/10
Heaven And Hell: 9,5/10
Mob Rules: 8/10
Born Again: 4,5/10
Seventh Star: 3,5/10
The Eternal Idol: 7,5/10
Headless Cross: 8,5/10
Tyr: 9,5/10
Dehumanizer: 8/10
Cross Purposes: 7/10
Forbidden: 4,5/10
13: 8,5/10

Average rating: 7,1578947368421052631578947368421/10

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Black Sabbath - Forbidden (1995)

Released in 1995, "Forbidden" was long considered to be the very last album by Black Sabbath the world would ever see. And frankly, after hearing the album, I understand why people would think that. Not only did the band break up short after the release of this album, the music on here is some of the worst by Sabbath. Hell, even the members have bad mouthed the albums in various interviews, explaining that several factors led to what happened, everything from bad band chemistry to weird decisions from the record company.

And it starts off in the wrong foot with "The Illusion of Power", a slow, dark song that includes a spoken word part by Ice-T. Do not get me wrong, there are tons of rappers out there that are WAY worse than him, but just his presence in this album is both unnecessary and weird. And it does not get better when you discover that his band mate from Body Count, Ernie "Ernie C" Cunnigan, was the producer of "Forbidden". Body Count may be a heavy metal band, but the bridge between Black Sabbath and Body Count is way too big for them to clash, even if it only comes down to production. It is safe to say that Ernie C did not make Sabbath justice
with his work.

I do hear some intentions of good material in the album, which would mean that the band had something good going initially, but it got worse somewhere along the progress. I still think that the material is weaker than most of the material the band has released during the 90's, so even if the production was good, the end result would still be a album that could not match albums like "Headless Cross" or "Tyr". I also think the overall performance is worse than what it usually is.

But as previously stated, there are some golden moments in this records. The ballad "I Won't Cry For You" is one of my all time favourite Black Sabbath ballads, mostly because of the overall mood in the song, but also for the wonderful solo Iommi is playing. The title track has a good, sinister feel to it while "Get A Grip" is more straight on and more hard hitting. "Rusty Angels" is also a fine track with a good tempo and a interesting structure.

I am glad that this album was not the last for Black Sabbath, because "Forbidden" does not make the band justice. Bad production and vague ideas made this album what it is, and there is not many fans of the band that enjoys it. This album had potential to be a fine piece that would fit well together with the other Sabbath releases during the Harford era, but that potential got lost somewhere, possibly under a rug in the studio. So let us all forget that this existed and focus instead on the more successful albums in the career of Black Sabbath.

Songs worthy of recognition: I Wont Cry For You, Get A Grip, Rusty Angels

Rating: 4,5/10 Kisses of death

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

In This Moment - Black Widow (2014)

If I ever would make a top 5 of the hottest chicks in metal, then In This Moment singer Maria Brink would have a safe spot in that list. I mean just look at the cover for the band's fifth album "Black Widow", and gaze over her 3 meter long leg. You have to be gay to not get turned on by that. Unfortunately, there are some things with Maria and her band that just bugs me. The band has evolved from being a good metalcore band that utilizes Maria's voice to the max to being more of an alternative group that relies on shock and pain, both in the music and on the listener.

The red string that goes through this album is that most of the songs are about inner insecurities, struggles and how to overcome them. Even the album title is a metaphor for a woman that gets infected with different traumas and experiences, which eventually molds her to become a poised and powerful creature. And that is indeed the biggest strength with this band, the lyrical themes are heavy and striking, and it also helps that Maria's painful voice is building up the tension in the music. I still think there are tons of female singers that are better than Maria, but she definitely knows how to utilize her voice to set the mood.

As far as the music goes, it is pretty much the same as it was on the predecessor, the 2012 album "Blood". It is some kind of Marilyn Manson vibe all over this album that is blended with a couple of Evanescence ballads, making it a pretty decent blend of both shockful and beautiful music. But the music tends to be a hit or miss for me. Some songs are very infectious, sticking like glue and leaving a good impression on you, while others are pure poison to your ears. It is unpleasant to hear a album that have such an uneven set list.

On the plus side we have the title track that has some real good riff work and despite the weird, old time infomercial about the infamous black widow, it holds a good flow throughout the track. The first single "Sick Like Me" is another favourite since it is the only song in the album that successfully brings the beauty and the beast together in a fantastic symbiosis. Also a shout out to the aggressive "Big Bad Wolf" and the best ballad in the album, "Sexual Hallucination" (which includes a guest appearance from the Shinedown singer Brent Smith).

