Heavy Metal

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Heavy metal (often referred to simply as metal) is a genre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, largely in the United Kingdom and the United States. With roots in blues-rock and psychedelic rock, the bands that created heavy metal developed a thick, massive sound, characterized by highly amplified distortion, extended guitar solos, emphatic beats, and overall loudness. Heavy metal lyrics and performance styles are generally associated with masculinity and machismo.

The first heavy metal bands (Proto) such as Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple attracted large audiences, though they were often critically reviled, a status common throughout the history of the genre. In the mid-1970s Judas Priest helped spur the genre’s evolution by discarding much of its blues influence; Motörhead introduced a punk rock sensibility and an increasing emphasis on speed. Bands in the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWoBHM) such as Iron Maiden followed in a similar vein. Before the end of the decade, heavy metal had attracted a worldwide following of fans known as “metalheads” or “headbangers”.

Visit the NWoBHM sub-genre page for more details on this particular music movement.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traditional_Heavy_Metal

Inclusive Traditional Heavy Metal Genres

Melodic Metal is often short for Melodic Heavy Metal and as such is usually included under Traditional Heavy Metal on the MMA. On rare occasions Melodic Metal releases may also be included under Power Metal however, such as Arven's Black is the Colour (2013).

Sub-genre collaborators (+ child sub-genres & shared with Hard Rock and Glam Metal):
  • 666sharon666 (Leader)

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NINGEN ISU Ningen Isu Meisakusen 30 Shuunen Kinen Best Ban

Boxset / Compilation · 2019 · Heavy Metal
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Ningen Issue's rise to international fame... Well, okay, they're not exactly that famous. But considering that until a few years ago, they were barely known outside of their native Japan and now they have videos on YouTube scoring views in the hundreds of thousands and even one over 3 million, their future has suddenly become rather bright.

But as I was saying, their rise in popularity first really began in increase after an appearance at Ozz Fest in 2013 and then increased further after having been invited back in 2015. Since then, heavy music fans around the world (England, the U.S., Russia, Germany, Korea, and more) have been taking notice, and after last year's 21st album, "Shin Seinen" was released with the video for its 8:30 single, "Heartless Scat", reaction video U-tubers have been helping to spread the word a lot.

That leads us to this compilation album, "Ningen Isu Seisaku 30 Shunen Kinen Best Ban", which translates as, "Ningen Isu Famous Works 30th Anniversary Best Edition", or something close to that. There are three important things to know about this compilation, which I'll lay out below.

First of all, the songs. This comp includes tracks from 15 of the band's 21 studio albums. That's six whole albums unrepresented and four of them I would include in my top ten picks for best albums. However, the album also includes the "Jinmensou" version that was recorded as a B-side for 1991's single release of "Yashagaike" (noticeably absent from this compilation), one of the four bonus tracks of new material from the 25th Anniversary comp, and three brand new tracks, two of which, "Inochi Urimasu (Life for Sale)" and "Ai no Nirvana (Love Nirvana)" have official videos on YouTube. So even though we may lament the absence of some tracks from some unrepresented albums, we get a little consolation.

Next, the music. Ningen Isu has always remained a heavy band though they went through a period of trying out folk rock, stoner rock, hard rock, and a few other styles that are more hard than heavy. This compilation generally sticks to the heavy sound of the band, just with a few small exceptions. Basically, if you enjoy the heavy, progressive British rock of the early seventies, the metal of the NWoBHM, frequent touches of thrash metal or even a hint of nineties hard and heavy rock, then you'll likely enjoy the music presented on this album. I think the track selection was made intentionally with their international audience in mind. Not everyone can afford to buy Japanese imports and so it's a good bet that most fans of the band haven't heard the majority of the band's catalogue. Therefore, someone decided that a compilation that emphasizes the band's heavier side would be best.

Finally, I was surprised to find such a thick booklet of liner notes inside. As it was, all of the songs on this 2-CD package have their lyrics printed inside in Japanese and in English. So now it's possible to learn at least what the songs are about. Suzuki's Hell-themed songs are sometimes rather gory while the Wajima-penned songs often have some connection with Buddhism. As well, we can now learn an English title for the songs instead of trying to remember the Japanese one. At the end of the booklet is a discography that also translates all of the album titles. While I prefer personally to get the know the Japanese titles, I think it's a great idea to have official translations to make it easier for non-speakers to talk about albums and songs.

