Archive for the Heavy Metal Reviews Category

Danzig – Deth Red Sabaoth 2010 – 59%

Posted in Heavy Metal Reviews on June 22, 2010 by misainzig

Damnit! I was really looking forward to this one! Danzig has been one of my favorite metal acts ever since I got into the genre. When I first heard Glenn’s voice, I found it astounding, and quickly went out and bought the debut. I suppose you could say that album was the first “evil” metal album I ever heard. Glenn’s way of mixing his demonic swoon with blues with hard rock really had an effect on young Mis-ain-zig.

The most common perception of Danzig is that only the first 4 albums are great. Okay, sure. I would almost go as far as including Circle of Snakes on the fantastic side of the discography. It was truly a different style, but it almost managed to capture a bit of the old charm.

Enter Deth Red Sabaoth.

This album sounds like it should be Danzig 5. It actually manages to have a lot of the charm of the first 4 albums! Hammer of the Gods starts off the in classic Godless or Long Way Back From Hell style. It’s one of those fast-paced songs for the most part, until about halfway through, then THUD. A huge fucking doom break like you’ve never heard from this band. I think the part that really sells this as one of the greatest Danzig songs is the chorus. You can hear that he has put a lot of effort into every chorus, as far as performance goes (lyrics are a completely different bag of bones, however…) The closer Left Hand Rise Above sounds like a nod to the cold and bleak stylings of Pain in the World, or Let it Be Captured. While his vocals on CoS sounded strained and a bit rough, here they’re nearly as striking as the early albums. The album overall is easily Glenn’s finest vocal performance since 4p.

What are the big problems with this album though? One glaring omission is the presence of bass. Where the fuck did Glenn put it? He certainly didn’t put it in the mix. The drums are simply standard. They don’t have the creative fills of Biscuits long past, but at times Kelly throws in some interesting double bass. It’s a bit of an odd mixture with the bluesy overlapping of riffs.  The riffs themselves have a fantastic Danzig-of-old tone, with obviously more modern recording techniques. It’s still nowhere near as rough as the guitar tone on CoS. Unfortunately, the guitars are just too bland. Some of Tommy Victor’s riffs demand praise in that they capture the past, yet there are probably only 2-3 riffs per song. The Revengful and Black Candy both have these ugly simple riffs with a pinch harmonic thrown in. Unfortunately, these really aren’t used in the same style John Christ would have. It’s like they’re just there because he did it. A few of his solos (and most of his leads) really attempt to channel the power of Christ, while others are just mindless shredding for the sake of shredding. Every damn song follows the same formula as the stunning opener. There are 6 songs on here within 20 seconds (give or take) of the 4 minute mark, and nearly all of these songs have the same structure: cool intro riff, verse, chorus, verse, chorus,  one of 7 different solos on the album, chorus, chorus… then some mix it up at the end with a solo/chorus. I suppose I’m using the phrase “mix it up” pretty loosely here though…

The part about this album that sucks the most is the lyrics though. Almost every chorus, no matter how good they are sung, still sucks because each chorus is usually just Glenn crooning each song title. Ju Ju Bone, one of these tracks, has a rather silly title anyways. When you add Glenn singing the big dumb “Ju Ju Bone” chorus, the overall taste is inadvertently humorous.  Unfortunately, none are done as well as Twist of Cain or any other early tracks that do this. The Pyre of Souls duo songs are simply overblown messes. The first song doesn’t really need to be there, as it’s just fairly useless riff with Glenn moaning for 3 minutes. You’re rewarded with no song progression at all. The vocals start to stack up in layers at the end, but it’s overall a waste of time. Seasons of Pain has some of the better solos on the album, but the song shouldn’t even be half as long as it is. Too much repetition and too few ideas plague this dreadful 10 minute anti-epic.

This album really does have the spirit and style of the early albums with the classic lineup in mind, but there just aren’t enough ideas to solidify it as a good album. If you love the classic sound, you’ll definitely find something to enjoy about this though. After all, it is never really bad anywhere. Just a bit dull. There are a few decent songs, along with new top 10 Danzig song Hammer of the Gods.

Highlights: Hammer of the Gods, Deth Red Moon, Left Hand Rise Above

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Saxon – The Eagle Has Landed Part III 2006 – 98%

Posted in Heavy Metal Reviews on June 8, 2010 by misainzig

Warrior came! Warrior saw! Warrior conquered!

