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BUCKETHEAD Pike 274 - Forneau Cosmique

Album · 2018 · Alternative Metal
Cover art 3.00 | 1 rating
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siLLy puPPy

B U C K E T H E A D ~ Pike 274 - Forneau Cosmique

1st album of 2018

Two tracks that clock in at 28:04

All instruments played by the chicken lover himself

“Forneau Cosmique” (11:49) begins with a familiar BH sound, that is a synthesized atmospheric backdrop with mellow echoey guitar parts, however it quickly bursts into a heavy alternative metal type of guitar riff with the bass and drums along for the ride. Not unexpectedly, guitar solos emerge here and there trading off with the riffs. Compositionally speaking, the main melody is one of those looped recurring series of chords that maintain a rhythm guitar, bass and drums as a lead guitar joins in to provide variety. Around the 3.5 minute mark, the heavy metal drops out and the echoey clean guitars steal the show with the same rhythm and melodic progression. When the distorted guitar joins back in its less frenetic as the a sizzling guitar solo extends for a lengthy period of time building up power and speed. As the track continues its long journey, it retains the basic melody but pumps out different variations but basically comes across as a tad uninspiring as we’ve heard this a million times before and this is really quite too tame despite some crunchy metal riffing that occurs.

“Endless Experiments” (16:15) is an even crunchier metal monster with heavy guitar riffs hitting the ground running. They alternate with some freaky electronica. Unlike the previous track, this one wastes no time changing things up and heads to the other extreme where totally unrelated riffs and melodies juxtapose and clash with avant-garde sounding guitar parts. After a while it jumps back into straight forward heavy metal, then electronica, then clean guitar parts and then heavy metal slowed down. It takes no time at all to realize that this is one of those tracks that changes things up often zigzagging in unpredictable ways from genre style to genre style with heavy riffs, solos, electronic bloops and bleeps and bluesy rock all trading off with each other. This track is basically like somebody randomly hits shuffle every several seconds and where it ends up is anyone’s guess but all the styles performed are nothing new to the BH canon.

This PIKE is really nothing out of the ordinary however the two stylistic approaches generally do not sit side by side on the same release. The first track has been done to death at this point and is really quite boring whereas the second track is more unpredictably wild and more to my tastes but same problem. This style has been done to death and is performed in more interesting ways on previous PIKEs. This two track PIKE is really BUCKETHEAD by the numbers as nothing on it is new in any way, shape or form. While BH slowed down in 2017 releasing a mere 30 albums, many of them simply retread previous ideas sprawled out in the vast BH universe. Likewise the first PIKE of 2018 offers little insight that the new year will provide anything but the same. Decently played and performed but not inspiring.

SONS OF APOLLO Psychotic Symphony

Album · 2017 · Progressive Metal
Cover art 3.26 | 3 ratings
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The family tree of Dream Theater projects is overwhelming as over the years each member has contributed a dizzying amount of collaborations to other projects. Very much is that the case with Mike Portnoy who left one the pioneers of progressive metal in 2010 and has since barely stood still for a second with his many bands such as The Winery Dogs, Flying Colors, Metal Allegiance and his countless Neal Morse projects as well as touring with countless other groups ranging from Twisted Sister to Avenged Sevenfold. In short, the man has remained quite busy but somehow has eschewed the progressive metal scene. That is until the newly founded SONS OF APOLLO entered the scene. Considered a supergroup for great reason, the newly formed band unleash their debut album PSYCHOTIC SYMPHONY and shows Portnoy retracing his footsteps back to the Dream Theater heyday with healthy doses of the multitude of other prog metal bands that followed in their wake.

Once again Portnoy joins up with the equally prolific and ex-Dream Theater superstar Derek Sherinian, who together are the primary architects of the band as songwriters-in-chief and progenitors of an entirely new band that they claim to be the real thing and not a mere one off studio project. Also invited to the mix is the outstanding bassist Billy Sheehan who has worked with such greats as David Lee Roth, Steve Vai, Mr. BIg, Talas and also The Winery Dogs. The group is filled out with vocalist Jeff Scott Solo who got his start on the first two Yngwie Malmsteen albums but also sung for Journey, W.E.T. and Trans-Siberian Orchestra. And finally, the reason i even bothered to check out this SONS OF APOLLO album at all is one of my favorite guitarists on the scene Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal who in addition to having crafted some of the most diverse and creative solo albums has played with Guns N Roses as well as Art of Anarchy. He has also been a fairly prolific producer on the indy underground scene with such artists as Evoken.

Progressive metal has become a bit predictable over the years and although a few bands like Ayreon, Between The Buried And Me, Opeth and Mastodon have found new ways to express themselves within the genre, more often than not the genre is littered with technically gifted musicians retreading already heavily trodden musical pastures and in that regard SONS OF APOLLO marches on in an almost identical trajectory. Yes, the near hour long listening experience is chock full of complex compositions gussied up with heavy guitar riffs, outstanding solos, rich keyboard atmospheric constructs and percussive technical wizardry of stunning virtuosity but guess what. This is the best album Symphony X never made and that’s exactly the problem with PSYCHOTIC SYMPHONY in a nutshell and made all the more sad by the fact that this a veritable who’s who in the top ranks of musical creative and technical musical expression. Only the expression part is missing.

Back to Bumblefoot. This is a guy who put his heart and soul into his first five albums where every track had more ideas stuffed into them than most bands muster up in a career and while the other members in this musical cast have had more “normal” careers, they still have had their fingers in many pies and have exemplified a number of styles in the process. PSYCHOTIC SYMPHONY on the other hand is a woefully uninspired by-the-numbers prog metal more in the vein of Symphony X at their most progressive (think “V”) although there are some bursts into symphonic based prog rock moments when Sheridan lets loose on the keyboards. Likewise Bumblefoot dishes out some of his classic squealing guitar solos between the cracks but the problem arises from the compositions themselves as the different suites that make up the tracks sound as if they were lifted verbatim from albums such as “The Odyssey” or classic Symphony X around the turn of millennium.

Don’t get me wrong, this is quite the listenable album and one that is well delivered, divinely produced and dripping with technically challenging workouts with some nods to classic hard rock, however the whole thing comes across as woefully achronistic as if it’s a long lost album from the early 2000s that has only now emerged. Add to that, the insipid lyrics and been-there-done-that overall stylistic approach. Yep. Another clone band has emerged made all the more painful by the excellent talent on board. Perhaps these guys have been so busy in their respective projects that somebody forgot to tell them that this stuff is rather overdone at this point in progressive metal history. In short, if you simply can’t get enough of the Symphony X style and need to hear a modern day Starcastle does Yes version of progressive metal, by all means check this out, however for yours truly, there are too many other innovative musical gems out there to check out and when i hear this i simply want to push STOP and immediately throw in Symphony X’s “The Divine Wings Of Tragedy” instead. Not a good sign.

