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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The History of Heavy Metal
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SLAVES TO FASHION
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Rejoice In The Suffering
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TODD LA TORRE
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...and the Earth Stood Still
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STEEL INFERNO
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The Night Goes On
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KONQUEST
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Too Mean to Die
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ACCEPT
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heavy metal Music Reviews

STRIKER Play to Win

Album · 2018 · Heavy Metal
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voila_la_scorie
Last year I picked up my first Striker album, their sophomore album "Armed to the Teeth". Thinking it was a great album, I went ahead and bought "City of Gold". That was a great album as well, so next I got "Stand in the Fire". This pattern continued until I had all six albums.

Striker began as a speed metal band with vocalist Daniel Cleary sounding a bit like Bruce Dickenson back on their "Road Warrior" EP of 2009. It's my opinion that from "Armed to the Teeth" onwards, Striker has reached a consistency of producing excellent album one after the other while showing interest in expanding their style. Previous albums included speed metal, thrashy-sounding, intense tracks, trad-metal, and more recently songs with strong, catchy melodies such as "Heart of a Lion" from their self-titled album of 2017.

Their latest release of original songs (there was a live in studio album released in 2020) is 2018's "Play to Win" and this album shows the band embracing much more strongly the melody-driven approach. Though the opening track "Heart of Lies" sounds like the Striker we've come to know and love, it soon becomes apparent that there will be no intense, speedy songs of angst or fighting to stay ahead. This album gives us more slower songs (but no true ballads), more clean guitar, some synthesizer even (!), and loads of ear-worm melodies. Think back to the latter half of the eighties with bands like Warrant, TNT, Waysted ("Save Your Prayers"), Lee Aaron ("Bodyrock"), and other bands that came out of the glam metal era but without the cock rock approach to song-writing.

Songs like "Head First", "On the Run", "The Front", the title track, "Standing Alone", "Heavy Is the Heart", and "Hands of Time" - heck, nearly the whole album - have these great melodic choruses that just stick into your head and you wake up in the morning with them playing. In fact, the only track to really deviate form this is the heavy and ominous-sounding "Summoner".

If you're a fan of the more intense, speedy and aggressive Striker of past albums, this one will be a shock. I read that the band made a conscious decision to branch out with their repertoire and record an album of more melodic songs. For someone who went through high school with albums like "Whitesnake", "Dirty Rotten Filthy Sticking Rich", "The Great Radio Controversy" by Tesla, "Perfect Timing" by McAuley Schenker Group, and other bands that probably fit more into the melodic hard rock or melodic glam metal scene than the trad-metal scene, this album delivers a whole new selection of great songs to rock out with and sing along to.

When recently making a playlist of my favourite Striker songs, this album along with "Armed to the Teeth" had the most tracks selected. However, in the last couple of days I'm finding I like practically every track on here. In fact, I'm thinking to order this CD for my best friend who always loved this kind of metal more than the extreme stuff.

TODD LA TORRE Rejoice In The Suffering

Album · 2021 · Heavy Metal
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Kingcrimsonprog
[Warning: My most listened-to artist of the past 12 years by a large margin according to statistics from Last FM is Queensryche, so if you expect a review without mentioning Seattle’s finest, you may have to look elsewhere].

Rejoice In The Suffering is the debut full-length studio album by Todd La Torre, the man most famous for being the singer on the past three Queensryche albums (and drummer on the latest one too!) and who was in Crimson Glory before that.

It was released on Ratpack records and self-produced, but with help from bassist/guitarist/keyboardist Craig Blackwell, with mixing and mastering duties capably handled by Chris “Zeuss” Harris (Chimaira, Hatebreed, Shadows Fall, Overkill, Heathen, and the past two Queensryche records).

Now obviously, the first question you may be wondering is, “does it sound like Queensryche?” And the answer is a non-committal “sort of, a bit, in places, but also no.” Having the man who has been the revitalising force in the band and voice of their records for the past decade will obviously draw some comparison, as will tapping Zeuss who worked on their albums. That being said, the album feels like Todd wanting to use all the ideas he has that don’t quite fit in the Queensryche formula, or that might be too much of a departure if he did. This is not a Hard Rock record, this is not a Prog Metal album. This is a Metal album with a capital M.