While on the negative side of things we find "Dirty Pretty" that could be the equivalent to a really bad and saggy burlesque show. Sounds sexy at first, but it goes downhill after the first verse. "Bloody Creature Poster Girl" is a choppy craftsmanship that is just dull, and "Bones" is just bland. One more thing, it is not okay to showboat and pronounce yourself as the "Sex Metal Barbie" of metal Maria. You are hot, but you do not have to brag so much about it.

"Black Widow" is not as deadly as the spider with the same name, but it does have some punch to it. In This Moment is still far to uneven to call them self a world class band, but their music sells, and it is not hard to see why. Most of the music here is infectious and interesting, and with Maria's strong presence, the band has an identity that they can rely on. The haters can hate all they want, this band will still be in the spotlight for some time.

Songs worthy of recognition: Sick Like Me, Big Bad Wolf, Sexual Hallucination

Rating: 6,5/10 Black Widows

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Outtrigger - The Last of Us (2014)

In the beginning of 2014, metal core band Outtrigger took Sweden by storm when they entered the competition Melodifestivalen, which acted as the qualification to the famous Eurovision Song Contest, with their song "Echo". And together with a nice stage performance that included cages, a straight jacket, and a Hannibal Lecter mask, the band was very close to reach the final in the competition, but was eliminated in the segment that is called Andra Chansen (Second Chance). Almost a year has gone since their participation, and now they are ready to reveal their debut album, entitled "The Last of Us".

And you probably guessed it already, "Echo" is indeed in this album, just like a couple of other songs the band has previously released in EPs, demos and singles. There is not much in difference in between the old and new versions of the older songs (except for better production of course). However, the track "Awaken Me" is another story, since the band made an acoustic version for this album. It definitely works as an acoustic song and it is one of my favourites in this album, but the heaviness that the original had was better than most of the heaviness in "The Last of Us".

But I see why the band made "Awaken Me" acoustic. Without it, there would be close to no variety in this album. Almost all of the songs in "The Last of Us" have the same, simple, boring structure, making the album very monotonous. Such a shame since the band seems to know how to handle their instruments, and the singer, and co-founder of the band, Simon Peyron has a nice voice (although, his growling is weak. Fortunately, it is not used too much in the album).

So you really have to dig deep to find any favourites in the album. "Echo" is definitely a winner thanks to its sing along friendly chorus and "Awaken Me" stands out since it is the only acoustic song in the album, but it gets tougher after that. "World of Fire" has some nice intensity, opener "Superman Is Dead" has a good melody to it and there are some feeling to the title track. But once again, thanks to the overall monotonous sound, "The Last of Us" is just a big lump of the same thing, making it hard to swallow. There is some quality to it, but no one wants to listen to the same thing again and again.

Outtrigger certainly has talent, and with some elbow grease, they could become a very interesting band. But "The Last of Us" leaves a lot  for one to wish for since it contains most of the same thing. It is fine in one song, two songs, maybe even four songs. But a full album of it is too much. So my advice for the guys from Helsingborg, Sweden is that they take their time and improve their song writing, especially on the verses and the structures. They know how to create a catchy chorus, so if they gather enough experience, they could have enough tools to create fantastic music. For now though, it does not quite cut it against the big dogs. "The Last of Us" is a fine debut, but it is just not as good as the video game with the same name.

Songs worthy of recognition: Echo, World of Fire, Awaken Me

Rating: 6/10 Dead Supermen

Friday, November 14, 2014

Black Sabbath - Cross Purposes (1994)

The reunion of the "Mob Rules" line up was short and sweet for Black Sabbath, because after the tour that followed the release of "Dehumanizer", Ronnie James Dio and Vinnie Appice left the band, and was replaced by another new old singer (Tony Martin Harford) and a former Rainbow drummer (Bobby Rondinelli). Since Harford was back, I sort of hoped that the band would go back to what they had build up during the time he was the front man.

And sure enough, "Cross Purposes" does have a lot in common with the other records in the Harford era ("The Eternal Idol", "Headless Cross", "Tyr"). It is a dark album that does have its share of 80's rock music, but enough good riffing and brute force to make it feel like a Sabbath record. So yeah, you could say that "Cross Purposes" is just like its ancestors. I could definitely see songs like "I Witness", "Cross of Thorns" and "Immaculate Deception" in any of the other Harford records.

What I find strange over this album is that it seems like the band has several grunge influences in this record. Take the track "Virtual Death" for example, where Harford sounds exactly like the Alice In Chains singer Layne Staley and the main riff is just as slow and gloomy as a grunge riff should be. One of my favourite things with Black Sabbath is that they are not afraid to take the music to new, strange places, but the band have had some miss fires over the years. This is just one of them.

