Archive for May, 2009

Blind Guardian – Plays Beach Boys 1996 – 50%

Posted in Heavy Metal Reviews on May 21, 2009 by misainzig

What could have been the logic behind this? I understand that the Beach Boys were an influence on Hansi and the gang, but was this really necessary? Sure they may be great for novelty purposes. But what else is there? What was the point of these songs? Were BG just having some fun in the studio? I really can’t see a point in it. It is slightly interesting, as you don’t often hear metal versions of Beach Boys songs.

Both of the songs here stay faithful to the original songs to a certain extent. Surfin’ USA is cool because at the middle, they bring in the double bass and kick it up a notch. Then after that, they fully bring in the speed and shred their way through the fucking thing. This ain’t your grandma’s surf music! Then there’s the dreaded Ba-Ba-Baaaaa, Ba-Ba-Bara Ann. Once again, Blind Guardian is making it seem perfectly cool for completely straight middle age men to jump around and act gay. Long Tall Sally goes into more rockish territory.

I don’t know what to think about this. It’s unnecessary, but listen to if if you want. It’s not like you don’t have 4 minutes and 8 seconds to waste anyways.

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Thin Lizzy – Nightlife 1974 – 81%

Posted in Heavy Metal Reviews on May 21, 2009 by misainzig

If there was ever one album that truly epitomizes cool, calm, and stylish all at the same time, it would be Thin Lizzy’s Nightlife. This album is basically the final album of the old Lizzy era, before they unleashed their twin guitar attacks. This album was made to boogey, and that is just what it is going to do. Showdown, and It’s Only Money are very funk influenced tracks. These tracks are mostly what I was referring to in the opening sentence of this review. There are plenty of tasty leads and solos, despite the lack of another guitarist going note for note in another octave.

This album can kick out some rockin’ acoustic stuff too. Hard rock with acoustic guitar thrown in is great, no? Yeah it is, fuck you. The performer of the song She Knows is Phil Lynott, of course (But when isn’t he? There are some occurances I’ll get to later in the review). Here he belts out one of his most passionate vocal performances from any album. Nightlife is essentially a sequel to She Knows, as it contains the same acoustic driven force, and it features some more of Phil’s most passionate vocals. Unfortunately, they picked it as a pretty calm tune to end the album. Oh well, it’s classic Lizzy. If there’s one thing you can truly count on from the early Thin Lizzy albums, it’s that they’ll still have the same driving force that is Phil Lynott. This man’s heart is in his goddamn vocal chords, I swear.

The riffing on this album seems more loose and more unrestrained than on later albums. The entire thing really is more laid back than what Lizzy would do later. It’s Only Money throws in a lot of progressive drum beats underneath Phil’s almost rapping of the verse. No, it’s not really rapping. It’s like rapid catchy singing.

Songs like Philomena sort of bring out the best in Phil. It’s a song named after his mom, and his Irish accent is heavy as shit on this one. I don’t know if it was done on purpose, but it adds a special flair to the song. You can tell Phil’s heart is firing on all gears during this song. It also features a little bit of twin guitar action, but with a single guitar and the bass following suit. Pretty cool, really. There are a couple songs that simply don’t deliver in balls, and I’ll have to take some points away for that. Still In Love With You is a classic song. It’s great live. It features Gary Moore sharing vocal duties, and he is at times better than Phil. They’re both phenomenal singers, any way you cut it. It wasn’t made for a studio environment, unfortunately. Dear Heart is a hearfelt piano driven ballad, but it’s kind of lame. Banshee is a slow twin guitar tune. It actually sounds like the predecessor to their amazing Cowboy Song. It has a very western/cowboy type feel to it. Makes me want to go eat some nachos and bang some senioritas, que?

Holy shit is all I can say about Sha-La-La. Despite the title, this song is in no way, shape, or form pussy. This song is really funky. Like really fucking funky. It also features twin guitar leads! The drumming is total speed metal! This song is simply a sign of things to come. This is the type of stuff the band would put out later into the mid to late 70s, and this early prototype is just as good as any other Thin Lizzy song you could pick. Oh, and remember when I said Phil wasn’t the top performer on all songs? Yeah, here that goes to Brian Downey. About 2 and a half minutes in, he breaks into this great drum solo. The only sucky thing is, the drum solo is a lot better (and longer) on Live and Dangerous. After switching back to some guitar leads for a second, the song fades out on another kickass drum solo.

This album contains shades of what would become Thin Lizzy. All of the elements are in the cooking pot, and Phil just had yet to stir them until they were completely mixed. He’ll get that done on the next album….and the 8 that follow!

