SouthSideoftheSky

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104 reviews/ratings
BLACK SABBATH - Master Of Reality Heavy Metal | review permalink
BLACK SABBATH - Sabotage Heavy Metal | review permalink
IRON MAIDEN - Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son Heavy Metal | review permalink
BLACK SABBATH - Headless Cross Heavy Metal | review permalink
SYMPHONY X - The Divine Wings Of Tragedy Progressive Metal | review permalink
YNGWIE J. MALMSTEEN - Rising Force Neoclassical metal | review permalink
JUDAS PRIEST - Sad Wings Of Destiny Heavy Metal | review permalink
OZZY OSBOURNE - Bark At The Moon Heavy Metal | review permalink
THRESHOLD - Extinct Instinct Progressive Metal | review permalink
DREAM THEATER - Images and Words Progressive Metal | review permalink
CRUACHAN - Folk-Lore Folk Metal | review permalink
LUCIFER'S FRIEND - Where the Groupies Killed the Blues Hard Rock | review permalink
BLACK SABBATH - Black Sabbath Heavy Metal | review permalink
BLACK SABBATH - Sabbath Bloody Sabbath Heavy Metal | review permalink
RAINBOW - Rising Heavy Metal | review permalink
BLACK SABBATH - The Eternal Idol Heavy Metal | review permalink
IRON MAIDEN - Brave New World Heavy Metal | review permalink
BLACK SABBATH - Tyr Heavy Metal | review permalink
JUDAS PRIEST - Sin After Sin Heavy Metal | review permalink
JUDAS PRIEST - Stained Class Heavy Metal | review permalink

See all reviews/ratings

Metal Genre Nb. Rated Avg. rating
1 Heavy Metal 50 3.03
2 Hard Rock 21 2.71
3 Progressive Metal 12 3.54
4 Folk Metal 8 3.06
5 Neoclassical metal 6 3.08
6 Power Metal 6 3.42
7 Non-Metal 1 4.00

Latest Albums Reviews

KAMELOT Epica

Album · 2003 · Power Metal
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Bad karma

Epica is by some considered to be more progressive than previous albums by Kamelot. If there is something to this decree it is probably in virtue of two things: that it is conceptual and that it is even more symphonic or even orchestral than the previous album, Karma. While this is all true, I personally think that the musical direction remains basically the same as on Karma. This means that what we have here is just more of the same which is Kamelot's own brand of Symphonic Power Metal. I pointed out already in my review of Karma that being symphonic or orchestral should not be confused with being progressive. For me, this album comes across as more bombastic and quite overblown in a way that the previous two albums did not.

What they have done for this release is to add a conceptual element as well as several short symphonic interludes between the songs and some occasional operatic female vocals. There are also a couple of spoken word passages and small pieces of Pink Floyd-ish dialog. None of these additions are particularly successful in my opinion, and make the album a bit incoherent and lacking in direction. Apart from these supposed enhancers of their basic sound, Kamelot follow their previous formula pretty closely with Epica. Just like the previous two albums, the present one too starts with a short instrumental by way of introduction. What follows is a rather typical set of Power Metal numbers with catchy melodies and the characteristic rapid dual bass drum attack. I like this type of song to a degree, but I sometimes find them a bit tedious. Overall, I think that these songs were stronger on Karma and The Fourth Legacy.

There are however also some very good moments on Epica. These mostly come towards middle and end of the album. The first that really caught my attention was A Feast For The Vain with its excellent Flamenco-influenced (!) middle section and brilliant acoustic and electric guitar work. This song would have fitted well on The Fourth Legacy which, in my opinion, is Kamelot's best album. On The Coldest Winter Night is a very nice acoustic ballad, with an almost jazzy feel. The short acoustic guitar solo is wonderful. Lost & Damned is another strong number. The very appealing Folk influences that, for me, made The Fourth Legacy such a thrilling experience are more apparent here than they ever were on Karma. The use of the bandeón, which is a kind of Latin accordion, was probably unheard of within Metal music before the release of this album and gives a nice touch to the song. (The brilliant guitarist Al Di Meola is very fond if this instrument that brings a melancholic and nostalgic mood and maybe the Kamelot guys have been listening to Di Meola's music as inspiration?) Had only the rest of the album been as eclectic and inspired as this!

Epica is not a bad album, but it is a bit fragmented and some parts, like the spoken and orchestral parts as well as the operatic female vocals, are out of place. This makes the album occasionally come across as overblown and overly bombastic and I am left with the feeling that the band bit off more than they could chew. There are some excellent moments to be found here, but the listener must wait too long for them to arrive and they then pass to quickly.

I think I got most of the Kamelot I need from the previous two albums

KAMELOT Karma

Album · 2001 · Power Metal
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The fifth legacy?