The overall set list is good, but nothing mind blowing. Only a few songs, like the hard rocking "The Hand That Rocks The Cradle" and the groovy "Evil Eye" (whom includes a guitar solo from Eddie Van Halen), sticks nicely to your mind. There is one song however that just sweeps in and crushes the opposition. "Cardinal Sin" is a classic Sabbath song that starts off dark and slow, but evolves the further it goes. The tempo steps up, the intensity rises, and you just cannot do anything else besides just rocking out. Could be the best song Sabbath has done during this era

There is no denying that the quality is mighty fine in this album. Not as good as it was on "Tyr" or "Headless Cross", but still pretty darn nice. "Cross Purposes" does have a couple of songs that derails into some weird territory, making it the worst out of the Black Sabbath albums that includes Tony Martin Harford. It is still an enjoyable album that should not be over looked, a album that stands good in the Sabbath discography.

Songs worthy of recognition: Cardinal Sin, Cross of Thorns, The Hand That Rocks The Cradle

Rating: 7/10 Psychophobias

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Machine Head - Bloodstone & Diamonds (2014)

Without over exaggerating, I think that the Oakland quartet Machine Head has evolved into the strongest thrash band that was formed after the 80's. They have always been a great band with a high low point, but it was not until the 2003 release "Through The Ashes of Empires" that the band really excelled and became one of the leading bands in the new way of American heavy metal. Their two latest albums, "The Blackening" from 2007 and "Unto The Locust" from 2011, are some of my all time favourite records from the 21st century, so I definitely had some expectations for the band's 8th studio release.

The album is called "Bloodstone & Diamonds" and is the first album the band has not released on Roadrunner Records, instead it is the German giants Nuclear Blast that has enlisted the band, adding another big name to their already massive roster. And why shouldn't they? Machine Head is one of the bigger thrash bands out there today, and they really show it once again in their new album. "Bloodstone & Diamonds" is another great effort of thrash metal with a lot of long songs, almost making the music progressive. It is a natural follow up to "Unto The Locust", but this album has a lot more variation to it, a ingredient that I missed on their last effort. The long, groovy thrash songs are mixed up with a couple of slower and darker songs, like the excellent "Sail Into The Black", making the album more versatile.

The album also have some resemblance to "The Blackening". For example, the riff structure in "Killers & Kings" is close to similar to that in "Beautiful Mourning", which just makes it feel like a lazy copy. None the less, "Killers & Kings" is still a fine song if you just bypass the facts. But the heaviest song on "Bloodstone & Diamonds" is "Night of Long Knives" whom do have a slightly weird groove, but a flawless chorus and a sweet solo. Another favourite is the fast paced, almost punk like "Game Over" that takes the award for being the most adrenaline filled track in the album, even if it have a slower, more melodic part, just like any other song in this album.

And it is those melodic parts that ties the album together. Rob Flynn and his men shows a great deal of maturity in their song writing process, and it feels good that the band is continuing on evolving their sound and themselves. Flynn still sings with a lot of density, but he is showing what he can do with a larger range for his vocals, which is great. And a thing like putting in violins in their music would probably not have come into the band's minds 10 years ago, but is here shown in the track "Now We Die" and it helps to improve the intro and chorus.

I do not think that "Bloodstone & Diamonds" is a new future classic made by the band, but it does its job in securing the band's status. This album do miss that perfect blow that just leaves you breathless, but it does contain 11 good, consistent songs (not including the unnecessary track "Imaginal Cells") that together creates a solid and strong album. A good competitor for best thrash album of the year.

Songs worthy of recognition: Night of Long Knives, Now We Die, Sail Into The Black

Rating: 8,5/10 Killers & Kings

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Ne Obliviscaris - Citadel (2014)

In 2012 came an album that almost knocked me out of my chair. A album that had an amazing mix of death metal, jazz and classical music. That album was "Portal of I" and is the debut record of the Australian band Ne Obliviscaris. It is an impressive debut that felt unbelievably original and well constructed. However, I felt that the band still had some way to go, especially since there were a lot of space in "Portal of I" that was badly utilized, and the fact that the
violins took up so much room. It was still one of my favourite debut albums from 2012 and it even made my top 20, so you understand that I had a lot of hopes up for their sophomore album.