The album is heavier, harder, faster and less progressive than 90% of the Ryche’s output, and because Todd doesn’t have to fit in with an established sound, his voice is much less like Geoff Tate’s than it is on Ryche records. While still sounding like himself, he really shows off all different sorts of voices here, from Rob Halford Screeches to that Bruce Dickinson/Ian Gillian talk-sing, to Chuck Billy melodic bark, to a few death growls and at one point an almost Dani Filth style creepy storytelling voice blended with a Johan Hegg roar, on one of the bonus tracks (“One By One”). Don’t let me dropping all those names capsize the boat or deflate your enthusiasm though, this is not to say the album is Todd-does-karaoke, Todd himself would probably be shaking his head if he were ever reading my comparisons; its just my limited language skills describing how broad the range of styles he covers is, he has his own unique spin on all of these voices.

What about the music? Where does that fit in with? Well, to be honest, it reminds me a lot of the newest Andy Sneap-helmed albums by Accept, Saxon and Priest at times, but some songs on the other hand (like “Critical Cynic”) are a little more punchy and staccato with that crunchy guitar sound that modern Prong albums have, but also wouldn’t be out of place on a Five Finger Death Punch album, the sort of thing you get when you take Fear Factory’s mechanical style and make it more organic.

The semi-ballad “Crossroads To Insanity” on the other hand is exactly the sort of thing Queensrcyhe have been doing lately, and probably the one to try first if you aren’t into heavier material. I feel like this one could have just sat happily on The Verdict. Its not really representative of the whole album though, if you want to get sort of the average sound of the record, listen first to the crunchy mid-paced title track, and then to the speedier, thrashier “Vanguards Of The Dawn Wall” which is probably the hardest, heaviest number and closer to Testament than Queensryche. This song shows me why Todd deserves a solo album, as he utterly nails this track, but it would never have fit on The Verdict or Condition Human. Now imagine something mid-way between the two and you’ll get a ballpark idea for where the album sits most of the time.

Todd handles the drums himself and does a great job (he was a drummer since a young age), mixing in a bit of flare with also not overplaying and aforementioned Graig handles the riffs; doing a very solid job of it, serving the songs well. There are some brilliant guitar solos too, particularly on the album closer (not counting bonus tracks) “Apology.”

Good production, check. Good stylistic direction, check. Good music, check. Good vocals, check check check check check.

I don’t know if the album will still be listened to and talked about in 5, 10 or 20 years. I don’t know if Todd’s solo career will be an ongoing thing, or if this is just a one time pandemic-era release of steam while Queensryche can’t tour. I don’t know if I am just unduly fond of it due to being a massive Toddryche fanboy, but I do know that in and of itself, this album is well worth your time right now, and a stirling showcase of a master vocalist demonstrating a broader range than he gets to in his day job. Being selfish, I hope it doesn’t interfere in Queensryche in any way, but other than that one caveat, I have nothing but good things to say about this.

MEGATON Megaton

Album · 1988 · Heavy Metal
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siLLy puPPy
When it comes to classic 80s heavy metal it seems that Europe and the USA pretty much dominated the scene as the genre had only recently split off of the hard rock family tree and set out to energize a more restless youth who just wanted to bang their fucking heads! Despite the English language dominating this era of metal music, bands were still emerging all over the planet with Japan’s EZO, Brazil’s Sepultura and Russia’s Aria just to name a few!

Mexico had its share of local artists as well including Luzbel, Gehenna, Khafra and perhaps the best of all, this band MEGATON which emerged in the mid 80s in the northern city of Torreón and released this sole self-titled album two years later in 1988 and then quickly broke up. The band would reunite to drop a second album titled “Los Libros Sagrados” onto the world in 2016 and then go into hiding once again in its present location of Guadalajara.

Despite the cheesy dated cover art, MEGATON was the real deal for that classic heavy metal sound that was on the verge of entering speed metal territory. This five man band that featured Raúl Ochoa (guitar), Beto Nájera (guitar), Miguel Carrillo (bass), Salvador Aguilar H. (vocals) and Pedro Zavala (drums) was about as authentic as it gets for jumping on the heavy metal bandwagon and taking this popular style of music into the Spanish speaking world. This debut features nine tracks and just slinks past the 28 minute mark. Originally released only once on vinyl by the Gas label, this classic album has since been remastered and re-released in 2011 on Orfeón.

