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30 reviews/ratings
METALLICA - Master of Puppets Thrash Metal | review permalink
RAINBOW - Rising Heavy Metal | review permalink
BLUE ÖYSTER CULT - Tyranny And Mutation Hard Rock | review permalink
EXIVIOUS - Exivious Progressive Metal | review permalink
BLACK SABBATH - Heaven And Hell Heavy Metal | review permalink
DEEP PURPLE - Deep Purple In Rock Hard Rock | review permalink
DEEP PURPLE - Machine Head Hard Rock | review permalink
QUEENSRŸCHE - Operation: Mindcrime Progressive Metal | review permalink
BLACK SABBATH - Sabbath Bloody Sabbath Heavy Metal | review permalink
RUSH - Moving Pictures Hard Rock | review permalink
BLUE ÖYSTER CULT - Imaginos Hard Rock | review permalink
DEEP PURPLE - Burn Hard Rock | review permalink
BLUE ÖYSTER CULT - Fire Of Unknown Origin Hard Rock | review permalink
RAINBOW - Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow Hard Rock | review permalink
BLUE ÖYSTER CULT - Blue Öyster Cult Hard Rock | review permalink
RUBYCONE - Pictures of Susceptible Housewives Progressive Metal | review permalink
DEEP PURPLE - Come Taste The Band Hard Rock | review permalink
DEEP PURPLE - Fireball Hard Rock | review permalink
DEEP PURPLE - Perfect Strangers Hard Rock | review permalink
BLACK SABBATH - Mob Rules Heavy Metal | review permalink

See all reviews/ratings

Metal Genre Nb. Rated Avg. rating
1 Hard Rock 16 3.88
2 Progressive Metal 8 3.56
3 Heavy Metal 5 4.50
4 Thrash Metal 1 5.00

Latest Albums Reviews


Album · 2008 · Progressive Metal
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These days no country in the world seems to be immune to the spread of progressive metal, and Italy is no exception. Unsurprisingly, many of those bands choose to follow the 'traditional', Dream Theater-inspired strain of the genre, which places a strong emphasis on technical proficiency, and is characterized by keyboards and soaring vocals. Both of these elements obviously appeal to the Italian love of the theatrical, and allow for a healthy dose of melody. On the other hand, it is also true that, as popular as prog-metal (and metal as a whole) may be in Italy, it is also quite foreign to its musical tradition. As a result, with very few exceptions, the average Italian prog metal band does not really sound too different from a similar band from another country - especially when, as in the case of Centrica, vocals are written out of the equation.

Given the Italian passion for singing, Centrica's choice of recording a completely instrumental album for their debut may come across as somewhat peculiar. However, this single factor, besides setting them apart from many of their fellow Italian prog-metallers, allows them to concentrate exclusively on the music. As is to be expected in this particular subgenre, the four members of the band are extremely good at their respective instruments, and their sound is more keyboard- than guitar-oriented. As a matter of fact, keyboardist Andrea Pavanello is a friend and online student of none other than Dream Theater keyboard wizard Jordan Rudess - so, quite unsurprisingly, the seven tracks on "Centrica" owe a lot to the New York band's instrumental efforts. In the same way, this is undeniably music that easier to appreciate if you are a practising musician rather than a casual listener.

On each of the seven tracks but one - the dreamy "Dulcedo", a piano-guitar interlude - there are enough time signature changes to make your head spin, the mood shifting abruptly from spacey and stately to aggressive and crushingly heavy. Though all the instruments get their turn in the spotlight, Centrica's sound is clearly based on the interaction between guitar and keyboards - with quite a sizable amount of shredding and noodling. Personally, I find the insistence on extracting all sorts of whistling, wheezing, swirling sounds from synthesizers rather annoying, though it may well be a cause for delight to other listeners.