Thin Lizzy – Chinatown 1980 – 94%

Posted in Heavy Metal Reviews on May 21, 2009 by misainzig

Thin Lizzy are truly an amazing band. Phil Lynott’s poetic and thoughtful lyrics coupled with his superb songwriting skills simply make for an outstanding musical formula that the band has repeated again and again and again to moderate success. Chinatown is simply another nearly flawless Thin Lizzy album.

The positive We Will Be Strong runs out at you with all guns blazing. This song contains some of the band’s most inspired twin guitar leads, and some of Lynotts finest lyrics. If you’ve ever had an off day and you simply don’t feel good, listen to this song. The twin leads give off a very classy positive vibe sure to shake anyone out of a downer. Phil Lynott has one of the smoothest and most reassuring voices in rock, and that causes confidence to literally radiate out of the speakers and into your heart. The title track drops this attitude, and begins to go for a more mysterious rocking feeling. Brian Downey is probably the most underrated drummer in the history of music. His playing here is refreshing, crisp, and is absolutely what ties everything together behind the scenes.

The title track also features a fairly heavy main riff. The distortion is fairly low, but who gives a shit? This is rock n’ fuckin’ roll! It just happens to be rock n’ fuckin’ roll that is borderline metal. Sweetheart is another fairly uplifting tune that yet again shows off Phil Lynott’s casual and suave finesse with the ladies. This man is a ladies’ man to end all ladies’ men. His bass playing doesn’t make its presence nearly as known, being quite content with bringing up the low end of the songs. But what you can hear is enjoyable and spunky licks. Take the intro to Sugar Blues for instance. The bass intro shows off Phil Lynott’s personality. It has a bit of a bouncy quality. Then the vocals kick in a bit later, and the womanizer goes to work. His bass also shines through on the intro to Hey You. What is it with musical atmosphere making me think I’m in a rainy dark city lately? It does that here.

Genocide is a fairly heavy track. The riffing is very vintage 80s heavy metal. Phil Lynott continues his clever lyrical escapade and sings about people not taking kindly to killing of the buffalo. Killer on the Loose is a fast rocker dealing with Jack The Ripper-esque subject matter, while Having a Good Time is about…well, having a good time! This song completely idealizes what’s great about rock and roll.

“Everybody likes to get a little crazy, in their own particular way. But my buddies and I, we go over the top, and go over again today.”

After the first verse, Lynott shows off his poetic and throws in a bunch of wordplay involving similar sounding words. Pretty entertaining, but somewhat useless. There’s a little bit of corny, “HIT ME WITH THAT DRUM AS HARD AS YOU CAN!” type of shit going on. What adds insult to injury is that when Downey actually hits the drums…uhh…as hard as he can, it stays at the exact same volume level. It just seems a little…well, dated? I don’t know. Then again, it’s rock n’ fuckin’ roll! This shit doesn’t have to be serious. Being laid back is probably one of the best qualities a band could even have. Didn’t I is the obligatory ballad, and it rules. Yeah, I’m saying a ballad rules. What are you going to do about it? You’re going to listen to this ballad and agree with me.

Phil Lynott was such a romantic dude. Any guy would be lucky to be half as romantic as he was.

This album is textbook Lizzy. If you like any of their mid/late 70s output, you’ll like this as well. Thin Lizzy simply had some kickass mojo going for about a decade that forced them to continue throwing out great albums, and this one is no exception. No Thin Lizzy would be complete without this, as it is one of their MANY masterpieces.

John Christ – Flesh Caffeine 1999 – 80%

Posted in Heavy Metal Reviews on May 20, 2009 by misainzig

When John Christ got kicked out of Danzig, it wouldn’t be a stretch to think that he wanted to get back into the business. You know, throw down some more kickass riffs like he had been so accustomed to doing for ol’ Glenn and the boys for an amazing 4 album stretch. Roughly 4 years after being kicked out, John was able to release this bluesy metal beast.

This album is filled with plenty of Danzig-esque riffage. John takes over the vocals himself, and he’s basically a gruff James Hetfield impersonator, without the country influence. Come to think about it, really this entire album is what the entire Load/ReLoad fiasco SHOULD have been. Metallica would have been able to jump into their slightly bluesier sound, retain the metal, and come across as complete badasses still.

Each song here has a hard rock vibe. The great thing about that is that there’s some actually hard rocking to be found. This is rock that you can headbang to. This is rock that crosses the line into metal, and slips back over without any problem. The solos are quite Thin Lizzy influenced, and there are frequently twin guitar solos. John was able to write songs that are easy to tell apart, and all have distinctive personalities. Tell Me Why has a screamin’ angry chorus that simply wants to know, Why? John screams over the AC/DC influenced riff from Hell.

