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Ben
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Favorite Metal Artists

All Reviews/Ratings

20 reviews/ratings
GUAPO - Black Oni Avant-garde Metal | review permalink
SUICIDAL TENDENCIES - Suicidal Tendencies Hardcore Punk | review permalink
CAPTAIN BEYOND - Captain Beyond Heavy Psych | review permalink
BIRTH CONTROL - Operation Hard Rock | review permalink
BIRTH CONTROL - Hoodoo Man Hard Rock | review permalink
DEEP PURPLE - Deep Purple In Rock Hard Rock | review permalink
DEEP PURPLE - Fireball Hard Rock | review permalink
GRAND FUNK RAILROAD - Live Album Hard Rock | review permalink
ATTILA - Atilla Proto-Metal | review permalink
BLACK WIDOW - Sacrifice Proto-Metal | review permalink
COVEN - Witchcraft Destroys Minds and Reap Souls Proto-Metal | review permalink
ATOMIC ROOSTER - Atomic Roooster Hard Rock | review permalink
NINE INCH NAILS - Pretty Hate Machine Non-Metal | review permalink
BIRTH CONTROL - Backdoor Possibilities Non-Metal | review permalink
SCORPIONS - Lonesome Crow Proto-Metal | review permalink
DEEP PURPLE - Who Do We Think We Are Hard Rock | review permalink
ALICE COOPER - Pretties For You Proto-Metal | review permalink
AXIS - Axis III Proto-Metal | review permalink
MOUNTAIN - Flowers of Evil Hard Rock | review permalink
DEEP PURPLE - Concerto For Group And Orchestra Proto-Metal | review permalink

Metal Genre Nb. Rated Avg. rating
1 Hard Rock 8 4.25
2 Proto-Metal 7 3.79
3 Non-Metal 2 4.00
4 Avant-garde Metal 1 5.00
5 Hardcore Punk 1 5.00
6 Heavy Psych 1 5.00

Latest Albums Reviews

ALICE COOPER Pretties For You

Album · 1969 · Proto-Metal
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This is quite a bit different from the Alice Cooper that made him/them famous (as the band before 1975 was called Alice Cooper, not just Vincent Furnier). What you get here is heavy psych. Pretties For You was released on Frank Zappa's Straight label, and thanks to Zappa, some humor and quirky elements can be found here, even if Zappa never produced the album, there's a slight Zappa influence amongst the heavy psych. The back cover shows the band looking like a glam rock band circa 1972 (Alice Cooper himself wearing a dress but the facepaint hadn't yet been established), so that's actually pretty ahead of its time there, although the music is pretty much of its time for 1969. "Apple Bush", for example shows the quirky side, while "Fields of Regret" is more serious heavy psych. Plus you get "Reflected" which was later rerecorded in 1972 and released as a single as "Elected" (and ended up on Billion Dollar Babies the next year). The album isn't looked too fondly of, which is too bad, given I happen to like psych music, and this album happens to deliver. While the regular fan starts with Love it to Death, for obvious reasons, it's the beginning of Alice Cooper the shock rock artist, here it's Alice Cooper still trying to get his/their feet wet, and actually it's better than many will let you believe. "Levity Ball" is a great song, although the sound quality is pretty awful (it was a live recording), actually the original LP isn't that great sounding (I own the original LP on the orange label that says "Straight" on top in a curved fashion), and sometime I think that's the reason for the low rating. So another one of those underrated albums that I actually quite enjoy!

GRAND FUNK RAILROAD Live Album

Live album · 1970 · Hard Rock
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When I was in my teens (circa 1989) I kept hearing how Grand Funk Railroad was the forefathers of heavy metal. From hearing "I'm Your Captain", I was thinking that song has as much metal going as your typical Crosby, Stills & Nash song. It's certainly a great song, and even the band's detractors tend to think fondly of it. It even resonated with my hippie spirit living as a small child in rural Oregon in the late '70s in a semi-hippie fashion (helped that there was a hippie commune at the time within walking distance, and my father owned an old, beat-up VW split window Microbus). Not to mention the nearest radio station (KZEL 96.1 FM, major Eugene rock station, still around) would play that song at that time. "We're An American Band" seems more like mainstream hard-ish rock, and "The Locomotion" and "Some Kind of Wonderful" were full-on R&B covers. Of course I didn't quite realize it's the songs not played on the radio, mostly concentrated in the Terry Knight-era (1969-71) that should be concern of people digging into the roots of metal, as many of them are quite heavy, especially "Sin's a Good Man's Brother" from Closer to Home (which is hard to believe is on the same album that has "I'm Your Captain").

