Thursday, March 31, 2016

Judas Priest - Defenders of The Faith (1984)

When making the follow up to "Screaming For Vengeance", I bet Judas Priest thought "well, the last album worked out fine, why fix something that ain't broken?". Said and done, the band stayed with the heavy and catchy style, and created "Defenders of The Faith", a album that takes everything that made "Screaming For Vengeance" great, plus some own personal touches. Gotta have them personal touches, so nobody calls you a copycat.

It is mostly the attitude that is the difference maker between the albums. While "Screaming For Vengeance" is aggressive, "Defenders of The Faith" takes it to the next level, both when it comes to Rob's vocal performance, the Downing-Tipton shredding, and even Dave Holland sounds more pissed off this time around, in a good way. Just the fact that the album opens up with "Freewheel Burning" is like walking through the door and giving the party host a big slap, a action that is chocking, and could end in two ways, either a slap back at you, or a good laugh. I can definitely imagine that "Freewheel Burning" scared away some people when they first listened to it, while others went buck wild.

There is another thing that separates this album from its predecessor, the fact that it misses a super hit, a la "Breaking The Law" or "You've Got Another Thing Comin'". I guess "Eat Me Alive" is the most famous song in this album, but it was never released as single, nor was it even close to reach the same fame among fans. However, it is not something that bothers me, since fame and number of singles sold does not instantly makes it a good song (exhibit A: "Living After Midnight").

"Eat Me Alive" did however get famous for being a very naughty song, qualifying in as one of the fifteen songs that the Parents Music Resource Center found to be the most offensive, known as the filthy fifteen. Despite its negativity, It was seen as an honor that the song was seen as filthy, mostly thanks to its pornographic lyrics. The best part of this song though (besides the awesome solos and the simple, but super effective chorus), is that it follows "Love Bites". It fits so good that it made me chuckle.

Still, there is nothing in this album that beats "The Sentinel", a song that I first thought, and I am being dead serious, was a Machine Head song. The band made a cover of this song as bonus for their album "Unto The Locust", and it was so good and convincing that I thought it was a original piece, only to find out years later that it was not. The thing that shocks me though, is even if I loved the Machine Head version, the Judas Priest version is even better. It is the dirtier production, the screeching guitar work, and most importantly, the insane vocals from the Metal God that makes "The Sentinel" so epic and hair rising that it is ridiculous. Oh, and the chorus is so god damn catchy, I cannot help myself, I must sing it every time I hear it. Sworn to avenge, condemned to hell, tempt not the blade, all fear the Sentinel.

The first half of this album is extremely good, but unfortunately, the second half cannot quite catch up. From "Some Heads Are Gonna Roll" and onwards, the quality slips, and the speed and aggression that the first part had built up is almost completely gone. I guess that "Heavy Duty" and the title track is quite good as chanting tracks, but they are both short (and quite frankly, should have been one song instead of two) and they end the album in an interesting, but disappointing way. Such a shame that the band did not keep their momentum, because they were like a runaway train, only to be slowed down by a sudden cow on the tracks.

Even with the slightly disappointing ending, "Defenders of The Faith" still stands tall as a great follow up to its legendary predecessor. The band is clearly on a roll, spitting out awesome melodies, riffs, and solos so we almost drown in them. The album is as fierce and tough as its kick ass cover, and I truly believe that this is how Judas Priest should act. Because even if the band can do a lot of styles and be very versatile, it is often that they are at their best when they go full on Hulk mode. Nonetheless, "Defenders of The Faith" is a great album, but it lacks the knockout punch to floor me completely.

Songs worthy of recognition: The Sentinel, Freewheel Burning, Eat Me Alive

Monday, March 28, 2016

Only For The Week: Part 8

I hope all you metal head have had a good Easter, I certainly have. Great company, lots to drink, and a lot of music that has been both reviewed and listened to. I really feel like my productivity level is right where I want it to be, so let us hope that it keeps up. Anyway, here are this week's three songs, enjoy!