Whether you're a fan of the band and have a bunch of albums or you are a newbie and not very sure which albums to get first, this 30th anniversary 2CD compilation is a solid collection of heavy rock and heavy metal.

NINGEN ISU Peten-Shi to Kuuki Otoko - Ningen Isu Kessakusen

Boxset / Compilation · 1994 · Heavy Metal
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This is the first compilation album of Ningen Isu. It was released on Meldac in 1994, the fifth release on that label and the final release in the band's contract with the label until resigning with them in 1999.

This compilation includes songs from their four original studio albums with Meldac: Ningen Shikkaku (1990), Sakura no Mori no Mankai no Shita (1991), Ougon no Yoake (1992), and Rashoumon (1993). There are three bonus tracks as well.

The album does a good job of representing the first four albums. Ningen Shikkaku has Ayakashi no Tsuzumi, Tengoku ni Musubu Koi, and Ringo no Namida. These three songs capture that band in a very heavy and hard hitting retro sound that was their style on the debut album. The music resembles classic Budgie and Black Sabbath while sometimes going faster, bearing some influence of both NWoBHM and speed metal.

From Sakura no Mori no Mankai no Shita, there's Kokoro no Kaji, Yashagaike, and Taiyou Kokuten. This album's guitar sound brought us closer to the mid-seventies but the band's style remained a blend of seventies heavy and hard rock with some eighties influences. Kokoro no Kaji begins almost like thrash metal, Yashagaike features a Japanese folk beginning before the song evolves into a heavier electric mood, and Taiyou Kokuten reflects the band's fondness for doom-heavy, Black Sabbath-styled songs.

Two songs are from Ougon no Yoake: Shinpan no Hi and Kofun no Neji. This album was more progressive with longer songs; however, these two tracks here, while still showing the band's progressive rock influences, are more concise and capture the band's metal spirit. It's interesting to note that future compilations would largely ignore this album.

Finally, from Rashoumon we have Namakemono no Jinsei, which is a medium tempo but rousing heavy rock track about the life of a sloth-type person, Seishun Rock Daijin, a hard rocker with an upbeat mood, and Maisoh Mushi no Uta, and Motto Hikari wo, which was the opening track on Rashoumon and is a one-punch, two-punch hard and heavy rocker that's quite catchy I find.

The three bonus tracks are Daiyogen, a rugged, speed metal number that slows down for a solid metal riff in the middle before picking up the pace again, Hashire Melos, a Maiden-esque instrumental that was used for a Honda motorcycle commercial, and the Yashagaike single B-side version of Jinmensou. The original song appeared on the debut ep. This version was recorded with an acoustic guitar intro instead of the clean guitar intro of the original.

This is rather a good compilation, capturing the band's heavy and hard rock sound while at the same time giving some room for the impression that they are also a progressive band. For a first time listener, you will be get an excellent impression of Ningen Isu's early years. No other compilation includes as many tracks from the second to fourth albums. As well, two of the three bonus tracks are available only on this compilation.

Two strikes against this are one: it's out of print, and two: in 2016 most of Ningen Isu's catalogue to date was reissued on HQCDs and so the actual reissued albums from 2016 sound better than this compilation album.

NINGEN ISU Shura Bayashi

Album · 2003 · Heavy Metal
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The fifth consecutive album with Masahiro Goto on drums and the sixth album with him in total, also the last Ningen Isu album with him before his departure. (Last I heard he's with Kinzoku Yebisu.) Though every Ningen Isu album comes across as well-thought out, well-written, and well-recorded, I have found myself discovering more stand out tracks on this album recently than I first noticed.

Touyou no Majo - The Witch of the Eastern Sea. Typical for many Ningen Isu albums if not most, there is a heavy opening riff that is clearly inspired by one of the band's most influential groups, Black Sabbath. It's a solid heavy rock track with Ken'ichi Suzuki's gruff, kabuki-styled vocals. There's a riff change and then another really cool one, which is sadly repeated only once. Why do bands often put in the most killer riffs in the transitional parts of the track? Then the song changes again. There are 4-5 really good riffs in this musical mini story.

Oni - Daemon. Another heavy, doom metal style track describing, I presume, the character of the Japanese oni, a denizen of Jigoku (Hell) and torturer of the souls of sinners. In folktakes, oni have been known to emerge from the netherworld and attempt to trick humans or simply make off with them. There are some Voivod-sounding riffs in this track, something I have come to recognize in many Ningen Isu songs. Howling demons create a monstrous atmosphere in the chorus buildup with more doom metal chords. Drummer Goto goes for the double kick drum in chorus. It's a fierce and ominous track!

