About MMA (intro)

METALMUSICARCHIVES.COM (MMA) intends to be a complete and powerful Metal music resource. You can find Metal artists discographies from 27910 bands & artists, 118862 releases, ratings and reviews from members who also participate in our forum.

metal music reviews (new releases)

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

Album · 2018 · Power Metal
Cover art 3.50 | 2 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
adg211288
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
Buy this album from MMA partners
DippoMagoo
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
Buy this album from MMA partners
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.

OPERATION: MINDCRIME The New Reality

Album · 2017 · Hard Rock
Cover art 2.00 | 1 rating
Buy this album from MMA partners
Kev Rowland
When I think of Geoff Tate I always think of one video clip, for one song, namely his singing on the charity single "Stars". He had been give his lines, and the first time he sang it he just wasn't happy and he just gave up and it was possible to see that he was wondering how to give it justice. When he returned to it he gave probably the best vocal performance of all those involved, and there were quality singers that day. Fast forward a few years and he and Queensrÿche parted company, not exactly on the best of terms, and after certain legalities he was no longer allowed to use that name so instead called his band after one of the most important prog albums of all time.

Apparently, this is the third and final chapter in a musical trilogy, following a little over one year after the release of the second chapter, 'Resurrection', and about two years after the first chapter, 'The Key'. For this project he has brought together a host of musicians, including Kelly Gray, John Moyer, Simon Wright, Scott Mercado, Scott Moughton, Brian Tichy and Mike Ferguson. But, just having known musicians play on the album doesn't mean that it works, and having a solid recording history doesn't mean that Geoff still has the goods. Let's be honest, I really didn't like this album - it is a collection of good intentions, with strange arrangements and confusion, and often with the vocals way too low in the mix and the drums way too high. Is Geoff trying to be Peter Gabriel, or David Bowie? He certainly doesn't appear to be the person we expect him to be, and for that I applaud him. Apparently this release is "another fine progressive rock/metal entry from Tate". No it isn't.

OBITUARY Obituary

Album · 2017 · Death Metal
Cover art 4.01 | 9 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
Kev Rowland
Truly one of the originals of the death metal scene, Obituary's 'Slowly We Rot' from nearly thirty years is still highlighted by many as a classic, and it is incredible to see that three of the guys in that line-up are still here on the tenth studio album. When I heard that this album had been released I was incredibly excited, as I have always thought of Obituary as a band that will always deliver the goods, time after time. But, even though the band is tight, John's vocals are as raw as they have ever been, and they smash through one song after another there was just something missing for me, a spark, that magical item that lifted them out of the ordinary.

To be honest, I soon discovered that I was bored, which is never a good thing in any form of music, but with death metal? Really? When I started looking ahead to see how many songs there were still to play on the album I knew that something wasn't right. It's not that I have lost my love of the genre, in fact I listen to far more of it these days than I did ten or twenty years ago. A quick check of my collection made me realise something that surprised me, namely that although I do have four other albums by Obituary, the most recent is from twenty years ago. So possibly I have never been as much of a fan as I thought I was, and this album is unlikely to do anything to make me change that opinion. Thy will always be a favourite on the festival circuit, and I am sure that they are great in concert, but is this an album to rush out and buy? It's not bad, but it certainly isn't brilliant either.

See more metal music reviews (new releases)

metal music reviews (older releases)

OZZY OSBOURNE Live & Loud

Live album · 1993 · Traditional heavy metal
Cover art 3.39 | 9 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
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.

OZZY OSBOURNE No More Tears

Album · 1991 · Traditional heavy metal
Cover art 3.89 | 33 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
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.

STUCK MOJO Violated

EP · 1996 · Alternative Metal
Cover art 2.00 | 1 rating
Buy this album from MMA partners
martindavey87
'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
Buy this album from MMA partners
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.

PORCUPINE TREE Pure Narcotic

Single · 1999 · Non-Metal
Cover art 2.33 | 2 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
FMOTP
This is a good single by Porcupine Tree, if not their best. Like almost anything by the band, it's well worth your listening time. 2 tracks are songs from the band's STUPID DREAM album; one is played live. I think there are better songs on the full album. The album is one of PT's more commercial, which is not a criticism at all.