All of the songs on this segment is gathered in a Spotify playlist, you can find it here

The Classic: Pantera - Cowboys From Hell

With all the controversy that Phil Anselmo has created recently put aside, he and the rest of Pantera really knew how to kick ass with their unique metal style. "Cowboys From Hell" is one of their trademark songs for a very good reason, the riffing. The main riff is one of the coolest, craziest, and most amazing riffs that I have ever heard, being both futuristic and bad ass at the same time. Also, Dimebag completes his deliverance with a killer solo. This song would not be this good without its outrageous lyrics and the stunning force that the full band delivers. A true showing that Pantera was ahead of its time.

The Newcomer: Amon Amarth feat. Doro Pesch - A Dream That Cannot Be

I really do not know why, but whenever Doro Pesch makes a guest appearance, magic happens. It happened to Angra, and now it happened to Amon Amarth. "A Dream That Cannot Be" is one of the main songs for the story that centers "Jomsviking", where Doro plays the female character that is the protagonist's lost love. Not only do Doro do a strong impression as this character, but she gets a ton of help with a song that has great riffing, a killer chorus, and a delivery that crumbles mountains. It is a little early to say if it is one of the best songs Amon Amarth has done throughout their career, but it is the definite highlight of a great concept album.

Unfortunately, no video for this song :(

Check out my review of the album this song is from, "Jomsviking"

The Personal Favourite: Gojira - The Gift of Guilt

When I first discovered Gojira through the album "L'Enfant Sauvage", I really did not know what to expect. What I got was a groovy ass band that used their heaviness in a cool and unique way. But it was "The Gift of Guilt" that really made me love this band. The main riff is one of the catchiest riffs I have ever heard, and it just wont leave my skull, and whenever I least suspect it, it can pop up and make me hum it. The band delivers tons of emotions in this heavy and groovy song that could as well gone for over ten minutes with that riff alone. True magic!

Stay metal!
Robert "Sharkruisher" Andersson

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Amon Amarth - Jomsviking (2016)

It seems like more and more bands are doing concept records these days. Dream Theater, Blaze Bayley, Between The Buried And Me, Gloryhammer, and Vanden Plas are just some of the bands that has done a concept album in either this year or last year. And now, we can add another band to this prestigious list, the Swedish death metal giants Amon Amarth, whom for their tenth full length album is experimenting with a full story. I am not surprised at all that the guys wanted to give it a shot, they do have some nice lyrical writing skills, and they do have a lot of knowledge of the Norse mythology, so creating a story within that realm seems reasonable.

"Jomsviking" is a album about... well... a Jomsviking. What's a Jomsviking you ask? It is probably best described as a viking mercenary, fighting in battle for whom ever offers the biggest paycheck. In this album, we get to follow this Jomsviking's full journey, from when he gets banished from his community, becoming a Jomsviking, and follow his quest to return and win back his lost love. Yes, we got a love story in here too folks, a love story in a death metal record, now that is something I did not expect to see in my life.

Just like with the last album, "Deceiver of The Gods", Andy Sneap is the man behind the production, and it is just as you would expect. It is sleek, tough, and loud, which I do think works well with the band's sound. And the band performs as one would expect as well, Hegg delivers his patented viking growls, Mikkonen and Söderberg brings out several sweet guitar riffs and solos, and then we have Tobias Gustafsson, who takes care of the drum duties in this album after Fredrik Andersson's departure, and he does a nice job in maintaining the band's sound.

But what I think really makes or breaks an Amon Amarth album is if it has any killer songs, and fortunately, "Jomsviking" does have a share of them. "The Way of Vikings" has some strong lyrics of two jomsvikings (that happens to be best friends) fights against each other, the opener "First Kill" is classic Amon Amarth that sets the tone to the album perfectly, "Raise Your Horns" could be a potential live favourite with its groovy, sort of Mastodon-esque riffing and its catchy chorus. We also have "At Dawn's First Light", that might lean more towards the NWoBHM direction, but it has a mood and tension that makes it stand out, and "Back On Northern Shores" ends the album with some beautiful riffing and a lot of heavy emotions, giving "Jomsviking" a worthy finish.

