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METALMUSICARCHIVES.COM (MMA) intends to be a complete and powerful Metal music resource. You can find Metal artists discographies from 30738 bands & artists, 132031 releases, ratings and reviews from members who also participate in our forum.

metal music reviews (new releases)

LIGHTFOLD Deathwalkers

Album · 2019 · Power Metal
Cover art 3.00 | 1 rating
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Kev Rowland
It has been some five years since their debut album, and the Greek band seem to have been through quite a few changes as it appears that only singer Martin Deathwalker and guitarist Thanasis Labrakis are still in the fold. I am guessing that Martin Deathwalker and Theodor Martinis, who was lead singer on the debut, is the same person but have no idea if he changed his name to tie in with the album, or if the album is named as such to tie in with him. Here is band who are bringing together elements of both power metal and progressive metal, so much so that I can envisage them being tagged with either sub-genre. There are times when this comes together really well, and others when it jars. The use of old-fashioned keyboards makes me think at times of classic RPI, but sometimes the guitars just don’t work as they should, with the sounds diverging instead of coming together.

On ‘Angel of the Earth” there is a female co-lead vocalist, and she makes quite a difference. The band seem to be more focussed, as they move more into Dreamwalkers territory, and everything just seems that little bit tighter and even the guitar solo makes sense. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case through the album, as they go up and down in terms of quality (although the production is superb throughout). But, there is promise here and there so let’s see what the next album brings and if they can be stable in the lead up to it.


Album · 2019 · Heavy Metal
Cover art 3.00 | 1 rating
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Kev Rowland
When ex-Dio bandmates Vinny Appice, Jimmy Bain, and Vivian Campbell got together for a jam in 2011, they could not have foreseen that a new band was going to come out of it. The session was so much fun that they brought in singer Andrew Freeman and the band was born, named after one of the Dio albums which the three of them had played on. During the course of 2014 and 2015, the band wrote and recorded 12 new songs and chose long-time friend Jeff Pilson (Dokken, Foreigner) as producer. Their debut album, ‘Heavy Crown’ was released in February 2016, hitting number 1 on the Billboard Heat-Seekers Chart, with the singles “Devil In Me” and “Starmaker” leading the charge. Jimmy Bain passed away at the age of 68, but the band decided to continue and for the second album brought in Phil Soussan (ex-Ozzy) to fill his spot.

The result is an album which feels modern yet dated at the same time. If I had been given this and not told anything about it, I would have said that apart from the modern production what we have here is a band heavily influenced by Bad Company, and it was probably a “lost” record from that time. It certainly doesn’t sound as if it is modern release, and the use of the name while identifying the musicians certainly doesn’t provide any clues to the music they are playing (unlike Heaven and Hell, for example). Freeman is an incredible singer, with a real depth and breadth to his voice, much like a modern-day Paul Rodgers, but there is little in the way of flashiness from the rest of the guys as they concentrate on providing the support for Freeman to do his stuff. There are times when it comes over really well, but others when it almost seems like the guys are treading water and one wishes they would just up the tempo and get on with it. Interesting, but definitely not essential.


Album · 2019 · Thrash Metal
Cover art 3.50 | 1 rating
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Kev Rowland
Although the current rhythm section only came on board in 2012, the rest of the guys were in I.N.C. when they unleashed their thrash debut ‘The Visitor in 1988. They took a break between 1990 and 2010 but have been active ever since. Original formed as Genocide Inc. back in 1986, released some demos, then changed their name in the same year when they realised there was another band with the same moniker, and Dennis Gergely (vocals), Erik Barath (guitars) and Tony Fabrizi (guitars) have been there throughout. They started off playing thrash, and don’t see any reason to change now, and musically this has a great deal in common with the scene of 30 years ago.

This is their fifth album, their third since reforming, and If I had to guess where they hailed from I would have been correct in New York as it as if they are taking Anthrax and Overkill and then bringing in a touch of hardcore from Life of Agony, and there is the sound. The vocals are strong and melodic, more in common with power metal than many of the thrashers out there, and it certainly doesn’t sound like a self-release. They are full of confidence, probably not surprising given the length of time the core of the band has been together, and the result is something which may not be totally essential but is a damn fine dandruff loosener all the same.