REBELLION A Tragedy in Steel Part II: Shakespeare's King Lear

Album · 2018 · Power Metal
Cover art 3.67 | 3 ratings
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I'm sure that I can't have been the only one surprised when German heavy/power metal act Rebellion revealed their eighth studio album. It's not that the band was in a situation where a new album was either unexpected or past due; it'd been three years since the release of Wyrd Bið Ful Aræd – The History of the Saxons (2015), their usual length between albums for a few releases now. No, it was the title. The album was revealed as A Tragedy in Steel Part II: Shakespeare's King Lear (2018). Shakespeare's MacBeth - A Tragedy of Steel (2002) was Rebellion's first album and who could have expected that after sixteen years the group would return to the works of Shakespeare?

I for one did not and I have to admit, the move made me a little apprehensive. After all, MacBeth is undoubtedly Rebellion's weakest album; the very textbook definition of a record where the artist is still finding their sound. But not only that, the flow of that record was really disrupted by heavy use of narration elements, which unlike on other albums that make use of such weren't separated into their own tracks but inserted into the actual songs of the album and not always at the beginning or end of a piece. Of course it's obvious given the subject matter why they'd do that – it adds a feel of the theatre to the album, but for me at least, it really didn't work.

As a band Rebellion has obviously come a long way since then, producing an incredible run of albums starting with Born a Rebel (2003), their only non-concept and/or theme album, and going right up to the most recent release Wyrd Bið Ful Aræd. But even so, it seemed a really odd move for them to make. So now comes the burning question: were my concerns justified?

Yes, I think they very much were.

But with that said, positives first: it isn't like King Lear is a total bust for Rebellion. They still have their signature sound intact, with lots of heavy and power metal riff work on display, along with Michael Seifert's distinctive sung yet harsh vocal style. The album even actually breaks the band a bit of unexpected new ground with several tracks, usually the more heavy metal based ones, displaying an undertone of traditional doom metal, something that can be clearly picked up upon as early as opener A Fool's Tale. It's just a bit of flavour rather than a overt change in direction, but it's enough to differentiate the album from the band's others.

But the there's the issues with the album that put a real dampener on anything positive I can say about it. While it's not as extreme, the band did fall into exactly the same trap with the narrative elements on King Lear as they, way back when with a largely different line-up, did with MacBeth. Then there's the songs themselves. They're not bad and there is a few highlights to be had such as Dowerless Daughter, Storm and Tempest, and Battle Song, but there's an inescapable feeling that for the first time in a while Rebellion aren't coming close to knocking one out of the park and that despite those new doomy undertones, the album is very much Rebellion by numbers and that they went through the motions of getting an album out at the time they were expected to. As such it's difficult to really get invested in it as an album or get too excited by it.

It's still a solid enough release to avoid being considered bad, but there's no room for doubt in my mind that King Lear is the band's weakest album since MacBeth itself and I'm actually unsure which really deserves the dubious honour of being considered the actual weakest. I would say it's still worth picking up if you're a fan of the band and already have all their other work (and the price is right), but otherwise there's a choice of six other Rebellion albums out there that are considerably more powerful than this one that deserve your attention first. This one already feels like it's just there, a part of the band's discography that you're aware of and may listen to on occasion along with their other albums, but it won't ever be the one you reach for first.

HEAVATAR Opus II - The Annihilation

Album · 2018 · Power Metal
Cover art 5.00 | 1 rating
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Usually going into a new year, I have a pretty good idea of what bands will be in contention for my album of the year, but it seems every few years I’m thrown a curve ball and a band I would have never even thought of comes out and completely blows me away, leaving more anticipated albums far behind them. Obviously, it’s way too early in the year to tell if that’s how things will work out in 2018, but going into the year if anyone were to have told me that after a month my top album for the year would come from German power metal band Heavatar, I likely would have shook my head and said “not in a million years”, but somehow that’s exactly what happened. Heavatar was formed in 2012 by Stefan Schmidt, the mastermind behind a capella metal band Van Canto, who I happen to be quite a big fan of, so naturally when I heard one of their members was starting a new band, with a full metal sound, as well as some added classical music influence, I was excited. For whatever reason, though, Opus I: All My Kingdoms never really grabbed me, aside from a couple standout tracks, and I quickly forgot about the band. They’re now set to release Opus II: The Annihilation, an album which wasn’t even on my radar just a few weeks ago, and yet surprisingly enough it completely blew me away on my first listen, and has only grown on me more ever since, emerging as an early year favorite to possibly end up as my 2018 album of the year.

Stylistically, not much has changed on this album, as the band still plays an aggressive, guitar-driven brand of power metal, with a ton of classical melodies thrown in for extra flavor. As with Opus I, there are plenty of sections which clearly take classical pieces and create metal versions of them, with the likes of Puccini, Chopin, and Beethoven being cited as influences for some of the tracks. Sometimes these classical pieces are easy to recognize, such as on the title track and “Into Doom”, while on other tracks the classical influence is a lot more subtle, but it’s definitely there throughout the album. Honestly, it’s tough for me to pin down exactly why this album works for me in ways the debut didn’t, but I guess what it comes down to is more consistent, at times more adventurous songwriting, and the fact that the music constantly strikes a perfect balance, both between heaviness and melody, and also between being blazing fast at times, and slowing down to a more relaxing pace at other times. Many tracks go through tempo changes, especially during the four-part suite that closes the album, and I find overall the songs deliver everything I could ask for as a power metal fan, offering some awesome guitar riffs throughout, as well as big choruses on every track, huge, epic vocal melodies, plenty of great solos, which are often the points where the classical influence comes in, as well as a ton of other surprises. There simply isn’t a single dull moment on the entire album, where I found the debut to be very inconsistent. Obviously, the production is top notch, and the musicianship is great, with excellent guitar work from Stefan Schmidt and Sebastian Scharf, while former Stratovarius drummer Jörg Michael is explosive and exciting as always.