The best one though, by a landslide, is "A Dream That Cannot Be", and that is not only because it has a guest appearance from the metal queen Doro Pesch, but also because it adds a new dimension to this album. Doro's vocals felt quite weird at first, but it grew on me, and she portraits the female character in a strong way. The chorus here is also the most epic one in the album, and the riffing is mostly simple, but determined, which is really effective. As from the story perspective, it is one of the main moments as well, giving a little twist to it, but I will let you find that out for yourself, so I do not spoil all too much.

My only real complaint with "Jomsviking" is that it is a little bit too clean. Sure, the band has been more melodic for almost every album since their almost black metal debut in "Once Sent From The Golden Hall", but "Jomsviking" has very little death metal in it. In fact, if Johan Hegg would have been replaced by a clean vocalist, I would almost consider this as a melodic/power/NWoBHM metal hybrid of an album. It is still Amon Amarth to the core, but there is no denying that this is their softest work up to date.

For a first swing at a concept album, Amon Amarth did succeed quite well with "Jomsviking", creating a interesting story that fits well with the band's image. Even if this is a fairly soft album, I do think it holds up really well to the rest of the band's magnificent discography. It has the melodies, the riffs, the choruses, yes, everything that defines Amon Amarth. I do get it if some fans would dislike the album, but personally, I do think it is another strong effort from Sweden's finest, and it probably will land on my "best of" list at the end of the year. Another viking raid completed with great success, this time, in the way of the Jomsviking.

Songs worthy of recognition: A Dream That Cannot Be, First Kill, The Way of Vikings, Back At Northern Shores

Rating: 8,5/10 Jomsvikings

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Judas Priest - Screaming For Vengeance (1982)

I can understand why Judas Priest is screaming for vengeance. After all, their previous album, "Point of Entry", was far from an incredible experience, probably more forced out than it should have been. So for this album, Judas Priest went back to their heavier sound, while still holding a bit of the commercialized sound that was so prominent in "British Steel", and thus, a new classic was born.

"Screaming For Vengeance" marked the band's true breakthrough in the states. Although they were already known there and have done some tours, this album was the first that actually sold good (and it is still to this date the band's best selling album). Just like in the two previous albums, the band got some air time with the songs "(Take These) Chains" and "You've Got Another Thing Comin'". The latter one was actually added to the album in the last minute, so you could almost say that the Priest did a "Paranoid" there. The songs themselves are really good, even if they are pretty soft. They both have nice instrumentation and good choruses, especially "You've Got Another Thing Comin'" impresses with its straight forward approach.

Even if those two songs got most of the attention on the radio, it is the heavier songs that defines "Screaming For Vengeance". The title track has some of the fiercest guitar work the band has ever produced, and Rob Halford match it with screams that makes it seem like he searches for a lot of vengeance. If the guitars did its work in that track, Dave Holland shows in "Riding On The Wind" that he also can show off, starting the track with a ferocious drum solo that blows you away (pun intended). And of course, we have the 1 2 punch that kicks off the album, "The Hellion/Electric Eye" has one of the coolest main riffs ever written, a emotional opening, menacing singing and lyrics, and of course, a killer solo. It has become one of the band's most iconic songs, and I see no reason to why it should not be.

As good as the album is, it does contain some head scratchers, just like "British Steel" does. Songs that are not necessarily bad, just out of place. "Pain And Pleasure" is like the hand brake of the album, killing almost all of the momentum the band had build up to that point, and "Fever" sounds like some soft 80's rock tune, and I know that you are gonna say "but dude, this album was made in the 80's!!!", the difference here is that it just doesn't sound like something Judas Priest would do, it sounds more Van Halen to me. I still think the quality of these songs are pretty decent, so they do not take away too much from the album.

Judas Priest screamed for vengeance, and they truly got it. "Screaming For Vengeance" is a killer of an album that unleashes the beast within the Priest. All of the members does some of their best performances yet, which could be the byproduct of the line-up consistency the band has had out of late. This is without a shadow of a doubt a milestone record not only for the band, but for metal in general. I might not have understood why "British Steel" was considered a classic, but I certainly understand that this album is. No matter what, "Screaming For Vengeance" screams its lungs out, loud enough for the whole world to hear, and the world screams back with cheers and applauds for a hell of a metal release.

