Metal Music Reviews from martindavey87

MEGADETH Still, Alive... and Well?

Boxset / Compilation · 2002 · Thrash Metal
Cover art 2.50 | 4 ratings
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‘Still, Alive... And Well?’ is a “compilation” released by Megadeth in 2002. It features a selection of six live tracks and six studio recordings, and is a completely pointless and irrelevant album to own. There’s no reason at all for this to exist save but one... in 2002 Dave Mustaine suffered an injury that forced him to retire and disband Megadeth (don’t worry... they’d be back a couple of years later). However, contractual obligations meant he still owed Sanctuary Records one more release.

Which brings us to this little nugget of joy...

‘Still, Alive...’ starts off with six live cuts from Megadeth’s final two shows (pre-retirement, anyway). The choice of songs is a bit odd, and none of them flow. The sound is also pretty bad, especially with regards to the fact that Dave’s guitar seems louder than anything else. The liner notes sees MegaDave claiming to be honoured to share these songs with us... but we can all read through his lies. This album is a quick fix to a legal problem. Aw well...

The second half of the album contains six songs from the bands previous studio release, ‘The World Needs a Hero’. The likes of ‘Moto Psycho’, ‘The World Needs a Hero’ and ‘Dread and the Fugitive Mind’ are all good songs, but aren’t enough to save this supposed compilation. And the fact it’s six tracks all from the same album is a bit of a slap in the face. Whatever...

Not worth the price for the live songs, and the addition of the studio recordings makes this a bit of a mockery to fans that paid for it. Overall, ‘Still, Alive... And Well’ is barely passable as something for die-hard fans, and otherwise is something to completely ignore and forget it ever existed.

KISS Hotter Than Hell

Album · 1974 · Hard Rock
Cover art 3.45 | 27 ratings
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martindavey87
Impressively released barely three months after their debut, Kiss are back with their second album, ‘Hotter Than Hell’. While I admire a lot of these early rock bands from back in the day for their non-stop work ethic which saw them chug out so many releases in such a short space of time, the end result is usually average at best.

Take Kiss’ early days, for example. Mediocre, sleazy rock ‘n’ roll, at its very finest. I guess. I didn’t really enjoy the bands self-titled debut, and this certainly isn’t any better. From the rather dreary riffs to the forgettable lyrics, the only real shining quality about this album is the apparent chemistry amongst the band members, in particular, guitarists Paul Stanley and Ace Frehley. While it’s nothing remarkable by today’s standards, there’s definitely a synergy between the two, and if nothing else, it’s reassuring to know that these guys will go on to release much better material in the future.

‘Got to Choose’ and ‘Parasite’ are the only two songs I’d even consider passable, and the latter is mostly thanks to Anthrax’s cover of it. There’s a couple of decent guitar solos, but not decent enough that I remember which song I heard them in, and I have no desire to go looking for them.

While Kiss’ early works probably fare better if you were around in the 70’s, or you were exposed to it at an early age, to me, ‘Hotter Than Hell’, much like its predecessor, is a fairly rubbish album. It lacks the energy and bombast of later efforts, and just tends to drag along boringly with no real passion. Mercifully, it’s barely half an hour long.

THE QUIET ROOM Introspect

Album · 1998 · Progressive Metal
Cover art 2.58 | 4 ratings
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martindavey87
‘Introspect’ is the 1998 debut by American progressive metal group The Quiet Room. I came across this album on eBay back in its heyday (do people still shop on there?), when searches would often have it come up, being advertised by sellers as similar to prog metal pioneers Fates Warning. That was enough to pique my interest, and to be fair, the similarities in their sound are uncanny.

However, the one resemblance they don’t share is quality. Following the typical prog metal blueprint of ambitious song structures with extended musical passages and wailing, high-pitched vocals, The Quiet Room don’t really offer anything that hasn’t been done better by someone else.

The musicianship is fantastic, and these guys are all more than capable at playing their instruments, but sadly not so much at song writing. Everything seems pretty jarred and disjointed. Oftentimes songs wonder off into aimless territory, twisting and turning in ways that lose my interest instead of engaging me. It’s a shame, because the album starts off pretty strong, with opening tracks ‘A Different Scene’ and ‘Grudge’ being respectable enough, but anything after struggles to keep my attention longer than a couple of minutes.

No doubt progressive metal was still mostly an underground subgenre at this point, and with only a handful of bands breaking into the mainstream, The Quiet Room are one of many lost causes that were destined to become obscure, forgotten hopefuls.

YNGWIE J. MALMSTEEN Rising Force

Album · 1984 · Neoclassical metal
Cover art 4.17 | 42 ratings
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Yngwie Malmsteen’s 1984 debut, ‘Rising Force’, is the album that inspired a whole generation to grab a guitar and learn how to play it really, really fast, as well as giving birth to what’s known as the neoclassical subgenre, a hybrid of metal guitar playing with classical music themes. It’s a highly influential album. But does it hold up well today?

Not really.

I went into this album with some intrigue. The outspoken Malmsteen has never been too modest to tell us underlings of his superior musical abilities, so I was interested to see what the fuss was about. And to be honest, I find it pretty boring. Don’t get me wrong, he plays with absolute precision and intensity, and no doubt in 1984 this was groundbreaking stuff. But by today’s standards, it just sounds like the same recycled classical lick played over and over.

There are a few songs with vocals which aren’t too bad, ‘Now Your Ships Are Burned’ and ‘As Above, So Below’, and in this aspect Malmsteen’s playing suits the music well. But for the most part, I just find this album dull, with all the songs serving as a self-indulgent excuse to play the same guitar scales as fast as possible.

Except for one song; ‘Icarus’ Dream Suite Op. 4’.

Wow! Where did this come from?! I can tolerate mindless shredding here, because the melodies when the song slows down are incredible. The clean guitar playing, the keyboards, everything here just comes together perfectly! This song itself is pretty damn amazing, and while ‘Rising Force’ generally bores the hell out of me, this song alone is enough for me to at least come back for more and see what else the master of men can conjure up.

No doubt this is highly regarded by fans, and in particular, by other guitarists, as a classic. But it just doesn’t work for me.

DISTURBED Ten Thousand Fists

Album · 2005 · Alternative Metal
Cover art 3.69 | 17 ratings
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Disturbed’s third studio album, 2005’s ‘Ten Thousand Fists’, sees the band finally hit their stride, adapting a more contemporary sound while somewhat maintaining their groove-based nu metal style. With that particular subgenre of music being dead and buried, this was a pivotal album for the band to show that they could hold their own outside of that scene, with an album that would appeal to fans of metal old and new alike.

Having focused on the highlights of their previous releases, catchy choruses in particular, ‘Ten Thousand Fists’ has an abundance of hooks that makes every track memorable, and with its monstrous production and simple song structures, Disturbed’s music sounds a lot more accessible and mainstream.

Guitarist Dan Donegan’s guitar playing is brilliant here. With skull-crushing precision, his riffs are heavy, yet groovy, and fit perfectly with David Draiman’s melodic vocals. In fact, Donegan lets rip in a couple of tracks with some very slick guitar solos, showing that he had the chops all along, but either left them out to further conform to nu metal trends, or simply that there was no need for them. Either way, he’s finally cutting loose, and it sounds great!

Highlights include the thunderous hit single ‘Stricken’, the huge and epic-sounding ‘Overburdened, and a cracking cover of the Genesis classic, ‘Land of Confusion’, as well as ‘Just Stop’, ‘Guarded’, ‘Sacred Lie’, and ‘Pain Redefined’. And then of course, the title track itself, which is an absolute anthem that will literally produce a sea of raised fists for a metal call-to-arms. The musicianship on these tracks is fantastic, with exceptional performances from everyone involved.

Overall, while ‘Ten Thousand Fists’ isn’t quite a masterpiece, it’s a solid album that definitely helped Disturbed shake off any nu metal remnants, and established them as a legit heavy metal act. It holds up well today, and marks the band as one of the more important acts to burst onto the scene at the turn of the century.

CLAWFINGER Use Your Brain

Album · 1995 · Rap Metal
Cover art 3.08 | 2 ratings
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martindavey87
1995’s ‘Use Your Brain’ is the second album by Swedish rap rockers Clawfinger. It follows in the same vein as its predecessor, ‘Deaf Dumb Blind’, with similar compositions and a nearly identical sound, but it seems to lack the same youthful exuberance that made the latter such an engaging listen.

Mixing rapping vocals with metal guitar riffs long before the likes of Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park gained worldwide fame, Clawfinger’s groove-laden music has always been about uncompromising, in-your-face attitude. With a dirty, gritty sound, and lyrics that spit in the face of political correctness, they’ve never been afraid to put themselves on the line.

Utilizing simple, yet striking guitar work with electronic samples, the band have an effective and fairly distinctive sound. Vocalist Zak Tell’s rapid fire delivery, which blends rapping with hardcore and punk rock elements, goes well with the music, and certainly paints a picture of an angry and frustrated band.

But unfortunately, ‘Use Your Brain’ just simply isn’t as good as the band’s debut. While it’s not a bad album, ‘Deaf Dumb Blind’ was consistently strong throughout, while here, we’re treated to a few moments of sheer genius being smothered by an abundance of filler material. But despite the weaker tracks, songs like ‘Power’, ‘Die High’, ‘Do What I Say’ and ‘Pay the Bill’ are all strong enough to stand next to anything the band have done before, and are all good reasons to at least give this album a chance.