Stop the World is a crappy ballad that you would hear on the radio. There’s a fair amount of rocking again here, but the verses have this cool and collective little drum beat to some backing bass. Pretty calm, and pretty bland. John will learn how to do calm well a little bit later in the album. The chorus hereĀ  throws in the heavy dirty rock a bit, but it can’t redeem an otherwise worthless song.

Songs like I’m Gone and Judgment Day give off an atmosphere like you’re in a dark alley with rain overhead. Judgment Day might just be the most Danzig and Metallica like song on here, at the same time! Its the highlight of the album, no doubt. It’s easily one of the calmest and most easygoing songs here. John swoons about being tormented and rotting away in some form of cell. About halfway through, things change it up a little bit. Imagine if Metallica had thrashed (just a little) on Load. Yeah, wouldn’t that have been a mindfuck? Well that’s what it sounds like here. It’s a very simple riff that gradually gets faster and faster and faster and faster until a suspenseful pause…….and then this searingly bluesy guitar solo just rips right into your heart with the familiar street/rain/alley riffage and its atmosphere in tow. Then in a little bit, he rips out this Dave Mustaine imitation that just kicks the fuck out of the shit on this album. The song Slow Down is simply more bluesy Danzig worship. John Christ has that blues/metal fusion down to a fucking art form, and people should take notice. (I’m talking to YOU Hatfielder and Hamlet!)

Shadows is another one of the heartfelt ballads that work on this album, and really a fitting closer. You can hear some Lynyrd Skynyrd influence. It sounds like there’s some choir action going on here, as John belts out how he now see shadows where he once saw her. Frankly, there’s too much pain and suffering going on here. But then again, what better way to channel the blues than through John’s crooning/swooning melodic vocals. I can feel his heart bleeding through my headphones. I think he might want to see someone about that….

What John Christ has done is created an album that he wanted to create. He’s a very creative guy, and you can tell by listening to this album. There’s not a lot to flash here, folks. This is simply bluesy metal somewhere between Danzig and Metallica. Thankfully, it beats Load and ReLoad at their own game.

John Christ succeeded where Metallica failed. That has to stand for something.

Cancer – Spirit In Flames 2005 – 43%

Posted in Heavy Metal Reviews on May 20, 2009 by misainzig

This is a pretty odd album. In the early 90s, Cancer was a British death metal band to be reckoned with. They had it all. Fast riffs. Fast drums. Heavy death vocals. Then they took a step into a weird little void that they created for themselves. In 1995, they released Black Faith, which was nothing at all like their previous death metal albums. It was slower, more spacey, and featured clean vocals. They broke up shortly after that. Fast forward to 2005, and here is a reformed Cancer ready to take on the death metal world once again….right?

Nope.

This album is essentially a mixture of both previous styles of Cancer, and it flops horribly. There are a couple above average songs, but even these don’t hold a candle to anything from the first 4 albums. Mindless Reactions uses a bunch of stop start mid-paced riffage, before going into more thrashy territory. The vocals are pretty bad. He has a slight gruff in his voice, but he’s essentially just a British bloke not putting any heart or aggression into his performance. When the band breaks out of their stupid little mid-paced fever, they can thrive. There’s a bit of double bass thrown in here and there, which helps the music greatly. Most of the time though, the drums are simply progressively banging about pointlessly below the riffs.

The riffs all have a slight aura surrounding them. It’s not a very good aura though. The progressive drum patterns mixed with the not as progressive riffing leaves a bit of a bitter taste in one’s musical taste buds. This shows up pretty big in Hell House. This song is completely stupid. Heeelllll Houuuuuuse…… will somebody get this guy a fucking energy drink or something? I think he’s falling asleep…

Some songs that deliver in being halfway rad are Devil’s Playground and Ouija. The progressive drumming patterns actually work in the band’s favor on these tunes. Only until about halfway through Devil’s Playground do they fuck it up. They decide to fuck around again with this stupid gay melodic part that only takes away from the riffage. Ouija also has its fair share of stupid mid-paced crap that goes nowhere. Like I said, the best songs on this album still pretty much suck.

Oh, and Seance is groove metal with jazz drumming. Who are these fuckers trying to fool, anyways?

Cancer alienated me with this release. Whoever came up with the idea to try and marry the sounds of death metal Cancer and avant-garde Cancer should be fired. Then again, as these guys have been laid to rest once again, it doesn’t matter. It just sucks that a band with such a great back catalog will leave the world with an album like this.