For some reason, I didn’t like Stefan’s vocals too much when I first listened to Opus I, but his voice has grown me a lot since then, and he has certainly delivered a strong performance on this album. He has a very deep and powerful voice that fits the music well, especially during the heavier sections and he can be very intense and animated at times, sometimes coming pretty close to using death growls, and his vocals add extra intensity to some already energetic and heavy tracks. Obviously, coming from an a capella band, he’s a great singer all around, though, so he can also sing very smoothly during calmer sections, which there are a ton of, especially in the second half of the album.

My biggest area of contention with Opus I was the songwriting, but thankfully this time around the band has delivered nothing but excellent music from start to finish. There’s nothing that clearly sticks out in a bad way like the acoustic “To the Metal”, and there are certainly many tracks that surpass even the best track on that album, the 11-minute epic “The Look Above”. Starting things off is “None Shall Sleep”, an absolutely stunning opening track that immediately had me collecting my jaw off the floor the first time I heard it. It opens with a brief keyboard section, before quickly giving way to some pummeling riffs that lead the way through the verses, which move by at a breakneck pace and bring a ton of energy, and then the chorus appears and is equal parts catchy, melodic, epic and just plain awesome. The best part, though, comes in the second half, with an excellent and very melodic guitar solo followed up by a classically influenced vocal section that is simply stunning and lifts the track to all new heights. All in all, this track is easily the best power metal track I’ve heard so far in 2018, and I won’t be surprised if it goes down as my favorite even at the end of the year, as it not only delivers everything I want from the genre, but it goes the extra mile with that one choral section to completely blow me away.

While that opening track is tough to match, the rest of the album certainly leaves nothing behind. Next is “Into Doom”, another fast-paced track, which has more of a classic power metal sound, compared to the somewhat thrashy riffs of the opener. It’s certainly still a heavy hitter, though, and it again has some huge classically influenced melodies throughout, as well as a blazing fast and super addictive chorus. Stefan changes things up during the verses with a soft and extra deep delivery, which works great. The big classical melody of the track comes in during the solo section in the middle and is both very obvious and quite awesome. After that is “Purpose of a Virgin Mind”, one of the tracks where I don’t notice the classical influence as obviously, but it’s certainly still an awesome track. It’s another up-tempo track, though slightly slower than the first two, with slow, but hard hitting verses with some great riffs, though it has some nice melodic leads, as well as one of the biggest and most melodic choruses on the album.

The first slower track of the album is the hilariously named “Hijacked by Unicorns”, which has some great lead riffs and some fun vocals during the verses, but it’s the chorus where the song really picks up, as the vocal melodies are excellent, the tune is super catchy and the lyrics are every bit as amusing as the name would suggest. It’s another track where the classical influences are quite easy to spot, coming in during the solo section later on, and it’s quite the fun track overall. After that is the title track, where the opening has a classical reference that is just as obvious as the one on “Replica” from Opus I, and it’s another heavy hitter, moving at a rather slow pace early on before picking up the pace in a big way, leading to an explosive and very epic chorus. Stefan comes very close to death growls later on in the track, and the choral section that follows is amazing, as is the guitar solo after that. The last normal song on the album is “Wake Up Now”, a mid-paced track and yet another heavy hitter, with slow but fun verses, excellent riffs throughout and yet another huge and super catchy chorus. This track changes things up a bit in the middle, with an epic keyboard solo, before the expected guitar solo, which is great as always.

After six amazing tracks, the band decided to go extra big for the grand finale, delivering a near 14-minute four-part suite, divided into four separate tracks. There’s a lot of ideas throughout the four tracks, but there’s one chorus that constantly shows up throughout, used in various forms, and it’s a very memorable one. Each part sounds different, though one thing that is constant is the use of symphonic elements, which help make the music even more epic and compared to the rest of the album these tracks are much more melodic and more complex. The opening part “A Broken Taboo” in particular goes through many tempo changes, and is quite the treat, introducing the main chorus in a big way, while also surprising me with some great female vocals, which appear later on, before again appearing briefly on the second part “An Awakening”, which is a more relaxed and melodic track, with some nice folk melodies. It’s definitely the closest the album comes to having a ballad, and it’s a very beautiful track. The most explosive section of the suite is “A Battle Against All Hope”, an epic, super speedy symphonic power metal track, which has some of the heavy riffs found on the first six tracks and it again moves at a breakneck pace and delivers a huge chorus, except this time the epic feeling is enhanced by the symphonic elements. I love all four parts of the suite, but this track is easily my favorite. Lastly, we have “A Look Inside”, which mostly serves as a softer, slower reprise of “A Broken Taboo”, and it’s a very nice ending to the main portion of the album.

There are two extra tracks here, the first being a cover of the Manowar classic “Metal Daze”, which is a very faithful recreation of the track, with a much better-sounding production than the original, while still hitting much harder and having more energy to it than Manowar’s own recording from Battle Hymns MMXI. Stefan uses some very over the top falsetto vocals at points, which are very cool, and it’s definitely a fun cover overall. One other bonus is “The Look Inside (Orchestral Version”, which is an instrumental version of the four-part suite, and while I obviously prefer hearing it with vocals, this version is quite good on its own, and it’s nice to have the whole thing on one track, which is perhaps the only thing I would have changed about the main version.

Overall, Opus II: The Annihilation is a huge surprise for me, as I didn’t care much for Opus I at all, but somehow Heavatar has really stepped up their game, offering some amazing and aggressive classically influenced power metal songs, which give me everything I could possibly ask for from the genre, while also managing to surprise me several times along the way. Obviously, fans of the band’s debut need to hear this, and I’d highly recommend it to any power metal fan looking for something just a bit different, as well as to any metal fan who wants to hear something with a classical influence, without being overly symphonic or using operatic vocals. A huge surprise, for sure, and while it’s still early in the year, I won’t be surprised if this ends up being one of my top five albums by the end of 2018, if not even my absolute favorite.

originally written for myglobalmind.com: https://myglobalmind.com/2018/02/03/heavatar-opus-ii-annihilation-review/

RHAPSODY OF FIRE Legendary Years

Album · 2017 · Power Metal
Cover art 4.00 | 1 rating
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Kev Rowland
Rhapsody have had an interesting career path, to say the least. What started as one band has been split in two for quite a while, with guitarist Luca Turilli behind Luca Turilli's Rhapsody, and keyboard player Alex Staropoli leading Rhapsody of Fire. Here, Alex has taken his band of merry men on a romp through songs from the first five Rhapsody albums, and in case anyone doesn't realise what is going on this selection is named after the debut, 'Legendary Tales'. What I have always liked about any of the Rhapsody bands, is that they not only have grandiose and almost Wagnerian Ring Cycle ideas, but they like to have the guitars tightly bound together with drums driving it all along. This may be Alex's band, but he acts more as a conductor and arranger, pulling the musicians in the way that makes total sense to his ears.