MEGADETH Crush 'Em

Single · 1999 · Hard Rock
Cover art 2.00 | 1 rating
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martindavey87
July 5th, 1999.

Megadeth were performing on an episode of World Championship Wrestling’s Monday Nitro. It seemed odd that a metal band would perform at a wrestling event, and much like Kiss did a few weeks prior, it bombed. Nobody wanted to see it. Nobody did see it. And it accomplished nothing.

Except for changing my life.

Performing ‘Crush ‘Em’ to coincide with the return of wrestler Bill Goldberg from a break (Goldberg starred in the movie Universal Soldier: The Return, of which this featured on the soundtrack), the song played repeatedly over the following weeks, and 12 year-old me was absolutely hooked!

‘Crush ‘Em’ itself is a huge departure from Megadeth’s typical sound. With the 90’s coming to a close, Dave Mustaine tried his hand at writing mainstream rock songs, hoping to appeal to bigger audiences with the album ‘Risk’. He failed. Big time. But ‘Crush ‘Em’ served one purpose, and it served it well. It was intended as a sports anthem, with hopes that it’d be played in arenas at games, and for a while, it was. With its pounding bass line and thunderous guitars, the chanting of “Crush! Crush ‘Em!” is tailor-made for getting crowds psyched up. It’s simple, it’s catchy, it’s effective.

As for this single release however? Meh. There’s just two songs. An album version, and a radio version, which basically skips one verse and the outro. Nothing special, nothing fancy, no gimmicks or novelties. Just two different versions of ‘Crush ‘Em’. Fantastic song, and I genuinely mean that. But don’t bother getting this single unless you’re a huge, huge fan that absolutely must own everything regardless of how pointless it might be. Just get the ‘Risk’ album instead.

And yeah, that is a recommendation for ‘Risk’. That album is awesome!

ICED EARTH The Melancholy E.P.

EP · 1999 · US Power Metal
Cover art 3.03 | 7 ratings
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Fresh off of an outstanding album, 1998’s ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’, which sees Iced Earth fight back from a string of disappointing releases, the band give us this short EP, which was originally intended as a promotional tool for radios, but ended up getting an official release for fans to get their mitts on.

While its chillingly emotional verses and catchy chorus makes ‘Melancholy’ an understandable choice for a single, in my opinion there’s much better songs on the ‘Something Wicked...’ album that could have been used. It’s a good song, don’t get me wrong, and it nicely shows the new direction Iced Earth were headed in with their sound. But it just pales in comparison to some of the other potential tracks.

Still, along with ‘Watching Over You’ (another strong number from the same album), there’s three covers, all of which I find pretty disappointing. I’m either not a fan of the band being covered, vocalist Matt Barlow’s voice doesn’t quite suit the song, or I just flat-out don’t really care.

Overall, as is always the case with EP’s, I find them pretty hit-or-miss, and serve more as little collectable items for fans than as serious releases. ‘The Melancholy EP’ is no different. It’s alright for what it is, but not anything worth checking out unless you’re a huge fan of the band.

ADEMA Unstable

Album · 2003 · Nu Metal
Cover art 2.59 | 3 ratings
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martindavey87
Adema’s 2001 self-titled debut was released at a time when nu metal was one of the biggest musical genres in the world. However, it was also short-lived, and with only minor mainstream success, the band was unable to make a big enough splash to help carry them through the subgenres demise. And so by 2003, musical trends have already shifted, and the Californian five-piece would get one final chance to either release an album that’ll see them transcend the dying fad, or forever remain one of “those bands” that were good “back in the day”.

And sadly, despite a marked improvement in writing and more confident performances, ‘Unstable’ just wasn’t good enough.

Displaying a nice mixture of heavy, groove-laden and energetic tracks, with some melodic, sentimental and emotional songs, ‘Unstable’ shows a band that has really improved and matured since their last outing. Vocalist Mark Chavez (who was originally only noteworthy for being half-brother of Korn main man Jonathan Davis) has proven himself a competent frontman, and while the instrumentation is fairly straightforward, the band have become adept at using multiple layers of simple melodies to accentuate a warmth in their sound.

But with that said, there’s still only a handful of notable tracks here. ‘Unstable’, ‘So Fortunate’, ‘Co-Dependent’ and ‘Promises’ are all pretty amazing to be honest, and definitely shows a band who certainly had the potential, but sadly never lived up to it. ‘Stand Up’, ‘Blame Me’ and ‘Let Go’ are also fairly decent, but nothing worth getting overly excited about.

Much like its predecessor, ‘Unstable’ does have some moments of absolute genius, but sadly most of it gets lost amongst an abundance of fairly average songs. It’s a good album, but in 2003, with nu metal on its last legs, “good” isn’t good enough, and while it’s certainly worth a listen or two, it’d ensure that Adema will forever be nothing more than another nu metal nostalgia band.

ICED EARTH Something Wicked This Way Comes

Album · 1998 · US Power Metal
Cover art 4.04 | 38 ratings
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martindavey87
After two of power metals finest works, 1990's 'Iced Earth' and it's follow-up, 'Night of the Stormrider', the quality of Iced Earth's work dropped substantially. Two studio albums and a compilation of re-recorded songs followed, none of which impressed me, and I wasn't so sure if vocalist Matt Barlow was deserving of all the praise that was being heaped upon him. I'd all but given up on Iced Earth, until 1998's 'Something Wicked This Way Comes' finally put the band back on track.

Maintaining all the qualities of the bands earlier albums, but with a more slick, accessible and mainstream sound, 'Something Wicked...' is a pumping, high-energy album that highlights all of the bands strengths, and none of their weaknesses. With a wide variety of heavy and softer songs, everything here is consistently well-crafted. The guitar riffs are intense and full of energy, while the ballads are hauntingly beautiful and passionate. There's plenty of tasty guitar solos and harmonies, and the very slight change of direction in the band's sound actually does wonders for Matt Barlow's voice, who truly shines on this album and has finally clicked into place.

The production is also spot on. While early albums had a gritty feel to it that suited the music perfectly, the last few releases, and in particular, 'Days of Purgatory', sounded overproduced. The fast guitar picking sounded muddy, and wasn't as tight as it should have been. But here, everything is perfect! The guitars have a big sound, while still accentuating the accuracy of the playing. And with a thumping bass and a pounding drum, this is probably the best Iced Earth have ever sounded.

With hits such as 'Burning Times', 'Watching Over Me', 'Stand Alone', 'Melancholy', 'Disciples of the Lie', 'Consequences', '1776', 'Blessed Are You' and the awesome 'Something Wicked Trilogy' (so basically, every song), this is easily one of the bands best albums, with every track flowing effortlessly into the next. 'Something Wicked This Way Comes' is a heavyweight album that firmly establishes Iced Earth as heavyweights of the genre.

MEGADETH The World Needs a Hero

Album · 2001 · Thrash Metal
Cover art 3.09 | 55 ratings
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martindavey87
Megadeth took a huge risk (no pun intended) with 1999's 'Risk' album. In a bid to gain more mainstream success, the band shunned the thrash metal genre they'd popularized in the 80's and turned to a radio-friendly rock sound. It didn't pay off. Big time. Dave Mustaine and his crew had egg well and firmly on their faces, and nobody likes egg on their faces.

So by the time 2001 rolled around, the band had used up their one and only "gone back to their roots" cliché (every band that's been around long enough gets to do this at least once). The problem was, with 'Risks' massive failure behind them, and with rising tensions between artist and record label, this truly feels like a band, and in particular, a man (Mustaine), who is lacking enthusiasm and who's heart isn't in it.

For the record, I loved 'Risk'. Just saying.

With 'The World Needs a Hero', there's definitely a metal vibe again. But the music just seems pretty lifeless and rigid. The crunchy riffs are back, but everything seems so stoic. The spite and hatred of Megadeth's earlier days is long gone, having been replaced by some of the most mundane lyrics imaginable. While some of the songs are pretty decent, everything just seems so uninspired.

Guitar legend Marty Friedman, who left the band after the 'Risk' tour, has been replaced by Al Pitrelli of Savatage and Trans-Siberian Orchestra fame. This is actually really cool, because I love those bands, but unfortunately Pitrelli doesn't really have his own unique voice like his predecessor. And the interplay between Mustaine and Pitrelli doesn't produce anything noteworthy.

Still, this album does have its merits. '1000 Times Goodbye', 'Moto Psycho', 'Promises', 'Dread and the Fugitive Mind' and 'Disconnect' are all decent enough songs, but not really much to shout about if I'm honest. 'Return to Hanger', a sequel to one of their biggest hits, 'Hanger 18', serves as a weak attempt at capturing some of their thrash era glory, and things are capped off with 'When', a diabolical rip-off of the Diamond Head classic 'Am I Evil' (which is only a classic due to Mustaine's former band Metallica... the irony of it all).

Overall, this isn't a bad album, but it really sounds like a group that are burned out and in need of some new inspiration. While the world needs a hero, it feels like this band needs a break. And on that note...

DREAM THEATER Scenes From A World Tour (Christmas CD 2000)

Promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs) · 2000 · Progressive Metal
Cover art 2.00 | 2 ratings
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martindavey87
Dream Theater's 2000 fan club CD is basically a collection of outtakes from their Metropolis world tour of the same year. Jokingly described on the back cover as "Metropolis 2000 Tour Highlights (and Lowlights)", it's not really something you'd listen to more than once or twice, but it's a fun little collector's item none-the-less.