And here it is, the follow up to "Portal of I", entitled "Citadel". And just like its predecessor, it is a beautiful album that is not for the impatient kind. Because even if it only contains 6 songs, the total playtime of the album is around 48 minutes, where 3 of the songs are 9+ minutes. I find it a little strange that they have 3 short songs and 3 mastodons, but then again, the shorter songs mostly acts like an intro or outro to one of the longer ones. But if we need to be extra petty, "Citadel" is actually only 3 songs long. The song "Painters of The Tempest" is split into three parts, and "Devour Me, Colossus" consists of 2 parts. However, I will look past that since each individual part has a name of its own.

Just like with almost all of the songs in "Portal of I", the longer songs in "Citadel" are very difficult to listen to. It is hard to remember the whole song, which almost forces you to listen again and again, just so you can separate them from each other. This is not surprising since the style of Ne Obliviscaris is so vast and progressive, and it is ultimately rewarding if you hang on and endure the sessions. I definitely think that the band has evolved their song writing skills, and made a lot better use of the allotted space than what they did on "Portal of I". I am relieved that the long, close to silent middle sections are gone and replaced by actual music. I did not expect that the violins still was such a big part of their music, but even those are better utilized here, helping to enhance the music instead of just stealing the show. Also, the production feels much more polished in "Citadel", but that comes as no surprise since the band got picked up by the excellent record company Season of Mist.

Frankly, I enjoy all of the three longer songs in "Citadel" even if they all have a tendency to go longer than what is necessary. All of them have a good sense of taste when it comes to dividing the heavy and the beautiful together so they take equal amount of space. Out of the three, "Pyrrhic" is without a doubt the heaviest track, and the only track that is a stand alone song. It starts of with a furious tempo and eventually mellows out, only to finish off strong with a dark and beautiful cooperation between the violins and the harsh vocals delivered by Marc "Xenoyr" Campbell. While Marc is doing a great job on "Pyrrhic", the clean vocalist Tim Charles shows his best skills on "Triptych Lux", the longest track on "Citadel" with a play time of 16 and a half minutes. Finally, we have "Blackholes", a song that does not stand out, but is still a very fine tune that fits well with the rest of the tracks in "Citadel"

The only critique I have against "Citadel" and Ne Obliviscaris in general is that it takes time for the music to grow on you. It is very easy to hear that the music is beautiful and well crafted, but since the songs are so long and progressive, it is very difficult to keep it in your brain, especially since all of the longer songs have all of the same things in them. Some heavy stuff, some harsh and clean vocals, a sort of break in the middle, violins and long, instrumental parts. So the band is succeeding in making the same thing over and over again despite the usage of ever evolving song structures. But if you do take the time, and listen through the entire album enough times, you will be rewarded sooner or later.

"Citadel" is a step forward for the band and another proof of the immense talent that this band possesses. The music is very original and highly interesting. The band still has some way to go, especially in making the music more memorable, but it is still early in their career, and they are playing a kind of metal that does need experience to fully master. None the less, "Citadel" is a great listening experience and one of the best progressive metal albums this year. Check it out now!

Songs worthy of recognition: Pyrrhic, Triptych Lux, Blackholes

Rating: 8,5/10 Wyrmholes

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Psychostick - IV: Revenge of The Vengeance (2014)

Sometimes metal can be boring. About 99% of the bands are so extremely serious that it seems like they have lost, or never had any sense of humour at all. That is why I can appreciate a band like Psychostick, who has devoted their entire musical career with writing metal music that also makes you laugh. Some people may find their style stupid and juvenile, which I actually also do to, but they do it with such style that makes it hard to dislike them. I mean, doesn't everybody like to be stupid once in a while, just to let loose? Just me? Oh well.

No matter how strange it may sound, "IV: Revenge of The Vengeance" is the band's fourth studio effort, created in their own studio and funded by their Indiegogo campaign they had a year ago. And if you have not heard of who these guys are, I suggest that you search for their channel on Youtube, then you will get how these guys work. It is just four guys that wears funny hats (except for the drummer), acts real silly, and are obsessed with beer, taco, and Bruce Campbell. But the most important of all, it is four guys that are having tons of fun, and it is so reflective in the music. Everything from the skits to the instrumentation feels alive.

It is also easy to pick a favourite song in a Psychostick album. The tracks that makes you laugh the most is often the one that you enjoy the most. I for one got a good chuckle out of "Loathe Thy Neighbor" where the singer Rawrb (yes, that is his name) complains over grumpy grannies, annoying hicks, and other annoying neighbours. Damn, Psychostick is good at writing songs about hating something or someone. I also love the paranoia in "Quack Kills", the fantastic (and sort of creepy) celebration to the actor Bruce Campbell, the fast paced "Obey The Beard" and the satire over the death core sound in "So. Heavy.".