While "D.N.A. Pt. 1" breaks the mould in some ways, being mainly based on a majestic keyboard crescendo sprinkled with acoustic guitar, "D.N.A. Pt. 2" is an incredibly complex offering, brimming with all those things that send Dream Theater fans into fits of sheer ecstasy, and make others shake their heads in perplexity. The longest track on the album, the 9-minute-plus "Reality and Illusion", is a keyboard-fest of the first order; while album closer "Eternal Dimension" goes for the throat with some harsh guitar sounds and machine-gun-like riffage, interspersed by pyrotechnic displays of keyboard virtuosity.

A decidedly positive feature of this album is its relatively short running time, which eliminates the need for filler material, and reduces the risk of listener weariness. The lack of vocals might also make the album more appealing to those who are put off by the all too often cheesy singing that seems to be rife in classic prog-metal. Hopefully, the band's next effort will see a touch more restraint in the occasionally overwhelming use of keyboards. Anyway, even though the album is not particularly innovative, fans of highly technical progressive metal are quite likely to appreciate "Centrica".

RUSH Moving Pictures

Album · 1981 · Hard Rock
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Though I would be hard put to call it a 'metal' masterpiece, "Moving Pictures" is indeed Rush's finest hour - from the intriguing, red-and-black cover (nice pun on the title, too) to the magnificent music within. With this album, the mighty Canadians managed to produce something which is at the same time complex and accessible, richly textured and never predictable. The more explicitly metallic leanings of its predecessor, the excellent "Permanent Waves", are here replaced by a more typically progressive feel, with rich layers of keyboards, intricate rhythms and a guitar sound that is more atmospheric than biting.

The seven tracks on the album are so well-known that it would almost seem pointless to mention any of them. Anyway, MP boasts one of the best opening tracks ever, the intense, multilayered "Tom Sawyer". Introduced by simple but elegant synth playing courtesy of the incomparable Geddy Lee (very busy on this album in his triple role as singer, bassist and keyboardist), the song is bolstered by Lee and Peart's stellar interplay. The following "Red Barchetta", though an excellent track with intriguing, sci-fi lyrics set in a world where cars have been banned, has never been a favourite of mine. Then the first part gets to a close with the double whammy of the magnificent (if a trifle overplayed) instrumental "YYZ" and Rush's take on the joys and pains of fame, the deceptively catchy "Limelight".

The remaining three tracks do not feature in live albums and collections as often as the others, which is a pity, as they are every bit as good and even (strictly speaking) more typically 'progressive'. The 10-minute-plus "The Camera Eye" is a streamlined epic about city life which showcases Lifeson's brilliant guitar work and Lee's vastly improved vocal abilities. In fact, this is probably the first Rush album in which Geddy shows unbelievers he can actually SING. The following song, "Witch Hunt", starts off with a brooding atmosphere punctuated by angry voices and ominous tolling of bells. Its lyrics are among my all-time favourites from the band, with its marvellous, all too true closing lines: "Quick to judge, quick to anger/ Slow to understand/ Ignorance and prejudice and fear/ Walk hand in hand". Here keyboards, drums and guitar complement each other perfectly, and Geddy's lower-register vocals add to the sense of menace. Finally, in the closing track, "Vital Signs", we see the shape of things to come - that is, the reggae influence that would come to the fore in the two following Rush albums, "Signals" and "Grace Under Pressure". Even though some people may turn up their noses at finding reggae rhythms on a progressive rock album, The Police were without a doubt one of the best and most influential bands of the '80s, and Rush proved their skill and intelligence when they chose to integrate those rhythms in their sound.

MP definitely deserves its place as Rush's masterpiece. It also stands to prove that the Eighties were a far better decade for music than they are given credit for. Highly recommended.

DREAM THEATER Systematic Chaos

Album · 2007 · Progressive Metal
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A couple of years ago I was given this album as a Christmas present by my other half. Seen as most of the DT albums I own had been a disappointment to say the least, I would never have bought it of my own accord. In spite of repeated attempts to get into the band, my opinion of them has really never changed - lots of talent, technical chops galore, but ultimately poor songwriting skills. Though the various members of DT play as if their life depended on them, the results never really gel - and their latest effort is no exception.