With that said, there's not really anything to comment on. 'What Did They Say?' is a medley of snippets featuring the band members goofing around during various songs, ad-libbing lyrics and whatnot. 'War Pigs' involves a fan singing with the band, and 'The Spirit Carries On' has drummer Mike Portnoy singing, forgetting the lyrics, and getting the crowd to finish off. Nothing serious, just basically an hour of Dream Theater having fun.

Overall, this is a light-hearted album, good for one or two listens, but seeing as it's a fan club CD, it's definitely nothing more than a novelty item for die-hard fans.

ICED EARTH Days of Purgatory

Boxset / Compilation · 1997 · US Power Metal
Cover art 4.03 | 13 ratings
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martindavey87
'Days of Purgatory' is a two-disc compilation of Iced Earth songs remixed and rerecorded with then current vocalist Matt Barlow. At the time, it was intended as somewhat of a greatest hits album, with the goal being to give new fans a taste of the bands older material, while giving older fans "improved" versions of classic songs.

As a whole however, I find this album pretty pointless, and continues a downhill trend the band had been on over the last couple of years. While their first two albums, 'Iced Earth' and 'Night of the Stormrider' are absolute classics of the power metal genre, I find the two albums prior to this compilation, 'Burnt Offerings' and 'The Dark Saga' to be hugely disappointing.

The honest truth is that I just prefer the original recordings. Gene Adam and John Greely's voices suited their material better, especially with the overall sound and production of their respective albums. I find all the new arrangements uninspiring, and more often than not, where Matt Barlow has recorded new vocal lines, I find his ones don't really suit the music as well as his predecessors.

It's not all bad though, I mean, Iced Earth still release some outstanding music, and even though they're not as good as the originals, the songs here are still decent efforts. 'Iced Earth', 'When the Night Falls', 'Angels Holocaust', 'Burnt Offerings' and 'Colors' are among some of the bands best works, as well as a reworked version of 'Written on the Walls' titled 'Cast in Stone' (though I'd stick to the original, myself).

Ultimately, 'Days of Purgatory' is a mostly irrelevant release. Personally I'd recommend the original versions of all these songs. And thankfully, judging by later compilations, these recordings are somewhat "non-canon", so they've not really replaced the originals, but merely become novelty re-recordings for fans and collectors.

AXEL RUDI PELL Between the Walls

Album · 1994 · Heavy Metal
Cover art 4.00 | 8 ratings
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'Between the Walls' is the fourth album by German hard rock guitarist/band Axel Rudi Pell. Not only is it the first release to feature the same vocalist as its predecessor (I guess third time really is the charm) but it's a turning point in the groups discography, in which the standard of their music vastly improves upon their earlier days, and a string of high quality releases followed.

It's 1994 and the music world, in particular on the rock side of things, is a bit of a mess. Metal is "dead", although all these 90's groove bands like Pantera, Machine Head and Biohazard are slowly making headway, grunge has already peaked, and hard rock is, well... still living in the 80's. But that's not going to stop Mr. Pell and his motley crew! Having ditched the sleazy sex, women and nightly thrills 80's vibes of their earlier albums, the band have taken a more fantasy-themed style. Incorporating more melodic elements similar to bands like Deep Purple and Rainbow.

Vocalist Jeff Scott Soto has proven himself a perfect fit with the band, with his incredible voice being a perfect match for the more serious (albeit, still pretty cheesy) lyrics. And Pell's guitar playing, usually impressive though excessively indulgent with the solos, has really started to become more coherent as well. The solo's are still a vast flurry of notes, but there's just more substance there now, as opposed to endless scales up and down the neck. And as expected, there's riffs aplenty here. With tight rhythm work and brimming with massive power chords, this is definitely something for the old school rocker in us all.

While this album is still very much a typical hard rock record, and probably would have fared better had it been released in 1984, it's still got some good, quality music that holds up well today. Songs like 'Talk of the Guns', 'Casbah', 'Cry of the Gypsy', 'Warrior', 'Outlaw', 'Innocent Child' and the title track itself all go to make 'Between the Walls' an essential hard rock album, and one of Axel Rudi Pell's finest.

NICKELBACK Curb

Album · 1996 · Heavy Alternative Rock
Cover art 2.23 | 11 ratings
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martindavey87
I never really cared much for the term "post" being placed before music genres. "Post this" and "post that", it all sounded a bit pretentious to me. That is, until I heard Nickelback's debut album, 1996's 'Curb'. Often cited as "post grunge", it all makes sense to me now! Channelling their inner Seattle grunge scene, 'Curb' sounds a lot like a Canadian band poorly mimicking Nirvana or Pearl Jam a couple of years removed from the grunge genres mainstream peak.

Now, don't get me wrong, I actually like Nickelback, and don't understand the absolute scorn and contempt that is thrust upon them. But it's hard to believe the worldwide success they'd go on to have, considering the quality of this release.

I guess it's just a case of a young band trying to find their sound, but there's really nothing noteworthy here except a few half-assed watered down attempts at sounding like the aforementioned grunge bands. The musicianship is fairly average, vocalist Chad Kroeger (who'll go on to become one of the most hated men in rock music) has a good voice and an impressive range, but if you're going back to this album after hearing their later mainstream hits, it's apparent how much he's trying to sound like Kurt Cobain.

Still, it's not all bad. There's one or two moments where it's easy to hear where the band truly shine, and that's in the riffs department. 'Little Friend', 'Pusher', 'Detangler' and 'Where' are all innocent enough numbers. Nothing amazingly outstanding, but they have their qualities that make them listenable. Should I accidently stumble across them, that is.

But overall, let's face it, we only want to hear the bands 2001 mega hit 'How You Remind Me', and this sounds nothing like that band! This is a pretty bland and uninteresting (yet inoffensive if you do happen upon it) release. Wait for them to develop their own style and things will really start to fall into place.

AXEL RUDI PELL Eternal Prisoner

Album · 1992 · Heavy Metal
Cover art 3.60 | 6 ratings
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martindavey87
Third album, third singer. Axel Rudi Pell is back... are back?... (I'm still not sure which one to use)... with more fist-pumping hard rocking that probably comes a decade too late, but is a pretty decent album regardless. Featuring powerhouse vocalist Jeff Scott Soto, at this point best known for his work with Yngwie Malmsteen and Talisman, this looks set to be a stable line up for the band which could last longer than one release.

The music is the same as before. Hard rock, power metal, call it what you will. It's got 80's rock stamped all over it. Long haired men with leather jackets (shirts optional), high pitched wailing, simple songs with crazy guitar acrobatics, and of course, at least one of them is probably wearing a bandana.

While Axel Rudi Pell's first two albums were fairly average, 'Eternal Prisoner' is where the band starts to really improve the quality of their work. In particular, Soto's voice lends itself to the music perfectly. Not that there was much wrong with former vocalists Charlie Huhn or Rob Rock, but Soto's voice is perfect for Pell's sound and style. And the songwriting as a whole sounds a lot more confident because of it.

Axel Rudi Pell's guitar playing though still struggles to truly catch on with the solos. The compositions are good, the vocal melodies work well, but it's the guitar solos that tend to drag on in similar fashion. There's a few moments where he does shine, but for the most part his rhythm work stands out far more than his mindless shredding. He's still miles better than me though.

'Long Time', 'Streets of Fire', 'Ride the Bullet' and 'Shoot Her to the Moon' are all fairly decent tracks, maybe even a bit of a guilty pleasure in their cheesiness. But in all honesty, 'Sweet Lil' Suzie' sees the band channel their inner Aerosmith and it is incredible! Easily the best song off the album, and all-round one of the bands best pieces, the album is easily worth the price just for this! Otherwise, this is a standard early 90's hard rock that probably would have been a raging success if it had been released in the 80's. It's got its merits, but overall there's much better stuff to come.

MANOWAR Battle Hymns

Album · 1982 · Heavy Metal
Cover art 3.86 | 29 ratings
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Break out the loincloths and battle axes, it's time to delve into the sword and sorcery world of "real metal", as Manowar's debut album, 1982's 'Battle Hymns' shamelessly ups the ante on pure cheesiness and forces us to ask ourselves what it means to truly be a metal fan.

Kind of like America's answer to Judas Priest, Manowar's early albums seems more akin to hard rock than metal. It's got a bluesy, swinging feeling to it, that doesn't quite match up to the imagery of the band. But that's not going to stop them from preaching the gospel of the metal Gods.

But the thing is, while this might have been heavy and cutting edge in 1982... by today's standard, it's tame, light, and... well, it'll always be cheesy no matter when you hear it. Vocalist Eric Adams sings his heart out, and certainly possesses an impressive range. And guitarist Ross the Boss... yeah, that's his "name"... certainly has incredible guitar skills... just not very good songwriting ones.

Still, not all's lost, as there is some stuff here which is, well... alright, to put it bluntly. 'Death Tone', 'Metal Daze' and 'Manowar' (born to live forevermore, and don't you forget it), are all okay, nothing fancy, but certainly a precursor to the cheese that is to follow. Much like the Priest... their earlier material is pretty tame when compared to metal today, but Manowar's sound will adapt with the times and they will certainly improve on later albums, but otherwise, 'Battle Hymns' is a bit of a naff one, to me anyway.

