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)

heavy metal top albums

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heavy metal Music Reviews

RAVEN Metal City

Album · 2020 · Heavy Metal
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Kev Rowland
Back in 1980 I was just 17 years old, and deeply into the NWOBHM. There was no doubt in my mind that one of the best bands around were Raven, and I loved their single “Don’t Need Your Money”. When they released their album, I was unable to get it anywhere locally and in frustration actually found the number for Neat Records and rang them to complain! I was appeased when they told me I could order it directly from them as there was no HMV’s local to me, so I sent off my cheque and when ‘Rock Until You Drop’ arrived it came with badges and stickers, which promptly went on my singles boxes. I loved everything about the band, from the over-the-top bass and high-pitched vocals of John Gallagher, the attack of his brother guitarist Mark, and the pace of the songs, all driven along by Rob “Wacko” Hunter. These days many metalheads are not even aware of the importance of this band and their “athletic rock” which was the direct precursor of thrash, and not only do many bands cite them as a major influence but they were the first band to take Metallica on tour.

It is safe to say they have never achieved the success they so richly deserved, but even though they have been through a few drummers over the years, the Gallagher brothers are still fighting strong, and as they work towards their 50th Anniversary (formed in 1974) they are not slowing down or changing their approach any time soon. In 2017 drummer Joe Hasselvander, who had been in the band for 20 years, suffered a heart attack just before a series of US/European dates. The band completed the dates with a series of drummers, and when it was obvious Joe would be unable to return any time soon, they brought in one of these, Mike Heller (Fear Factory, Malignancy) as his permanent replacement. This 2020 album is their first for 5 years, and while many of their disciples have changed beyond recognition from their early days, this is still Raven doing what Raven do best, rocking hard and fast. True, there are times when there is more polish than there used to be, but Mark’s vocals are still passionate as ever, his basslines are still often insane while Mark is still hitting the riffs like he always has, daring the band to slow down, and Mike has happily settled into his new role.

This is classic Raven for the 21st century, and I for one cannot stop smiling and turning it up that little bit more. 40 years on from their classic debut , and the boys are still determined to "Rock Until You Drop" – “Don't think you can make it, Don't think you want to try, Sit back in your easy chair, And the world will pass you by, Life is what you make it, That's what people say, You've got to get it together, Make it your own way.” They are still staying true to their own words.

MEGADETH Cryptic Writings

Album · 1997 · Heavy Metal
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UMUR
"Cryptic Writings" is the 7th full-length studio album by US thrash/heavy metal act Megadeth. The album was released through Capitol Records in June 1997. It´s the fourth and last album to feature Megadeth´s arguably most successful lineup, as drummer Nick Menza would leave the band while touring in support of the album. He was initially forced to leave the tour because of a problem with his knee, which required surgery and hospitalization. According to Menza he was fired by vocalist/guitarist Dave Mustaine, while still in the hospital recovering from surgery. Jimmy DeGrasso (Suicidal Tendencies, Alice Cooper, Ozzy Osbourne, David Lee Roth, White Lion...), who had filled in for Menza while he was in the hospital, was hired as the band´s new drummer.

"Cryptic Writings" is the successor to "Youthanasia" from 1994. While not selling quite as well as "Countdown to Extinction (1992)" did, "Youthanasia (1994)" was stil a commercially very successful release for Megadeth, selling more than a million copies. "Youthanasia (1994)" saw Megadeth moving in a more accessible and maintream oriented heavy rock/metal direction, and that style is continued on "Cryptic Writings", which was deliberately written with the aim of getting rock radio airplay. The band´s new manager Bud Prager adviced Mustaine to alter his lyrical approach to not alienate a mainstream audience and also to write more conscise radio friendly material.

With that in mind it´s not surprising that the 12 tracks on the 47:12 are predominantly easily accessible vers/chorus structured heavy rock/metal tracks. The trace of the band´s thrash metal past are on "The Disintegrators" and on "FFF", which both feature a relatively fast pace and some thrashy riffs. Other than those two tracks, the album only features mid-tempo heavy rock/metal tracks with a strong emphasis on melody and cathiness. Some tracks like "Trust", "Almost Honest", and "Have Cool, Will Travel", stand out a bit, but most tracks on the album are pretty standard quality heavy metal tracks and nothing out of the ordinary or particularly memorable beyond listening to the album. In that respect "Cryptic Writings" suffers from some of the same issues as "Youthanasia (1994)" did.

"Cryptic Writings" features a clear, dry, and a bit clinical sounding production, which would probably have suited hard edged thrashy material better than the heavy metal tracks featured on the album. A more organic sounding production job would have suited the material better.

So upon conclusion "Cryptic Writings" is a decent quality release by Megadeth with both some well written material but also some material which isn´t as remarkable. The playing is as always on a high level, and Mustaine´s vocals are as distinct sounding as ever too (and as much as ever an aquired taste), and objectively seen the sound production is professonal and well sounding too. Therefore a 3.5 star (70%) rating isn´t all wrong, although "Cryptic Writings" definitely is the least interesting release out of the four recorded by this Megadeth lineup.