But behind the funny lyrics lies a sound that is often very groovy, and has a certain amount of heaviness that is nice, but not impressive. I would say that the sound leans a lot towards the typical American hard rock sound that we have heard from tons of other bands like Papa Roach and AFI, but it still feels original enough for the band to not be associated with those bands, even if the similarities are there sometimes. The track "Blue Screen" could easily have been written in the late 90's or early 00's and is pretty unoriginal. However, the fact that it acts like a love song towards a computer just makes me love the song, and it also works as a satire for these kinds of songs.

But Psychostick does not hit it right in all of the songs in "IV: Revenge of The Vengeance". The song "NSFW" is literally a song where the only thing happening is that the band is trying to go for the world record in saying the word fuck as many times as possible in one song. I never thought that word would lose its meaning, but it certainly did after only one listen through that song. I also find the cover of the Kenny Loggins song "Danger Zone" decent, but seeing what they did to the Dope song "Bodies" in their last album, "Space Vampires Vs. Zombie Dinosaurs In 3D", I expected more from the band instead of some alternation at the end. Also, is it really necessary to incorporate a bloopers outtake at the end of the album just because you are a humour band?

Then we have the skits that are evenly spread out throughout the album. They are all moderately funny, but none of them are really amazing. The two skits that features Billy Manspeaker from the band Green Jellÿ, "New To The Neighborhood" and "Trick or Treat", does not have a very long life span, while "H-flat" works fine as an intro to "So. Heavy". The most impressive skit is definitely "Dimensional Time Portal", in which a dimensional time portal is opened up during a Psychostick show and makes the panties of the female population to glow, causing them to lose all interest for sexual activity. And the only thing that can save Earth is metal, which is shown in the following track, "The Power of Metal Compels You". A insane concept that is just typical Psychostick.

Sometimes, stupid metal can be pretty good, and this is one of those occasions. Psychostick succeeds in their mission of tingling my laughing nerve and does it with a sound that is groovy and pretty cool. I definitely prefer "IV: Revenge of The Vengeance" over 90% of the sitcoms that are released now a days because it entertains me, and you notice that the band members have really put their heart and soul in the material. So yeah, it is stupid, it is juvenile, and it is a high risk that your IQ will drop by a couple of points when you listen to this album, but I would rather be a happy fool than a sad genius. So sit down, open up a beer, take a bite out of your taco, and enjoy the stupidity.

Songs worthy of recognition: Blue Screen, Obey The Beard, Lothe Thy Neighbor, Bruce Campbell

Rating: 7,5/10 Dogs that likes socks

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Lordi - Scare Force One (2014)

The goofy monster masters are once again back, and you know what that means. Another album filled with monster and horror references, accompanied by average song writing. I really do appreciate the band's commitment and passion, but behind all the masks and outfits hides a bunch of Finns that is desperately trying to relive their glory days, if they even had any to begin with.

Enter "Scare Force One", album number 7 for the band, and it is another batch of songs that try to be catchy in both riffs and chorus, while showing as few musical improvements as possible. But the most annoying part of the songs in "Scare Force One" is the lyrics. Sure, there is some humour in the lyrics, and when the band does it right it is very entertaining, but there is not a lot in this album that will even make you chuckle. Songs about getting as drunk as Frankenstein and slicing whores, is that really the best you can come up with? The whole album is as funny as a knock knock joke, which means that the band already lost its biggest attraction in this album.

The second thing that often makes me come back to Lordi is the attitude the band some times show, and there is certainly some in this album. The most is in the track "Monster Is My Name" where the band is more or less bragging about being a monster. And when the track opens up with the phrase "who the hell do you think you are you fuck face", you know shit is about to happen. Other wise, there is not much attitude in this album, but instead it is the catchiness that takes over. It is either a unusual riff that catches your attention (like the opening riff to "Nailed By The Hammer of Frankenstein"), a unique sound you rarely hear in a metal album (like the carnival noise in Hell Sent In The Clowns), or it is the chorus of a song that makes it memorable (like the one in the title track). So it is fairly easy to remember most of the stuff in "Scare Force One", but the quality is not good enough for one to care.

The only surprising thing with "Scare Force One" is the track "The United Rocking Dead", a slow song that contains a surprisingly good, Judas Priest like verse, and a pretty epic chorus that really gets a hold of the listener. It is these kind of tracks that keeps my hope up for this band. They can create music if they really try, but instead they go for quantity and more catchy tunes. I am sure though that if the band would have put more time on making the album instead of spitting it out as soon as possible, they could create something memorable. Then again, maybe I expect too much from a bunch of monsters.