FOZZY Remains Alive

Live album · 2011 · Heavy Metal
Cover art 3.00 | 1 rating
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'Remains Alive' by Fozzy was recorded live in Brisbane, Australia in 2005, shortly after the release of their third album, and their first as a "proper band". Having ditched the comedy covers gimmick, the group, fronted by wrestling superstar Chris Jericho, were touring to promote their 'All That Remains' album. Their first featuring only original compositions.

While the band are still relatively young here, it's apparent that they already have a penchant for live performances. Chris Jericho, thanks to years and years as a WWE performer, is a natural frontman. Confident on the mic and more than capable at engaging an audience, the few times he struggles vocally, he more than makes up for in charisma and stage presence.

Of course, being partnered up with members of rap metal pioneers Stuck Mojo means that this is definitely a band that was destined to excel when playing live. Guitarist Rich Ward and the rest of the guys are incredible performers, as well as incredible players. Ward has long been praised for his unmatched guitar tone, but at times things do sound a bit "sludgy" here.

Since this was recorded in the bands early days, the set does suffer a little. While all the songs here are bangers, Fozzy would go on to really adapt a feel in their music that was tailor-made for live settings. Having seen Fozzy a number of times, I can assure you their later material are live anthems, perfectly written to give audiences ample opportunities to get more involved with the music.

With that said, this isn't a bad album though, and like Stuck Mojo's 'HVY1' live release, the true joy of this recording is the energy and the banter between the songs. Jericho is a natural showman, and sometimes it's just fun to hear him talk and entertain. And all the bands early hits, including 'To Kill a Stranger', 'Crucify Yourself', 'Enemy', 'With the Fire' and 'Nameless Faceless' are played with pure enthusiasm and enjoyment. While this is certainly best saved for the absolute die-hard Fozzy fanatics, there's still some noteworthy things to listen to here, especially if you're a performing musician yourself.

Fozzy Fozzy Fozzy! Oi Oi! Oi!

DISTURBED Believe

Album · 2002 · Alternative Metal
Cover art 3.34 | 14 ratings
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martindavey87
Disturbed's second album, released in 2002, continues where 'The Sickness' left off. With groove-laden detuned guitar riffs and David Draiman's signature vocal style, the band show a maturity that will enable them to survive the dying nu metal scene.

The most notable difference between 'Believe' and the bands 2000 debut is that there's more emphasis on hooks, with the songs being catchier and with more focus on strong, memorable choruses. Unfortunately, like before, there's still a good amount of filler material here too. The good songs are really good, but the rest are entirely forgettable.

Dan Donegan's guitar work is great, however. We know he can shred by his work on later albums, but here he's restraining himself immensely. Whether for the good of the song, or simply because the nu metal fad didn't allow for guitar solos, either way, his riffs are heavy, yet melodic, and each flows into the next effortlessly.

While 'Believe' is still an average album at best, there are some notable tracks. 'Prayer', 'Remember', 'Liberate', 'Bound' and 'Rise' are all fantastic songs that make this worth at least one or two listens, and while the band are still pretty much a nu metal act here, there's potential to outlive the subgenre while appealing to both metal fans and radio alike.

MIND KEY Journey Of A Rough Diamond

Album · 2004 · Progressive Metal
Cover art 3.25 | 4 ratings
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martindavey87
'Journey of a Rough Diamond' is the debut album by Italian progressive metal band Mind Key. Released in 2004, it bears many similarities to a certain well-known band...

Now, I've always disliked the notion of so many progressive metal bands being labelled as "Dream Theater clones". Yes, Dream Theater are the pioneers of the subgenre, and have remained flag bearers to this day, having laid the foundations and defined the true aspects and qualities of the style. But God forbid, anyone being inspired by this and playing something similar! Why isn't every metal band in history simply regarded as a Black Sabbath clone? Or a Metallica clone? Or a...

Whatever... Back on track... Mind Key are one of "those bands".

Ticking off every cliché from the prog metal guidebook, the music here is highly ambitious, with long track durations, extended musical passages, unparalleled musicianship, and with a vocalist who mostly sings in a higher range. This is prog metal 101.

But is it any good? It's... alright.

I stumbled across Mind Key back in 2010 when I first heard and fell in love with the song 'Secret Dream'. I couldn't wait to hear the entire album, and when I finally managed to get hold of it, it didn't quite live up to expectations. It's good. But it's so incredibly average. I don't expect every band to reinvent the wheel, but for all the musical talent and production values this band has, there's just not a lot here that hasn't been done more memorably by other artists.

Still, there are some solid tracks here. Besides the aforementioned 'Secret Dream', (which is definitely the best the album has to offer), there's 'Love Remains the Same', 'Lord of the Flies', 'Without Ann' and 'Waiting for the Answer'. None of these songs are going to set the world on fire, but in fairness, while my review does seem a bit harsh, these are pretty decent compositions.

But Mind Key just fail to truly stand out amongst a sea of so many "Dream Theater clones". They're good though, and 'Journey of a Rough Diamond' is worth checking out if you're into your prog metal, but there's plenty of similar bands with more memorable and accessible albums.

SYSTEM OF A DOWN Toxicity

Album · 2001 · Alternative Metal
Cover art 4.15 | 93 ratings
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martindavey87
After gaining a huge cult following with their self-titled 1998 debut, System of a Down exploded worldwide with their 2001 follow-up, 'Toxicity'. With nu metal at its peak, the band's sound was perfect to appeal to fans both old and new, and with one absolute colossal hit, they were ready for worldwide mega stardom.

Following on from where their previous album left off, 'Toxicity' is a fast, furious and frantic release that refuses to let up for a single moment. The chemistry between the band members is incredible, with special mention to unique and eccentric vocalist Serj Tankian and guitarist Daron Malakian's erratic and intense guitar work. Right from start to finish this is a relentless assault on the senses.

Of course, this album is best known for one song, and we all know what that is, don't we? 'Chop Suey'. With its unusual lyrics and unique vocal style, 'Chop Suey', besides being one of the most well-known, beloved and recognizable metal songs of all time, transcends the metal genre. Such is its reputation that non-metal fans love it too!

However, there's more to this release than just one song, and 'Toxicity' is absolutely overflowing with hits. 'Prison Song', 'Science', 'Deer Dance', 'Jet Pilot', 'Bounce', 'Psycho' and 'Shimmy' are all incredible songs that are definitely worth a listen, and then there's the title track and closing track 'Aerials', which were both released as singles and, while not as well known as 'Chop Suey', have still gone on to become metal classics in their own right.

With the release of 'Toxicity', System of a Down became one of those few bands that are truly in a league of their own, and who's future will forever be defined by this album. A monumental success and one of metals most revered albums, there's really no excuses for not hearing this by now!

PAPA ROACH Infest

Album · 2000 · Nu Metal
Cover art 2.93 | 10 ratings
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martindavey87
We all remember these days, don't we? The new millennium is kicking in, and nu metal has taken the world by storm. Limp Bizkit, Papa Roach and Linkin Park were all at the top of the charts, and heavy metal was getting a much needed rejuvenation. And one of the biggest hits of the time? The profanity-ridden anthem about depression, self-harm and suicide, 'Last Resort' by Papa Roach.

Now, of course, achieving mainstream success and having a hit single that transcends all genres and appeals to everyone is pretty much a huge metal no-no, so obviously a lot of "real metal" fans hated Papa Roach and their brand of rap rocking. But behind the chart-topping four-piece are some solid chops and a knack for catchy songwriting.

'Infest', which was the bands major label debut (they had one self-released album prior to this), was released in 2000 and was the perfect soundtrack to the youth of the day. Hard, gritty and edgy. Lyrical themes that tackled issues on a personal level helped the music reach out to a whole generation of disgruntled youths.

Besides the aforementioned megahit 'Last Resort', there's 'Between Angels & Insects' and 'Broken Home' which also charted worldwide, as well as songs like 'Blood Brothers' appearing in multi-platinum selling video games, Papa Roach were on top of the world. And there's an abundance of great songs that get lost amongst all of that, such as 'Dead Cell', 'Never Enough', 'Revenge', 'Binge' and hidden track 'Tightrope'. While the musicianship isn't flashy, what the band lack in technical prowess they more than make up for with competence and enthusiasm.

Papa Roach will always live in the shadow of 'Last Resort', and while they have changed style quite a bit over the years, shunning casual fans and not winning over any metal ones, the bottom line is that 'Infest', if you can look beyond the hit singles, is a solid album that defined a generation and further established nu metal as a worldwide phenomenon.

BODY COUNT Body Count

Album · 1992 · Crossover Thrash
Cover art 4.14 | 12 ratings
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martindavey87
When renowned gangster rapper Ice-T wanted to form a metal band, he hooked up with guitarist Ernie C, and thus, Body Count was born. Blending metal guitar riffs with rapping vocals, the band's music takes a huge inspiration from hardcore, thrash and punk music.

Spewing hatred and anger with lyrics touching upon subjects such as racism, corrupt politicians and gang warfare, Body Count made an immediate splash with the song 'Cop Killer' (sadly not included on my copy of the album), which was highly controversial upon its release. However, all it really did was serve to give the band even more publicity.

Foul-mouthed, and brimming with hardcore metal riffs, 'Body Count' is not for the weak hearted. It's dark and menacing, a huge contrast to the whiny, angst-ridden grunge bands of the early 90's, with Ice-T and company making no effort to hide their displeasure at the mistreatment of coloured people in America. And the music itself packs one hell of a punch. It's heavy and it's ballsy, oozing with attitude but never taking itself too seriously that the band can't afford to be slightly tongue-in-cheek from time to time.