Karma followed on the heels of the great The Fourth Legacy from the previous year. The musical direction remains basically the same as on that fourth album and the band could even be accused of merely following their previously established formula on this album. However, there are also some noteworthy differences. The symphonic or even orchestral aspect of the band's brand of Symphonic Power Metal has become stronger while the very appealing Folk and World-Music influences that, for me, made The Fourth Legacy such a thrilling experience are largely absent or at least pushed forcefully into the background. There are still some oriental and Celtic touches here and there, but these tendencies have largely been overtaken by symphonic bombast. Some may say that this album is more progressive than Kamelot's earlier efforts, but these people might confuse progressive with symphonic. I would rather say that Karma is less progressive especially in that it is less eclectic and thus closer to conventional Symphonic Power Metal. Kamelot still knew how to write good songs however, but Karma adds little to what they already had achieved at the time.

Like the previous album, the present one too starts with a short instrumental by way of introduction. Forever and Wings Of Despair are rather typical Power Metal numbers with catchy melodies and the characteristic rapid dual bass drum attack. The Spell slows things down a little bit with a more traditional Heavy Metal riff and some tasteful synthesizers in the background, this one could have been by late 80's/early 90's Black Sabbath while Roy Khan here sounding very much like Queensrÿche's Geoff Tate. Don't You Cry, based on acoustic guitar and strings, is the first ballad of the album. It is a nice interlude for sure, but the song itself is utterly conventional both musically and lyrically and it lacks the folky and medieval feel of the ballads on The Fourth Legacy.

The title track is the counterpart of Nights Of Arabia from the The Fourth Legacy with its slight "oriental" feel and personally I think this is the first song that is up to par with the previous album's material. It is also one of the more progressive songs here as it moves through both heavy, melodic and more mellow piano-based passages. The Light I Shine On You continues in the same vein, but at this point I feel it is basically more of the same. Temples Of Gold is another ballad - or, perhaps better, semi-ballad - that comes as a relief after the Metal onslaught of the foregoing tracks. This one is thankfully a lot better, and a lot less cheesy, than Don't You Cry, but it is not particularly memorable. Across The Highlands is, on the other hand, another strong track in the vein of Until Kingdom Come from the previous album with a slight Celtic feel.

The album ends with a three-part composition called Elisabeth parts I, II and III. The third and final part is, however, deceptively over ten minutes long while the majority of this time is filled with nothing for no good reason! Discounting this unnecessary silence, this three-part song is overall about 12 minutes long. "Progressiveness" is, of course, never to be measured in song length but this might still be the most ambitious composition by Kamelot (at least up to that point). It does, however, like most of the rest of the album, fit very nicely under the heading of 'Symphonic Power Metal'.

Overall, Karma is a good but quite formulaic album in Kamelot's typical style. For me, this one is less interesting than The Fourth Legacy which remains my favourite Kamelot album.

KAMELOT The Fourth Legacy

Album · 1999 · Power Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
New allegiance

Power Metal is certainly not my preferred type of music but Kamelot is not your regular Power Metal band, at least not on The Fourth Legacy. This wonderful album presents an interesting form of symphonic Power Metal infused with Folk, World-Music and Prog influences without coming across as overblown or bombastic. The music of Kamelot has indeed little to do with that of the often cheesy European Power Metal bands. The Fourth Legacy is a dark, serious and quite eclectic affair which shows a band not afraid to branch out into unknown territory but at the same time confident in their chosen direction. The powerful yet passionate vocals of Roy Khan help give Kamelot their own musical identity.

The album opens with a short, expressive instrumental called New Allegiance that leads into The Fourth Legacy in which the line "new allegiance" features in the chorus. The title track is a rather conventional melodic Metal number. Silent Goddess is a bit heavier and also introduces some new sounds into the picture like piano and female(-ish?) backing vocals. Dessert Reign is another short instrumental that introduces the superb Nights Of Arabia. Here the World-Music influence is at its strongest with the predominant far-eastern sounds giving this section of the album a highly appealing oriental sound and feel. The wall of sound is impressive with a high attention to detail without ever coming across as cluttered.

The Shadow Of Uther is another excellent song. The Uther in question is, of course, Uther Pendragon, famous from the legend of King Arthur that has inspired countless of Prog and Metal bands. To go along with the theme of the song there is more of a Celtic/Folk feel to this one with fiddle playing a part - very effective! After this Metal onslaught the time is perfect for a folky, acoustic ballad and this is exactly what we get next with A Sailorman's Hymn. Not many Metal bands can create such delicate ballads and the presence of this lovely piece contributes greatly to making The Fourth Legacy a varied and diverse album. Glory is another exquisite acoustic ballad with a medieval feel that could have been a Blackmore's Night song with the acoustic guitars reminding me of Ritchie Blackmore's playing. Slight Celtic touches return again on other songs, particularly on Until Kingdom Come which features some nice instrumental breaks. The album closes with Lunar Sanctum which is one of the more progressive and less Metal tracks on the album. It constitutes a fine ending to a great and interesting album.

I have not yet heard all of the albums by Kamelot, but among the ones I have heard The Fourth Legacy is my favourite.