Ai no Kotoba wo Oshieyo - Teach the Words of Love. Here's Shinji Wajima at last and what a contrast to Suzuki's themes of demons and witches! This is a bluesy rock and roll number with a hint of Stevie Ray Vaughn or other blues rock guitar legends in the lead guitar style and sound. The guitar solo is very seventies, one of Wajima's specialties. The song takes an eased back turn for a bit before returning to its initial form. Check out that drumming!

Tsuki ni Samayo - Misled by the Moon. We're back to heavy rock with Suzuki again. This time, there's a less immediate doom punch. The music reminds me a bit of Trouble. The chorus is heavy and then there's an instrumental part like a requiem or dirge. The bass pulses like something by Iron Maiden. There's more of the doomy song and then riff change to something more positive, followed by a guitar solo. Ningen Isu are a three piece band, so you'll notice how the bass and drums really stand out. I have read comparisons to Rush before for the tight interplay between Wajima's guitar and Suzuki's bass.

Yakyuu Yarou - Baseball Idiot. I think this must be drummer Masahiro Goto on vocals? This is a coarse, rocker style of vocals but it's not Suzuki who is gruffer and more theatrical. This is a good and fun, straightforward hard rocker, but I feel Goto is not a completely strong lead vocalist. For one fun, hard rocking track, it's cool. The sound of this track is like pumped up mid-seventies hard rock.

Saigo no Bansan - The Last Supper. This track is very Beatles-like in the beginning, I feel. It's another track by Shinji Wajima. It's mellower and melodious. There's a change up in the middle like melodic alternative rock and then an atmospheric psychedelic part before the chorus abruptly returns in a sudden rhythm change then back to the song as it began. One of my favourites from this album!

Owaranai Ensoukai - The Unending Concert. We're back to a charging heavy rock track with Suzuki. There's an eighties metal riff. The guitar solo is short and fast and the music goes right back to that riff. The finale introduces a second guitar like Iron Maiden before reaching a dramatic conclusion.

Oosama no Mimi wa Roba no Mimi - The King's Ears Are Donkey Ears. This is a fun Suzuki-sung alternative rocker with a grooving bouncing bass and rhythm. Like Saigo no Bansan, it's a surprise change of pace to this otherwise heavy rock/stoner rock album. The chorus is sung once with the title repeated four times in comical falsetto voices. Then there's a really lively and fun solo by Wajima. And later dual vocals for the final part of the song. In spite of my love for the heavy tracks, this one is an ear worm that stands out for being fun and different.

Osorezan - Terror Mountain. This track opens with a finger picked acoustic intro. It's Wajima singing what sounds like an old folk tale. The guitar switches to strumming and band comes in for the chorus. Wajima's voice keeps the raconteur vocalist style. We hear a rain stick or beads and then Suzuki takes the background with a "Hei... Ooo..." repeated. It has a ritual feeling to it no doubt complementing the story in the lyrics. It's a good track for setting a kind of ballad atmosphere, like hearing an old traditional myth or folk tale performed with music.

Jasho no In - Serpent-like Arousal. This is another Suzuki heavy rock number but wow what a nice bounce and hit bass and drum rhythm. The riff reminds me of Voivod again with the guitar and drums joining the bass for an effective riff. "Ba-dum, ba-Da-dum, ba-Da-dum, ba-da-Da". Suzuki's vocal style adds Ningen Isu's unique stamp. Wajima's lead guitar is the icing on the cake! The track switches gear to a speed metal- like style reminiscent of Anvil. The drumming is once again notable. There's a frantic heavy bit bookending solo. Then we return to that bass rhythm perfect transition. The final guitar solo is done with chorus effects pedal. This track is one of my top five picks from this album!

Soukoku no Ie - House of Antagonism. As with many Ningen Isu albums, Wajima takes the final track with a small epic number. This is a typical Ningen Isu heavy rocker with slow heavy chords that go breaking into a gallop for the chorus. The "Hei-oh" chanting and almost tribal-meets-rock drumming is a stand out feature of this song. It reaches a slower melodic part in the middle and keeps it for the guitar solo and after. The bass and drums return and mood becomes darker. There's a haunting mood to the chanting, "Omae wa nigiteru" (You are running away). We get another galloping riff and then go back to chant and tribal rhythm. Just the chant and drums close this well-developed song.