IN FLAMES I, the Mask

Album · 2019 · Alternative Metal
Cover art 3.50 | 3 ratings
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Kev Rowland
It is safe to say that I wasn’t a fan of the last In Flames album, ‘Battles’, where I said “Now, change isn’t necessarily bad, and it can often be good, but then there are also the concerns that the band haven’t changed so much as having left the planet altogether and gone into a new universe. Possibly one where they have been starved of oxygen which could explain what they are doing now.” So, when I realised there was a new album out, I wasn’t exactly overjoyed at the prospect of listening to it. Between this album and the last they have changed the rhythm section, and one wonders just how much that has had an impact on the overall sound as although this is not a return to the classic sound which made them so many fans, it is certainly a huge leap to the better.

Okay, so it is still alternative metal as opposed to the melodic death with which they made their name, and the overall sound seems quite compressed and being kept under tight control as opposed to being allowed to roam free and find the right spot. They still sound as if they are angry young Americans as opposed to a Swedish act who have been together for nearly 30 years and should really know better by now. But the riffs are tight, the guitar interplay works, and I was surprised at just how much I enjoyed the album. I found myself playing it without gritting my teeth and bearing it just for the sake of a review, which is a massive difference between the last release and this one. There is no way that In Flames will ever have the impact they did when they burst onto the scene all those years ago, but if they keep producing music like this then old fans may at least tolerate what they are doing, and they may even gain some new ones. I won’t be so hesitant when I next see a new album by the band, and that at least is progress.

BOTANIST EP2: Hammer of Botany + Oplopanax Horridus

Album · 2019 · Black Metal
Cover art 2.00 | 1 rating
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Kev Rowland
We all love sub genres of sub genres don’t we? Well, Botanist are described as a highly creative Experimental Avant-garde Black Metal band, or, in their perspective, Green Metal. Musically it is mostly drums with piano (with the sustain pedal kept down for the most part) plus some vocals, sometimes males and sometimes female, which may be up in the mix or so far back it is difficult to even hear them. The result is something which definitely has a black metal feel to it, but it shows just how broad the genre is as there are no guitars to be heard. Botanist is a new signing to Aural Music, and to celebrate this is a reissue of 2015’s limited edition ‘EP2: Hammer of Botany’ recording, along with a new song, the 13-minute “Oplopanax Horridus,” (a solo recording from mainman Otrebor, which does contain additional instruments), which takes the total length to 34 minutes.

Apparently, Botanist is highly rated in the scene, and his website is certainly interesting, but this is an artist who really deserves to be heard before purchase and fortunately he has released all his music through Bandcamp, so it is easily obtainable. For me, I can’t imagine ever voluntarily listening to this again, even though I have very wide and eclectic tastes, as this doesn’t work for me although others obviously feel differently about it.

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ADRENALINE MOB Dearly Departed

EP · 2015 · Heavy Metal
Cover art 2.33 | 2 ratings
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‘Dearly Departed’ is a 2015 compilation by groove metal band Adrenaline Mob. Released a year after the groups second studio album, it features a mixture of original, cover and acoustic tracks.

However, as much as I like this band (and I really like this band!), this compilation, much like their previous EP’s, just does nothing for me. The covers range from average to adventurous, though none of them are ones I’m particularly bothered about listening to, and the acoustic versions of previously released songs are alright, though I prefer the originals.

The only real saving grace is the title track. Originally taken from the 2014 ‘Men of Honor’ album, ‘Dearly Departed’ is a great track, which features some nice guitar work and Russell Allen’s powerfully heavy yet melodic vocals in full effect. But for what it’s worth, I’ll just listen to it on the studio album itself, which is actually a fantastic album.

In fairness to A-Mob, they seem pretty consistent with putting out high-quality albums, with some kind of EP, compilation or filler release in the interim, and for what it’s worth, it’s a nice little nugget for fans, and certainly a harmless addition to the collection, but that’s all this really is to me, an addition to the collection.


Album · 1972 · Heavy Metal
Cover art 4.02 | 118 ratings
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siLLy puPPy
BLACK SABBATH had a phenomenal three year run with the first three albums “Black Sabbath,” “Paranoid” and “Master Of Reality” taking the world by storm and virtually single-handedly launching a new heavier form of gloomy doom fueled rock to the world. As the band became more famous and falling deeper and deeper into the trappings of rock stardom so too did the pressures take hold and it was precisely at the time when the band was entering the studio to record the fourth album unexcitingly titled VOL. 4 the drug addictions were starting to take their toll. As the good life became ever easier to grasp hold of, the temptations of too much of a good thing were starting to stifle the creative processes that had made BLACK SABBATH a household name in a very short time.