The third track, "Door to the River" from METANOIA, is more of an ambient experiment than an actual rock song. Nothing at all metal here, but few people do ambient as well as Steven Wilson. There is also a vinyl single with an acoustic version of "Nine Cats" available, according to Discord. In summary, this might be a more valuable release for established fans. If you're looking for something from this period besides the full studio albums, this is a good choice.

OZZY OSBOURNE Tribute

Live album · 1987 · Traditional heavy metal
Cover art 4.26 | 16 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
OZZY OSBOURNE hit the ground running after leaving Black Sabbath mostly due to his amazing luck of finding the extraordinary talented guitarist Randy Rhoads to join his ranks. Together the two would even share a flat together where they crafted two classic albums in the form of “Blizzard Of Ozz” and “Diary Of A Madman” which would catapult the Madman’s solo career to the ranks of success that he enjoyed with his former band. Rhoads had practically reinvented metal when he formulated a new style of neoclassical metal fusion that built on the classics of Ritchie Blackmore but fused it with the doom metal side of Sabbath’s metal sound along with the pyrotechnic flair of what Eddie Van Halen was famous for. The result was a blueprint for the neoclassical guitar shredding to come as well as the first steps for progressive metal artists to work off of. The duo seemed poised to dominate the entire 80s as nobody could match the songwriting skills and technical wizardry of Rhoads’ virtuosic skills. But that all came to an end on 19 March 1982 when Rhoads died in a senseless plane crash while on the “Diary Of A Madman” tour.

While a live album was planned after the tour was completed, Randy’s sudden death scrapped the whole idea and the project was pushed down the road indefinitely. Because of contractual obligations, OZZY opted to go on a short tour with Brad Gillis of Night Ranger on guitar and cover Black Sabbath songs which resulted in the release of the live album “Speak Of The Devil” (“Talk Of The Devil” in the UK) instead. While the show carried on with a new guitarist Jake E. Lee taking on the impossible task of carrying on in the slot, the project was never scrapped but merely delayed. Finally five years to the day after Randy’s untimely passing, TRIBUTE was released in 1987 in honor of the great talent who left us too soon thus memorializing him for eternity complete with an equal billing on the title credits. The album was comprised of different live performances from different venues, mostly on the “Diary Of A Madman” tour with the lion’s share recorded in Cleveland, Ohio on 11 May 1981 but a few were recorded in other venues and “Goodbye To Romance” and “No Bone Movies” were actually recorded on the “Blizzard Of Ozz” tour and are the only two tracks to feature bassist Bob Paisley and drummer Lee Kerslake.

The album was an instant hit and entered the top 10 on Billboard’s album chart and even saw a re-release of “Crazy Train” as a single. The album features Randy Rhoads strutting his stuff in a live setting and thus proving to the world that he was more than a mere studio hack. After a brief classical intro featuring snippets of Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana,” the album showcases OZZY OSBOURNE’s reign of musical power of the early 80s with Randy Rhoads as the band’s highlight. Rhoads was not only a highly disciplined songwriter and guitar teacher but on TRIBUTE he demonstrates how he painstakingly would rewrite guitar segments that were designed for two guitar as heard on the studio albums and rework them so that he could capture the spirit of both parts woven into one. He also showed his spontaneous improvisation skills as heard on the outstanding extended soloing at the end of “Suicide Solution.” While much of the album very much echoes the authenticity of the solo albums, it’s the small fills and deviations from the norm that offer glimpses into Rhoads’ meticulous compositional skills.

TRIBUTE is one of those rare live albums that actually exceeds the studio albums from where the tracks were taken. The entire band performed extraordinarily well together and made the already strong tracks seem even stronger. The extra touches of improvised soloing and live energy was the icing on the cake. While i’m personally not the biggest fan of most live albums as i find most bands carry out their best work in the studio, TRIBUTE proves that the commanding power duo of OZZY OSBOURNE and Randy Rhoads were creating some of the most influential heavy metal of the era. While this live TRIBUTE album to Randy Rhoads was quite well received, it was the final straw for Jake E. Lee who had already been forced to sell his songwriting contributions away to join the band. After the release of TRIBUTE, Lee would jump ship and OZZY would be back to the drawing board of finding yet another guitarist and would eventually settle on Zakk Wylde. For live TRIBUTE albums, it doesn’t get any better than this solid series of performances that shows OZZY at the top of his game with one of the most deserving of guitarists who truly deserved the overused “god” status. This one is a must for anyone interested in the highlights of live heavy metal action of the early 80s.