I find this to be one of the more impressive albums of Ningen Issue's 2000's output, though any of the albums packs some great songs. This album is an excellent album of skillful song-writing and musical performance. This band proves with every album that they know how to create songs with great riffs, cool bass lines, awesome drumming, fantastic and diverse guitar solos, awesome transitions, and captivating vocal styles. Shura Bayashi is worth checking out as an example of this band's creativity.

NINGEN ISU Manatsu no Yoru no Yume

Album · 2007 · Heavy Metal
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A Midsummer Night's Dream. That's the title of Ningen Issue's 14th album, only it's written in the Japanese translation. Released in 2007, this was the final studio album to be released by the band in their first 20 years of recording. Two years later, a twentieth anniversary double-disc compilation would be released, followed thereafter by their 15th studio album, "Mirai Romanha".

This album sees the band keeping on the course they set for the 2000's, which was to continue their perpetual embracing of all things heavy rock while keeping their sound close enough to alternative rock and hard rock that they could maneuver into more melodious and divergent song-writing as it suited them. Yet precursors to the heavier metal sound of the 2010's were already apparent in places.

The album begins unusually with a track by Shinji Wajima. I say unusually because the majority of Ningen Issue's albums thus far have begun with a song by the gruffer and usually more heavy-hitting Ken'ichi Suzuki. Wajima's track, "Yoru ga Naku" (The Night Cries) exhibits the band's penchant for delivering solid hard and heavy rock tracks that abruptly break off into something unexpected. In this case, there's a break down where the music becomes a guitar rock version of what sounds like some older Asian generation's party music. Maybe some baa-chans' (grannies') butts might wiggle in their seats to this part. The first time I heard the album, I had to check what new track had begun playing, only to discover that I was still on track one. The song then returns to the faster, more heavy rock styled package it came in.

Ken'ichi Suzuki shows up true to form on track two, "Tenraku no Gakkyoku" (The Music of Falling or The Music of a Downfall, however you want to translate it). Fast and heavy, the track is closer to thrash metal. Suzuki employs his usual tortured and growly vocals with a decided enunciation hearkening back to Kabuki theater. This song is one hell of a butt kicker and a sign of things to come in the next decade.

Track three, "Seinen wa Arano wo Mezasu (Youth Strives for the Wasteland)", is a surprise track by Suzuki because although it begins like a Saxon-inspired hard rock track, it switches gears partway through and becomes something melodious and pretty, resembling music from a Devin Townsend Project album like "Sky Blue" or "Epicloud". Wajima pulls off a very cool slide guitar solo here as the song returns to its early eighties metal riff and rhythm.

Then there's the Twilight Zone. Well, it sounds that way as "Soratobu Enban (Flying Saucer)" begins. This starts off sounding like a more laid back Red Hot Chili Peppers funky alternative rock piece. But by the chorus it sounds more like an early seventies Japanese rock band. Wajima brings out the Theremin for this track, creating space effects. After a smooth guitar solo, the song becomes more atmospheric and thanks to that Theremin, more psychedelic sounding before returning to its main form.

"Saru no Sendan (Fleet of the Apes)" is a charging rocker with drummer Nobu Nakajima taking the lead vocals. "Enma Chou (Record Book of the King of Hell)" is a Suzuki heavy rocker about where all sorts of sinners can expect to go after death. The King of Hell, Enma, keeps a record book of all sinners and their sins and decides which of the eight hells they should be sent to. In contrast, Wajima's "Hakujitsu-mu (Day dream)" is a mellower song with wavering space guitars that marry psychedelic rock with modern Japanese rock.

"Botan Doro (Peony Lantern)" is inspired by a 19th century Japanese ghost story that was originally inspired by a Chinese ghost story. The track is one of Suzuki's heavy and ominous works with his deliberate theatrical vocal style and a bass/guitar riff that seems to trip over itself. Frequent short bass breaks put their stamps on this track as well. This is followed by Wajima's "Sekai ni Hanataba wo (A Flower Bouquet for the World)" which reads, through spoken word, the message in a letter written by a fictional war journalist photographer to his family about what he sees and experiences and thinks as he documents a war-torn south sea island. The song bears a message of the ravages of war and a plea for peace.