Of anything Grand Funk had done to earn them the "forefathers of heavy metal", check out their 1970 Live Album! This appears to be their first album to include some extras, in this case, a poster (although my used copy included inner sleeves from the 1972 Mark, Don & Mel compilation album, which seems to go along with the poster, although it includes newpaper excerpts of Grand Funk after 1970, up to 1972, so obviously those sleeves weren't included when originally purchased, my copy is the original with the green Capitol label, the poster only obviously includes the events of Grand Funk up to 1970). It's so strange that Grand Funk would release a live album so early in their career. On Time and the Red Album had already came out, and Closer to Home barely came out in time for them to do a live version of "Mean Mistreater", included here. Let me tell you: Many of these songs really threaten to kick the life out of the studio originals, and many of them do. This album is everything the fans loved of the band, and everything the rock critics absolutely hated about them. "Are You Ready" isn't too terribly different from the original from On Time, but it makes sense, makes a great introductory song. They take on "Paranoid", which sticks mainly to the studio original. "In Need" is one of a handful of extended jams they do on this album, along with their cover of Eric Burdon & the Animals' "Inside Looking Out" (their first cover song, first appearing in studio form on the Red Album), "T.N.U.C." and "Into the Sun". The latter really clobbers the studio original, with this most loud, insane jam, with Mark Farner giving so much loud distortion and feedback on his guitar you can see why the rock critics hated this band. It's the kind of music certain to drive your neighbor up a wall, and it still can hold true to this day if that person is a Nicki Minaj or Justin Bieber fan, the average 14 year old today would probably recoil in horror, which is ironic, given in 1970 the average 14 year old was likely buying a GFR album. "T.N.U.C." is probably the weakest thing here, it's basically the same song with the drum solo extended twice as long, Don Brewer seemed to be repeating the same drum pattern again. I know the band probably had the likes of Cream's "Toad" in mind, but Don Brewer is obviously no Ginger Baker, nor did he ever think so. There is one song on this album available nowhere else and that's "Mark Says Alright", which is a great piece, could have easily fit on Closer to Home. As for that album, as mentioned "Mean Mistreater" is the only song represented, although I could imagine what they done to "Sin's a Good Man's Brother" (although as great as "I'm Your Captain" is, it would be seriously out of place on this album). I don't want to forget Mel Schacher who played bass like there was no tomorrow! In fact the whole band was playing like no tomorrow on this album.

If you want Grand Funk at their most raw and powerful, the kind of album to drive your neighbors crazy, this is a total must have!

DEEP PURPLE Concerto For Group And Orchestra

Live album · 1969 · Proto-Metal
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This is probably the most controversial album in the Deep Purple catalog. It's an experiment they did once and never again. I know, there was Gemini Suite, but that was actually originally released as a Jon Lord album, realizing some of the Deep Purple guys (such as Ritchie Blackmore) wanted nothing to do with it, it was later reissues that tagged the "Deep Purple" name on it to help boost sales. It's clear that Concerto for Group and Orchestra was Jon Lord's idea. It's also the first to feature Ian Gillan and Roger Glover, but you'll never know that from hearing it. Lord must have had a monster sized ego to try something like this. Obviously the Moody Blues had big success with Days of Future Passed, combining rock band with orchestra, so why not Deep Purple? One big complaint many level at Days of Future Passed is the lack of band and orchestra interaction. The orchestra would play a theme that the band would later play, but rarely interact. The same problem with this album, only even more so. Malcolm Arnold conducts the orchestra here. What I do like is many of the nice ideas and moods the orchestra creates, and I do like it when the band gets jamming, but when they do, the orchestra keeps silent. There's a few parts where one of the band members interact with the orchestra later on, but never the full band. While Ian Gillan makes his vocal debut, it's only on one short spot, and he sounds just like his predecessor, Rod Evans, so much so you think Rod hadn't even left the band yet. Of course the screaming style he's most famous for would be totally inappropriate for this album. Despite obvious flaws with this album, I expected it to be boring, but actually there are some really nice ideas, and found it good, not great, though. I'm not surprised that the band members weren't on the same page when it comes for opinion. Ritchie Blackmore thought the orchestra was being condescending to the band, while John Lord and even Malcolm Arnold was happy with the results. Certainly the Moody Blues' Days of Future Passed is more popular, as is probably every other rock with orchestra experiment, like Rick Wakeman's Journey to the Centre of the Earth, Procol Harum's Live with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, and the Nice's Five Bridges, but it probably has to do with those albums had more emphasis on band interaction and even orchestral interaction.