The band should focus on improving their sound instead of settling down with what they already know, because it is getting more and more boring to withstand a new Lordi album. "Scare Force One" is far from a plain wreck thanks to some catchy melodies, but it is extremely far from a master piece, especially since the band since to run out of ideas to sing about. So please Lordi, take your time when you are writing new songs for your next album, and make sure that those songs show off your best sides. And if I see another new release next year by you, it will be me who does the haunting. And trust me, you would not want that to happen.

Songs worthy of recognition: The United Rocking Dead, Scare Force One, Hell Sent In The Clowns

Rating: 5,5/10 Cadaver Lovers

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Devin Townsend Project - Z² (2014) Part 2: Dark Matters

Disc 2 of "Z²" is the official follow up to the fantastic 2007 release "Ziltoid The Omniscient". For those of you who do not remember, that album was a concept album about a green, lizard like alien that started to invade Earth when he was served some fetid coffee, but was stopped when it came out that he was a nerd, and a puppet. In the end, it was all a dream from the mind of a sleepy barista (sorry for the spoiler), so it was easy to assume that we would not see Ziltoid any more, at least not in another album. But here we are now, 7 years after the release of the original, seeing Ziltoid being brought back to life with a new album, a TV show, a radio show, a coming comic book and a huge concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London next year. Who would have seen that coming? Well, maybe the omnidimensional creator.

So what is the story in "Dark Matters"? The story begins where Ziltoid is given a mission by the Ziltoidian Collective to investigate planet Earth to see if it could be the future home for the Ziltoidian race. He is also set to gather more data about a stimulant that the humans consume, but does not know of its hidden powers. And that stimulant is, of course, coffee. To do so, he has become a celebrity to the humans through music and being an alien. After all, he is a 4th dimensional guitar hero. Ziltoid has also made a visit to the planet Titan, where he has come across a race known as the Poozers, small creatures that are children to Blataria, the War Princess (played by Stolen Babies singer Dominique Lenore Persi). After hearing that one of her children were stolen by Ziltoid, she decides to gather her Poozer army, and invade Earth herself and take all of the coffee. Not the story I expected, but it is still interesting, and definitely more well thought out than the story line on the first Ziltoid record.

Now, there are two versions of "Dark Matters" that is available. One CD with dialogues, and one without. Frankly, I prefer the so called raw version because the dialogues are taking up too much space, acting like it is the main show instead of the music. One reason to why the original Ziltoid was so successful is that there was minimal dialogue, and the little dialogue that existed was in between the tracks. In other words, it was the music that was the focal point, which is not the case in "Dark Matters". Even if they take up lots of unnecessary space, the dialogues are telling the story pretty well. I especially like the narrator Bill Courage who gives the album a classic "War of The Worlds" touch. Other voice actors in this album are former wrestler and current Fozzy vocalist Chris Jericho as Captain Spectacular, Mark Cimino as a Poozer, and Chris Devitt as the Planet Smasher, also known as Herman.

"Dark Matters" has a lot of influences from previous Devin Townsend efforts, which does not surprise me one bit. What really surprise me though is that there is not many similarities between this album and the original Ziltoid. The original had that special sound that really fits the alien space theme, while this album feels like "Epicloud" in an astronaut suit. And most of the heavy stuff has more resemblance to "Deconstruction" than "Ziltoid The Omniscient" (there is also some SYL moments in this album). So for those of you who expected a new "Solar Winds", "Color Your World", or "Hyperdrive", you might get dissapointed. The only track that makes you think back to the original Ziltoid record is "Deathray", a song that represents the invasion of Earth. Musically speaking, it may no have much in common with the track "Ziltoidia Attaxx!!!", but the lyrics in the songs are about the same thing, except that it is the Poozers that attack in "Deathray". It is groovy as hell and is one of few songs that has a normal song structure, and it certainly has grown since I first heard it. Definitely one of the better songs in this album, despite its weird lyrics.

There are several other highlights in this album that one must check out. The heavy "Ziltoid Goes Home" blends the classic "City" groove from the SYL age with epic choirs. I did not know that Devin still had it in him to write that kind of music, and I love it. "Ziltoidian Empire" impresses with an irresistible groove that is both weird and humorous, especially when you follow the story line. I can see before me the small Poozer flying through space with the "hede-hede-ya-ah hede-yah" in the background. We also get an amazing performance from Persi in the track "War Princess". I definitely see why Devin chose her to play this role since her vocals fits so well with the War Princess's personality. I also love the apocalyptic "March of The Poozers", the later half of "Earth" and the epic "Dimension Z", the only one out of the three tracks in "Z²" that uses the Universal Choir in the right way.