With anthems such as 'Evil Dick', 'Body Count's in the House', 'KKK Bitch', 'There Goes the Neighbourhood', 'Momma's Gotta Die Tonight' and 'The Winner Loses', it's apparent that Ice-T is onto something special here. And his solo track, 'Freedom of Speech', which takes the place of 'Cop Killer' on censored versions of the album, fits in perfectly, both stylistically and lyrically. And there's plenty of skits thrown in between songs to keep the record flowing effortlessly.

This could easily be dismissed as rap metal, and in fairness that's an easy assumption to make, but coming out at the right place and at the right time, Ice-T and Body Count struck gold with this release, and if you're willing to look past the gangster rap stigma of the group, you'll find a pivotal album of early 90's metal.

MEGADETH Sampler 01

Promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs) · 1999 · Thrash Metal
Cover art 3.00 | 1 rating
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martindavey87
I found this 1999 promo CD in a second hand shop for £1 and, being the collector that I am, had to purchase it, even though it offered nothing I didn't already have numerous times over. Released as a digipak with a plain black cover featuring the bands logo, this unnamed sampler, which conveniently has 'Sampler 01' on its spine, consists of a handful of totally random Megadeth songs that don't seem to flow or show any coherence whatsoever.

But that's okay, right? I mean, it's only intended for promotional purposes. And while there's a couple of songs I'm not overly bothered about, there's still a good representation of the bands career, up until that point, of course.

The sampler includes 'Crush 'Em', the lead single of the bands then-upcoming 1999 release 'Risk', as well as classics such as 'Holy Wars... The Punishment Due', 'Symphony of Destruction', 'Peace Sells' and 'Train of Consequences', all are fan favourites, as well as the bands cover of the Sex Pistols classic 'Anarchy in the UK'.

No doubt you'd have to be a serious uber-fan to track this CD down at this point. Especially as there's countless compilations far exceeding this in song variety and duration. But still, it's Megadeth damn it! There's no denying the quality of the music here, and if you're a super nerdy collector like me, then picking this up for a £1 just to sit on the shelf is an acceptable price to pay.

MEGADETH Live Trax

Live album · 1997 · Thrash Metal
Cover art 2.43 | 3 ratings
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martindavey87
Megadeth's 'Live Trax' is an EP released exclusively in Japan in 1997, and it's a fairly mundane affair which I'm not going to dwell on for too long.

The sound is alright, although Megadeth have never really had such a great live sound, and it certainly doesn't convey well in these recordings, which are taken from dates in 1995 and 1997. Dave Mustaine's voice could be considered an acquired taste at the best of times, but he certainly struggles in a live setting, even in his younger days, as is evident here.

There's six actual tracks, although there's technically seven songs, as 'Reckoning Day' also has 'Peace Sells' tacked on afterwards. The song choices are fine, consisting of tracks like 'Angry Again', 'Tornado of Souls' and 'A Tout le Monde', and the musicianship is of a high standard, especially as this is the "classic" line up featuring Marty Friedman on guitars and Nick Menza on drums. However, to tell the truth, there's just nothing remarkable about these recordings.

Maybe I'm just taking the idea of these types of EP's too seriously, but this is a pretty forgettable release. It's nothing special, and other than some cool imagery (the look of the CD certainly fits in well with that era of the band's music), this is only worth getting hold of if you're a huge fan.

SYMPHONY X Live On The Edge Of Forever

Live album · 2001 · Progressive Metal
Cover art 3.56 | 8 ratings
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martindavey87
Symphony X are one of my all-time favourite bands, without a doubt. BUT... (you knew this was coming), 'Live on the Edge of Forever', their 2001 live album, doesn't really do their music justice.

Now hold your tongue before you condemn me for this blasphemy and take heed! Firstly, I'm not really big on live albums. I do like them, and if I'm a fan of a band I'll endeavour to own everything they release, but ultimately I like the slick, crisp sound of a studio recording. Everything is perfectly balanced (mostly), the sound is punchier, and it just feels more 'definitive'. Live albums can be good for jams and random nuggets of joy where the band can be entertaining through banter or crowd interaction. But otherwise... give me a studio album.

Secondly, to be brutally honest, Symphony X's music doesn't convey the same type of energy that goes down well on a live setting. Don't get me wrong, I love Symphony X, and the song choices here are fantastic! But I love live albums where there's a palpable energy flowing! Where you can really feel electricity in the air. All I imagine here is a bunch of people standing around watching a band play, and then clapping at the end.

Again though, Symphony X are one of my favourite bands, and the set list and the playing is incredible! In fact, some of the songs are played even faster than their studio counterparts, which is insane! The band are truly all masters of their craft. And with classics such as 'Smoke and Mirrors', 'Through the Looking Glass', 'Church of the Machine', 'The Eyes of Medusa' and most of the 'V: The New Mythology Suite' record being played, there's certainly no shortage of bangers.

However, there aren't really many noteworthy additions to the songs and there's no entertaining shenanigans or banter. Just track after track with crowds cheering in between. I love Symphony X, but in the end... I just prefer the studio albums.

MEGADETH Cryptic Sounds: No Voices in Your Head

EP · 1998 · Thrash Metal
Cover art 2.17 | 5 ratings
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martindavey87
Released in 1998, 'Cryptic Sounds' is a Japanese EP featuring instrumental versions of tracks from Megadeth's 1997 album, 'Cryptic Writings'. And what can I say about it? It's... okay?... I guess?

I mean, they're basically karaoke versions of Megadeth songs. Right?

The playing is tight and the sound is punchy ('Cryptic Writings' is probably one of my favourite Megadeth records), but this is definitely a novelty item for die-hard fans. One cool little addition is that all the vocal melodies from the original compositions are being played on guitar here, which is kind of cool, but not really. And the first half of 'She-Wolf' is played acoustically, given it a very lively and upbeat vibe.

For what it is, 'Cryptic Sounds' is a pretty cool CD to own, and there's no disputing the quality of the music, but I don't think I'll ever this over the original album with vocals. Definitely an item for collectors to track down and then probably never listen to.

CRIMSON GLORY War Of The Worlds

EP · 2000 · US Power Metal
Cover art 2.00 | 1 rating
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'War of the Worlds' is the only single released from Crimson Glory's 1999 album, 'Astronomica'. Reports suggest that I'm one of seventeen people who liked that album (actually, I loved it), so it's barely conceivable to think that there are others out there who actually own this EP on disc. But there is a reason to, and that's because the CD itself is shaped like some kind of awkward star, with pointy edges, and an image of the band on it. It's a pretty cool little thing to own, to be honest. If you're a fan, that is. And by this point, we're an endangered species.

The title track itself is awesome, and easily one of the bands best pieces. With its slick guitar harmonies, tight rhythm and screeching vocals, the band are on top form and ready to take on the new millennium (which, evidently... went nowhere). Despite programmed drums, the track is a standout from the album, and its single release is justified.

However, from there, it's standard EP material. Two demos from the 'Astronomica' record, which are good, but not really noteworthy (stick with the finished album versions). And two live tracks of songs I'm not overly fussed about. In fact, these feature the bands former vocalist Midnight, which I find a bit of a shame. Don't get me wrong, the guy was an absolute powerhouse of a singer, but I just thought it'd be cooler if they were more recent live recordings, featuring then-current vocalist Wade Black.

The shaped disc is a cool enough gimmick though, which makes this a neat little collectable, but overall, this is an EP, and as is always the case with these things, is only really for the die-hard fans. And surely I'm not the only one, am I?

BLIND GUARDIAN Another Stranger Me

Single · 2007 · Power Metal
Cover art 2.00 | 1 rating
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martindavey87
'Another Stranger Me' is the second single from Blind Guardian's 2006 album 'A Twist in the Myth', and is the only track from that record to receive a promo video. It is also the bands most radio-friendly work, and as a result, is probably their most hated song too.

Personally, I think it's a killer! There's nothing wrong with trying to appeal to a bigger audience, and all the ingredients of a great Blind Guardian track are here. There's plenty of tasteful guitar harmonies and lead breaks, Hansi Kursch's powerful vocals, epic keyboards and some intense drumming. It's all here! But heaven forbid a power metal band trying to get a bit of radio airplay! Can't have that now, can we?

Along with the title track, there's two EP exclusives; the haunting 'All the King's Horses' and a cover of Ozzie Nelsons, or Wayne Kings (do the research and come to your own conclusion), 'Dream a Little Dream of Me'. Blind Guardian seem to have a knack for giving these oldies songs their own makeover, but with that said, this song is pretty dire and uninteresting, completely missing the magic the band showed on their versions of 'Mr. Sandman' and 'Surfin' USA'.

Also included are two demos of 'Lionheart' and 'The Edge', both are featured on 'A Twist in the Myth', and like so many countless singles and EP's that come with demo versions, they're decent for collectors, but otherwise best to stick with the finished product, and in this regard, said product is actually a fantastic and highly underrated album.

Overall, as is always the case, this is one for hardcore fans. 'Another Stranger Me' is a solid track, but that alone won't save this EP from getting anything more than two stars.

AXEL RUDI PELL Nasty Reputation

Album · 1991 · Heavy Metal
Cover art 2.90 | 6 ratings
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martindavey87
Axel Rudi Pell ushers in the 90's with another dose of 80's hard rock. Trying to keep the flame alive and harkening back to the sounds of Dio, Rainbow and Yngwie Malmsteen, 'Nasty Reputation' sounds almost identical to its 1989 predecessor, 'Wild Obsession'.