Songs worthy of recognition: The Hellion/Electric Eye, Riding On The Wind, Bloodstone, Screaming For Vengeance, You've Got Another Thing Comin'

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Blaze Bayley - Infinite Entanglement (2016)

The former Iron Maiden singer Blaze Bayley is going sci-fi with his new installment "Infinite Entanglement", which is actually not the first time he has done just that in his solo career. In fact, Blaze himself has stated that this album indirectly follows on his earlier works, such as "Silicon Messiah" and "Tenth Dimension". Still, "Infinite Entanglement" is a concept album on its own, about a man in the future who is a part of a grand experiment, in which he questions his own humanity. Is he human, or is he not? Well, if the protagonist is the same dude that fronts the cover art, then I would say he looks like Blaze, only sleeker.

But I digress (as usual), so lets focus on the artist himself. I have always liked Blaze, he seems cool and he has a unique and recognizable voice, but the song writing is not exactly his sharpest weapon. He can absolutely create some decent tunes, but it rarely holds up throughout a whole album. His last solo album, "The King of Metal", is a good example of that, it has a couple of good songs in the title track and "Dimebag", but the album in its whole is quite mediocre.

So I am glad that this album holds up pretty well. I would not say that "Infinite Entanglement" blows me away, but it is one of the more consistent Blaze records I have heard, with each song staying within the frames of the concept. It did surprise me though that this album has a lot of resemblance with Blaze's Iron Maiden material, especially "Virtual XI". The melodies, the guitar work, the choruses, yes, almost everything makes this album the follow up to "Virtual XI" that never saw the light of day. I really do not know if it is a good or a bad thing that Blaze still clings on to his glory days, but it sounds good, so I really do not mind too much.

Although I find the story and the lyrics to be fairly bland, it is nicely fitted into the album, without taking over in any way. It is the music that stands in the spot light, as it should be, and it does happen that it shines here and there. "Human" has some nice heaviness, "A Thousand Years" is a great sing along track, "Calling You Home" has a sweet solo, and "What Will Come" is a nice ballad. And then we have "Dark Energy 256", or as I like to call it, "Futureal 2.0". Do not think anything more needs to be said about that track.

While "Infinite Entanglement" does contain some neat tracks, the overall impression that I get from the album is... it could have been better. I definitely like this album, it is a neat experience through time and space, but it could have been a lot more dynamic and exciting. Some more power, a little more contrast, and a better concept would have made this record one of the best solo records in Blaze's career. Now it just sits there, flying through hyperspace, thinking of what it could have been. A nice effort Blaze, but I know you can do better.

Songs worthy of recognition: A Thousand Years, Human, Calling You Home

Rating: 6,5/10 Solar Winds

More reviews of Blaze Bayley
Endure And Survive

The Redemption of William Black

Monday, March 21, 2016

Only For The Week: Part 7

Easter is upon us, a time where we celebrate the death of Jesus by painting eggs and tell children stories about witches and bunnies. A very strange holiday, but then again, maybe this is how Jesus would have been remembered, don't you think? No? Screw it then, I got nothing more, here are this week's three songs, enjoy.

All of the songs on this segment is gathered in a Spotify playlist, you can find it here

The Classic: AC/DC - Let There Be Rock

I am not a huge fan of AC/DC, mostly because they play the same stuff over and over again. However, it is pretty hard to deny the fact that they have had a huge impact on both rock and metal. There are a lot of songs to chose from, but "Let There Be Rock" is, according to me, the ultimate rock anthem. Not only does it tell the listener how Rock 'n' Roll was invented, but it also shows that the band can do other songs. That is right, this is a different tune, and I love it for just that reason. With that said, it still has the typical AC/DC trademarks, frenetic guitar play from Angus Young, the raspy vocals from Bon Scott (or Brian Johnson in this video), and that overall rocking feeling that is patented to AC/DC. The best part is though, if you experience this song live, you get 15+ minutes of it. The best kind of guitar wankery.