Do these towns know how to rock? This live album was put together different from Saxon live albums of the past, from what the liner notes say. They started recording it at the world-famous Wacken festival in 2004, and didn’t stop until 2 tours later. With the previous Eagle Has Landed albums, you got one live concert album each. Here, Saxon explains you’re getting a live tour album instead. They wanted to create a live album of songs that haven’t appeared on any of the other live albums. This includes material released after those live albums, and material that just didn’t make their respective cuts at the time. What sets this live album apart is that this is for the hardcore Saxon fan. You don’t get the Denim and Leathers, or the Heavy Metal Thunders, or the Princess of the Nights or the 747s. You get the underrated, unheralded deep cuts from one of metal’s most legendary bands that you normally don’t hear them play often. Included are a few tracks from the very under appreciated Power and the Glory album (Redline, Warrior, This Town Rocks). They even play several tracks from their debut album, which I don’t believe they have hardly ever played (correct me if I’m wrong).

First and foremost, this album probably has my favorite presentation of all time. You get a wonderfully simple gatefold digi-pack (I’ve never understood the disdain digi-packs seem to get) with one CD on each side, and a fantastic picture booklet in the center sleeve that contains a whopping 95 live pictures of the guys doing what the guys do best. Playing metal live!

So how the hell are the performances? It’s Saxon, people! They’re better live than they are in the studio. Even 27 years after their first album they still manage to get everything perfect. Biff’s voice is in top shape, as always. If you’re a die-hard Saxon fan, you know what you’re getting with Biff. The same goes for Paul Quinn as well. Each note flows one after another in the exact fashion that the studio albums portrayed. The drumming was done by 3 separate guys on here (I can’t imagine having 3 different drummers in 2 years), but all of the performances are consistent with each other. Saxon’s obviously not going to hire some hack to fill such legendary shoes. While the songs from certain early albums do sound a bit more mild (Suzie Hold On) and restrained (Frozen Rainbow) than the rest of the pack, the raw live atmosphere breathes energetic life into each track.

The first disc is composed of all the lesser known classic 80s material the band, and the second focuses on everything from 1991 0nwards. Really, only a band like Saxon can pull off a double live album. The majority of bands don’t have nearly enough classic (or even good, honestly) material to take up two and a half hours. Saxon’s so fucking classic, they can fill up a two and a half hour running time, and still not even hit their most well-known classics! If only the collective NWOBHM movement had remained as strong as Saxon throughout the years…

If you’ve already got the first two Eagle Has Landed albums, you better get this one too! If you don’t have those, get those first. Like I mentioned earlier, this album is strictly for all the die-hard Saxon fans in the world. If you’re not in love with Saxon yet, you’d be better off going for the first two Eagle Has Landed albums. They’ll give you a picture of what Saxon is about, and what Saxon has accomplished. This is just the album that helps the mega fans get more of what they crave!

Oh and yeah, these towns know how to fuckin’ rock!

Not Fragile – Lost In A Dream 1993 (1989) – 94%

Posted in Heavy Metal Reviews on June 8, 2010 by misainzig

**I am only reviewing tracks 1-11, as the other tracks make up a few separate releases.**

First and foremost, thank you Germany. Thank you for supplying the metal world with so many fantastic bands in so many fantastic genres. Your country is responsible for some of the greatest things in the history of metal! There’s that crazy and frantic teutonic thrash scene. Then, of course, there is that pounding speed/power metal stuff you guys helped evolve!

While popular bands like Blind Guardian and Grave Digger have skimmed the surface of a mainstream following to varying degrees, there have always been unappreciated and underrated speed metal bands that time has forgotten. Not Fragile is one of these bands who have somehow never found a large audience, despite putting out some phenomenal material. Unfortunately, this album wasn’t released until 3 years after it was recorded. No wonder they were under everyone’s radar. Their stuff was released too late to have any real impact in the metal world. Had it been released in the proper year, I could easily see these guys on the same ladder of success as Blind Guardian. After all, this album does manage to be a bit better than any of BG’s first 3 albums, and those albums are great. You get blazing twin solos that match every aspect of what BG could do. You get these soaring high vocals that could totally give Hansi some welcome competition at the top. With these guys, what you see is what you get. What you get, is greatness.