I haven't actually heard these early songs, so can't comment as to whether they are performed in a better or worse manner than the originals, so I am treating this instead as a brand new album by RoF, and in that context this works incredibly well indeed. They shred, they bring in a chorus, they stop the music dead, or let it sprawl through the speakers like an unstoppable lava flow, laying waste to all the lies before it. Fabio Lione is an amazing singer, and until this album has been the voice of first Rhapsody, and then Rhapsody of Fire, but here Giacomo Voli has taken on the role and it has to be said that he has done a very done job indeed. Overall this is a great album, and stands well in its own right, as well as an introduction to a band who have been at the forefront of symphonic metal for more than twenty years.

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MASTODON Remission

Album · 2002 · Sludge Metal
Cover art 3.92 | 42 ratings
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Ahh, here it is, the genesis of Atlanta's Mastodon, a great, great progressive/sludge metal band, one that I feel has gotten more mature (and better) as time has progressed with albums such as Crack the Skye (2009) and Emperor of Sand(2017). I will talk about that progression as I continue on with these album reviews. With 2002's Remission, we already see a band that has plenty of musical chops to offer but at times it is a bit too frenetic, wild and unhinged (not necessarily a bad thing, haha) for my tastes (keep in mind that my musical tastes are not nearly as frenetic and wild as most metalheads lol). While I do consider myself a metalhead I am more of the old school variety (Maiden, Sabbath, Priest) but that's me getting off topic ha. Anyway, with this recording Mastodon are able to do just enough to keep me interested in what they are doing(could be the melodies and intricate riffs, I don't know ha). Let's how I feel about each individual track shall we??

1) Crusher Destroyer - A brutal, crushing piece of metal music. Hits you like a pile of bricks. Badass. 10/10

2) March of the Fire Ants - A classic metal track in my opinion. Those melodies late in the song brought something that was desperately needed in metal but was in short supply. Anywho, I love this track. Probably my favorite on the entire album. 10/10

3) Where Strides the Behemoth - Yet another brutal track. Nothing wrong with it. I love it, haha. 10/10

4) Workhorse - Another great track but for some reason it is not nearly as captivating as the first three tracks on the album. Not a bad track though. 8/10

5) Ol'e Nessie - A great, great ominous track. I love how dark and foreboding it sounds. It's not as heavy, frenetic or as thunderous as the other tracks on the album but it does a great job at creating a dark atmosphere. It's great. 10/10

6) Burning Man - A decent track but as of the first 6 tracks it is my least favorite. Not bad though. 7/10

7) Trainwreck - Another decent track but to me it is not as great as others on the album. 7/10

8) Trampled Under Hoof - Is the title of the track an homage to Led Zeppelin's Trampled Under Foot?(I don't know but it sounds like it is lol). It's an intense piece of music that I give plenty of credit for but for some reason it's not nearly as captivating as other songs on the album. Good track though. 7/10

9) Trilobite - Now, here we have a very ominous piece of metal music. Everything about it is fantastic. A bit different from the rest of the album but that's what I love it about. The ending where Troy screams out "Shades of 16, you're with me" is bonechilling. It can actually horrify a person. It's great. Probably tied with March of the Fire Ants as my favorite track on the album. 10/10

10) Mother Puncher - A great track that punches you in the gut. I love it too ha. 10/10

11) Elephant Man - An instrumental piece that keeps my attention. It's pretty darn good if you ask me. Solid, solid guitar work from Bill and Brent. Grade A guitar work. 10/10

The music on this album is really, really good but some of it is a bit too harsh and frenetic for my tastes so that's why it gets a lower rating in my book. Also, not enough clean vocals from Troy or Brent on it to give it a higher rating. I mean I have no issues with growls (every once in a while haha) but I usually like my bands to have some kind of melody and harmony or catchy hook to their vocal (you know something I can sing to lol, sounds corny I know but it's still the essence of music to me). Anyway, to me this album is a step in the right direction for Mastodon. A precursor of things to come. Great album. 4 solid stars!! Peace out!!!

PANTERA Vulgar Display of Power

Album · 1992 · Groove Metal
Cover art 4.22 | 70 ratings
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If you're a metal fan, you're no doubt gawking at this three-star review and seething with anger, and nothing I say will justify my views in your eyes. So let me just say, to Pantera; I'm sorry.

Pantera were one of the first metal bands I got into way back in the day, and I'm sure there was a time when I first purchased this CD that I thought it was awesome, even though I'd never really heard it enough times to familiarize myself with it. As a result, years of neglect and seeing absolutely nothing but the highest reverence for it has set the bar very high. Too high, in fact, as 'Vulgar Display...' has failed to live up to my expectations.

It's not a bad album, but it's very much the same as its predecessor, 'Cowboys From Hell', in that it's a good record with its fair share of filler songs, but it hasn't been helped by the expectations set by the countless fans who treat it like an absolute masterpiece. I mean, c'mon now... 'By Demons Be Driven' and 'No Good (Attack the Radical)' are incredibly forgettable.

But when Pantera do get it right... oh boy! 'Mouth For War', 'This Love', 'A New Level', 'Regular People (Conceit)' and the legendary though slightly overrated 'Walk' are all ballsy songs that are heavy as hell and groove-laden to the brim, with enough attitude and energy to make up for the albums shortcomings.

And the performances are all-round pretty good. Guitarist Dimebag Darrell shows off all the skills that would validate his countless accolades as one of the genres all-time greats, and vocalist Phil Anselmo screeches passionately with pure disdain at the world. While not every track is to my liking, there's no denying the chemistry between everyone.

In conclusion, 'Vulgar Display...' is one of the most influential metal albums from the 90's, and while it's reputation may be justified, I don't think it's stood the test of time too well. Perhaps it's one of those things where "you had to be there" to truly appreciate it.

LIVING DEATH Vengeance of Hell

Album · 1984 · Speed Metal
Cover art 3.95 | 2 ratings
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The German thrash scene was a great one. It was home to many bands that would satisfy the taste of thrashers who wanted a more spitting and caustic attack that would end up influencing early death and black metal. You had the "big three" of Kreator, Sodom, and Destruction as well as bands like Tankard and Holy Moses (Which is my personal favorite German thrash band). Not that there weren't bands of this type elsewhere, as Canada was home to Razor and Voivod and Japan had Casbah and Jurassic Jade, but Germany is usually mentioned as the main hub of these types of thrash acts.