Is Concerto for Group and Orchestra a total failure? Not really, as mentioned the flaws are obvious, but since I ended up enjoying it, I give it a three star rating, which is decent, but I wouldn't recommend it if you want that "in your face" rocking action of In Rock, and for fans of early hard rock/metal, it really should be a two star rating.

DEEP PURPLE Fireball

Album · 1971 · Hard Rock
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I can see why In Rock ended up such an unbridled rocking album, it was totally a reaction towards Concerto for Group and Orchestra (it wasn't exactly a commercial success, or a critical one, for that matter). And it succeeded big time, although it didn't feature the big hits you hear off Machine Head, it didn't really matter. In Rock finally gave the band an identity. Fireball, while never a maligned album isn't as highly regarded, probably because of the high standards that put themselves up on In Rock. I own the American LP with "Strange Kind of Woman" instead of "Demon's Eye". It's a classic example of UK singles not being released on upcoming UK albums, but needed to include on the American LP release, in this case, "Strange Kind of Woman" (Jimi Hendrix's Are You Experienced is even a more extreme case, as "Hey Joe", "Purple Haze" and "Wind Cries Mary" were never included on the UK LP because they were released as singles already, but included on the American LP, and I can go on about UK and US Beatles and Stones LPs released up to 1967, but I won't). On with the review:

The title track rocks just as hard as anything off their previous album. It even includes proto-speed metal guitar riffs, so if there's such a thing as "proto-speed metal" this is definitely it! It's not Ride the Lightening-era Metallica or Slayer, but speed metal was the roots of thrash metal, and Deep Purple doing perhaps the first ever speed metal song. "Strange Kind of Woman" should have been a hit in America (again, don't pay attention to this part if you live in the UK, unless your CD reissue includes this song as a bonus cut), classic Deep Purple all the way. "Anyone's Daughter" is a bit different: Ritchie Blackmore attempting country music, and the rare time the band doesn't take themselves seriously. I don't recall hearing acoustic guitar in a Deep Purple song before (or after). "The Mule" is more adventurous, more in heavy prog territory, while Jon Lord provides some nice psychedelic organ playing on "The Fool", but there are heavier parts of this song with Ian Gillan providing his trademark screaming vocals. It's a bit on the experimental side so the more conventional hard rock or metal fan might find this a bit hard listening, but as I'm also a fan of prog rock, I can appreciate the approach they do here.

As mentioned, In Rock gave the band very high standards that may be hard to top, but Fireball is still very much worth having.

DEEP PURPLE Who Do We Think We Are

Album · 1973 · Hard Rock
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There are underrated albums where I can't see what's wrong with them. The Doors' Soft Parade, for example did have a couple of rather pop-oriented numbers ("Tell All the People", "Touch Me"), but a lot of it is more typical Doors, so I didn't see a lot wrong with that album. Even their two post-Jim Morrison albums, Other Voices and Full Circle aren't that bad, if you view them as Ray Manzarek/Robbie Krieger albums, and not Jim Morrison-fronted Doors. Yes' Drama is also underrated, but for most people it just isn't Yes without Jon Anderson. Even in the metal world, there's Judas Priest's Rocka Rolla which is more bluesy hard rock, so think of it as that, and you'll probably be fine, and Scorpions' Lonesome Crow, which is more of a psych/prog/Krautrock album but with hard rock trappings (it's more of a proto-metal album). Who Do We Think We Are is the last Mark II lineup Deep Purple album (at least until the 1980s) and considered the weakest of them all (if you bar Concerto for Group and Orchestra). It's not that bad, in fact I found much of the album quite enjoyable. "Woman From Tokyo" is the classic, and, next to "Smoke on the Water" a song you can't get away from if hearing classic FM rock. "Mary Long" and "Smooth Dancer" are also quite enjoyable, and to be honest, none of the album is really that bad. Certainly In Rock, Fireball and Machine Head are required, but with lowered expectations, I wasn't expecting much out of Who Do We Think We Are and came out surprised.

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