One of the most interesting aspects of this album is despite how much it relies on twin melodies and catchiness, there is plenty of heavy riffage to consume. Certain riffs in breaks or behind solos go completely thrash. The guitar tone sounds like it was directly lifted from Defenders of the Faith. The twin solos couldn’t be more impressive. Some of them give off a somewhat hopeful and cheery emission. At other times however, they can sound a bit depressing. Going from one contrast to another is really the spark that sets this album apart from any other decent speed metal release. The entire time, every solo is perfect. You won’t find any misplaced notes, in the riffs either for that matter.

When you’ve got some epic and virtuosic guitars, you must not need the flashiest bass player, right? I mean look at Ian Hill. However, Mattias Belter happens to be one of the better bassists I’ve ever heard grace a speed metal album. You really can’t hear the bass all the time (mostly due to the thin and quiet overall production), but there are many technical bass breaks to satiate your appetite for rumbling thunder (Full Moon’s Rising, ). When you can hear the bass, you may sense it has the habit of following guitar leads for one instant, and then in another it cuts to adding support to the double bass drumming. The tone is as smooth as a dolphin, and really manages to make an impression when audible.

Speaking of drums, they aren’t really that special here. They do fit the music extremely well, so they really do nothing negative for the album. You’ll get all the standard speed metal beats with an extra helping of double bass on the side. One thing I do love about metal drumming is the historic gallop. You’ll find a bit of that here, which really manages to channel a Steve Harris and Clive Burr vibe.

While this album has some all out blazers (One Way To Glory, Too Fast, To Hunt and Be Hunted), also included are high speed, yet not as quite as fast songs that may be seen as a slightly more commercial approach. Welcome, You the Crowd for instance is really just a cheesy song to get the crowd more into the show I suppose. This song has a fairly silly chorus, with the vocals just sounding too cheery and unimaginative (this is a rare, but still noticeable problem on other songs as well). These are quickly blown away by an extremely Maiden-like trade-off solo section that lasts about a minute.

This band is the best. There! I said it. It is a statement that cannot be argued with, and that in turn makes it true! Do yourself a favor and check this out for some absolutely classy and high flying speed metal.

Highlights: Hard To Be Alive, Lost in a Dream, One Way to Glory, Too Fast, The Evil One

Toxic Holocaust – Toxic Thrash Metal 2004 – 70%

Posted in Heavy Metal Reviews on June 7, 2010 by misainzig

Of all current retro type thrash groups, I’ve always found Toxic Holocaust to be decent, but perhaps a bit dull. This compilation was my very first exposure to the band when I picked it up in Chicago in 2007. I immediately found enjoyment in its quick riffs (Metal Attack, Created to Kill) and simple presentation. Inside the booklet was a collage of several pictures of Joel Grind and whatever posse he managed to be around at the time. Although Toxic Holocaust may not be one of the best thrash bands around, I’ve always admired Grind for his D.I.Y. ethics and attitude.

If you listen to this compilation all the way through, it really takes on the feel of an actual album. All of the songs are either taken from various demos, splits, and minor releases of that type, or were previously unreleased. These facts alone make this release essential for someone who really enjoys Toxic Holocaust. For me, it was a pretty good way to get into the band. It is a compilation that really does its job in getting the listener to understand what the band is about.

What the original songs lack in flair and imagination, they more than make up for with spirit, speed and aggression. There are several speed metal breaks (ala Poison Was the Cure) sprinkled throughout the original tracks, which of course rules. Not only can you sense the Megadeth influence greatly, there’s a cover of Mechanix at the end. This cover is probably the worst song on the CD, as it sounds like Joel can’t play all of the notes, or play as fast as Dave.

Oh wait… that sounds a lot like Metallica!