Krabathor – Orthodox 1998 – 74%

Posted in Heavy Metal Reviews on May 20, 2009 by misainzig

Immediately I noticed that this is a much different Krabathor. This sounds much more modern than any previous output. This is a technical and brutal exercise in death metal. The opening title track mixes in carefully constructed blast beats with what seems like exponentially beefier and pounding double bass when compared to Lies. Holy shit! How much of a difference 3 years can make! Liquid continues in the absolutely devastating assault of wrath-filled riffage. You really wouldn’t know this was Krabathor if you hadn’t seen the album yourself. The new-found technicality is simply that huge of a departure from their early albums. Although the technicality is about 5 notches up, the atmosphere is somewhat similar to that of Lies. The production is nearly the same, with a very clear, organic, and full sound. The drums sound lower in the mix though. That was the problem with Lies, and here the drums are even quieter. Way to compound your faults, guys!

In the late 80s, and spilling into the early 90s, Krabathor wrote a lot of songs. Orthodox is the first album to not feature any songs from any of the earlier thrash influenced demos. I guess that might explain the difference in the songwriting, as a lot of the thrash has been replaced by groove. Technically (pun intended), this is a continuation of the Krabathor sound. It’s just a little bit hard to understand at first. The song To Red Ones could have been from Lies, if it didn’t have those pesky pinch harmonics. The main riff in this song is a riff from Annihilator’s Alice In Hell (somewhere on that album anyways). Body as a Cover goes back into the realm of Lies and throws in a little bit of thrashy riffage for everyone to munch on. Parasites also fits into the classic Krabathor list.

The track Shit Comes Brown is a minute long blast of fury that spits out a little bit of grind influenced death metal. It’s a bit of an oddity on the album though, as it is the only track like that. And the lyrics are fucking dumb. What happened to the creative and poetic Krabathor lyrics of past albums? Oh well. This is the late 90s! Lets jumpdafuckup and resort to useless explicatives that we use with absolutely no meaning and/or thought behind them! Well, it isn’t that bad, but you get the picture.

This album is weaker than earlier Krabathor albums, but only because it is stronger. It seems like Krystof is trying to keep up with the fact that death metal was getting more and more brutal as the 90s progressed. In some ways, they’ve succeeded. In others, they’ve failed. They certainly can go berzerk and crazy with technicality, but really, should they?

Krabathor – Lies 1995 – 95%

Posted in Heavy Metal Reviews on May 19, 2009 by misainzig

Blasting and beating their way through the Czech Death Metal scene in the early 90s, Krabathor rose above the pack and released 2 absolutely essential pieces of death metal. What makes Lies so much heavier than it’s equally as awesome predecessor, Cool Mortification, is the guitar tone. It can be somewhat overwhelming when you realize just how pummeling and destructive the sound of the guitar is. There is truly a brutal aspect to what Krabathor have accomplished here. The double bass is fast, constant, and unrelenting. The drums are slightly quieter than what I would prefer, but you can hear every technical blast and fill. A lot of the songs follow a similar sound that is truly one only Krabathor has been able to conjure up.

At times the riffs fall into very thrashy territory not all that different from Brazillian thrash bands. The riffs are ALWAYS catchy. If you want, you can headbang to every riff on this album. Rebirth of Blasphemy has absolutely the catchiest moment of death metal I have ever heard. I’ve literally had it stuck in my head for a week or so now. Whenever the backing riff to the chorus lets loose in this song, all I can imagine is some fucking incarnation of Frankenstein’s Monster running about a village with an axe, unmercifully taking out any and all in his way. There’s nothing more fitting the defintion of blasphemy than a pieced together monster without a soul!

Imperator (Strikes Again) shoots out of the gates with one of the best examples of thrashy riffage. The chorus here is once again, catchy as a motherfucker. IM-PER-AY-TORR! Who the fuck does death metal gang vocals? Krabathor fucking does baby! Imperator also has the second best solo on the whole album. Fairly technical and fast, and it fades out on quite a sinister note, that the riffage sort of compliments.

Have your ear drums fucking erupted yet?

Absolutely one of the greatest songs ever recorded, Believe… must be one of the most heartfelt instrumental death metal pieces ever. Some people have spiritual awakenings with certain songs (Don’t they? Fuck I don’t know) . I’ve never had one of those, but this song is probably as close as I could ever get. The entire thing bumps up the technicality ten fold, and shreds along for about 3 minutes. It doesn’t contain the dark, brooding, and musty atmosphere that is released from the rest of the album. It has a sort of uplifting quality that fluctuates throughout the song, yet at the end it brings you crashing back down to reality with its absymal and depressing leads.

What Krabathor has done is created what might be my favorite death metal album ever. It’s classic, classy, catchy, and kicks the shit out of every death metal album released in 1995.

Suck on this Chris Barnes, Chuck Schuldiner, and Glenn Benton!