Suzuki's quick-step rocker, "Umi Monogatari (A Pus Tale)" plays with a pachinko machine line from Sanyo called the Umi Monogatari Series. In this case, the Kanji for "umi" is the one for "sea". Suzuki uses the Kanji for "pus" instead. The lyrics in the chorus are a collection of Japanese onomatopoeia for descriptions of pus. The song is a fun, hard rocker that almost seems to invite a Dick Dale guitar solo or could almost break into a Cossack tune and dance at any moment. It's a fun track with a suggestion of Eastern European lineage.

Suzuki throws one more humorous title at us which yet another solid early eighties heavy metal track in "Himan Tenshi (Metabolic Angel)" which seems to be about an obese angel with an unstoppable appetite. Wajima gives us yet another perfect heavy metal guitar solo. The we reach the album's finale with the live staple, "Dottoharai", meaning the grand finale but often translated as "That's All for Tonight". It's one of the band's signature stoner/doom metal tracks by Wajima with a King Crimson-inspired instrumental section that is built upon short bursts of guitar, drums and bass.

I personally find this album to be somewhere in the middle of Ningen Isu's output. There are albums I like better and some I like less. I have my own selection of favourite tracks from this album, many of which get carefully placed into mixed playlists of Ningen Isu's music. Certainly if this were to be your first ever Ningen Isu album purchase, you'd be off to a really good start.

NINGEN ISU Sakura no Mori no Mankai no Shita

Album · 1991 · Heavy Metal
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'Sakura no Mori no Mankai no Shita' (Beneath the Full Bloom of the Cherry Blossom Forest) is the second full-length album by the Japanese heavy rock/heavy metal power trio, Ningen Isu. Though the band's style is still very much rooted the early years of heavy rock, the sound of the guitars is a little more updated from the debut.

The opening track, 'Bakudan Shinkohkyoku' (The Bomb March Song) is simply a straight up heavy rocker that charges furiously. The opening riff alone convinced me that this was a band I would love. There is a breakdown in the middle that emulates a rudimentary marching song but it seems to be executed in an intentionally exaggerated way in order to fit the intensity of the rest of the song.

'Yuutsu Jidai' (Depression Period) features a really groovy bass and guitar riff and a bluesy acoustic guitar solo. There's also that retro call and response between the bass and drums and the lead guitar.

'Tokyo Bondage' is yet another grooving, heavy rock number. In a rare English interview I read on The Metal Observer, band members Shinji Wajima and Ken'ichi Suzuki stated that they usually try to find the groove in the riff. As such, many of their songs really capture that essence of Black Sabbath, Budgie and even early Pentagram or Bang.

The songs on this album go a bit further into metal territory than the debut, something you'll notice on 'Yuigonjoh Hohsoh' (Testament Broadcast) which is quite a speedy hard rocker or 'Kokoro no Kaji' (Fires of the Heart), which is speedy and heavy enough to sound like Anvil or early Anthrax. It does have a cool middle part that resembles something from a Wolfmother album. The closing track, 'Taiyoh Kuroten' (Sunspots) crosses slow and heavy Black Sabbath-like riffs with a speedy, almost thrash middle part.

Songs that stand out for offering something not totally in the heavy metal camp are 'Sumo no Uta' (The Sumo Song) because it begins with a traditional Japanese hand drum that is played like one might hear in the sumo ring (?) maybe (?); 'Kohjohsenjoh no Maria' (Maria of the Thyroid Gland? I'm not sure what that song is about!) because it is picked clean electric guitar and vocals only; and 'Yasha ga Ike' (Pond of the Yasha, them being Buddhist guardian deities according to Weblio). This track features acoustic guitar and I think shakuhachi (a traditional Japanese flute) or some kind of flute and is played more like an old traditional Japanese ditty for the first 2:20 before a strummed acoustic guitar makes the song more uplifting and positive. Drums and clean electric guitar come in and add colour. Then from 3:30, from the left channel, the heavy band fades in and soon it becomes like an early-eighties metal- inspired track, similar to early eighties Loudness, I think.

Initially, I liked this album more than the debut, and one other Ningen Isu album reviewer out in Internet land also prefers this one just a bit more. The music often gets speedier and edgier than the very groovy debut. But I have since come to prefer the debut. Who knows. Maybe after listening to this one more I'll change my mind again.