However, to be perfectly fair, I have found "Systematic Chaos" somewhat easier to approach than the other albums I own, with the sole exception of "Images and Words" (the only DT album I can actually listen to with some pleasure). True, my mind still sort of blacks out halfway through the record, but in some way I have found most of the tracks manage to hold my attention long enough to distinguish one from the other. As most other DT offerings, SC is definitely too long, with two-thirds of the compositions lasting between 8 and 16 minutes - the band have yet to learn that less can be more.

Another rather serious flaw of the album has to do with those songs which are sharply reminiscent of other bands' work. I don't want to use the word rip-off, but this is what came to my mind when I first heard "Constant Motion", which sounds like vintage Metallica with keyboards - while "Repentance" reminds the listener of Porcupine Tree, and "Prophets of War" of Muse. On the other hand, "Forsaken", with its big chorus, is the token ballad which graces every DT album - rather pleasant to listen to, even if LaBrie's voice (still the band's weakest point) does not do it any favours. With "The Dark Eternal Night", the band return instead to heavy metal territory, complete with John Petrucci's heavily fantasy-flavoured (and to me quite cheesy) lyrics.

The same rather embarrassing lyrics grace the two-part epic that bookends the album, "In the Presence of Enemies", whose instrumental parts are as a whole the best thing on SC. In particular, the "Prelude" kick-starts things with pyrotechnic energy and Petrucci's trademark manic noodling, which makes the band's sound immediately recognizable. The other epic of the album, "The Ministry of Lost Souls", is another typical DT track which throws in anything but the kitchen sink, but ends up being ultimately forgettable for all its length. In any case, I am quite sure a different vocalist would improve DT's overall impact immensely, since to these ears the instrumental tracks are almost always the most impressive, in spite of the distinct whiff of self-indulgence that all too often permeates them.

Definitely listenable, at times even somehow enjoyable, "Systematic Chaos" is far from essential, unless you happen to be a die-hard fan of the band, and think they can do no wrong. Not really cohesive nor innovative, it is however a reasonably solid effort from an outfit that, for better or for worse, have almost single-handedly created a genre.

DREAM THEATER Train of Thought

Album · 2003 · Progressive Metal
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"Train of Thought", aka the Dream Theater album people love to hate... Strangely enough, I actually find "Train of Thought" somewhat better than the other DT albums I have listened to so far, with the sole exception of "Images and Words". While "Awake" sounded to my ears like a wall of sound which swallowed every single track whole, ToT offers some semblance of variety and individuality. This does not mean that I find it a masterpiece, or even that I am going to start listening to it on a regular basis: unfortunately, for me DT are something to be taken in small quantities, and quite infrequently to boot. Most of their albums are way too long for starters, and their relentlessly gloomy quality makes for sometimes uncomfortable listening.

That said, ToT has a few redeeming features. Opener "As I Am", widely hated by fans for being too "commercial", is in my opinion one of the best DT tracks, with enough instrumental intricacy to make it interesting, and a great, catchy chorus. I particularly like the lyrics, which I feel apply to me quite well - "I won't change to fit your plan/ Take me as I am". LaBrie's James Hetfield impersonation is particularly effective both on this song and on the whole album - his adoption of a lower singing register being a vast improvement over his usual, whiny self. As a matter of fact, Metallica's influence seems to hover over the whole album,which sometimes sounds like DT's take on "And Justice for All" - only with much better production values.

Other standout tracks are the lengthy instrumental "Stream of Consciousness", whose main fault is going on a bit too long, in true DT style; and album closer "In the Name of God", which has actually got some of the melody other tracks sadly lack. On the other hand, the token acoustic song, "Vacant", seems tagged on as a sort of afterthought, not really meshing with the record's overall sound. Moreover, the three central tracks, "This Dying Soul", "Endless Sacrifice" and "Honor Thy Father", sound almost indistinguishable from each other, showcasing the band members' individual skills to great effect, but offering rather little in the way of melody or feeling.