OZZY OSBOURNE Bark At The Moon

Album · 1983 · Traditional heavy metal
Cover art 3.29 | 37 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
The year 1982 was a terrible one to say the least with OZZY OSBOURNE losing one of the most gifted guitarists in the nascent years of heavy metal music in the form of Randy Rhoads who met an untimely passing in an airplane crash early in that year. After two hugely successful albums that launched OZZY’s solo career into the same league of his former band Black Sabbath, it seemed that it was all about to come crashing down. Forced to fulfill the impossible task of finding a guitarist to take the place of the unreachable heights of Randy Rhoads, OZZY finally settled on the young guitarist Jake E. Lee who had paid his dues in the bands Micky Ratt (who would later become the successful glam metal band Ratt) and Rough Cutt. After a short tour with Brad Gillis of Night Ranger as the guitarist performing Black Sabbath songs to fulfill his recording contract with Jet Records, OZZY wasted no time grieving over his huge loss and unleashed his third studio album BARK AT THE MOON as the year 1983 came to an end which found his debut on the Epic branch of the CBS label.

The death of Randy Rhoads also signaled the end of the first lineup of the OZZ’s early years. As well as Jake E. Lee jumping on board, Tommy Aldridge took over the drumming duties formerly occupied by Lee Kerslake and Don Airey (of Rainbow, Colosseum and Michael Schenker fame) joined as the first official keyboardist. The only member to cross the new frontier into the next chapter of OZZ was Bob Daisley on bass. It’s hard to fathom just how popular OZZY was during the early 80s and the fans responded with resounding enthusiasm supporting their favorite madman by adding yet another platinum album to his resume as it hit number 19 on the Billboard charts. Your experience of BARK AT THE MOON will depend on which side of the Atlantic you reside since there are two versions of the album with mostly the same tracks but different track orders. The US version contains the tracks “Slow Down” and “Centre Of Eternity” which arent’ on the UK version and likewise the “Spiders” and “Forever” tracks are only on the UK version. Remastered versions contain all the tracks but the US track order has become the standard. BTW, “Forever” and “Centre Of Eternity” are actually the same track with different titles.

Stylistically OZZY had hit upon a new sound with Rhoads joining his ranks and it sounds like all efforts were to replicate that successful formula at all costs on BARK AT THE MOON. While the neoclassical compositional constructs are apparent complete with the boogie rock flavored metal riffing as heard on the albums “Blizzard Of Ozz” and “Diary Of A Madman,” it is clear that Jake E. Lee didn’t quite have the technical prowess of Rhoads, therefore his own idiosyncratic style of playing is the first thing that is noticeable on BARK AT THE MOON. Whereas Rhoads was a master of neoclassical constructs and tremolo picking, Lee on the other hand utilizes a more unique style of riff shuffling with more bluesy solos that utilize the art of guitar slides. While not as developed as Rhoads, Lee actually handles his guitar duties quite tastefully in the thankless job of filling the shoes of the one history’s greats. It was later revealed that Lee had a huge part in writing the album although he was pressured to give up such claims by Sharon Osbourne to sell out those rights so that OZZY could claim full songwriting credit. This was a major point of dissatisfaction of course which led Lee to hang around for only one more album.

Lyrically OZZY continues his shenanigans of lunatic in chief with errant juvenile rebellion in full form as heard on tracks like “Rock ’n’ Roll Rebel,” madman imagery as heard on the title track and the attempt to once again try to pull off a lame ballad in the form of “So Tired,” one that would signify a major downward trend in OZZY’s popularity as this sort of track has always been a thorn in his side. Add to the controversy was the fact that a Canadian man murdered a woman and her kids after listening to this album and claimed that the album made him do it. All of this hit at the same time that similar charges were coming to roost regarding his song “Suicide Solution.” It’s hard to understand how these things panned out in the 80s when in the 21st century it all seems so tame in comparison to modern day standards, but the religious right in the US were on a major witchhunt with artists like OZZY OSBOURNE the poster child as public enemy #1.