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ACCEPT Restless & Live

Movie · 2017 · Heavy Metal
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Restless & Live is a concert release from the veteran German Heavy Metal legends Accept. It was released on Nuclear Blast Records in 2017 on several formats; such as a CD set with tracks taken from different concerts across the touring cycle for Blind Rage (their third studio album since being reinvigorated by the joining of new singer Mark Tornillo). It was also released as a Blu Ray of a single entire performance at 2015’s Bang Your Head Festival. If you’ve got a bit more money to splash out you can get a set with the Blu Ray and CD versions, or if you prefer DVDs that’s also an option.

My personal preference for concert movies or albums is that they come from on single concert not a mix of shows, and if available preferably on Blu Ray, so for me this was the version I went for and am most happy with. (which this review will be focusing on).

In terms of specs: The Blu Ray version is in 1080p with PCM Stereo and DTS HD Master 5.1 options, Region:All. There aren’t any bonus features. There’s a booklet with some photos but no linear notes.

So the main reason you are buying this disc is for the concert; which is about an hour and forty-five minutes of blistering classic Heavy Metal. The 18-song tracklisting is pretty heavily focused on the three Tornillo-era albums, with a few of the classic ’80s crowdpleasing tunes added in as well. So if you’ve already got the DVD that came with Blind Rage its still worth checking this out for the different tracklisting and higher production values. (The CD version of Restless & Wild contains 27 songs and more of a mix of material).

The tracklisting is: 1. Stampede 2. Stalingrad 3. London Leatherboys 4. Restless & Wild 5. Dying Breed 6. Final Journey 7. Shadow Soldiers 8. Losers & Winners 9. 200 Years 10. Midnite Mover 11. No Shelter 12. Princess Of The Dawn 14. Pandemic 15. Fast As A Shark 16. Metal Heart 17. Teutonic Terror 18. Balls To The Wall

The performance is tight and professional but still has that ‘live’ feeling and energy, it isn’t all sterile but it isn’t loose and sloppy either, its just right. They all give it gusto and look pretty into it. There’s no complaints on vocals, musicianship or song selection for me. Wolf Hoffman’s guitar solos are as entertaining as you would expect and there’s a fun bass versus guitar trade off section at one point. The camera work, editing, sound and mix are all solid. Nothing jarring or out of place, no sync issues, all instruments audible and in correct balance. The songs sound clear and yet muscular.

Its a pretty simple and honest affair. There’s no gimmicks here; no big show with giant robot crabs on stage or band members catching fire or shooting lazers out of their eyes, and there’s no life changing documentary, no animations weaved into the concert or anything… but if you want to buy an Accept live concert and watch songs like ‘Fast As A Shark’ and ‘Balls To The Wall’ played well by the new line-up and competently captured and prepared for home viewing then it is an absolutely fine product and I highly recommend it to fans of the band, especially to fans of the newer three albums. For me, watching songs like ‘No Shelter,’ ‘Stalingrad’ and ‘Pandemic’ belted out enthusiastically are worth the money.

If you are new to the band, this is a very strong starting place, (if not entirely representative of the overall discography) and if you are a fan already its a worthy addition to your collection.

IRON MAIDEN Live After Death

Movie · 1985 · NWoBHM
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Universally cited as one of the absolute best live albums of all time, LIVE AFTER DEATH is the first live album / video release of IRON MAIDEN’s classic early Bruce Dickinson years and was recorded during their “World Slavery Tour.” Despite lasting a whopping 331 days, this double LP album only took two venues as their source for representing their electric live performances. The first 13 tracks were recorded at the Long Beach Arena in California, USA and the remaining five tracks were taken from a night at Hammersmith Odeon in London. While LIVE AFTER DEATH was released both as audio LP and video VHS in 1985, the two aren’t exactly identical in content. The audio LP originally contained 18 tracks (one of which is “Intro: Churchill’s Speech”) but the VHS visual experience only had 14 tracks. Unfortunately when LIVE AFTER DEATH was originally released on CD it was too long for a single disc and instead of simply issuing a double disc, EMI unwisely decided to cut the last five tracks which included the Odeon performance, therefore it is highly advisable to obtain the Sanctuary remastered version which was released as a double disc and retains the entire run of one classic song after another.