Living Death are one of these bands, and like many thrash bands, had a bit of a rough start with their debut. As with many early speed/thrash releases, Vengeance of Hell retains a lot of it's traditional heavy metal influences though adds in a bit of the grit and spit that's needed. Also you've got some amazing cover artwork that displays obscure metal art at it's finest. The original release of the album was absolutely ruined by a terribly muddy mixing, but thankfully the band must have realized that and remixed the album only a year later in 1985, so that's the version I'll be reviewing.

On the music end, everything's here. Soloing of the utmost classic metal tradition, pounding drums that constantly keep the foot tapping, skin-shredding riffs, and a penchant for great melodies. Speaking of melodies though, the vocals can sometimes be a bit of a problem. For the most part, Thorsten "Toto" Bergmann's vocals are fine and have that amateur charm to them. However, when he tries to reach higher pitched notes like in "You and Me" or "Night Light", he just sounds a bit silly. I feel like I'm listening to myself trying to sing Judas Priest songs, and in fact I probably sound exactly like this when I try.

Despite that, what really keeps this album from flopping is both the excellent music and the aforementioned charm. The album sounds like everyone's just having fun, and that's something that I almost always love hearing. I'd take some rather amateurish speed metal that's clearly having fun over ultra brutal, technical, and serious modern death metal any day. It's impossible to not love metal anthems like "Heavy Metal Hurricane", it is seriously a hidden classic metal gem. The chorus on it is just so catchy. Some of the other highlights are "My Victim", "Hellpike", and the excellent closing title track. Damn, the short crushing riff that ends the song is just a beast. It sadly only lasts the last 20 seconds and should have gone on longer, but it does provide a great finale.

The band would very much improve and hone in on their sound on the following two releases especially on the vocal end, but this is a fun album that should not be missed. If you can get past the sometimes dumb-sounding vocals and make sure to listen to the 1985 version, this is a great start to an underrated thrash/speed metal band's career.


DEATH Leprosy

Album · 1988 · Death Metal
Cover art 3.78 | 62 ratings
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Vim Fuego
It must be a teen angst thing, to claim a song or musician “speaks” to you. It was common in the gunge… er, grunge era, where spotty anaemic teens thought Kurt Cobain or Eddie Vedder were channelling their personal feelings or thoughts, and were communicating straight to them. It’s not a new phenomenon. Similar claims have been made of Bob Dylan, Jim Morrison, Bono, and just about any trendy fuckwit who has ever written a vague sounding song which can be reinterpreted or misinterpreted, and appeals to safe middle class, suburban youth.

Fuck. Off.

All it means is you’ve never experienced anything challenging or real in your life, and you’re trying to be more world wise and weary than you really are. That sort of music, and it’s fans, are deeply superficial. There is nothing truly thought provoking in it, because there is nothing real in it.

For outsiders, people attracted to harder, heavier music, it is either a reflection of the harshness of life, or a complete escape into fantastical escapism. On the reality side, you have genres like grindcore and crust punk, with their social conscience and political colours emblazoned for all to see. Other genres, like brutal death metal or power metal take refuge in slasher movie gore, or Dungeons and Dragons made flesh. A few bands though, managed to combine the two extremes, creating something which was both thought provoking, and an escape. Death’s “Leprosy” is such a creation.

Death’s legacy is legendary in metal circles. The band’s first album “Scream Bloody Gore” is a seminal death metal milestone, creating the bloodstained blueprint for the genre. However, by the time Chuck Schuldiner got to making “Leprosy”, he had been playing this style of music for half a decade, and the plain old guts and gore thing had become a bit passé. So Schuldiner changed tack. Instead of musical horror movies, as later perfected by the likes of Cannibal Corpse and Autopsy, he turned to true life horror.

Take title track “Leprosy” for example. It’s a biblical illness, right? People don’t get leprosy any more, do they? Well, when this song was written, more than 5,000,000 people worldwide had the disease. Although now curable, it is still present in the developing world. There’s a horrifically detailed (and even more horrifically predominantly shocking pink!) Ed Repka depiction of the disease on the album cover. A descriptive song, it describes the ravages of leprosy on a human. It doesn’t just describe the physical effects, but also the social stigma, and the psychological torment of someone disfigured and dying. How would you feel?

Musically, “Leprosy” was also a change of tack. It’s fast and heavy, but also sharp and clear. And ya know, it’s a pretty fucking impressive backing band here. Although things went all to shit later on, and the rest of the band copped a lot of criticism from Schuldiner, all three have been incredibly influential in the way death metal sounds today. The non-Chuck ¾ of the band went on to reform Massacre with former Death alumni Kam Lee. Bassist Terry Butler didn’t actually play on this album, but he has had a full career since, also playing in Six Feet Under and Obituary. Rick Rozz co-wrote much of the music on this album. His playing style was criticised at the time for his blatant Kerry King worship, but in the years since, his style has been adopted by many death metal lead guitarists, because it suits death metal so fucking well.

The rest of the thought provoking songs followed on in a similar vein from “Leprosy”. “Born Dead” took a closer look at third world famine and disease than any pop star collaboration trying to feed the world. “Forgotten Past” is a story of horrifying dreams, or are they a revealed memory?

The incredible “Left To Die” is a war song, told from the point of view of a seemingly unimportant victim dying on a battlefield. It could be the final moments of many millions of soldiers since the invention of gunpowder, but is that life still unimportant if it is yours?

“Pull The Plug” is a powerful first person point of view of a helpless victim in a vegetative state, sensing all, but able to do nothing. It’s like Metallica’s “One” without the anti-war message, and poetic license. “Open Casket” is a jab at the insensitive and cringe-worthy practice of open casket funerals. What good comes from seeing someone’s body in death?

“Primitive Ways” is probably the only song which would have fit well onto “Scream Bloody Gore”. It’s a description of cannibalistic rituals. A bit less intelligent than the rest of the album, this is still plenty gory for the guts fetishists.

And final track “Choke On It”. It’s not a perverse song about brutal sex, as the title may suggest. Instead, the song makes the listener consider: “How would I cope if subjected to torture?”