From the disturbing, black-and-white cover art right to the doom-and-gloom-laden lyrics, ToT is a dark album - even darker than "Awake", which is no mean feat. Why so many prog-metal bands seem to wallow in this unrelentingly depressing state of mind is quite beyond me... Anyway, DT's dark mood feels somewhat soulless and contrived, quite unlike, for instance, Queensryche's in "Operation Mindcrime". Though not deserving of its negative reputation, "Train of Thought" is still very much of an acquired taste.


Album · 1994 · Progressive Metal
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Though by no means a Dream Theater fan, I am also a very curious person - so,some four years ago, I bought "Awake" on the strength of the numerous rave reviews I had read on a number of prog and metal sites. Since then, I've been trying to get into it, unfortunately to no avail. However, I will try to make this review as fair and objective as possible, since panning an album just for the sake of it is not really my style.

Released two years after the undeniably ground-breaking I&W, "Awake" is widely considered one of DT's strongest efforts - and possibly the darkest, which I find to be quite true (more like unrelentingly gloomy, in my humble opinion). In fact, the band's many admirers will find a lot to enjoy in this album: dazzling instrumental pyrotechnics, long, intricate compositions - with a single exception, none shorter than 5 minutes (with epic "Scarred" clocking in at 11'), LaBrie trademark vocal theatrics, and a suitably baroque album cover as well. However, as a non-admirer, I found this record did not really succeed in converting either me or other like-minded people.

For one thing, it goes on way too long. After a while, those 75 minutes seem to go on forever, the individual tracks turning into a single, unrelenting, nearly impenetrable wall of sound, punctuated by LaBrie's more-often-than-not annoying wail. While the musical chops of the single members are quite evident, what is much less so is the ability to write actual songs that can attract the attention of those who do not yet worship at the band's altar. What I see in "Awake" is a sort of contemporary application of the well-known motto of "art for art's sake", but without the social and philosophical implications. DT can certainly play, and no one in their right mind is going to deny this simple fact: but then, why do their records give 'outsiders' (i.e. skeptics or newcomers) the impression of being exercises in narcissism, rather than coherent musical efforts?

Obviously, any track-by-track analysis on my part would be perfectly beside the point. I readily admit to being unable to distinguish between the various tracks, with the possible exception of album closer "Space-Dye Vest" (possibly the record's best composition, with very tasteful piano courtesy of Kevin Moore, whose contribution to the band's sound was sorely missed on later efforts). Opener "6.00" is quite promising, a hard-rocking, energetic song with a distinctive pace - pity that, later on, the songs start blurring into a single unit, and the attention starts to wander in such a way that eventually, halfway through the album, the ear does not perceive anything but the endless noodling of the various instruments. Blessedly LaBrie-free instrumental "Erotomania" is quite good in its own way, but fails to achieve the memorable quality that instrumental tour de forces like, for instance, Rush's "YYZ" seem to do quite effortlessly.

Not even a single comma of this review will convince any dedicated fans of the truth of what I say, and I must admit this is quite OK with me. Anyway, this review is not intended as a pointless exercise in bashing a cult album (I take my job as a reviewer far too seriously for that), but as an example of the response of the average DT unbeliever. Sorry guys... I suppose it is just not my cup of tea.

Latest Forum Topic Posts

  • Posted more than 2 years ago in Bands with same name
    I don't really think there are any viable alternatives to the format suggested by Tommi. Though a rare occurrence, I am sure we will come across bands with the same name and from the same country, and this is the most practical way of labeling them (with multi-genre labeling, using the subgenre may prove awkward). We could arrange them in chronological order, with # 1 being the oldest, up to the most recent.
  • Posted more than 2 years ago in test
  • Posted more than 2 years ago in test
    this is just a test


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