I can honestly say that "Dark Matters" is the follow up album that Ziltoid deserves. The funny story line has a couple of things that fans of the first Ziltoid record will recognize, but enough new stuff to make it feel new and fresh. The music could have been better structured, but something tells me that this album was not as close to the heart of Devin as "Sky Blue" was. It feels kind of forced, like Devin was pressured to come up with this to please his fans. You do not need to do that Devin, we will still love you as much as the Poozers love the War Princess. Just do what feels good to you, and let the music do the talking.

The final question though is if this is the end of Ziltoid The Omniscient? I am sure that this is the last new musical material we will see him in, but evil aliens always has a way to come back in one way or another. We just have to wait and see, and enjoy the little things around us, like coffee, the sun, and of course, this album.

Songs worthy of recognition: Ziltoid Goes Home, Ziltoidian Empire, March of The Poozers, Dimension Z

Summarization

All in all, "Z²" does not quite live up to my inhumanly high expectations, but that does not mean that Devin bit off more than he could chew. Both albums are great creations and I like the fact that they are so different from each other, like two polar opposites. I simply cannot pick a favourite out of the two because they excel in different ways. "Sky Blue" feels more down to Earth and closer to what Devin wants to do, while "Dark Matters" impress with the funny and interesting concept. Together they create a fantastic double album that is just another proof of Devin's vast musical mind. The man never seems to run out of ideas. The project is not at its final destination yet, but the highlight is now behind us, and all we can do is just enjoy the ride and remember the wonderful music. Next stop, the Royal Albert Hall in London and the Ziltoid musical. Prepare your finest coffee.

Rating: 8,5/10 Earths

Part 1

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Devin Townsend Project - Z² (2014) Part 1: Sky Blue

It feels pretty unreal that it has finally happened. After months of waiting and tons of other media that has led up to this moment, Devin Townsend is finally ready to reveal his biggest album project yet. The double album entitled "Z²" has been super hyped ever since it was announced, and I think it is thanks to the fact that the fans really love the green, coffee drinking alien Ziltoid The Omniscient. I can guarantee that the Casualties of Cool crowd funding campaign became so successful because that the left overs was going to be spent in this double album. I do think the funders were interested in how this Casualties of Cool project would turn out, but just the pure thought of a follow up to the critically acclaimed "Ziltoid The Omniscient" just made my, and probably several other's, mouth so moist. However, I do not think many fans expected this album to be a double sandwich, a album that represents a combat between the DTP and Ziltoid.

Since this album is so huge, I want to do the review like this. This first part will focus on the first album, entitled "Sky Blue", which is the DTP part of "Z²", and then I will release a second part tomorrow focusing on the official follow up album to "Ziltoid The Omniscient", entitled "Dark Matters". I will also summarize "Z²" in the second part and give it a proper rating, instead of rating the two albums separately and give "Z²" the middle value of those two ratings. So let's get to it shall we?

Sky Blue


So first out is the DTP part of the double album, and for those who are well aware of what Devin has previously done in this project will recognize the sound instantly. The sound in "Sky Blue" has several similarities with mostly "Epicloud", but also earlier Devin albums like "Terria" and "Synchestra" have their fair share in "Sky Blue". In other words, it is joyful, almost pop like metal Devin is giving us with a lot of choir. We also get to hear Devin's favourite female partner once again, former The Gathering singer Anneke Van Giersbergen, which just feels right since her soft vocals fits so well with this type of music.

Knowing what to come, it feels good that Devin opens up "Z²" with a album that has its feet on Earth. "Sky Blue" has an overall spiritual feeling that has a high memorability factor and contains a virus that gives you the urge to sing along. And it also feels like this is the type of music Devin wants to write, not because it has become a successful sound, but for the reason that he is in the point of his life where he does not want to go bat shit crazy anymore, he just wants to make himself and people around him happy, which is really reflective in the music.

Let us get into one of the highlights in "Sky Blue", the song "Before We Die". It is not the highlight because it is a beautiful song with an amazing epic chorus, it is a highlight since it is one out of three songs in "Z²" that utilizes the Universal Choir project where fans could send in their sound file of them singing a specific part of a song, and then Devin would bake it in to make a humongous and epic choir to spice up "Z²". I really think it is a fantastic idea by Devin, but unfortunately, It is only fully utilized in the "Dark Matters" track "Dimension Z", which is disappointing. Not saying that the choir goes by unnoticed in both "Before We Die" and "Z²", but it does not stand out as much as in "Dimension Z".