So, feelings? Yes, there’s plenty, if you count all the varieties of physical and mental pain, and societal rejection. Thoughts? Plenty are provoked, often of the “I’ve never thought of it that way before” and “thank fuck that’s not happening to me” variety. And does it speak to anyone? Well, yes it does. This album spoke to death metal fans and bands the world over. The message was it was OK to explore themes outside murder and gore, it was possible to make clear sounding music without losing the death metal essence, and intelligence and death metal were not mutually exclusive.


Album · 1995 · Alternative Metal
Cover art 3.60 | 38 ratings
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Alice in Chains' self titled album, their last album to feature frontman Layne Staley, is one that is often forgotten or pushed aside in their discography. It is probably overshadowed by Dirt, which is often seen as the band's magnum opus and a crown jewel of the grunge genre, as well as the band's 2009 comeback album Black Gives Way to Blue, which is often seen as their best album after Dirt if not their best (Which I personally don't understand, I find that album pretty boring and bland, but that's a review for another day).

Alice in Chains is an album where you can just hear all the band tensions and what was going on at the time. While Jerry Cantrell has expressed his joy with the finished product, it sounds like Staley's heroin addiction made it a pain to get the record done. The band has never been known for uplifting music, but this album might very well be their most outright depressing and dreary album.

The underlying doom metal influence that's always been with the band perhaps shows up the most on this album. However, it is blended with some bittersweet melodies, harmonies, and a creative use of the band's acoustic side shown on their EP's. The band finally brings their two sounds together on this album, and it works beautifully. Great examples of this are on the longer songs on the album, such as "Sludge Factory", "Heaven Beside You", and "Frogs". You get this mesh of sludgy riffing dripping with misery and twangy acoustic blues guitar that actually enhances the overall mood. "Sludge Factory" I believe uses this sound best and is probably my favorite on the album.

Cantrell's comment in an interview of "Our music's kind of about taking something ugly and making it beautiful", really paints a good picture of this album's sound. This is partly due to the harmonies the Cantrell and Staley always make even in a really heavy or somber song. I once again refer to the longer songs on the album, especially "Heaven Beside You", whose bittersweet chorus is always followed up by this heavy doom metal riff. There's also some great screeching soloing on this record, like with "Sludge Factory" as well as "Brush Away". "Nothin' Song" also features this combined with some excellent syncopation. For one of the more doom-sounding songs, they sure made it pretty catchy. I think they knew that with the inclusion of lyrics such as "Well the nothin' song sticks to your mouth, like peanut butter on the brain".

This album is a perfect example of a grower. While Facelift has the instant appeal of it's infectiously catchy hooks and riffs, and Dirt has classic status, it takes a few listens for this one to fully sink in. Not to say there aren't some instant hooks on this album though, as I've always loved the classic opener of "Grind" and "Head Creeps" which immediately get you headbanging to the teeth-gritting riffs. If you've only heard this album once or twice and not thinking much of it, I recommend giving it another listen. It's a real underrated gem that deserves the same appreciation as the band's other albums.



Album · 1995 · Traditional heavy metal
Cover art 3.43 | 26 ratings
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siLLy puPPy
Despite claiming that “No More Tears” would be his last album and even followed it up with an aptly named “No More Tours” jaunt around the world, OZZY OSBOURNE didn’t take to retirement too keenly and lo and behold found himself in the studios again to record his seventh studio album OZZMOSIS which came out four years after his last majorly successful comeback album. This is a rather unique album in all of his canon in not only lineup but also for its dipping into the current alternative rock and metal scene. While most of the band members from the past jumped ship after the previous album and tour, Zakk Wylde returned for guitar duties.

Also on board for OZZMOSIS is Geezer Butler who had just left Black Sabbath for the umpteenth time and on drums Deen Castronovo joined the team after serving in Wild Dogs and Bad English. His mellow AOR ballad band history shines through on this one. Also new to the mix was Rick Wakeman on keyboards. Yes, that Rick Wakeman of the progressive rock superstar band Yes and his first appearance with OZZY on an album since the 1973 Black Sabbath album “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” when Yes and Sabbath were recording in adjacent studios. Unfortunately despite one of the most accomplished prog rock keyboard wizards on board, there isn’t much in keyboard virtuosity.

OZZMOSIS was another hit for OZZY as it reached number 4 on the Billboard album charts and went on to be certified triple platinum. This was one of those huge productions unlike any of his earlier albums with a whole army of engineering assistants and production and mastering crews. As well as OZZY and Zakk Wylde contributing in the songwriting department, so too did Geezer Butler and quite a few others including Steve Vai, Dream Theater’s John Purdell and Motorhead’s Lemmy Kilmister. Originally Steve Vai was on board to join the team on guitar duties but had a clash of personalities with OZZY allowing Wylde to jump back in the guitarist’s role once again.

Stylistically OZZMOSIS is a lot mellower than any other previous OZZY album. Starting with “No More Tears” he had shed the lunatic madman image and cleaned up his act. That album emerged at the tail end of the glam metal scene and a lot had changed in the next couple of years. Once Nirvana released their mega-hit “Nevermind,” the entire music scene shifted towards alternative rock and grunge and suddenly anything 80s wasn’t cool and bands like Soundgarden, Alice In Chains and Stone Temple Pilots were suddenly kings of the music scene. While many an 80s metal band attempted to adapt to the sudden changes, very few did it in a convincing way, however OZZY pulled off quite a convincing mix of the melodic heavy metal of the 80s with a spruced up take on alternative rock.

The album starts off with extraordinary strong single “Perry Mason,” which while sounding like classic OZZY is a bit of a head scratcher for subject matter for only a decade prior, OZZY was akin to the devil for the far right and no longer was he biting off bats but singing about TV based law shows. The album is rather mellow as a majority of the tracks are pop rock ballads with an alternative edge. “I Just Want You,” “Ghost Behind My Eyes” and “See You On The Other Side” are all catchy and subdued rockers that are much slower pop oriented than anything of the past. The only real metal cruncher on the entire album is “Thunder Underground” that unleashes the full Zakk Wylde guitar fury. “I Just Want You” even has a rather Nirvana type of rhythmic drive and i could easily imagine Kurt Cobain at the helm incomprehensibly screaming his heart out.