While it’s rather doubtful that MEGATON will ever go down in history as a major force on the world metal scene in the 80s, one thing is for sure and that is that this band really nailed the NWOBHM sound down perfectly with competent musicianship, excellent songwriting and topped off with the highly accomplished vocal style of Salvador Aguilar H. who had one of those cleaner operatic vocal styles in the vein of Bruce Dickinson or Helloween’s Michael Kiske but wasn’t quite as charismatic as those two classic singers. For comparisons, MEGATON sounded most like fellow Mexican band Luzbel or Spain’s Angeles del Infierno. The Spanish lyrics definitely give it a unique sound that English doesn’t provide.

Overall this is an excellent debut that despite not dethroning classic bands of the 80s as an undiscovered gem, nevertheless succeeded in capturing the spirit of the 80s heavy metal scene in full gusto. Without a gifted vocalist this style of metal falls apart but also impressive is the twin guitar works and the talented songwriting that alternative heavy metal thunder with softer clean guitar moments that almost dip into ballad territory but more in the vein of Crimson Glory and not the cheesy AOR of 80s glam rock.

I’m sure for the time and place this band must have been well received since the region of the state of Coahuila where MEGATON emerged wasn’t exactly teeming with competent metal bands. An excellent album for those looking beyond the Anglo-centric 80s metal scene. The only problem with this one is the shoddy production but perhaps the remastered 2011 version has taken care of that. Personally i’m not one to eschew any particular album due to an inferior production job especially coming from a region of the world where decent recording studios of the day must’ve been quite rare. All i can say is ¡Viva el heavy metal!

HYDRA (2) Extinción

EP · 2013 · Heavy Metal
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siLLy puPPy
Wow. The band name HYDRA is a popular one with at least 14 metal bands that have chosen the multi-headed monster as a moniker as well as tons of other non-metal bands. Well here’s one more. This HYDRA comes from Tapachula, Mexico which is the southernmost city in Mexico perched on a little enclave next to Guatemala. The last place many of us would think of for a retro classic heavy metal band imitating the early 80s but lo and behold, here one is!

This is one of those put out one tiny EP and call it a day types of bands. Because no info is available about this band that consists of Federico Nuñez (vocals, guitar), Julio Rueda (drums) and Nicolas Culebro (guitar), it’s impossible to know why HYDRA has released this tiny 27 minute EP of eight tracks titled EXTINCIÓN and then disappeared into the forests of Chiapas. Lost interest in metal? Got kidnapped by a band of monkeys? Too much tequila? Your guess is as good as mine.

Despite this sole specimen of this band’s existence, EXTINCIÓN is a fairly competent retro metal release that sounds like classic Motorhead mixed with a bit of early Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, especially in the twin guitar attacks. Nuñez performs a Lemmy like vocal growl with just a tad more roughness that sounds like it’s on the verge of entering death metal territory. Lyrics are completely in Spanish and the production is really good. The band is actually quite creative in how it juxtaposes obvious influences together without sacrificing the zeitgeist of the early 80s heavy metal thunder.

It’s amazing that HYDRA truly pulled off a classic heavy metal style that sounds as if it really could’ve emerged from the early 80s timeline without sounding like a complete derivative of the bigwigs of the era. Given the proto-thrash leanings here i’d say this would’ve fit in perfect around 1984, modern day production sheen as the exception. While not innovative in the least bit as far as bringing the classic heavy metal sound into the 21st century, this band called HYDRA certainly succeeded in crafting an interesting modern retro take on that particular era. In fact i like this better than certain Motorhead albums! Easy to track down on Bandcamp.

ACCEPT Too Mean to Die

Album · 2021 · Heavy Metal
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Kingcrimsonprog
If someone asked me to define pure classic heavy metal, the first thing that comes to my mind is the German band, Accept. Their classic run of 1980s albums is still fresh and entertaining to this day, and their reunion era with the new singer Mark Tornillo is somehow just as good, or even better (very few heritage bands can say that, maybe only Kreator are making better albums nowadays than in the 80s). For example; Their 2012 album Stalingrad was one of my albums of the whole decade, and the follow up to that Blind Rage is just as good.

In 2021 the long running band have put out their sixteenth full-length studio album, and the fifth of their modern Tornillo-era. Like the other albums from this era it is released on Nuclear Blast, and boasts an absolutely banging production job from Andy Sneap (who has done some great work with the best Saxon, ‘Priest and Testament albums of the modern era).