The Newcomer: Killswitch Engage - The Great Deceit

"Incarnate" was overall an uneven experience, with way too many songs and no solid direction to follow, but there are always some diamonds in the rough to be found when it comes to such merited bands like Killswitch Engage. "The Great Deceit" could almost be viewed as a modern thrash song, resembling the work of Shadows Fall, with its frantic riffing and aggressive approach. We do of course have a catchy chorus to add to it, but it does not take away the heaviness at all, which did actually surprise me. This is possibly the heaviest track the band has ever produced, and I would love to hear more of this in the future.

The Personal Favourite: Between The Buried And Me - Obfuscation

There is no secret that one of my favourite bands out there are Between The Buried And Me. After all, I did give their two latest album a 9 and a 10, so there was just a matter of time before I selected them to this playlist. However, I have chosen a song from one of the band's least good albums, "The Great Misdirect". The album itself is decent, with two killer songs, but it just does not have the amazing quality that I expect from the band. Anyway, my feelings for the album does not take away anything from "Obfuscation", which is a 9 minute joyride of insane drum beats and tempo shifts. In other words, it is typical BTBAM stuff, but even better. Just listen to the floating melody around 2:30, or the gloomy and psychedelic part in the middle of the song, these are the parts that makes "Obfuscation" so grand and diverse.

Stay metal!
Robert "Sharkruisher" Andersson

Friday, March 18, 2016

Judas Priest - Point of Entry (1981)

Thanks to the success that the predecessor "British Steel" brought (mostly thanks to "Breaking The Law" and "Living After Midnight" getting air time on radio), the seventh Judas Priest album, "Point of Entry", followed in its bigger brother's foot steps, being a very accessible record with catchy melodies and simple structures. Hell even the cover art is simple and sleek, which unfortunately cannot be said about the North American version of the cover, that was made out of office supplies. At least it is the first cover to feature the 3D version of the Judas Priest logo, that is something... I guess.

Despite being as accessible as "British Steel", "Point of Entry" is rarely mentioned as one of the more famous Priest albums, and while some of the songs did get some air time, they ultimately did not last very long either. So what was it that made this album less attractive? I think it is the guitars that is the difference maker, while not being bad per se, they are rarely showing any aggression at all. It is almost like we are back to square one (or in this case, album one, "Rocka Rolla"), back to the roots of Priest, a time when they were more of a pure rock 'n' roll band who was not fully developed yet.

It also could be that the band fell into a very common trap in the metal world, the so called hit trap. The previous album gave them mainstream recognition, and now they are here, trying to follow up that success, but just like many other bands, both before and after, Judas Priest tries a little too hard to recreate the success, leaving the heavy and dark stuff in the dust. It is a lesson almost every band learns sooner or later, write music from your heart and passion instead of your lust for fame, and everything will turn out well.

There is not much that stands out in this album, everything just blends smoothly together into a soup of mediocrity. However, I do like the up tempo pumping in "Hot Rockin'". It is definitely the catchiest and heaviest song in the album, and it is also a song where Tipton and Downing gets to shine. In fact, it is the guitar melodies that more or less saves the album from being a pure sleeping pill. Both "Turning Circles" and "Desert Plains" has some nice beats with some interesting guitar melodies baked in. It is far from the most impressive work I have heard from the duo, but they keep showing that their chemistry is extremely strong.

That is why it is a shame that the production is not one of the strongest in the band's discography. Halford sounds so distant that you can barely hear him from time to time, and the whole album seems to have some sort of filter that just feels awkward. Okay, it is not the worst production the band had to deal with either, but when the quality in the music is lacking, the production needs to step up its game.

Squeezed in between two legendary albums, I did not expect "Point of Entry" to be all that thrilling, and I was right, it isn't. This is a mediocre album that seems to be chasing the sun as it is going down over the horizon, but never makes it. The old school vibe is there, which makes this album more retro than it should be, mostly because it shoved out the heavy side of the Priest through the window. It is not 1974 anymore guys, just let it go, look forward, and get back on track instead.