The same goes for Bestial Invasion really. It’s so degraded and sluggish, it’s difficult to tell it’s actually a Destruction song until the familiar Bestial Invasion war cry comes about. At that point, the song’s tempo increases and the guitar playing gets a little bit more complete. As for all the rest of the covers, Onslaught is done pretty well. I actually haven’t heard the original however (Shame on me. I even have a few Onslaught albums!), so I cannot comment on how faithful it is to the original. Judging how close all the other covers I know are, it shouldn’t be too much different. TH’s version of Great Deceiver absolutely rules. This song is probably the most “mature” sounding, if such a word could apply here. The riffs seem to take the technicality notch up just a smidgen. It actually surprises me that he could play this, yet not fully get Mechanix or Bestial Invasion correct. Deathmaster/Metal Attack (the compilation starts off with these songs and a much better production) and Emperor in Hell are 2 rehearsal tracks, and sound quite a bit more raw than the rest of the tracks. The performances are still of the same low/simple level of the rest of the content.

If you’re a big Toxic Holocaust fan, by all means try to pick this up. It’s got plenty of rare and unreleased stuff. If you’re looking to get into Toxic Holocaust, go for it. There’s enough meat and potato content here to let you get to know these sloppy modern thrashers. I thought it was totally worth the $6 I paid for it.

Michael Angelo Batio – Planet Gemini 1997 – 96%

Posted in Heavy Metal Reviews on June 7, 2010 by misainzig

Michael Angelo Batio has earned the reputation of being the fastest guitar player in the metal realm, and as far as I’m concerned, rightly so. From his glammy work with Nitro, to his insanely good shred debut, MAB has always had a fair share of creativity to express. This album is basically No Boundaries, Part II. The somewhat crappy yet lovable  programmed drums are back, although they’re slightly beefed up this time. Overall, this album is extremely experimental, and must be treated as such. MAB even tries his hand (s without shadows) at vocals for a change, for better or for worse. If you go into this expecting straight up shred, or straight up metal for that matter, you’ll be disappointed. Across Our Universe, for instance, makes heavy use of some symphonic jazz patterns that imitate a saxophone. When you add that to the heavy riff style that punches you later in the song, it’s an extremely interesting and….. well, we’ll say different experience. It’s truly unlike anything I’ve heard.

In place as you would expect, is MAB’s jaw dropping technique. As always, the fretwork lights up your ear drums and can take you through so many notes, you’ll actually start to think the songs are moving faster than they really are. Plus, this man must have over 40 different guitar tones on this album. This includes branching out to many other different types of music. On the debut album, he never really messed with acoustic guitars. Here he does! He absolutely shreds the shit out of one on the title track. It’s probably kindling by now. Far Reaches of Space continues with a very catchy acoustic intro, which while far from metal, manages to be just as engaging as anything he’s ever done on the heavier side. Of course, you’ve also got his wonderfully placed leads bouncing all over the place over the acoustic. It really just sounds like one huge amazing jam session.

A much heavier riff comes in later, with some Joe Satriani-esque fancy guitar solo effects. The cool thing about the experimentation on this album is, MAB also experiments with some downright heavy guitar riffs. Some are heavier than anything from No Boundaries. While the riffs are definitely heavier than previous output, it could be said the riffs are much simpler as well. Some of the songs are just downright chug-fests with bubbly leads plastered all over. The album is somewhat similar to a car show I went to recently; there are a lot of sweet old muscle cars with simple, yet effective paint jobs (chugs), but there are also some really new high speed demons with exuberant paint schemes (widdely wah!!).

As expected, No Boundaries Part II (the song itself) is just a phenomenal epic track with probably as much diversity as anything else on this album. In come some really EXTRA spacey sounding guitar solo, which then trades off with MAB’s already normal spacey guitar tone. The extra spacey one almost sounds like a keyboard (It might be actually. I’m as far as it gets from being an expert, but I would love to believe MAB could get that type of guitar tone). There is definitely some synth going on, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a keyboard. This song actually bears no resemblance whatsoever to the first No Boundaries track, but it really doesn’t matter as it’s just as awe inspiring. Then there’s To Alpha Sector 2… what a fucking speed fest! You want the REAL No Boundaries Part II? Look no further. Oh yes, we’re fucking zooming along now! Aren’t we?! Then what the fuck… a country break? Sure! Why the fuck not! It still manages to kick the piss out of all you Yngwie loving purists out there, scarce as you may be…

MAB tries to sing on So Much to Live For, and These Four Walls, with very different results. So Much to Live For manages to be the lone pure ballad on the album, and really it’s not worth hearing too many times. It’s basically the obligatory throw away track. I can understand what he was going for, but more often than not, his nasally vocals and somewhat dreamy song structure just make me think of Fly High Michelle by Enuff Z’Nuff… wow did I just mention Enuff Z’Nuff? This review really needs to come to a close…