Fist-pumping, machismo-laced hard rock is the order of the day, so take your shirts off (keep your leather jacket on, though), let your hair down and wail away to the glories of the night life, women, lawlessness, and whatever other cheese-riddled thoughts are conjured up when you think of 80's rock. Because that's exactly what you're getting here.

The songs themselves are of a slightly better quality from before, but to be honest they're still mostly forgettable. Vocalist Rob Rock (with a name like that, he was hardly going to be a dentist, was he?) has an incredible range, but at times, hanging onto the last word of every sentence at a high pitch does get a bit annoying. And as for the man himself, Axel Rudi Pell has absolutely unlimited potential on the guitar, but more often than not his soloing just wonders off into a flurry of unrecognizable notes.

Thinking positively however, the title track is actually an incredibly pumping song, and 'Fighting the Law' also has its charm. But otherwise, there's not a lot here to really get excited about. 'Land of the Giants' could be really good, if not for the five-minute jam section which is boring as hell, followed by two minutes of the same riff while Mr. Rock reminds us constantly of the name of the song. A cover of Deep Purple's classic, 'When a Blind Man Cries', also fails to save this album.

Overall, Axel Rudi Pell will go on to release some incredible music, but his (or their?) early albums are mundane affairs. There's other bands out there that do this kind of music better, while these ones just feel like they've come about ten years too late.

ANTHRAX Spreading The Disease

Album · 1985 · Thrash Metal
Cover art 3.92 | 51 ratings
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After the disappointing EP 'Armed and Dangerous', Anthrax released 'Spreading the Disease' in 1985, and quickly showed the world why they deserved to be one of the bigger bands of the thrash metal movement, and why new vocalist Joey Belladonna was definitely the right choice to replace Neil Turbin.

While it was evident on the aforementioned EP that Belladonna was a fantastic singer that gave the band a more confident sound, the release itself still seemed fairly lacklustre. However, all of that changed when the band dropped this bomb on the metal world.

Featuring some of their most revered hits, 'Spreading the Disease' is 44 minutes of rip-roaring, high energy thrash metal, rife with intense guitar riffs and powerful vocals, it maintains its high quality throughout. With punk sensibilities and a knack for melody, it never falls into the cliché of just chugging away on the same chord, and while it does cover some serious topics, it never takes itself too seriously either.

With songs like 'A.I.R.', 'Madhouse', 'Armed and Dangerous', 'Medusa', 'Gung-Ho' and 'Lone Justice', this is clearly a band who have hit their stride. Guitarists Scott Ian and Dan Spitz effortlessly join the ranks of metal guitar duos with amazing chemistry, while bassist Frank Bello and drummer Charlie Benante hold up their end, keeping the rhythm section tight and heavy.

After a bumpy start, 'Spreading the Disease' is what truly started to excel Anthrax as one of the leading metal bands of the 80's, and has earned its status as one of thrash metals most highly regarded albums.

MEGADETH Breadline EP

EP · 2000 · Thrash Metal
Cover art 1.50 | 2 ratings
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martindavey87
Megadeth's 'Breadline' is a six-track EP released in 2000 to promote the 'Risk' album, and was exclusive to Japan.

Lucky Japan.

Seriously, what the hell is this abomination? Why do bands allow these remix artist-types to make lame, drum 'n' bass versions of their songs? It's not that I have a problem with any particular genre of music, but if you're going to remix a song, at least make a half decent attempt of it, because these songs are atrocious. How could Dave Mustaine honestly sit there and think "yep, that's what Megadeth fans will love to hear".

I guess this was the bands 'Risk' era anyway, where trying to appeal to larger and more commercial audiences meant that all bets were off and nobody really knew what they were going to do next.

As it is, the song 'Breadline' is pretty decent (I'm one of approximately seven people that actually love the 'Risk' album). It's a fairly standard rock song, with soft verses and heavy choruses. It's easily one of Megadeth's most radio-friendly tracks, but it's probably also one of their most hated by the fans. And did anyone ever actually hear this on the radio?

Other than that one track (a radio edit, no less, and certainly not good enough to save this atrocity), this EP is awful. I have no interest in these techno remixes or whatever they're meant to be, and would much rather just listen to the original tracks.

One for the collectors, who will no doubt own it as begrudgingly as I do.

CHRIS CAFFERY Music Man

EP · 2005 · Power Metal
Cover art 3.00 | 1 rating
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martindavey87
'Music Man' is the second EP released to promote Chris Caffery's 2004 debut solo album, 'Faces', and contains an eclectic choice of songs.

First there's the title track itself, 'Music Man'. A soft song with plenty of cool melodies and some really nice singing by Caffery. Not sure why this track was chosen as a single however. It's a good track, but not the best choice to reflect the album it appears on. Unlike...

... Straight up, two of the best songs from the 'Faces' album, 'Pisses Me Off' and an extended version of 'Abandoned'. Brutally heavy, with some thunderous riffs and insane vocals, these two songs alone make this EP worthwhile. There's also a censored version of 'Pisses...' which is slightly humorous to begin with, but quickly wears thin and becomes pointless.

There's also three non-album tracks. None of which are all that interesting though. Two of them are Christmas-themed, with a strong Trans-Siberian Orchestra (of whom Caffery plays for) vibe going on, but they're pretty dull songs. And there's 'Forever We'll Be', which also appeared on previous EP 'The Mold'. I wasn't too keen on that song then, and I'm not keen on it now.

Overall though, this is a decent EP. Chris Caffery is an incredibly underrated guitarist and songwriter and I can't recommend his solo material enough. And while this EP is mainly for collectors (I'd definitely suggest checking out his 'Faces' album if you love your music heavy), there's a few songs here that hold up as some of Caffery's finest.

SEVENDUST Sevendust

Album · 1997 · Nu Metal
Cover art 3.50 | 4 ratings
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martindavey87
Sevendust have always been one of those bands that you just have to respect for their sheer tenacity and persistence. Their self-titled debut, released in 1997, came at a time when metal was pretty much dead to mainstream audiences. All the big names had been relegated to smaller venues and arenas, while bands like Korn and Limp Bizkit were helping build up the nu metal subgenre that was still a couple of years from truly exploding worldwide.

With that said, Sevendust's debut album tends to just quietly sit there in the background. It wasn't groundbreaking, or genre-defining, nor does it really make much noise or impact. It's just there. Mixing elements of nu metal, groove metal, hardcore music and some (sort of) rapping, it's a bit of a mess and not overly exciting.

The band will go on to write better things, but for the most part the riffs here just tend to plod along with about as much enthusiasm as a cow in an abattoir. Lajon Witherspoon's vocals are mostly flat and tend to fit in with the music awkwardly. There's just not a lot here that resonates with me.

If I had to pick out any highlights though, the songs 'Black' (easily the best of the album), 'Terminator' and 'Speak' are all alright. They're not really all that memorable though, and other than popping up on any compilations, I'm not likely to go back to them very often.

Overall, 'Sevendust' is a pretty disappointing album by a band who will go on to garner a small cult following. The foundations are certainly there, with the band laying down a blueprint for where they're going, but otherwise, this is a fairly unremarkable debut.

BLACK SABBATH Master Of Reality

Album · 1971 · Heavy Metal
Cover art 4.34 | 158 ratings
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martindavey87
Released in 1971, Black Sabbath's third album, 'Master of Reality', much like their previous efforts, is today regarded as a classic of the genre. Which means that for some inexplicable reason, I don't like it.

I kid. I kid.

Of course, I've given this album plenty of runs, but much like 'Black Sabbath' and 'Paranoid' (which I only gave a blasphemous one star), I just really struggle to get excited about any of this. Now, I respect the band and their contributions to the music world, but there's just countless other things I'd rather listen to.

Being optimistic though, 'Master of Reality' does sound more polished than its predecessors, despite the short time span between them (their third album in two years, a near-impossible feat these days). While I don't really care for Tony Iommi's "fuzzy" distortion, the songwriting is sounding a lot more confident than before, and at a stretch, I don't mind the songs 'Children of the Grave' and 'After Forever'. But for the most part the doom-laden riffs kind of plod along uninterestingly, and while I still find Ozzy's vocals mostly annoying, there are moments when he does actually shine. In particular, 'Solitude' shows a mellower, softer side to his voice, which I find actually works for him.

Regardless, Black Sabbath's third record is hailed as a classic, and while my review isn't out to deliberately tarnish that (rest assured that the albums status is under no threat), nor am I trying to deter anyone from listening to it (as if a simple review in this day and age would cause that), this is merely my review of an album I'm not all too keen on, from a band I'm struggling to get into.

MEGADETH Hidden Treasures

Boxset / Compilation · 1995 · Thrash Metal
Cover art 3.00 | 17 ratings
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martindavey87
Released in 1995, the well-titled 'Hidden Treasures' is an eight-track compilation of songs that were recorded for movie soundtracks or tribute albums. Random bits and bobs, really. Featuring a mixture of covers and originals, some of these have gone on to become fan favourites.

Since most of these were recorded around the early 90's, Megadeth were still in full-on thrash metal mode. With fast, intense guitar riffs and rough, gritty production giving the songs a harsh sound. Fans of the bands earlier work will enjoy this.