LIVE AFTER DEATH is the absolute perfect live album. I very rarely put live albums high on my list of favorites because more often than not something or many things prevent them from capturing my attention and worthiness as essential. If it’s not the weak production values then it is the inability of the band to capture the magic that is manufactured in the studio. That is not the case here. IRON MAIDEN was at the pinnacle of their creative prowess at this point and after several outstanding and classic albums to mine for material, they perfectly execute these live performances and offer every little ounce of excitement heard on the studio releases. Bruce Dickinson nails the vocals and the thundering trio of Steve Harris’ bass and the guitar synergy of Dave Murray and Adrian Smith accompanied by Nikko McBrain’s stellar drumming style doesn’t get any better. While most of the tracks are performed rather faithfully to their studio versions, there is plenty of live improvisation taking places as well. Standout moments include Bruce’s attempt to get audience participation on “Running Free” and another great difference can be heard on “Revelations” where the tempo is upped and Bruce changes the vocal phrasing to make the track sound different and refreshed.

The video release offers all the theatrical visuals of the tour. The “Powerslave” album was based on ancient Egypt and likewise the stage was Egyptified to the max with sarcophagi, hieroglyphs and a mummified Eddie embellished with ridiculous amounts of pyrotechnics. The tour was a smashing success and this release whether it be audio or video is the perfect testimony to the genius that went into every single detail. The sound and mixing is perfect as well as Martin Birch found the perfect balance of every cast member and delivered one of the most satisfying production jobs for a live release that i have ever heard. In the visual department Jim Yukich perfectly captured two nights in Long Beach showing a great band doing great things at the peak of their game. Another piece of perfection with this one is the brilliant cover art of Derek Riggs surpassing previous album themes of Eddie as the mascot by incorporating those themes of previous albums covers and then putting it all on steroids. The spread of the album is breathtaking in content and color with the boldness of the yellows and blues. Every aspect of talent on board with this release guarantees to wake the dead. I cannot find one negative thing to say about it. It is true that Bruce doesn’t hit every note exactly as on the studio version every single time but when he doesn’t he offers interesting new ways of interpreting the classics. This is simply one of the most perfect live releases i have ever encountered and even MAIDEN themselves haven’t even come close to achieving similar results. Masterpiece.

OZZY OSBOURNE God Bless Ozzy Osbourne

Movie · 2011 · Heavy Metal
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It is an interesting documentary that tries to focus on his personal life. But it stays in the middle of the road in the end.

You have this big and interesting chunk talking about Sabbath then when it comes to his solo career they talk about 2 albums and... that's it.

Look, if you're doing a documentary or you focus on the music or in the person, every documentary that tries to do both end up staying in the middle of the fail road.

This is interesting, it gives you an idea how Ozzy was really in bad shape for so many years and how he turned things around, but it's far away from being a great and complete documentary.

BLACK LABEL SOCIETY The European Invasion: Doom Troopin' Live

Movie · 2006 · Heavy Metal
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Doom Troopin’ Live: The European Invasion is a live concert video from Black Label Society, available on Blu-Ray. It documents the European leg of their touring in support of ‘Mafia.’

The setlist is fairly heavily comprised of material from the ‘Mafia’ and ‘The Blessed Hellride’ albums, with little from the first three records, which may be disappointing if its your only BLS video purchase, but which does result in little crossover with their other DVD ‘Boozed Broozed & Broken Boned.’ A similar idea to Kiss’ Alive II perhaps.

There are 16 tracks in the main Paris concert according to the back of the box but three of those are jamming. They tease the crowd with a bit of ‘Iron Man’ and ‘Mama I’m Coming Home’ for example. Plenty of the time between songs is given over for additional guitar soloing as well.

It’s a decent mix of fast and slow, its mostly heavy but there’s a bit of light in there and it gives a lot of time over to Zack’s guitar talents, without wasting too much time away from actual songs. I think a good balance has been struck of all of Black Label’s constituent parts.

The performance is fairly strong, noticeably so on the ballads. Zack has a good stage presence pumping fists, pointing and striking poses, although some of the spoken crowd interaction is very mumbled and hard to make out. A lot of the songs feel a lot faster, louder and heavier live than they did on record, and feel crunchier and more earthy sounding. The drumming in particular is a lot more impressive live; Craig Nunemacher has a lot of character I hadn’t noticed before seeing this.

I think the sound is very good. Its well mixed, fairly heavy and the songs have bite. It feels ‘live enough’ but it isn’t sloppy. Again, a good balance has been struck, this time between concert-feel and actually good sound.