Lots of changes were in the works for SABBATH members Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward. Firstly the band let go of producer Rodger Bain and Iommi took control over the production process citing that Bain wasn’t capturing the band’s true potential. And so the alternative fab four headed into the studio in Los Angeles with speaker boxes filled with cocaine and set out to take the band to the next level on its own terms and those terms would be a focus on the heavier guitar riff filled doom and stoner metal of the first three albums with a few experimental touches. Fueled with drugs and ambition the band members discovered a new life in the sin city of LA and Geezer Butler recounted in a Guitar World interview in 2001 that this was the point where the classic lineup began its inevitable slow burn to implosion.

VOL 4 comes off as a very uneven album after the sheer perfection of the band’s first three efforts. Apparently an outside producer was need to organize and babysit these kids in a candy store as VOL 4 comes off as a fairly by the books affair with a few random numbers thrown in for variety’s sake although Iommi’s producer plaudits aren’t too shabby in and of themselves. Of the album’s ten tracks, the opener “Wheels Of Confusion / The Straightener,” “Tomorrow’s Dream,” “Supernaut,” “Snowblind,” “Cornucopia” and the closing “Under The Sun / Every Day Comes And Goes” follow the same playbook rules that got the band noticed in the first place. Those being catchy heavy psych guitar hooks drenched in distortion with a bluesy bad boy boogie style of cyclical riffing that trades off energetic hooks with slow plodding doomy power chords. A few interesting upgrades occur. The opener displays an excellent melodic extended dual guitar solo effect that carries the track past the eight minute mark. The closer finds some extended compositional skills that flirt with progressive rock.

The other tracks all stand out as territories unexplored by SABBATH at this point. The first is the unexpected sappy ballad “Changes” which finds no heavy metal at all but is rather a piano accompanied by a symphonic backing with lyrics that lament about Bill Ward losing his wife. Clearly attempting to cash in on the maudlin crowds and possible commercial crossover, the track is widely deemed as one of the most out of place songs on any early SABBATH albums and was thankful jettisoned from live performances after the following tour. If the track wasn’t bad enough, it left an impression on Ozzy who would add similarly insipid ballads all throughout his future solo career and the song would eventually years later *gasp* be rerecorded by Ozzy’s daughter Kelly. Gag icon please. Another head scratcher arises from the electronic experimental piece “FX” which honestly goes nowhere and also seem like a drug induced decision to win over some of the emerging electronica crowds that were gathering steam around the same time.

The other two tracks “Laguna Sunrise” and “St. Vitus Dance” are much better but also sound a bit out of place on a SABBATH album. The former sounds a bit like something off of Led Zeppelin’s “Houses Of The Holy” with a bit of SABBATH grit but is only an acoustic guitar instrumental with more symphonic backing much like the short intermissions of “Master Of Reality” only more chilled and folky. “St. Vitus Dance” jumps back into heavy distorted rock but has a bit more of a groove to it but also seems to never gather the steam that it needs to really go where it hints at and a clear indicator if it hasn’t already proven obvious that SABBATH were very much on automatic pilot while the spent half of their budget on drug binges.

Out of the first six essential BLACK SABBATH albums i have always found VOL 4 to be the weakest of the bunch and despite the attempts to experiment in myriad directions, the least effective as well. It’s difficult to be too harsh on this classic album because it does deliver quality early heavy metal tunes in full regalia and as an attempt to take things into a more streamlined hard rock approach VOL 4 does deliver. The problem is that the album is sandwiched between several better albums before and after that sound more cohesive, more professional and infinitely more interesting from a musical standpoint. Personally i loathe the cheesy ballad “Changes” and the half-baked attempt at making an electronic instrumental that stood out with “FX” only displayed the bad judgement fueled by the incessant cocaine abuse. While the band were pleased with themselves, the critics and fans weren’t as much since the band had lost a bit of that dark and mysterious edge. The tracks presented here came off as rather tame in comparison. However despite the fumbles, VOL 4 still comes off as a doomy riff fueled early heavy metal classic.