This has always been my least favorite OZZY album because of the lack of iconic metal compositions but as i’ve listened to this again after so many years for the sake of reviewing, i haven’t given this album a fair shake. True that it’s not OZZY’s most metal and it’s not his most innovative and it is certainly not the one with the most pyrotechnic guitar soloing flair, however it is chock full of catchy melodies and is probably the most Sabbath sounding of all his solo efforts for the obvious reason of Geezer contributing bass. It’s also one of the best produced albums of the 90s as the instrumentation blends together like a symphony without being overproduced. True this will never top my personal charts but not as bad as i remembered. The only complaint i have is that it doesn’t seem like OZZY evolved very much and he simply settled into a comfort zone that suited the time. While that was nothing out of the ordinary for the day, it certainly shows all these years later..


Live album · 1993 · Traditional heavy metal
Cover art 3.39 | 9 ratings
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siLLy puPPy
After the album “No More Tears,” OZZY OSBOURNE set out for yet another tour and very much intended it to be the last one as he was reaching burn out and found his hectic schedule to be suffocating his soul and thus the following tour was called “No More Tours.” Two years after the release of his most successful post Randy Rhoads era album, he released a double album live representation of his time on the road in the form of LIVE & LOUD. By this point he was experiencing a lineup change once again with bassist Bob Daisley and keyboardist John Sinclair jumping ship and replaced by bassist Mike Inez (who would go on with Alice In Chains) and keyboardist Kevin Jones.

LIVE & LOUD is a collection of live performances from all over the world and even includes a veritable Black Sabbath reunion on the track “Black Sabbath” that took place in Costa Mesa, CA. The album was originally released in two forms with one called a fat boy 2 CD case with the album cover perforated like a speaker grill which is the one i own and have always admired the clever packaging details. The release saw another version with a live DVD which was the first time a CD / DVD combo package had ever been released. This album had some legal issues because of the track “Shot In The Dark” appearing on it as there was some sort of legal battle over the track from ex-bassist Phil Soussan who co-wrote it. This kept it from being re-released for years but has since found new life.

Ironically OZZY even won a Grammy Award for the live version of “I Don’t Want To Change The World” from LIVE & LOUD. The album rode in the success of “No More Tears” and hit #22 on the Billboard album charts and easily went platinum showing that OZZY was immune to the grunge scene that had usurped the heavy rock throne between the release of this album and “No More Tears.” Apparently OZZY had enough metal creds to weather the storm and his status of Godfather of metal was in no danger of being watered down due to the new developments of 90s alternative metal and rock. Likewise, the album found success in many other countries including his native UK which is quite the achievement for an 80s metal artist releasing a double live album in the 90s.

While most of the tracks represent their studio versions quite well without significant deviations from the norm, there are a few tracks on LIVE & LOUD that differ significantly or are a product of the live setting. The intro is a medley of both Sabbath and Ozzy tracks that finally leads to the Sabbath track “Paranoid.” This is a major source of contention for me as i feel that OZZY should have evolved past his Sabbath days at this point and ceased to rely on his past glories, however he did contribute to the songwriting so they were fair game. It’s all slightly more tolerable with the old Sabbath team of Tommy Iomi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward reunite for a few shows included here. Wylde cranks out a guitar solo BEFORE and not after “Suicide Solution” which probably symbolizes something but ultimately i find his flair for improv soloing isn’t quite up to snuff despite having a great stage present and overall rhythm guitarist feel. However he does nail the Rhoads solos on the classics such as “Mr Crowley” and adds his own guitar squeals and slides to personalize them a bit. There is also a decent drum solo by Castillo that is short and to the point instead of dragging on forever.

This is a fairly good consistent set of LIVE & LOUD tracks from the Madman however it does feel a bit by-the-numbers despite an energetic delivery of the best tracks selected from different shows all over the world. This was also the tour where OZZY had a break down when he was in Knoxville, TN. That was the venue where Randy Rhoads played his last gig. After a strenuous tour and lack of sleep, the OZZ man had had enough and had to walk out in the middle of the show. Something was clearly amiss these days as the entire band basically flew the coop and another album wouldn’t come out for a few years and then only with a bunch of guest musicians (with the exception of Zakk Wylde). Overall, a decent album but not one that i get tremendously excited about either. I’d rather hear “Tribute” any day. No offense, Zakk.


Album · 1991 · Traditional heavy metal
Cover art 3.89 | 33 ratings
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siLLy puPPy
It had been almost a decade since OZZY OSBOURNE’s career was in dire straits after the sudden death of his revolutionary guitarist Randy Rhoads but he bounced back and maintained a successful solo career all throughout the 80s. With 1988’s “No Rest For The Wicked,” the Madman had found the perfect new sidekick Zakk Wylde to take over the guitar slot after the departure of Jake E. Lee. With Lee, OZZY was somewhat stagnant and couldn’t quite shake the Rhoads loss, but Wylde added a new style of guitar playing that eschewed the neoclassical Rhoads elements and created more of a bluesy metal with touches of country rock and took OZZY’s sound in a new direction. OZZY took a full three years to reinvent himself and work on the potentials of the new lineup. The result of all this was his sixth studio album “NO MORE TEARS” which found the Madman cleaning up his bad boy image (notice the angel wings on the cover), as well as turning to outside songwriters like Motörhead’s Lemmy Kilmister as well as the new style of Wylde’s contributions. None of these extra efforts were in vain and “NO MORE TEARS” became a huge hit not only spawning a number of popular videos but also hit the quadruple platinum mark making it his best selling album just after the debut “Blizzard Of Ozz.”

“NO MORE TEARS” is by far, OZZY’s most eclectic and diverse album of his career which makes it a compelling listen even to modern ears. While Randy Rhoads was an excellent songwriter, the focus was placed on his neoclassical guitar shredding skills. On “NO MORE TEARS” the emphasis is on the strength of the tracks themselves that utilize strong hooks, heavy guitar riffing and more attention paid to contrasting dynamics, tempo changes and even adds some country rock aspects that Wylde brought to the work table. Also a strength for the album is one of the rare examples of a stable lineup in OZZY’s band with the entire cast of “No Rest For The Wicked” back for another round of heavy metal mayhem. This includes Randy Castillo on drums, Bob Daisley on bass and John Sinclair on keys, however both Castillo and Daisley would jump ship after “NO MORE TEARS” leaving OZZY with yet another dilemma of finding suitable musicians to fill the slots, however after three years of perfecting a new album and a lengthy tour of the last album that even resulted in a short live EP titled “Just Say Ozzy,” this stability of the lineup yielded some interesting results on this one.