Songs worthy of recognition: Hot Rockin', Turning Circles, Desert Plains

Rating: 5,5/10 Troubleshooters

More reviews of Judas Priest
Rocka Rolla
Sad Wings of Destiny
Sin After Sin
Stained Class
Killing Machine
British Steel
Screaming For Vengeance
Defenders of The Faith
Ram It Down
Angel of Retribution
Redeemer of Souls

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Sunburst - Fragments of Creation (2016)

Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to one of the most interesting newcomers I have heard in some time, the Greek power/progressive metal band Sunburst. Formed in 2010, this young band consists of vocalist Vasilis Georgiou, drummer Kostas Milonas, bassist Nick Grey, and guitarist Gus Drax (how many guitarists named Gus does Greece have?). A quartet of young guns, ready to take over the world with hooky melodies and crushing riffs.

To me, Sunburst's sound can be best described as a mix of Kamelot's stunning melodies, Almah's modern approach, and the great complex musicality of Symphony X. While the sound may seem like a mathematical formula to reach perfection, the band performs in such a way that it just feels natural that they are playing this type of music. It all fits together very neatly into place, making "Fragments of Creation" feel as smooth as silk.

"Out of The World" starts off the album, and it is certainly a track that lives up to its name. It is a very aggressive song, until you reach the chorus, that blooms out beautifully. Instantly showing off their whole repertoire, this album is the perfect statement from the band, saying that they are here and ready to take over the world. The album continues on in strong fashion, with the fragile and beautiful "Dementia", the insane riffing in "Symbol of Life", the tough "Reincarnation", and the soothing "Lullaby".

The first half is extremely strong and diverse, but the second half does not disappoint either. Here we have the instrumental "Beyond The Darkest Sun", where Gus Drax shows off a lot of his skill set, as if he didn't do that earlier in the album (which he did). It is an impressive instrumental that also follows the red line that goes through the album without any problem. We also get a grand finale with the twelve minute opus "Remedy of My Heart", a epic tune indeed, but the inexperience shows here since it does not feel fully coherent. Still, a valiant first effort.

It may be that Firewind brought metal to the folks in Greece to their attention, but Sunburst has taken it to the next level.This is hands down one of the most impressive debut albums I have heard in quite a while. Sunburst comes in like sunbeams through the clouds, and shines upon all of us with their blissful glow. "Fragments of Creation" is pure enjoyment, straight through all of its 55 minutes of play time, showing off so many neat little tricks just about everywhere. There is still some parts that needs to be polished, which is pretty insane, just how good can this band become in the next ten years? We have to wait and see, but for now, let us just enjoy "Fragments of Creation" and its magnificence.

Songs worthy of recognition: Out of The World, Symbol of Life, Lullaby, Beyond The Darkest Sun

Rating: 9,5/10 Dementias

Monday, March 14, 2016

Only For The Week: Part 6

Happy Pi-day everyone, let us all celebrate it with adding another 3 songs to the "Only For The Week" playlist (I would have added 3.14 songs, but that did not really work out). Even if this day screamed for it, I do not have any math core to offer you guys, but I do have three fairly complex songs, either long, progressive, or just technical. However, they all have one thing in common, and that is that they are fantastic pieces of artwork. Enjoy!

All of the songs on this segment is gathered in a Spotify playlist, you can find it here

The Classic: Metallica - Master of Puppets

It is easy to forget that Metallica once upon a time was one of the mightiest metal bands out there, and a huge reason to why metal has become as big as it is today. Their first four albums ("Kill 'em All", "Ride The Lightning", "Master of Puppets" and "...And Justice For All") are some of the best albums ever written. The song "Master of Puppets" is a 8 and a half minute roller coaster ride, that takes you to all of the corners of the band. It is mostly known for its crushing main riff and Hetfield's evil vocals, but slow down in the middle of the song deserves a mentioning, making this track so versatile. And since this is Pi-day, it reminds me of this funny re imagining of the cover artwork.

The Newcomer: Sunburst - Out of The World

This really is a newcomer, not just the song, but the band in general. Sunburst comes from Greece and delivers a straight out knock out punch with their debut album "Fragments of Creation". This is the first track of the record, and it certainly lives up to its name, delivering awesome riffs, soaring melodies, and a synergy between both instruments and influences that is very hard to find elsewhere. Will be very interesting to see what these guys can deliver in the future.