There was a fair amount of effort put into the stage design too; mic stands made out of chains, skulls on plinths, an impromptu pub made out of amplifiers with beer sat on it, flashing siren lights, BLS banners etc. There’s a professional looking lighting show and the camera work is well done. So in one way, it’s a good looking concert too.

In another way however, the visuals are the only letdown for me as the editing is a bit distracting. A lot of time, especially in the earlier songs, is given over to fancy effects, going black and white momentarily, screen overlays, slow motion, fake film grain etc. which some viewers may find a bit too distracting. Luckily instances of this reduce as the show goes on. It isn’t enough to spoil the concert in my opinion, but if you are picky about that sort of thing I would recommend that you try before you buy it.

I had read negative reviews about this concert stating either that Zack was miming his vocals, that there were very obvious vocal overdubs or that the audio and video were out of synch. Whichever way, if you look at his mouth it doesn’t match the sound of the singing. That would have been a huge letdown for me. I was worried because the same vocal-synching issue had been a fairly big distraction on a Marilyn Manson and a Queensrÿche Blu-Ray I owned and I didn’t want to buy this if it shared the same problem.

I looked on youtube to see footage from the DVD which indeed had the problem, but read reviews that claimed the problem didn’t exist. Luckily when I watch my copy (region 0 Blu-Ray, with the audio set to DTS HD Master Audio) there is no issue at all. All the tom rolls, guitar solos and singing matches what you see on screen. Admittedly, Zack has a lot of effects on his vocals, other members do backing vocals and there are some sections of pre-recorded music like in lots of concerts, that you were never meant to think was live, but that’s about it.

The bonus features include an extra four songs (‘Been A Long Time,’ ‘Suicide Messiah,’ ‘Stillborn’ with massive extended-jam & ‘Genocide Junkies’) from London, three music videos from the Mafia album, a making-of for the ‘Suicide Messiah’ video and a 50-minute documentary feature called ‘Backstage Pass.’

The video is 1080i HD Widescreen 16:9 (1.78:1). The audio options are LPCM Stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1 or DTS HD Master Audio

Overall, this is a fairly enjoyable Blu-Ray with a well performed and sounding concert and some interesting extras. I would recommend it if you like the band, as long as you aren’t very picking about over-edited concerts or only like the early material.

JUDAS PRIEST Rising In The East

Movie · 2005 · Heavy Metal
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Opening with the classic double punch of `The Hellion/Electric Eye,’ you know that this concert is going to be good.

The band do their best to mix a diverse career spanning set list with playing all their biggest hits and do a pretty successful job, managing to cover a full five songs from their then new `Angel of Retribution,’ album with their big hits like `Breaking the Law,’ `Living After Midnight,’ and `You’ve Got Another Thing Coming,’ while still playing at least one song from their less famous `Point of Entry,’ `Turbo,’ and `Ram It Down,’ albums.

Musically, the band are on fire, with impressive guitar soloing, energetic on stage performances and drummer Scott Travis playing songs harder, with confidence and authority that makes them sound that much heavier and tighter. The band are playing on a fairly large stage with elaborate set pieces, risers and of course, the famous motorcycle.

Some fans have made a lot of complaints about Rob Halford’s performance here, but with the sole exception of the vocals on the track `Painkiller,’ (which, as it happens has impossibly difficult vocals to begin with) I think these complaints are pretty off the mark.

If you need proof that Rob can still reach those high notes see the `You’re Possessing Me,’ scream in `A Touch of Evil’ or indeed the entire performance of the fast and high pitched `Riding on the Wind.’

Furthermore Rob’s whole on-stage attitude is a winner, seeming genuinely pleased each and every time the crowd gets a sing along moment correct, adding little Robotic Walk gestures to `Metal Gods,’ and generally looking like he’s giving it his all, to the point where he is sweating and red in the face, not because he can’t hack it, but rather because he’s giving it his very all.

Even if you do for some reason take exception with Rob, there is simply no denying the performances of Glen, Scott, Ian and Mr. Downing who all blast away like a well oiled machine, but with the energy of a much younger band.

In terms of camera, editing, sound and mix there really isn’t anything to complain about, everything is handled well and the whole package is as slick and professional as you would hope for from a band of their size.

Overall this is a great looking and great sounding DVD from Judas Priest and that alone should have you interested, add to that an interesting set list and dismiss the complaints about Rob and you should find `Rising In The East,’ a really worthy addition to your collection.

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