Album · 1983 · Hard Rock
Cover art 4.00 | 1 rating
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siLLy puPPy
Amongst one of the true obscurities in the world of progressive rock has to be from this UK band simply titled RED that went against the grain in the early 80s. Instead of riding the new wave of neo-prog that was emerging with bands like Twelfth Night, IQ or Marillion, RED was defiantly into the no nonsense jazz-fusion sounds of the 70s however they were equally intrigued with a heavy rock bombast rarely heard in this style of music. The band seems to have formed in the early 80s and spent the year 1982 recording this one and only self-titled album but had an understandably difficult time finding a record contract due to the changing times and the band’s anachronistic stylistic approach that was a good six to seven years too late.

RED was the quintet of Dennis Fitzgibbons (guitar), Jerry Soffe (bass), Mark Ambler (keyboards), David Holmes (percussion) and Frank Hockney (drums) and by the time the band found a home on Jigsaw Records for this debut they had split up and moved on to other projects. After the album was released they had a short reunion with Phil Bastow replacing Ambler on keyboards in the hopes of recording a second album but after an endless series of delays, the band threw in the towel once again never to be heard from again. Needless to say with the current trends of new wave, post-punk and heavy metal fully en vogue that RED never had a chance and the album fell into obscurity as quickly as it emerged. The album has only been released just once on its original vinyl eagerly awaiting a proper reissuing in the 21st century.

Musically, RED pledged allegiance to the complex progressive rock era of the decade prior with a tight-woven heavy rock brand of jazz-fusion with moments of dreamy space rock intermissions and some funky grooves as a side dish. RED was somewhat unusual in that it donned hard rock clothing but had a total jazz-fusion underbelly. While the funk and fusion elements usually carried out by keyboards of the 70s were fully present, they were expressed with heavy guitar riffs and sizzling solos as if John McLaughlin had joined Herbie Hancock’s “Headhunters” era lineup and inserted a little of the heavy rock elements of the Mahavishnu Orchestra. The album alternates between highly complex and angular avant-jazz workouts to more just good ole get down and dirty funk laced simplicity.

The album is completely instrumental with some hefty bass grooves, frenetic jazz guitar workouts and heavy drumming. Keyboards are present but for a jazz-fusion band of the era they are quite subdued and provide more of an accompanying atmospheric ambience rather than take the lead but every once in a while such as in the middle of “Turbo Tortoise” overcome their shyness and take the front seat. If i had to compare RED’s stylistic approach to any of the 70s acts i guess the earliest Brand X albums are the best comparisons which makes sense considering the band’s UK origins. So little info about this band exists that it’s not even known from which part of the UK the band was from or anything about its history.

While i doubt RED will ever dethrone the legendary great works of Miles Davis, Return To Forever, Herbie Hancock or the Mahavishnus as best fusion album of the era, this is by no means just a curiosity. RED delivered some serious chops on this one and the album is quite unique in its approach and in dire need of some 21st century rediscovering. The uniqueness of the incessant jazz-fusion approach augmented with a contrasting heavy rock bombast may very well have been the influence behind more modern bands like Tribal Tech and others who dish out some serious guitar chops with their fusion. Whatever the case, RED proves that not all obscurities are throwaway albums and that there is a never-ending treasure drove of gems out there awaiting their proper day.

VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Speed Kills - The Very Best In Speed Metal

Album · 1985 · Thrash Metal
Cover art 5.00 | 1 rating
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Vim Fuego
No compilation is quite definitive of a genre.

Think about it. One of the most famous compilations in all of metal is the 1980 album “Metal For Muthas”. This album exemplified the essence and feel of the NWOBHM, a scene which combined an invigorating new take on metal combined with the DIY ethos of the punk scene. It was a great starting place for the scene, but definitive? The NW in the acronym stands for new wave. Nutz had been releasing albums for six years. The stands for British. E.F. Bands was Swedish. And the HM is, of course, heavy metal. Toad The Wet Sprocket and the aforementioned Nutz let the team down here. There was some excellent stuff on this album, like Iron Maiden, Praying Mantis, Samson, and Angelwitch, but Geoff Barton, he who coined the tongue twisting NWOBHM acronym, rated this album a lowly two out of five. He called the album an embarrassment, and “metal for masochists”, because it basically missed the point of the NWOBHM. Perhaps “Metal For Muthas” was too ambitious, or the whole scene too wide and amorphous to be covered by an album or two (the second inferior volume followed later the same year). Think of the names missing here – Def Leppard, Saxon, even Diamond Head.