The album's strong point is in the middle where four fantastic songs are gathered together like a big joyful lump. "Universal Flame", "Warrior", "Sky Blue" and "Silent Militia" are all great pieces that are among the best tracks in the album, together with "Fallout" and "Before We Die", and they impress with different strength. The title track is a grand piece without sounding big, which really makes the duet between Devin and Anneke sound so much better. "Silent Militia" is probably the angriest song in the album, but it gets you pumped up and is a perfect song to just scream out the words. "Universal Flame" is incredibly catchy, almost at the edge of being repetitive, but the cool persona of Devin stops it from being annoying. Finally, "Warrior" is the song where Anneke gets the most room for her talent, and she uses that room perfectly in this epic track.

Most of the tracks that I have not mentioned are more or less the same thing. Slow songs that are very close to the ambient style that Devin has nudged so many times before, and they are a good edition to the album so the down to Earth feeling really sinks in, but none of the songs are really memorable at all, so it is easy to look past them. I have never been a fan of ambient music and this addition to "Sky Blue" does lower its quality, especially since some of it is totally unnecessary. For example, the last three minutes of "Before We Die" is more or less silence, which is pretty annoying, and the final track in the album, "The Ones Who Love", are just a dumb way to end the album. A total of 5 minutes of material that could have been utilized in a more efficient way.

The first half of "Z²" is a wonderful and spiritual experience, and it will certainly make lots of Devin's fans happy (especially those who recently discovered the Canadian). This "Terria" / "Epicloud" hybrid is interesting and a good gateway to how Devin is as a person now a days. "Sky Blue" is definitely necessary in this double album, because you could lose your sanity if you just got into "Dark Matters" without any spiritual warm up. The easy part is now over, let us all jump into hyperdrive and once again make a visit to Ziltoid The Omniscient.

Songs worthy of recognition: Fallout, Sky Blue, Silent Militia, Before We Die

Part 2

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Black Sabbath - Dehumanizer (1992)

More than a decade after the release of "Mob Rules", the line-up from that album was reunited. Ronnie James Dio, Geezer Butler and Vinnie Appice all returned to the band and created the band's 16th album "Dehumanizer" together with Tony Iommi. So you would expect the band to go back to the sound they had during the previous Dio era, where the more straight forward rock approach dominated the fantastic albums "Heaven And Hell" and "Mob Rules", but even if there is some truth to that, "Dehumanizer" is darker and heavier than its brothers, which is not surprising since the band have had that direction during the whole Tony Martin Harford era.

Most of the lyrics in this album is about technology and how humans worship it, but the album also discusses the afterlife and individualism, so it is some heavy subjects this album is taking up, especially compared to the two previous Sabbath records in which Dio was in. Dio is an excellent lyricist and he does a good job on this album, but it is no doubt that it his voice that steals the show. I definitely think that if Tony Martin Harford still was in the band, he would also do a good job on "Dehumanizer", but Dio is Dio, and no one can really match up with his grand vocals.

The album reach its absolute high point in the middle with the two fantastic songs known as "Letter From Earth" and "Master of Insanity". "Letters From Earth" contains a simple, but effective riff that carries the song on its shoulders, and the tempo is just right for Dio to really visualize the story. "Master of Insanity" is just incredibly catchy, thanks to its groovy riff and simple chorus. These two songs are very simple, and they show that less is sometimes more in good music.

And that is just what most of the album is all about. Simple, straight forward songs that are not overly complicated, which makes "Dehumanizer" easy to listen to. I definitely like that the band takes the straight forward direction for this album, but I would like this album a bit more if it had some more complexity in it, give it something that will keep the listener on his toes. Because even if I like the nudity that songs like "After All (The Dead)" and "I" shows, they really does not last very long. That is why "Sins of The Father" is another song that stands out in "Dehumanizer", because the tempo in the song does change the further the song goes, which makes the listener interested. And it also helps that it has one of the best grooves in the album.

I would say that "Dehumanizer" is the worst album of the ones that Dio has been on, but that would not be fair towards the record. "Dehumanizer" is another excellent record that just shows how Black Sabbath has evolved and matured with their age. The straight forward attitude is admiring and the heavy sound fits like a glove to the band. It does contain some fillers and an overall staleness that is not so good, but thanks to the strength of Dio's vocals and good song writing, "Dehumanizer" is just another one of those underrated albums made by Sabbath that was released in the 90's. A good album made in a time where technology started to take over.

Songs worthy of recognition: Letters From Earth, Master of Insanity, Sins of The Father, I

Rating: 8/10 Time Machines