“NO MORE TEARS” basically falls into two categories of tracks, well three if you count the title track which sounds like nothing else OZZY has ever recorded. There are the heavy metal crunchers like “Mr. Tintertrain,” “Hellraiser” and “Zombie Stomp” and the slower ballads “Mama, I’m Coming Home,” “Time After Time” and “Road To Nowhere.” It’s on the slower tracks where Zakk Wylde really cranks up the Southern flavors of country rock on the acoustic guitar and unlike many of the ballads of OZZY’s 80s albums, these were superbly crafted with special attention placed on lyrical relevance and tightly delivered instrumental dynamics. Although the album has no throwaway tracks, the star of the show is by far the outstanding title track which utilizes a bass heavy rhythmic drive with an ethereal atmospheric accompaniment. The longest track of OZZY’s career perfectly balances a call and response between a bass / vocal line with the heavy guitar in the verse sections with an atmospheric overload on the chorus. The track employs an interesting art rock synthesized bridge that leads up to a ratcheting up effect that leads to one of the best guitar solos on the entire album. The track is by far one of the most popular ones in the post Randy Rhoads era.

While it took exactly a decade to completely transcend the Rhoads years, OZZY OSBOURNE pulled off the seemingly impossible task on “NO MORE TEARS” which not only displays a willingness to incorporate influences beyond the metal comfort zone of the day but also comes off as one of the Madman’s most mature albums of his entire canon. While retaining the respect as the Godfather of metal all throughout the 90s and beyond, “NO MORE TEARS” in reality symbolizes a peak in OZZY’s career with the erratic release of the albums that follow seeming more like occasional side projects rather than works of passion. It also seems that OZZY’s drug and alcohol abuse had taken an irreparable toll by this point in his career possibly leading to a creative burn out. Whatever the case, “NO MORE TEARS” remains one of OZZY’s most celebrated albums for good reasons. While not focusing on the technical prowess that Rhoads delivered, the album is chock full of catchy heavy metal that in retrospect represented the last hoorah of the classic metal era as this release came out just as the more extreme death, black and thrash metal bands were taking metal to ever more shocking arenas, and of course the near collapse of everything 80s in the wake of the grunge scene. In short, this is one of the best albums the OZZ-ster cranked out and one not to be missed.


EP · 1996 · Alternative Metal
Cover art 2.00 | 1 rating
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'Violated' is a six-song EP by rap metal band Stuck Mojo, released prior to the groups second album, 'Pigwalk', and originally intended only for European audiences.

The disc consists of four studio recordings, including early versions of 'Violated' and 'Back in the Saddle' (titled 'U.B.Otch' here), which would go on to appear on the 'Pigwalk' and 'Rising' albums respectively, (and much-improved, I might add). A Black Sabbath cover, and EP exclusive 'Pizza Man' are also included, and these are probably the only reasons to own this disc. Especially the latter, which is actually a really cool song, despite only being just over two minutes long!

Then there's two live tracks. Personally, I'm always sceptical about early rock releases like this with "live" songs. The quality is very raw, and the audience sound pretty fake, but either way, they're not really songs I'm bothered about.

Stuck Mojo are easily one of my all-time favourite bands, and guitarist Rich Ward is one of my absolute heroes as a musician, but overall, this release is one for the die-hard fans (and surely I'm not the only one!). The music is rough and gritty and the attitude and energy is easily apparent, but there's not really anything here that is either relevant or not improved-upon with later recordings.

OZZY OSBOURNE No Rest For The Wicked

Album · 1988 · Traditional heavy metal
Cover art 3.54 | 25 ratings
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siLLy puPPy
The years had been tumultuous for OZZY OSBOURNE after the death of Randy Rhoads as he was constantly trying to reinvent himself after the perfect band lineup of his first two albums. After a couple of albums with guitarist Jake E. Lee, the Madman was forced to find yet another guitarist after Lee jumped ship. Not exactly a surprise as it was later revealed that Lee wasn’t given credit for songwriting contributions on “Bark At The Moon,” and after the “Tribute” album was released during his tenure, it seemed too much to take and off Lee went to form his own band Badlands. After searching high and low, OZZY settled on the virtually unknown Zakk Wylde who had only played in small bands before auditioning for the coveting guitarist role with one of heavy metal’s hugest stars of the 80s. Actually the whole band had changed since “The Ultimate Sin,” with Bob Daisley reprising to take over Phil Soussan’s bass spot as well as John Sinclair usurping the keyboard throne of Mike Moran. Randy Castillo stick around on drums.

Zakk Wylde made his official debut to the larger world on OZZY’s fifth studio album “ NO REST FOR THE WICKED, “ which ushered in a totally new sound for the bathead chomping Madman. During the Lee years, the emphasis was placed on trying to recreate the lost Rhoads neoclassical style especially on “Bark At The Moon.” While still retaining some of the same flavor, “The Ultimate Sin” meandered a bit into more pop rock oriented territory which watered down the metal aspects of the classic OZZY heft. On “ NO REST FOR THE WICKED, “ Wylde dishes out a heavier metal feel once again while steering away from the neoclassical Rhoads era completely. Wylde contributed a more no nonsense bluesy shuffle style with distortion and metal angst turned up a few notches with heavy riffing, lesser emphasis on soloing and piggy guitar squeals. On the lyrical side of the equation, OZZY continues his assault on society with a stab at Jimmy Swaggart, the 80s televangelist who fell from grace after a prostitution scandal. Swaggart had been a huge critic of OZZY’s music and heavy metal in general.

Other tracks reveal more of the same with “Crazy Babies” and “Breakin’ All The Rules” showcasing OZZY’s rebellion-by-numbers approach and a nod to his vulnerabilities as heard on “Demon Alcohol.” Overall, “ NO REST FOR THE WICKED, “ is a decent album with several strong tracks showcasing Wylde’s new role as heavy metal guitar god however the songwriting is still below the standard of the unreachable magnificence of the first two albums. While “Miracle Man,” “Crazy Babies” and “Tattooed Dancer” are all excellent heavy metal rockers, some of the tracks like “Fire In The Sky” and “Bloodbath In Paradise” seem a little generic by OZZY’s standards. There is also a hidden bonus track, “Hero” on the CD versions which offers a nice surprise. I would hardly call “ NO REST FOR THE WICKED, “ even close to OZZY’s best album but it is not without its charm either as it really sounds like no other in his canon. After this one, Wylde’s role would expand and so would the diverse elements of the music itself. This is one i rarely listen to, but i have to admit that it has a raw aggression that is very appealing and a few stand out tracks that guarantee a nice heavy metal head banging experience.

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