Highlights include '99 Ways to Die', 'Angry Again', 'Diadems' and 'Go to Hell', all are original compositions used for various movie soundtracks, being left off of studio albums for one reason or another, but they easily match any of Megadeth's prior work in quality. The rest of the EP is fairly mediocre, however. Thrashed up covers of Alice Cooper's 'No More Mr. Nice Guy' and Black Sabbath's 'Paranoid' do nothing for me, and the remaining originals are also fairly bland.

This short, 29-minute EP was originally the only place to get all of these songs without splashing out on eight separate soundtracks/albums. Now, of course, they're all likely to end up on any Megadeth compilation or boxset, but if you're looking to fill out your Megadeth collection with all their studio releases, then 'Hidden Treasures' is an essential addition.

LINKIN PARK Meteora

Album · 2003 · Nu Metal
Cover art 3.65 | 22 ratings
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martindavey87
Linkin Park's second studio album, released in 2003, comes at a time when nu metal, which the band helped popularize at the turn of the century, was in full decline. Fed up with the repetitive song structures, whiny lyrics and image-pandering "pop bands", fans were either drifting away from the fad, or moving on to pastures heavier. But 'Meteora' ensures that the genre would go out with a huge bang.

The band were all in their early twenties when their 2000 debut album, 'Hybrid Theory', made them one of the biggest acts on the planet. And three years later, you can see how they've matured as songwriters. While the music and lyrical themes are similar as before, there's just something in the songs that sound more polished and refined.

Taking the "less is more" mentality to the limit, the band have really hit their stride with their sound. Most of the songs barely hit the three minute mark, and the arrangements are almost identical in each track. But the Californian six-piece do it with such gusto that it's hard not to be impressed. In particular, vocalists Chester Bennington and Mike Shinoda have formed a duo that has become instantly recognizable, with both men's respective styles complimenting each other perfectly.

Highlights include 'Somewhere I Belong', 'From the Inside', 'Faint', 'Breaking the Habit', 'Don't Stay' and 'Easier to Run'. And of course, there's the absolute monster hit 'Numb', that has remained one of the bands most popular tracks. Even the unusual hip hop-inspired 'Nobody's Listening' is catchy, and really highlights the chemistry between the two singers.

While 'Hybrid Theory' had some absolute bangers, it also had its fair share of fillers. Which is where 'Meteora' is an improvement, in that it's a lot more consistent with a lot of really strong tracks. In fact, my only real complaint is that some of the songs could have been a bit longer. Regardless, 'Meteora' is a fantastic album that gave nu metal one last shot at showing the world what it was capable of, and sales in excess of 25 million copies says that they did the genre proud.

CHRIS CAFFERY The Mold

EP · 2004 · Power Metal
Cover art 3.00 | 1 rating
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martindavey87
'The Mold' is taken from Chris Caffery's debut solo album, 'Faces', which is a monstrous release that sees the guitarist of the legendary metal band Savatage and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra truly cut loose and reveal a side of himself that we've never seen before. It's angry, heavy and loud, and riddled with political and misanthropic lyrics.

Released in 2004, 'The Mold' (the song itself) is great, with some jackhammer guitar riffs and incredibly powerful vocals, it sums up Caffery's sound perfectly. The true highlight of the EP, however, is 'God Damn War'. Taken from the two-disc edition of 'Faces', and later released on the 'W.A.R.P.E.D.' compilation, this is one of Caffery's strongest and most politically-charged songs, with some exceptional guitar playing and demonstrating a great knack for songwriting.

'Fade Into the X' and EP-exclusive track 'Fright Knights' are both reasonably good, but nothing massively memorable, and 'Forever We'll Be' is a pretty dull ballad, which tends to drag on a bit, but does a great job of showing Caffery's development as a singer.

Overall however, this is a pretty decent EP. There's enough solid material and strong enough performances to make it a worthwhile purchase if you're a fan, and there might be enough here to convert any new followers too.

DREAM THEATER The Number of the Beast

Promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs) · 2005 · Heavy Metal
Cover art 2.71 | 18 ratings
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martindavey87
Now, I love Dream Theater, and I love Iron Maiden, but this is just all kinds of silly.

'The Number of the Beast' has never been one of my favourite Maiden albums. Sure, it was the record where they truly started to ascend to the top of the metal world, but in my opinion it's vastly inferior to the likes of 'Powerslave' and 'Seventh Son of a Seventh Son', and much of their later output.

So when Dream Theater, one of my all-time favourite groups, decided to do a live cover of the entire album, I was far from enthusiastic, but willing to give the progressive metal icons a chance to make something worthy out of it.

They failed.

Dream Theater's 'The Number of the Beast' just doesn't work. While the band had previously attempted something similar with Metallica's 'Master of Puppets', that live recording had something to it that, while still nothing more than a fun release not meant to be taken seriously, still made it a worthwhile listen. Especially if you're a fan of both bands.

But 'Number...' just doesn't click. Maybe it's James LaBrie's vocals, or John Myung not quite having the energy of Steve Harris, or maybe a guitar/keyboard hybrid just doesn't suit Maiden's sound. Either way, Dream Theater are more than competent as musicians, but this release is a bit of a blunder.

Even as a novelty item, this album is a bit of a stretch. I barely ever listen to the original version, so I'm certainly not going to feel inclined to listen to a cover of it, which is why this is best left for the absolute most die-hard fans of either band. And even then, it's not a release to be taken seriously.

SLAYER Reign in Blood

Album · 1986 · Thrash Metal
Cover art 4.24 | 172 ratings
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martindavey87
Me and the classics just can't seem to get along, can we? I know metal fans are going to know nothing but absolute and utter contempt for me (especially since I rated James Blunts first album three stars!), but I just can't get into 'Reign in Blood', which just happens to be one of the most beloved and revered metal albums of all time. Is it hyperbole? Has it not aged well? Am I just a bit of a prick? Probably all three.

Opening and closing with two of thrash metals finest compositions, the legendary 'Angel of Death' and 'Raining Blood' are two of Slayer's most famous and most popular songs. With breakneck speed riffs and some of Tom Araya's most passionate vocals, these are two of the bands most defining tracks.

They're also the only two highlights of this album.

The rest is the usual Slayer recipe... open string chugging, big screams, screechy guitar solos... I've never been too keen on the bands early material, and this certainly hasn't converted me. Sure, the music is ridiculously fast and relentlessly brutal, but that's not enough for me to find it compelling or engaging.

Still, 'Reign in Blood' is regarded as a classic, and this review won't do anything but enrage a few people who have the poor luck of reading it. I've tried and I've tried, but with the exception of the two songs mentioned above, this album is more average than most people are probably willing to admit.

METALLICA Six Feet Down Under Part II

EP · 2010 · Thrash Metal
Cover art 2.50 | 2 ratings
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martindavey87
Nobody ever really asked for part one, but here's part two anyway. 'Six Feet Down Under' is an Australian EP released to coincide with the bands 2010 tour to the continent. Australian's haven't been graced with yearly Metallica tours like the rest of us, so these two EP's were released as a small commemoration. They're sentimental items. Probably more meaningful to the people down under than they are to us. But us bloody collectors still need to own them anyway.

While part one featured bootleg editions of various tracks from Metallica's prior visits to Australia (four tours in total, two songs from each), part two features eight tracks from the 2010 tour. Voted in by fan club members from Australia and New Zealand, these are the typical Metallica live favourites that you'd come to expect, such as 'Master of Puppets', 'Ride the Lightning', 'Fade to Black' and 'Welcome Home (Sanitarium)'.

These aren't overly bad, the sound quality is alright and the performances are fine, though somewhat hindered by the bands age, but overall there's nothing wrong with this EP, other than the fact that we've heard these songs so many times by now. Whether in previous live albums, singles, EP's and all sorts, we've heard live versions of these tracks so many times, that this EP really is nothing new, and mostly irrelevant.

But much like the first disc, 'Six Feet Down Under Part 2' isn't meant to be taken seriously, and is merely intended as a nice memento to the Australian fans, and only really worth getting if you're a serious collector.

ANTHRAX Armed And Dangerous

EP · 1985 · Thrash Metal
Cover art 3.29 | 13 ratings
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martindavey87
Released in 1985, prior to Anthrax's second album, 'Armed and Dangerous' is a seven-song EP which saw the debut of new and highly revered vocalist Joey Belladonna.

Similar in style to the band's debut album, the only notable difference here is Belladonna's vocals, which sound a lot more confident and more powerful than former singer Neil Turbin. And while the music is still very raw early 80's thrash, there's a marked improvement in the performances by everyone involved, with a slightly more competent approach to songwriting.

Overall though, this is still mostly something I'd consider for collectors only. The title track and 'Raise Hell' are both good, but I find the rest to be fairly passable. A Sex Pistols cover which does nothing for me, a couple of live tracks and two songs from the 'Fistful of Metal' album complete the EP.

'Armed and Dangerous' might have some significance as the bands first release with Belladonna, but if you're not a massive fan then you're probably better off just ignoring this EP and getting the next studio album, 'Spreading the Disease', which is one of Anthrax's best works anyway.

MEGADETH Youthanasia

Album · 1994 · Heavy Metal
Cover art 3.65 | 89 ratings
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martindavey87
It's 1994 and "the 90's" are in full swing. Metal is all but dead, with most of the genres big arena bands being relegated to smaller venues, grunge reigns supreme. But throughout all of this, many groups stuck to their metal guns, and in the case of Megadeth, released some of their most polished and confident albums.