However, compilations were a hugely important promotional tool for underground music scenes. Many punk scenes the world over did a great job of getting their sounds out there through the art of the compilation. There would be unexpected hits and inexplicable misses, but compilations were often the best way to get music to a wider audience when there was zero chance of radio play or mainstream media coverage.

As the NWOBHM faded, the winners departed on world tours, the losers went back to their day jobs, and another embryonic scene started to bud and blossom. It was more international than the NWOBHM, but was still a bottom-up groundswell, and borrowed a bit of the punk sound as well as the ethos. That was the speed metal movement, or as we know it in hindsight now, thrash metal. The first compilation to include this new style of music was volume 1 of Metal Blade’s long-running “Metal Massacre” series, released in 1982 and featuring a band called “Mettallica”. Yeah, Metal Blade’s forte was metal, not spelling.

By 1985, this scene was really starting to come into it’s own, and a handful of independent labels were starting to grow some impressive rosters. Through cross promotion and co-operation, British label Music For Nations managed to secure tracks from some of the more important independent metal labels and almost put together a genre defining compilation. Almost...

If you run through the roster of bands here, you find Venom, who along with Motörhead were really the grandads of thrash metal. You get three of the not-yet-labelled Big Four (it seems that label arose in 1986). There’s Celtic Frost and Possessed, without whom doom, death, and black metal would be very different beasts to what we know now. You get Exodus, who were a bit late out of the starting gate. There’s a track from Canadian space cowboys Voivod, before they went full cyberprog. The most obvious gap here is the German one. Yes, there’s Destruction at the top of their bestial game, but the rest of the German biggies are missing – no Kreator, no Sodom, no Helloween (Helloween belonged in that company in those days, and Tankard was still a year off releasing their debut album). So not a perfect definitive roster, but pretty fucking impressive in it’s own right. So what’s actually here?

First track “Metal Merchants” by Hallows Eve is probably the easiest to digest stepping stone for a traditional metal fan stumbling across this album. It’s a perfect cross between NWOBHM melody and the new-fangled speed metal tempo. The noodling riff and militaristic snare of the introduction (actually a separate track called “Valley of the Dolls”, but run together here as one song) pulls the listener in before the smack in the face of the main song bursts into full on thrash riffing overlaid with NWOBHM leads.

Hallows Eve really doesn’t prepare the listener for the next track. Exodus’ “A Lesson In Violence” is just what it says. This song is violent as fuck. Paul Baloff’s vocals are vicious and full of hate for the uneducated. There are a lot of ifs, buts, and maybes which have dogged Exodus’ career. Forget them and soak up the metallic fury here instead.

Destruction’s “Bestial Invasion” is a good choice here as it is a lot darker than the catchier “Mad Butcher”. There was an element of Venom worship in some of Destruction’s early material, but Schmier’s vocal style is quite different to Cronos, and this is far more technical than what Venom was famous for, and showed a band which had carved out it’s own evil little niche.

Bulldozer is the least known band here, having formed in 1980. If even recognised at all, these Italian thrashers are often remembered as second rate, but “Insurrection of the Living Damned” is the blackest song here (yes, even more so than Venom), and their evil sounds have attained a strong cult following in the black metal underground. Alberto Contini’s gruff vocals are particularly impressive, and this track showed a band confident enough not to have to play flat out all the time.

Metallica sounds streets ahead of everyone else here. “Fight Fire With Fire” is professional and clear sounding, and fast as fuck, sharp, and vital. If you don’t know this song, you probably shouldn’t be reading this review, so no use in describing it. Where did this band go? And how the hell do you follow the most intense song of Metallica’s career? Well, with Slayer, quite obviously. While it’s not stated here, and hasn’t ever really fully been clarified, this sounds like the in-studio-live version of “Evil Has No Boundaries” from the “Live Undead” EP. It’s barely controlled chaos. The lyrics and image are cheesy, but it’s executed so convincingly that listeners forgot to laugh at them. A young Tom Araya sounds particularly gleeful here.