THRESHOLD Critical Energy

Movie · 2004 · Progressive Metal
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Live flow

This impressive live DVD captures Threshold performing a career-spanning set of songs in front of an appreciative Dutch audience. Every studio album up to and including Critical Mass is represented here and they have very wisely chosen not to let any particular album dominate the set list. Two songs are taken from the classic debut, Wounded Land; two from Psychedelicatessen; three from Extinct Instinct; three from Clone; four from Hypothetical and four from Critical Mass. My favourite Threshold albums are the early ones, especially those two with Damian Wilson on lead vocals, but Andrew McDermott, or "Mac" as he is called, handles the songs originally sung by Wilson and also those by originally sung Glynn Morgan very well.

All the selections here are very good but one of several highlights for me is the short acoustic section in the middle of the set that makes the show varied and lets the viewer catch his breath before another Prog Metal onslaught. The acoustic songs played are Clear and Life Flow, both originally from the Extinct Instinct album. Another highlight is Paradox from the debut on which both the audience and the band are on fire.

The band is in top form throughout with the drummer in particular ponding the drums like a madman! And he never seems to get tired either. Karl Groom may not be much of a show man, but he is a fantastic guitarist and he seems to enjoy himself a lot on stage. Mac is, on the other hand, a show man who moves around a lot on stage and interacts with the audience. He has a strange sense of humour though, telling the audience to shut up and go home and similar rude things! But that's the way he is, I guess.

Overall, I think that the set list is very well balanced and that the band performs their songs with impeccable skill and enthusiasm. There might be some overdubs in the vocals, but not very noticeable. The sound is great. The DVD includes a few extras such as a tour documentary which is interesting to watch once or twice perhaps.

A great live document by a great band!

LUCIFER'S FRIEND Mind Exploding

Album · 1976 · Hard Rock
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Yesterday’s Ideals

Leaving behind the overtly progressive approach of Banquet, Lucifer’s Friend returned once more to a more straightforward Rock sound with Mind Exploding. The album most similar to this one is I’m Just A Rock ’N’ Roll Singer from a couple of years earlier and, like that album, Mind Exploding features shorter and more Rock-based songs. The band still utilizes assorted keyboards, brass and female backing vocals, but all this is more discrete here than on Banquet. The Heavy Metal sound of the first two albums is still absent, however. As I have emphasised in earlier reviews, Metal fans should begin with the band’s first two albums, as those are the only albums by Lucifer’s Friend that are genuinely Metal albums. Mind Exploding is about as Metal as Led Zeppelin or David Coverdale-era Deep Purple, but generally better than those in my opinion. Structurally similar to I’m Just A Rock ’N’ Roll Singer, about half of the material here is very strong and the rest is a little bit too far towards Rock ‘N’ Roll for my tastes. Moonshine Rider is a strong opener and semi-progressive, semi-ballads like Broken Toys and Yesterday’s Ideals are really great songs that wouldn’t be too out of place on the band’s better albums. Blind Boy and Natural Born Mover are straightforward Rock ‘N’ Roll songs with little or nothing to impress. Fugitive is a funky rocker with a nice synthesiser solo, but overall not too interesting. Free Hooker is the album’s longest track and possibly its most progressive and best song. Anyway, the best songs comes at the end with Free Hooker and Yesterday’s Ideals taking pride of place.

Mind Exploding is hardly Lucifer’s Friend’s best album, but neither is it their worst. It is a very good addition to any collection that already holds the essential Banquet, Where There Groupies Killed The Blued and the self-titled debut.

Recommended!

Latest Forum Topic Posts

  • Posted more than 2 years ago in Shadowland, but not Arena?
    [QUOTE=J-Man] [QUOTE=Colt]Did anyone check the profile was only for the English band?   There is also a Swedish Prog Metal band of that name.   They released an excellent album "Falling" in 2007.   If it was the standard Last FM import it may have referred to both.      [/QUOTE]Well, the Musicbrainz bio on the MMA page had no mention of this band, and was just referring to the neo-prog band. I don't recall "Falling" being on the artist page either.[/QUOTE]That's right. The bio, band pic and discog (that has now been removed) was unambigously for the British Neo-Prog band with Clive Nolan and Karl Groom and only their three albums (Ring Of Roses, Through the Looking Glass and Mad As A Hatter was listed). I don't know any other bands of that name, but there might indeed be several others. After all, it is a very good band name, so no wonder there are several bands with that name out there.
  • Posted more than 2 years ago in Shadowland, but not Arena?
    Yeah, deleting them is probably for the best. Good thing I asked before posting my reviews for their albums.
  • Posted more than 2 years ago in Shadowland, but not Arena?
    Hi, I noticed to my surprise that Shadowland are included in MMA. I like the band, but do not see much Metal in their music. For those of you who don't know them, Shadowland is a Neo-Prog band fronted by Clive Nolan (Arena, Pendragon) and Karl Groom (Threshold) who made three albums in the 90's and have recently reunited and released a box set and a live DVD.As I said, I can't really see what's Metal about them. If anything, Arena (another of Nolan's several bands) is more "Metal" than Shadowland. Or maybe not? What's you take on this?

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