Check out my review of the album this song is from, "Fragments of Creation"

The Personal Favourite: Eumeria - Rebel Mind

There are few bands that takes the spirit of Dream Theater and transforms it into something stunning and exciting, but the multi-national band Eumeria succeeded. The band shocked me when they shared their video of the title track from the upcoming album "Rebel Mind" through YouTube in 2011, because this was something that really was extra ordinary. Amazing vocals, great riffing, and a structure that made you sit on the edge of your seat makes "Rebel Mind" a crazy experience that everyone should try. I have not heard too much from the band since, but last week they released a new demo called "Open Ground", so hopefully they are striking us soon with a fresh new album. Can't wait!

Stay Metal!
Robert "Sharkruisher" Andersson

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Judas Priest - British Steel (1980)

The comercially attractive Judas Priest reached its peak with this album, "British Steel". It is a album that contains two of the band's most well known songs, "Living After Midnight" and "Breaking The Law", and is still to this day considered as one of the finest metal albums ever made, a opinion I am having a hard time to agree on.

I can understand that the album fit well during that time, but ultimately, this is not one of the most well aged albums in the band's discography. Most of the songs sounds so... weak, like "I have not eaten in days" weak. It is almost like the band focused more on creating a kick ass chorus than on the music itself, because most of the choruses here are extremely catchy and good, but the musical aspects is lacking.

By now, you are probably thinking that I hate the album, and that the rating will be low. That my friends, is not how my feelings for this album are. I do think it is a good album, and that it has its fair share of great music. The opener "Rapid Fire" is a fantastic pieces that may be without a pure chorus, but makes up for it with kick ass riffs, solos, and a Halford that gives it all. "Breaking The Law" is another favourite for obvious reasons that you probably already know (for those of you who have lived under a rock for the last 30 years, riff, chorus, and sound effects), "Metal Gods" is impressive for its grandness, and "Steeler" has a really nice outro where Tipton and Downing really dominates.

But it is the inconsistencies in "British Steel" that makes me cringe. First off, the all time classic "Living After Midnight" is a decent song with some nice lyrics, but it is sooooooooooo boring. It literally has one of the most generic and bland riffs in the history of metal, and it does not help that the speed can barely catch up to a moped. Then we have the duo "United" and "Red, White & Blue" (a re-release bonus track), two songs that stands out for all the wrong reasons. Seriously, why are these songs in this album? These patriotic songs are so misplaced, they fit better as a opening performance before a big sport game.

In its whole though, "British Steel" is still a good album. It got a good production to it, and it is also the first album with songs that are written by current members of the band (also the first album without a cover). The band itself does a good performance, and does not hinder the album in any way.

I personally do not see why this album has become such a classic. Sure, it has a awesome album cover, and the music is overall fairly pleasing, but it just does not have that sting. I do not say this because the band was way more accesible during this time, I say this because the music is not the best the band has ever produced. All in all though, I do enjoy "British Steel", but unfortunately, it is a album were I am forced to press the skip button a couple of times, just so I do not get mad.

Songs worthy of recognition: Breaking The Law, Rapid Fire, Steeler

Rating: 6/10 Grinders

More reviews of Judas Priest
Rocka Rolla
Sad Wings of Destiny
Sin After Sin
Stained Class
Killing Machine
Point of Entry
Screaming For Vengeance
Defenders of The Faith
Ram It Down
Angel of Retribution
Redeemer of Souls

Monday, March 7, 2016

Only For The Week: Part 5

We have now entered the month of March, but here in Sweden, the weather gods are still unsure if they want the winter to stay or not. One day the whole landscape is filled with snow, the next day it is all gone. This indecisiveness drives me insane! Fortunately, I have the good music to calm me down, so let us add another three songs to the "Only For The Week" playlist. Here they are, so enjoy.

All of the songs on this segment is gathered in a Spotify playlist, you can find it here

The Classic: Dream Theater - Pull Me Under

Being known as the band's only big hit, "Pull Me Under" catapulted Dream Theater into stardom. Together with the rest of the album "Images And Words", this song was the start of the modern progressive metal that we all know and love today. It is a grand journey that keeps building up the tension in multiple ways (epic musicality, changes of pace, a impressive solo, etc.). The abrupt ending is kind of weird, but it does not take away the epicness that "Pull Me Under" possesses.