Possessed kick off side 2 (This was 1985. CDs were ridiculously expensive to produce, and most metal labels couldn’t afford to press them, so you had vinyl or cassette) with “Pentagram”. It is Satanic and evil sounding enough to have caused a Christian panic, complete with backmasking and and an evil sounding riff.

Exciter was right there when it started, one of the first handful of thrash metal bands to release an album, not far behind Metallica and Slayer. Yet “Riders From Darkness” is the weakest track on this entire album. It’s earnest but silly speed metal, and really demonstrates why Exciter are a footnote in metal history and not remembered as a major player.

The version of “Black Metal” included here is not the same as the one from Venom’s classic second album of the same name. The production has been tightened and sharpened, which removes the blackened rough charm of the original. Fear not though, this makes up in power what it lacks in raw energy, and isn’t a disappointment.

Speaking of raw, Voivod’s “War and Pain” is bleeding edge, with lacerating guitars, weird, crashing riffs, and nasty, incomprehensible vocals. Voivod has never been an easy or comforting band to listen to, and fans wouldn’t have it any other way.

You can’t keep a good Dave down, and Megadeth’s “Rattlehead” is a storming track. Technical, sharp, and fast, nevertheless it’s not as heavy as Metallica. And this is the last time you’d see the two bands on the same bill for 25 years. Never mind, listening to Dave Mustaine trying to out-do his former bandmates is always a pleasure.

“Into The Crypts of Rays” is a bit faster than most Celtic Frost songs, but this is a speed metal compilation after all. The song perfectly displays the proto-death metal riffing and Tom G. Warrior’s signature death grunt, and is a strong finish to a classy collection.

The best thing a compilation can do is to whet the listener’s appetite to explore further. “Speed Kills” teases and titillates like a lingerie ad on a bus stop. You want more? Go get it. Just keep your state of arousal under control in public.

X-WORLD/5 New Universal Order

Album · 2008 · Heavy Metal
Cover art 2.00 | 1 rating
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X-World/5 is an oddly-named “space metal” band which features members of King Diamond’s band, Hammerfall, and, what caught my attention most, vocalist Nils K. Rue from Pagan’s Mind. Released in 2008, ‘New Universal Order’ is the first, and at this time, only album the band has released, which contradicts the sticker on the cover which shamelessly proclaims them to be “the future of heavy metal”, because as it turns out, despite a roster of talented musicians and one of my favourite singers, this album is pretty uninspiring and boring.

It starts off strong, with early tracks like ‘Cyberchrist’, ‘Man Machine’ and ‘Charge to War’ all sounding pretty good, with nice, simple yet beefy guitar riffs, a solid beat and Rue’s powerful vocals. An electronic, ambient vibe to the music and a fairly plodding tempo helps me understand why they describe themselves as space metal, but as the album progresses, the quality of the tracks starts to diminish greatly, especially as nothing different really seems to reach out. Every track just sounds the same.

The obscurity of this band, along with their unusual name and the imagery of the packaging gave me hope that this would sound pretty decent and unique. But I guess there’s a reason why “the future of heavy metal” never released a follow-up album, which is a huge shame. Still, if you’re into similar groups, and off the top of my head I can only compare this to Arjen Lucassen’s Star One project, then you might enjoy what X-World/5 has to offer.

RAMMSTEIN Made in Germany (1995 - 2011)

Boxset / Compilation · 2011 · Industrial Metal
Cover art 4.00 | 1 rating
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‘Made in Germany’ is a compilation by German industrial metal giants, Rammstein. Released in 2011 (the clue’s in the title), it features sixteen of the bands biggest and most powerful tracks, and is a well-rounded career retrospective for the sextet at that point in their career. However, as is always the case with these types of collections, the quality of the track list is subjective, and in my opinion, there’s an abundance of missing material!

But that comes down to my own personal tastes, and while there’s a few songs I’d have taken out and replaced with others, as a whole, this is a solid album which represents the band well. Full of bombastic and over-the-top hits such as ‘Du Hast’, ‘Sonne’, ‘Ich Will’, ‘Pussy’, ‘Amerika’, ‘Engel’, ‘Links 2 3 4’, ‘Mein Herz Brennt’ and album-exclusive track, ‘Mein Land’, there are so many awesome songs here that ‘Made in Germany’ still packs one hell of a punch, and will satisfy fans of the group or will make a fantastic entry point for newcomers.