Then on the more successful hand, These Four Walls shreds through your fucking walls and rips your goddamn spleen out. The vocals are quite a bit better than on the last track, but they’re still really just in the way of MAB’s guitar antics. I really do enjoy the lyrics to this song however. His voice just seems to really gel with this song much better than the previous. Instead of clashing with the music, they’re blending in very well, and surprisingly complimenting the heavy main riffs effectively. The album is ended with the somewhat anti-climatic Time Traveler, but at times it manages to channel in some excellent 90s Megadeth worship (I’m a goddamn sucker for that, aren’t I?) along with MAB’s signature speed.

Sometimes experimentation leads to genius incarnate. Definitely this time. While not as mind bogglingly shreddy and complex as No Boundaries, this is an extremely worthy follow up that any fan of shred should surely check out.  This is one of the few albums I really can say has something for everybody.

Highlights: Planet Gemini, Far Reaches of Space, Across Our Universe, These Four Walls… fuck, just check everything out! You will not regret it!

MA’s Review Challenge

Posted in Heavy Metal Reviews, The Interweb on June 7, 2010 by misainzig

If you’re out of the know, Metal-Archives is having their bi-yearly reviews challenge this week. My first entry is just below this. I’m hoping to get about 20 virgin albums before the week is up. Good luck to anyone else who happens to be competing as well.

Blood Rainbow – Smelteries of Damnation 2005 – 84%

Posted in Heavy Metal Reviews on June 7, 2010 by misainzig

Blood Rainbow? What the hell is a Blood Rainbow? A rainbow in 7 shades of red? A normal colored rainbow that spouts blood? Either way, Dio would be proud!

I’ll admit, this is one of the first Hungarian albums I’ve ever heard. It’s pretty damn impressive though! This album is definitely above average as far as technicality goes, but it’s not quite what I’d call technical death metal. Smelteries of Damnation is an album that focuses on melody, with brutality in the back seat. Both are wonderfully displayed in a tasteful style, however. The aptly titled instrumental opener Icebreaker gives you a 3 minute rundown of everything you can expect to get from this album, which is rather modern death metal. Some of the tremolo riffs recall later era Deicide, while others hint at what Gorod would expand upon in years following.

Death-Grind Renaissance starts off with a very thumpy and pounding bass intro, before the song winds up blasting at full speed. The thick chunky bass provides a welcome contrast from the soaring melodic solos and leads, and fortunately is audible 100% of the time. Speaking of melodic solos and leads, holy fucking vroom Batman! Family In Coma starts off with one of the highlights of the melodic guitar parts. It sort of seems like that intro solo was solely created for being in the center of a song. It has a certain progression that seems to hint that there should have been something leading up to it. Either way, it fucking rules. The solos are easily the greatest aspect of the album here. These Hungarian dudes can really shred, and they do it constantly (it doesn’t have to sound like Necrophagist, people…).

The vocals range from a very deep guttural growl, to a less menacing and much more throaty shout, to a shouted type of “singing”. The throaty shout is another aspect not all that far removed from Gorod. However, there’s a problem. The vocals really give off this bored, tired, and monotonous vibe. Considering this band’s lyrics are about ancient times and things of that ilk, this would be much more interesting if the lyrics could be understood. Sadly, it’s just an undecipherable growl spouting above the music.

When compared to their peers, the guitars are really the only thing doing anything different from the rest of the pack. The drums, much like the vocals, are no exception. At times they’ll throw in some progressive beats, but to someone wanting a more straight forward approach, the drums can appear to have a lot of insignificant beats. I myself am a fan of progressive sounding drums sometimes, but a lot of the drumming on this album is just boring and too progressive for my taste really.

Talk about an ambitious and monstrous album! It’s too bad these guys are currently in limbo, because I could see a followup to this being an absolute devastator. If you enjoy Gorod, this one’s a no-brainer. Don’t be thrown off by the band’s somewhat juvenile name. If you are, these guys will blow by you, and never look back. That’s purely the style they’ve established here. If you listen, great! If you don’t, we’ll meet you at the finish line.

Highlights: Icebreaker, Death-Grind Renassiance, Family In Coma, Blood Rainbow