Check out my review of the album this song is from, "Images And Words"

The Newcomer: Omnium Gatherum - Frontiers

Omnium Gatherum has in later years grown into one of the most consistent and strongest melodic death metal bands out there. "Grey Heavens" is another stellar album, and "Frontiers" highlights it with all of the things that makes the band so great. Impeccable guitar work, beautiful melodies, and that hint of death to give it all some contrast. The band keeps on delivering great music, and "Frontiers" is just another proof of it.

The Personal Favourite: All Hail The Yeti - After The Great Fire

Later this spring, All Hail The Yeti will release their sophomore album "Screams From A Black Wilderness", and it is definitely a release I am excited for. Why you ask? Because their self titled debut was something really special, containing a irresistible groove that takes you to the mysterious wilderness. It is tough to just chose one song from this album, but I have chosen "After The Great Fire" because the band creates a fantastic mood that is pure magic. So be on the look out for their new album, "Screams From A Black Wilderness" on the 8th of April, and check out their self titled debut as well.

Stay Metal!
Robert "Sharkruisher" Andersson

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Anvil - Anvil Is Anvil (2016)

This album title has to be either the dumbest or the most genius one ever. We get it, this is Anvil making another Anvil album, but to be sure that everyone knows, they complete the Anvilception with the title "Anvil Is Anvil", and the use of not one, but TWO anvils on the cover. You can't blame the band for missing the sense of self criticizing humour, that is for sure.

Anyway, when it comes to the music the guys play, they seem to always balance on a thin line between groovy and plain ridiculous. It always seem like the band does not take their music seriously, which is fine if you are meant to be a comedic metal band, but is Anvil that, or are they acting serious? It is a question I have never been able to answer, and it is for that reason it is confusing to listen to Anvil.

In my opinion, they are at their best when they focus more on the riffs and the overall groove. When they hit that, it often goes pretty well. The opening two tracks are a good example of this. In "Daggers And Rum", Anvil is making their best Alestorm impression, and cooks up a nice sea shanty that may not blow me away, but it is a nice start to the album. After that, the following track "Up, Down, Sideways" rolls me over with a classic Anvil beat, and some cool instrumentation (like the little solos right before the chorus). Good speed can also be found in "Die For A Lie" and "It's Your Move".

It is when the band tries to complicate things, more precisely slowing things down, when it goes downhill. "Gun Control" is a boring protest (?) song that makes me wanna control a gun towards my head, "Forgive Don't Forget" sounds forced, and with a title like "Zombie Apocalypse", you would expect some action, but instead, you get something that zombies would not only catch up to, but also literally run past. If a zombie outburst is as exciting as this song, then I am sure that there would be more fatalities by sleep than zombie bites. Just bring back "Shut The Fuck Up" please.

I do not blame the guys for at least trying to evolve their sound, but if it has not happened in over 30 years, it is never going to happen. Anvil is making more or less the same songs as they always have done, with simple structures, groovy riffs, and ultra simple choruses where the song title often is the only word spoken. So when the band cannot entertain with their riffs or their quirkiness, what is left? Now that I mentioned it, while going through their discography, I noticed that every album made by the band consists of three words. "Metal On Metal", "Hope In Hell", "This Is Thirteen", yes, all of them do have three words. A weird inside joke, or pure coincidence? I'll let you be the judge of that.

Yeah, this sure is Anvil to the core. "Anvil Is Anvil" is not by any means a disappointment, but it is not a thrilling surprise either. It is Anvil, what more could one expect? Fans of this band will be pleased, and the others should be wise in not giving this effort a try, because you have already heard it. In a weird, kind of odd way, Anvil will always be there, playing the same old songs until they are dead, and to be honest, it would be stupid if it was any other way. Because in the end, Anvil will always be Anvil.

Songs worthy of recognition: "Up, Down, Sideways", Daggers And Rum, It's Your Move

Rating: 5,5/10 Runaway Trains

More reviews of Anvil
Pounding The Pavement