However, while the track listing is fantastic, let’s look at some of the cons of this album. There’s a few fairly subtle edits that take away from the songs. While there’s nothing too severe, one notable exception that irks me is the awesome intro to ‘Du Riechst So Gut’ being cut in half. Not cool. There’s the obvious omissions, which comes down to personal taste again, but where the hell is ‘Feuer Frei’ or ‘Ich Tu Dir Weh’? But the biggest letdown is a bonus disc full of remixes. Sure, these things are normally more of a novelty, but for the most part, none of these remixes are really all that great, barring two; ‘Sonne’ remixed by Clawfinger is pretty good, and amazingly, a Scooter, rave-inspired mix of ‘Pussy’ is incredible, and saves that disc from becoming completely pointless.

Never mind all of that though, as the pros easily outweigh the cons, making ‘Made in Germany’ a fantastic album! While it will no doubt feel dated over time, as most compilations do, it does still hold up well, and the quality of the material on offer is of a high standard. Definitely worth a spin or two!


Album · 1991 · Technical Death Metal
Cover art 4.17 | 103 ratings
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Okay this isn’t going to make me any friends... but this is my review and I can only share my honest opinion...

Yuck. What is this?

I was heavily into thrash metal in my early teens, and while I don’t sway very often towards the heavier and more aggressive side of metal these days, I still like many of the artists that I’m already a fan of. So here I am many, many years later, and it’s time to get stuck in with one of the main metal subgenres that has always eluded me; death metal. And what better place to start than one of the most revered and beloved bands of the genre? Death.

But this? Nope! Not into it! I mean, the playing is incredibly intense and these guys are all incredibly proficient at their instruments, with pinpoint precision and accuracy, and there are a couple of decent riffs. But most of it is just way too fast and lacks any kind of melody. Ditto for the vocals. Angry, growly stuff, which is fine if you’re into that, but for me, I need some kind of melodic vocal line that I can sing along to!

Aw well. I tried, and I know I’ll get flayed alive for this review (metal fans can be so annoyingly passionate sometimes, it’s just a review, come on guys, chill!), but there we have it. I gave Death’s ‘Human’ multiple listens, and it’s just not growing on me. What can I say? I’m only human.

HADES Resisting Success

Album · 1987 · Thrash Metal
Cover art 3.00 | 1 rating
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"Resisting Success" is the debut full-length studio album by US, New Jersey based thrash metal act Hades. The album was released through Torrid Records in 1987. Hades was formed in January 1978 by guitarist Dan Lorenzo. The band´s first release was the "Deliver Us from Evil" single from 1982. in the following years Hades released several minor releases like demos, splits, and singles, before signing to Torrid Records for the release of "Resisting Success".

Stylistically the music on the album is a combination of thrash, speed, and heavy metal. Some tracks are culled from the band´s 1984 demo, their 1985 live demo, and "The Cross / Widow's Mite" single from 1985, so it´s only natural that this is not a 100% pure thrash metal assault, but instead also features some more "old school" speed/heavy metal elements (tracks like "Legal Tender" and "The Cross"). There´s even a semi-progressive mini epic featured on the album in the 9:10 minutes long closing track "Masque Of The Red Death". Common for all tracks are the great raw energy but also the great melodic sensibility which is present throughout. Especially lead vocalist Alan Tecchio pulls in the more melodic direction with his high pitched screaming vocals. He also sings in a more gruff staccato type thrash metal vocal style though. The guitars play both raw thrashy riffs, heavy/speed metal type riffing, melodic themes, and there´s even a raw rock´n´roll feel to some of the material, like it´s the case on "Sweet Revenge". The well played guitar solos are also worth a mention.

While the material is stylistically slightly inconsistent, it´s not a major issue, and the diversity of the material isn´t something which disrupts the flow of the album too much (although the progressive leanings of "Masque Of The Red Death" isn´t their finest hour). The sound production on the other hand is a bit of a deal breaker. It´s not terrible by any means, but it is very raw and unpolished, and sometimes details go missing in the mix. As "Resisting Success" is generally a bit more sophisticated thrash metal release than the average ditto, a more clear sounding production would probably have suited the music better, but as mentioned the sound production isn´t lo-fi or of a really bad quality, it just could have been better. There is some quality material featured on the album though and the musicianship is also of high class, so a 3 - 3.5 star (65%) rating is still deserved.