1992's 'Countdown to Extinction' saw the band steer away from the thrash metal sound they helped pioneer to much mainstream success (as much as any metal band could have in the early 90's, anyway), and so 'Youthanasia' sees Dave Mustaine and his merry men delve deeper into a more stripped-down approach, and it sounds like they're settling quite comfortably with the idea of slowing down and focusing more on musical content than cramming as many intricate riffs as possible into each song. As a result, 'Youthanasia' has a lot more gusto and finesse than its predecessor.

Mustaine's vocals are also really starting to come into their own as well. While they've always been a bit of an acquired taste, he's certainly made the most of his somewhat unique voice, emphasizing his high range and renowned snarl to great effect.

With songs like 'Reckoning Day', 'Train of Consequences', 'Family Tree', 'Blood of Heroes', 'Addicted to Chaos', the hugely underrated 'Victory' and one of the bands strongest compositions, 'A Tout le Monde', 'Youthanasia' sees the foursome continue to evolve and grow. With a strong line up of musicians and a beefy production, this is easily some of Megadeth's finest and most often overlooked work.

METALLICA Six Feet Down Under EP

EP · 2010 · Thrash Metal
Cover art 2.33 | 2 ratings
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martindavey87
'Six Feet Down Under' is an Australian EP, released in 2010, to coincide with Metallica's visit to the continent. While Metallica's constant touring might be something the rest of the world take for granted, Australia and New Zealand very rarely get to see the metal legends, and so this was intended as a commemoration of the band returning to the land down under.

Of course, that won't stop us non-Australians from wanting to snap it up!

'Six Feet...' consists of eight songs. Two from each tour in which Metallica played Australia, and all are bootleg quality. As they are, they're very rough and in some cases pretty rubbish. But if nothing else, it's interesting to hear the different stages of the bands career throughout each couple of tracks.

As for the songs themselves? The choices are fine, and actually avoids the same played-out and repeated hits such as 'Enter Sandman' and 'Master of Puppets', for ones not so common these days, such as 'Eye of the Beholder', 'Through the Never' and 'Frantic'. Probably could have done without 'Low Man's Lyric' though.

But overall, this isn't something to take super seriously, and is more of a sentimental gesture to the fans down under than anything else. Worth owning if you're a die-hard fan, but not worth getting upset about when it fails to meet any expectations you may have had.

ADEMA Insomniac's Dream

EP · 2002 · Nu Metal
Cover art 2.00 | 2 ratings
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martindavey87
Adema's 2001 self-titled debut was a good album. Nothing amazingly special, but enough to warrant their small fan base during the heyday of nu metal. While they never achieved the mainstream heights of contemporaries such as Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park, they were somewhat under the spotlight due to vocalist Mark Chavez being the half-brother of Korn frontman Jonathan Davis. But that was pretty much their biggest claim to fame.

While 'Adema' did have a couple of decent songs on it, and in fact, 'Freaking Out' is bloody brilliant, they followed it up a year later with 'Insomniac's Dream', a seven-track EP which heralded one single, and that was pretty much it.

The single in question, 'Immortal', is the only memorable track of the EP. Admittedly it's not bad, it's got some tasty riffs and Mark Chavez's vocals are certainly improving, but with that said, there's countless other things I'd rather listen to instead.

Then there's an Alice in Chains cover which is listenable but forgettable, a few remixes which do nothing for me (a remix of the aforementioned 'Freaking Out' is a huge letdown), a live song, and a radio edit of 'Giving In', probably the bands biggest hit. It's a good song... but do we really care about hearing a radio edit? No. We don't.

Overall, 'Insomniac's Dream' is an irrelevant EP. It's only strong point is 'Immortal', and even then, it's not really worth getting just for that. I would say it's only for the die-hard Adema fans, but I'm not entirely sure if any exist.

STUCK MOJO HVY1

Live album · 1999 · Rap Metal
Cover art 4.00 | 1 rating
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martindavey87
I'm not usually one for listening to live albums. Sure, if I like a band, I'll certainly go out and buy everything they release (damn collector OCD), but for the most part, I prefer the crisp and clear sound of a studio recording. However, with that said, Stuck Mojo were, and always will be, a live tour de force, and any live offering from these rap metal pioneers will certainly be worth the purchase.

Performing music that is tailor-made for mosh pits, Stuck Mojo were always about energetic performances that leave all their contemporaries in the dust, and it's clearly evident that the crowds featured on this album, from recordings in Atlanta, Georgia and Barcelona in Spain, are at an absolute fever-pitch throughout.

What makes the Mojo so incredible live is the boundless passion, showmanship and banter between each member. While the songs are mostly performed as they sound on their respective studio recordings, it's the stuff that takes place between the songs that make this such a joy to listen to. In particular, vocalist Bonz and guitarist Rich Ward confidently and charismatically engage the fans in such a way, that's it just as much fun to hear them talk as it is to hear them play.

'HVY1' consists of pretty much every Mojo classic from what could be considered "chapter one" of their career. 'Rising', 'Enemy Territory', '2 Minutes of Death', 'Southern Pride', 'Mental Meltdown', 'Not Promised Tomorrow' and 'Throw the Switch'... they're all here! The inclusion of two new songs, 'Reborn' and 'My Will', serves as icing on the cake, and a hidden track which is mostly five minutes of the band rambling on stage and interacting with the audience is an absolute joy to listen to.

As I've said before, I've never really been the biggest advocate of live albums, but I truly cannot praise this release enough! Not only are the songs performed immaculately, but it's the chemistry between the band members and the audience that make this essential listening for anyone looking to be a true performer.

BEYOND FEAR Beyond Fear

Album · 2006 · Heavy Metal
Cover art 3.40 | 6 ratings
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martindavey87
I have to say, I've always felt sorry for Tim Owens. The poor lad just can't escape the stigma of being a Rob Halford copycat. Both his stints in Judas Priest and Iced Earth (which I really enjoyed) put him in an unfavourable position where he was replacing someone much beloved by the fans (Halford and Matthew Barlow respectively), and as a result he's always remained nothing more than a bit player. His name can add credibility to a project, but only just enough that you'll probably find yourself the only one who cares.

Well, no longer looking to be a hired hand in a group where he has no control, Owens struck out on his own with Beyond Fear, a band which would offer him the chance to get more involved with songwriting and the creative side of things.

Funnily enough, however, while 'Beyond Fear' is a pretty decent effort, it's almost laughable how instantly recognizable the Judas Priest influence is. Owens no doubt wears his influences on his sleeve, and in fairness, there's nothing wrong with that if the music is good. And yes, it's good.

More in the vein of traditional heavy metal, with power and sometimes thrash metal trimmings, 'Beyond Fear' is a balls-to-the-wall metal affair with plenty of high-pitched wailing courtesy of Owens, who, despite sounding identical to Rob Halford, "comes into his own" and sounds a lot more confident when singing over his own material.

Backed by some tight musicianship and a nice beefy sound, 'Beyond Fear' will probably never be anyone's favourite album, but there's definitely something of merit here. 'Scream Machine', 'And... You Will Die', 'Save Me', 'I Don't Need This' and 'Coming At You' are all riffs-galore that deserve a listen, and show that even if Tim Owens is a Halford clone, then he's certainly one of the better ones.

PANTERA Vulgar Display of Power

Album · 1992 · Groove Metal
Cover art 4.06 | 71 ratings
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martindavey87
If you're a metal fan, you're no doubt gawking at this three-star review and seething with anger, and nothing I say will justify my views in your eyes. So let me just say, to Pantera; I'm sorry.

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

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

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

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

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

STUCK MOJO Violated

EP · 1996 · Rap Metal
Cover art 2.00 | 1 rating
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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.

MEGADETH Countdown to Extinction

Album · 1992 · Thrash Metal
Cover art 3.99 | 114 ratings
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martindavey87
Hot off the heels of one of thrash metals most revered albums, 1990's 'Rust in Peace', Megadeth slowly started to inch away from the subgenre that they helped to establish, and adapted a more stripped-down radio-friendly approach to their sound. Whether it was a step to ensure their survival amidst shifting musical trends, the next logical progression in the bands own evolution, or a shameless parallel to Dave Mustaine's former bandmates in Metallica, it was a change that ensured that Megadeth would remain one of the prominent names in heavy metal.

Changes aside, this is still instantly recognisable Megadeth, with Dave Mustaine's familiarly distinctive vocals, Marty Friedman's sleek and exotic guitar solos and the solid rhythm work of bassist David Ellefson and drummer Nick Menza. The compositions may have slowed down a notch in favour of more coherent songwriting and more traditional arrangements, but it still sounds like Megadeth through and through.

The only problem is that the songs themselves are not overly memorable.

Sure, there's some absolute Megadeth classics here, such as 'Skin o' My Teeth', 'Symphony of Destruction', 'Sweating Bullets' and 'Foreclosure of a Dream', and there's some underrated hidden gems such as 'Psychotron' and the title track, but there's also some fairly blatant filler material. Songs like 'High Speed Dirt', 'This Was My Life' and a few others do absolutely nothing for me.

'Countdown to Extinction' is regarded as a classic, and in fairness, despite my opinion of it, I won't argue the case. But for me, it's nothing more than a good album. It's got some Megadeth highlights, but its abundance of lacklustre material makes it tough for me to choose this over some of the bands other releases.

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