Despite the tragic loss of Randy Rhoads, OZZY pulled out a fairly decent album and while not up to par with the ridiculously brilliant first two albums, isn’t as bad as many make it out to be. The compositions are the same catchy melodic traditional heavy metal that was going strong in the 80s by this point and the addition of the keyboards adds another element of melodic counterpoint. Jake E. Lee, while not quite up to god status, pulled off a rather heroic duty of not only anonymously contributing to the majority of the songwriting on the album but played beautifully delivered heavy riffing with his own unique guitar soloing that had those satisfying squeals. While tracks like “Slow Down” and “Waiting For Darkness” definitely have more of a pop rock feel than metal, the title track, “Rock ’n’ Roll Rebel” and “Centre Of Eternity” aka “Forever” are all some of OZZY’s best tracks. Even the ballads aren’t as bad as many make them out to be. No, BARK AT THE MOON will never usurp the throne as the OZZ-man’s greatest moment but considering the dark chapter of his history that it emerged out of, i think it turned out fairly decent. And yeah, that “Spiders” track is just weird!

MOTÖRHEAD Orgasmatron

Album · 1986 · Traditional heavy metal
Cover art 4.06 | 36 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
UMUR
"Orgasmatron" is the 7th full-length studio album by UK hard/heavy rock act Motörhead. The album was released through GWR Records August 1986. It´s the follow up to "Another Perfect Day", which was released in June 1983, which at the time, was the longest recording break Motörhead had had. Quite a few lineup changes had occured though, and Lemmy needed time to get the band going again. Guitarist Brian "Robbo" Robertson (Thin Lizzy), who performed on "Another Perfect Day (1983)" was always meant to be a temporary solution, and he is replaced here by Phil Campbell and Würzel, making "Orgasmatron" the first Motörhead album to feature two guitarists. Longstanding Motörhead drummer Phil "Philthy Animal" Taylor temporarily left Motörhead during this period and is replaced here by Pete Gill. Taylor would be back behind the kit on "Rock 'n' Roll (1987)".

"Another Perfect Day (1983)" was a bit of an anomaly in Motörhead´s dicography (which doesn´t necessarily mean it´s a bad album), mainly because of Brian Robertson´s guitar style, and it was not a commercial success for the band, so "Orgasmatron" is naturally a bit harder edged and heavy, as if Lemmy wanted to prove a point. It´s details though and the music on the album is still unmistakably the sound of Motörhead just as the case was on "Another Perfect Day (1983)". Tracks like "Deaf Forever" and the title track are however among the most metal oriented and heavy tracks in the band´s discography. At it´s roots the music is still amplified badass blues based rock´n´roll with Lemmy´s distinct sounding raw voice in front. In addition to the two tracks mentioned above, which are some of the highlights on the album, you could pick just about any track off the album and it would be a standout track. In that regard "Orgasmatron" is a very consistent release.

The material on the 9 track, 35:34 minutes long album is generally both well written and catchy, but also relatively varied, which makes "Orgasmatron" one of the stronger Motörhead albums when it comes to memorability. The album is relatively well produced although it features some of the 80s reverb abuse, which was popular at the time, and which makes the production sound slightly dated. It´s still raw and powerful though, which suits the music perfectly.

"Orgasmatron" ended up being a commercial comeback for Motörhead, and the album charted much better than "Another Perfect Day (1983)" did. To my ears the two albums are pretty equal in quality, but "Orgasmatron" is probably the more popular album because it´s harder edged and more raw sounding than it´s predecessor. It´s overall another high quality release by Motörhead deserving a 4 star (80%) rating.

WITCHERY Witchburner

EP · 1999 · Thrash Metal
Cover art 3.52 | 2 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
UMUR
"Witchburner" is an EP release by Swedish metal act Witchery. The EP was released through Necropolis Records in March 1999. It bridges the gap between the debut full-length studio album "Restless & Dead (1998)" and the band´s second full-length studio album "Dead, Hot and Ready (1999)". There have been no changes in the lineup since the debut album, so the five-piece of Toxine (Vocals), Mique (Drums), Richard Corpse (lead guitars), Patrik Jensen (rhythm guitars), and Sharlee D'Angelo (Bass, lead guitars), is still intact. Some of the members are rather prolific and are also featured in acts like Mercyful Fate, Arch Enemy, and The Haunted.