IN FLAMES The Jester Race

Album · 1996 · Melodic Death Metal
Cover art 3.58 | 34 ratings
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"The Jester Race" is the 2nd full-length studio album by Swedish melodic death metal act In Flames. The album was released through Nuclear Blast Records in February 1996 (Licensed from Wrong Again Records, who In Flames were contractually obligated to). There were quite a few lineup changes between the band´s debut full-length studio album "Lunar Strain (1994)" and the "Subterranean (1995)" EP, and there have been quite a few changes again on "The Jester Race". In Flames finally settled with Anders Fridén as their permanent lead vocalist. Fridén had worked with artists like Septic Broiler, Ceremonial Oath, and Dark Tranquillity before joining In Flames. The band didn´t have a permanent drummer on the previous releases either, but that was fixed here too as Björn Gelotte joined the lineup. The usual suspects are Glenn Ljungström (guitars), Jesper Strömblad (guitars), and Johan Larsson (bass).

Stylistically the music on "The Jester Race" continues the melodic death metal style with ethnic Scandinavian folk leanings which the band also played on the two previous releases. The band´s sound is a bit more developed here and the songwriting slightly more memorable too, but you´ll find few surprises on the album if you´re already familiar with "Lunar Strain (1994)" and "Subterranean (1995)". In Flames were on to something special with those releases though, so there are probably very few (if any) complaints about the musical direction on "The Jester Race". Anders Fridén continues the trend of high pitched screaming/growling vocalists, and you´ll be exposed to fast-paced and very melodic harmony guitar riffs and solos, fast- and mid-paced heavy beats, and acoustic sections too. The folk influence is mostly heard in the acoustic parts, but many of the epic guitar themes also reek traditional Scandinavian folk melodies.

"The Jester Race" is a consistent release both in terms of the musical style and in regards to the quality of the compositions. From the opening notes of "Moonshield" to the closing notes of "Dead God in Me", the 10 track, 40:27 minutes long album features high quality melodic death metal played by skilled musicians. The album is well produced too, featuring a powerful and raw sound production, which suits the material well. Upon conclusion there´s been a positive development of sound since "Subterranean (1995)", and paired with a better sounding production, and a band who have honed their playing skills too, "The Jester Race" is a high quality sophomore studio album by In Flames. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

GRAVE Back From the Grave

Album · 2002 · Death Metal
Cover art 3.50 | 3 ratings
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"Back From the Grave" is the 5th full-length studio album by Swedish death metal act Grave. The album was released through Century Media Records in October 2002. It´s the band´s first release since "Hating Life" from 1996. Grave never officially disbanded but just had an 8 year break in activities, but "Back From the Grave" is still regarded as their comeback album. As far as comeback album titles go I can´t think of a more suiting one than "Back From the Grave". "Hating Life (1996)" saw Grave end on a bit of an odd groove metal oriented note, which was quite different from the old school Swedish death metal style, they originally played. At that point they were a two-piece consisting of Ola Lindgren (guitars, bass, vocals) and Jensa Paulsson (drums). Both are still part of the lineup on "Back From the Grave", which also features Fredrik Isaksson (bass) and Jonas Torndal (guitars). The latter was part of the original Grave lineup from 1989-1992, where he handled the bass duties.

The material on "Back From the Grave" are not devoid of brutal grooves (in fact the album is loaded with them) but the music is still pretty far from the sound on "Hating Life (1996)". This is instead old school Swedish death metal with a good portion of brutal groove. It doesn´t sound completely retro and those who only enjoyed "Into the Grave (1991)" and "You'll Never See (1992)", aren´t guarenteed listening pleasure here. To my ears the sound on "Back From the Grave" is closer to the sound on "Soulless (1994)", although in no way af copy of that sound. So basically a successful mariage between old school Swedish death metal and brutal groove metal.

The material on the 10 track, 43:13 minutes long album is consistent in both quality and style. Nothing is sub par or sticks out too much, although tracks like "Rise", "Dead Is Better", "Resurrection", "Thorn to Pieces", and "Bloodfed" are small highlights. The band are well playing and the growling vocals are intelligible and delivered with the right amount of aggression. "Back From the Grave" is also a very well produced album featuring a brutal heavy sound, so upon conclusion it´s a quality release and a great comeback album by the band. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

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