There has been some line-up shifts in recent years, as essential members Herman Frank and Stefan Schwarzmann left before the previous album, The Rise Of Chaos, and now iconic bassist Peter Baltes has departed too. I can imagine a few fans being worried about how that will affect the sound and direction.

Luckily main-man Wolf Hoffman is still going strong, and the Tornillo/Sneap dynamic over Wolf’s signature style ensures a sense of continuity. Christopher Williams on drums and Uwe Lulis on guitar are still here from the previous record (and the live album before that) and both of those guys are pretty dialled into what Accept should sound like anyway, which also helps it all still feel like Accept should feel.

If you have heard any album since Blood Of The Nations, you will know stylistically what to expect here. They’ve settled into a specific style and are pretty much just fleshing out every variation of that theme they can think of without straying too far, kind of like how Motorhead did for their final five or six albums, or what Saxon have been doing on their three or four most recent records. There are fast, medium and slow paced variations. There are melodic, blunt and medium intensity variants. There are rocking and metallic stylistic variants. Some songs may have a bit of a neoclassical section here, or a singalong section there. But at the end of the day, they’ve hit upon an excellent formula and they’re working it to maximum effect one album after another now; There’s lots of speed metal, lots of hard rock and a few tiny tinges of thrash and power metal in small doses for flavour now and again.

If you want to know what this album (or indeed the last four albums sound like), check out the brilliant tracks “Not My Problem,” “No One’s Master” or the title-track “To Mean To Die.” Plenty of good tunes here to keep existing fans happy. This stuff is exactly what I love about the band.

For the band’s more rock, less Metallic side, “Overnight Sensation” is a blast, and the amusing lyrics about social media influencers kind of serve as a spiritual sequel to the previous album’s “Analogue Man.” If you like the band when they add a bit of classical music into the mix, then “Symphony Of Pain” is also worth checking out.

How does this album fit into the band’s catalogue overall? Well, it isn’t my number-one favourite, but it is no disappointment either. I think of words like “solid” or “dependable” which may sound like damning with faint praise, but that isn’t the case. They have released better albums, that’s just the burden of being a brilliant band with a stellar catalogue. There may perhaps be one or two songs that come across as filler, and furthermore because they’ve used this formula for several albums now nothing feels particularly wow-ing or fresh which can sometimes have an impact when ranking records, but as a whole it is just another damn solid set of songs in a style I’ve come to love for the last decade, and still as well produced and performed as ever. If it was a Deep Purple album, it would be Who Do We Think We Are. Still awesome, but maybe not the one that makes it into all the lists.

Will it make my album of the decade list like Stalingrad did? Maybe not. Will it be my number one album of this year? Possibly not either. But do I still recommend you buy it? You bet I doa. If you liked Rise Of Chaos, you’re going to like this, it is as simple as that. At least half the album I can’t wait to add to playlists or see on live albums.

[Ps. As a side note, every time I look at the green album artwork with a pissed off looking serpent and a lightning forked-tongue, I always wonder if it was originally made for Overkill, like maybe the single art for Electric Rattlesnake? Kind of like how Obituary’s Cause Of Death album cover was originally either made or at least suggested for Sepultura’s Beneath The Remains].

heavy metal movie reviews

FOZZY Unleashed, Uncensored, Unknown

Movie · 2003 · Heavy Metal
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martindavey87
I’m totally unashamed about my love for this band and this DVD! Released in Fozzy’s early days when they were playing mostly covers, this is complete rock ‘n’ roll nonsense documenting how Fozzy created heavy metal and then signed a dodgy contract that left them stranded in Japan for twenty years!

The main documentary is hilarious. You can tell everyone is just having a blast filming it, and the added cameos from the likes of Zakk Wylde, Sebastian Bach and Mike Portnoy just add to this. And at barely a half an hour in duration, this main feature has plenty of replay value.

There’s an abundance of extras too, including more daft early Fozzy shenanigans as well as sincere and out-of-character footage too, showing that even in their early days this band possessed unlimited potential, but then, what would you expect when rap metal pioneers Stuck Mojo joined forces with wrestling icon Chris Jericho?

ACCEPT Restless & Live

Movie · 2017 · Heavy Metal
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Kingcrimsonprog
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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siLLy puPPy
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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progshine
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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Kingcrimsonprog
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.

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