"Witchburner" is a 7 track, 25:21 minutes long EP, featuring 4 cover tracks and 3 originals. The covers are "Fast as a Shark" by Accept, "I Wanna Be Somebody" by W.A.S.P., "Riding on the Wind" by Judas Priest, and "Neon Knights" by Black Sabbath. Pretty good material choices considering Witchery´s usual traditional oriented heavy/speed/thrash metal style. Toxine is of course a more extreme type vocalist than the guys who sang on the originals, but he gives it his all, and the raw vocals generally work really well on the covers. I think Toxine´s voice and delivery work the best on "Fast as a Shark" and "I Wanna Be Somebody", because both Udo Dirkschneider (Accept) and Blackie Lawless (W.A.S.P.) are rather extreme vocalists in their own right, while especially "Neon Knights" doesn´t work as well, because Dio´s vocal style is more melodic, and Toxine isn´t fully able to do Dio´s vocal lines justice with his hoarse croak. The three original tracks are of a good quality and pretty much continue the music style of the debut album.

The musicianship is on a high level, and the material is well produced too, so "Witchburner" is overall a great quality EP release by Witchery. There´s both enough quantity and quality to justify a 3.5 star (70%) rating.

MANITOU Entrance

Album · 1995 · Progressive Metal
Cover art 3.25 | 2 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
UMUR
"Entrance" is the debut full-length studio album by Norwegian progressive metal act Manitou. The album was released through Mind The Gap Records in 1995. Manitou was formed under the Powerslaves monicker in 1985 and initially played Iron Maiden covers, but later changed their name to Manitou and started writing original material. Although they originally existed for over a decade, Manitou´s recording output can be counted on one hand and "Entrance" was their only official studio recording on a label before they disbanded. Lead vocalist Øyvind Hægeland would later participate on releases by artists like Spiral Architect, Lunaris, Scariot, and play live with Arcturus.

While Manitou´s traditional heavy metal past isn´t completely gone from the music on "Entrance", they take a more progressive turn on this album. The music isn´t overtly technical (although there are plenty of tempo- and time signature changes featured on the album), and we´re predominantly treated to a more subtle type of progressive playing. Not completely unlike listening to a heavy metal oriented Fates Warning (1988-1990). The musicianship is generally on a very high level, and especially Øyvind Hægeland´s strong voice and vocal performance impress. His delivery here is very convincing (great harmonies too). His voice is reminiscent of Ray Adler´s voice, which further enhances the Fates Warning comparison I made above.

The music is guitar/vocal driven progressive metal with only sparse and subtle use of keyboards, which places "Entrance" in a 1980s progressive metal tradition rather than a 1990s ditto. While the guitars and vocals take a lot of focus, the rhythm section are very strong playing too, and definitely worth a mention. The sound production is clear, detailed, and professional, but as a consequence of the instrumentation, which doesn´t feature many layers, there are times during the playing time, when the mix sounds a bit empty. It´s a minor issue though, and most of the time, the music sounds fine.

The 11 track, 71:49 minutes long album is a quality release through and through, although it´s slightly too long for it´s own good. But then again I can understand the motivation behind releasing as much material as possible, when you´ve waited 10 years to release your debut album. It´s not the most original sounding progressive metal album and considering it was released in 1995, it sounds slightly dated, but to fans of 1980s progressive metal this should be a real treat. a 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

See all metal music reviews (old + new)

MMA TOP 5 Metal ALBUMS

Rating by members, ranked by custom algorithm
Albums with 30 ratings and more
Master of Puppets Thrash Metal
METALLICA
Buy this album from our partners
Rising Traditional heavy metal
RAINBOW
Buy this album from our partners
Rust in Peace Thrash Metal
MEGADETH
Buy this album from our partners
Paranoid Traditional heavy metal
BLACK SABBATH
Buy this album from our partners
Ride the Lightning Thrash Metal
METALLICA
Buy this album from our partners

New Metal Artists

New Metal Releases

Debt of Aeons Doom Metal
KING GOAT
Buy this album from MMA partners
Feast for Water Doom Metal
MESSA
Buy this album from MMA partners
We Will All Be Gone Progressive Metal
GOOD TIGER
Buy this album from MMA partners
VI Atmospheric Black Metal
ARKHTINN
Buy this album from MMA partners
Hell to Pay Traditional heavy metal
SPARTAN WARRIOR
Buy this album from MMA partners
More new releases

New Free Metal MP3 download/stream

New Metal Online Videos

More videos

New MMA Metal Forum Topics

More in the forums

New Site interactions

More...

Latest Metal News

members-submitted

More in the forums

Social Media

Share this site
Follow us

Buy Metal Music Online