MEGADETH Youthanasia

Album · 1994 · Heavy Metal
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UMUR
"Youthanasia" is the 6th full-length studio album by US thrash/heavy metal act Megadeth. The album was released through Capitol Records in November 1994. It´s the successor to the majorly successful "Countdown to Extinction" from 1992. A tough album to follow up, but while "Youthanasia" didn´t sell quite as well as "Countdown to Extinction (1992)" did, it was still a huge commercial success for the band. The early- to mid 90s were arguably the peak of the band´s success and "Youthanasia" was released at the height of it.

All did not go smoothly within the band though, and there were frequent fights between the band members over the creative control of the songwriting, which lead vocalist/guitarist and band founder Dave Mustaine had been the driving force behind since the inception of Megadeth. Mustaine ended up giving the other members more influence on the songwriting, and "Youthanasia" as a result is probably the most "group" oriented release in the band´s discography. Most preceding Megadeth releases feature at least some older riff ideas or tracks, but "Youthanasia" was solely written in the studio as a collective.

While "Countdown to Extinction (1992)" certainly wasn´t the most thrashy of thrash metal albums, it still occasionally featured some pretty intense thrash metal riffs and rhythms. It featured quite a few traditional heavy metal leanings too though, and it´s down that road Megadeth continue on "Youthanasia". In fact "Youthanasia" features next to no riffs and rhythms which could be put in the thrash metal catagory. Mustaine now also sings more and shouts less, and the material on the album are predominantly accessible vers/chorus structured heavy metal, featuring heavy mid-paced riffs and rhythms, skillfully played guitar solos and great harmony work, and catchy choruses.

Highlights include "Reckoning Day", "Train Of Consequences", "The Killing Road", and the title track. The power ballad type track "À Tout Le Monde" should of course also be mentioned among the standout tracks. Doing something this melodic and mainstream was a first for Megadeth. It´s overall not an album with tracks standing out that much from the rest, as the quality and consistency of the material are generally high, and even the least remarkable tracks are still of a good quality.

"Youthanasia" features a well sounding, organic, and detailed production, which suits the more traditional heavy metal direction of the material. Upon conclusion it´s a high quality release by Megadeth, which earned them new fans, but probably also alienated a few older ones. The most concervative thrash metal listeners, who hadn´t already jumped ship after "Countdown to Extinction (1992)", probably did so after listening to "Youthanasia". It´s most certainly the sound of a band who have moved on, and that´ll always divide the waters. A 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is deserved.

RAVEN Rock Until You Drop

Album · 1981 · NWoBHM
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siLLy puPPy
Newcastle upon Tyne, England was clearly the hotbed of inspiration in the 1980s by not only producing the earliest extreme metal offerings from Venom but also the phenomenal success of Dire Straits and also we can add to that resume the inspirational sounds of the early New Wave of British Heavy Metal band RAVEN! Oh yeah! This band has been cited as one of the earliest that influenced the thrash metal world that would emerge. Hard to believe that RAVEN started as far back as 1974 by the Gallagher brothers, vocalist / bassist John and guitarist Mark. Almost as if RAVEN was the inspiration for the Spinal Tap film where drummers spontaneously combusted and disappeared, so too did RAVEN have a hard time keeping a percussionist but Rob Hunter had the honor of appearing on the band’s first album.

It’s also hard to believe how incredibly complex the metal universe has become and when you go back to these humble beginnings when metal was proudly and defiantly emerging from its parent hard rock sounds of the 1970s, it’s refreshing to eschew the modern murkiness of tech death metal, avant-garde excesses and progressive metal compositions that rival any Western classical masters and just go back to when heavy metal was about adolescent fantasies and party rock! RAVEN’s 1981 debut ROCK UNTIL YOU DROP was the perfect album to usher in the early world of the NWOBHM without all the philosophical existential quandaries and intellectual headiness that would follow. This album just simply celebrated banging your fucking head and rockin’ yer ass off!

Back to the band. RAVEN existed from 1974-79 as a hard rock band so got more than its share of influences from all those bands that had their heyday in that era but with patience waited seven years until its debut album was released. The band did get a lot of attention with the 1980 release of its first single “Don’t Need Your Money” and opened for many of the big players of the day such as Ozzy Osbourne, Motorhead, Whitesnake and even an early Iron Maiden. When the band finally released ROCK UNTIL YOU DROP, a heavy metal starved public was eager to embrace any band that had the gusto to take things to the extreme and therefore this debut was met with enthusiasm. RAVEN was also known for its fiery live performances and has even been referred to as athletic metal due to the bombastic nature of the band’s playing.

ROCK UNTIL YOU DROP could never be mistaken for having debuted at any other timeline than the early 1980s with simple compositions that basically take the hard rock paradigm of blues oriented riffing and simply augmented with faster tempos, more extreme guitar solos, more ambitious drumming and a somewhat goofier vocal style where John Gallagher juxtaposes macho growling vocals with sudden King Diamond-like falsettos. The tunes are all catchy but not sophisticated. The album comes off as somewhat of an AC/DC styled blues hard rock only sped up a few notches with more biting irreverence that would fuel the world of speed metal along with the darker sounds of Venom that would inspire new bands to develop the world of thrash metal.

Yeah by the standards of the 21st century RAVEN can sound a bit goofy as the band was more of an inspiration much like neighboring Venom than actually crafting anything that could be the pinnacle of achievement but sometimes just plain old good fun is enough to win the day. ROCK UNTIL YOU DROP was for all intents and purposes a really rockin’ good party metal album somewhat in the vein of the attitude of KISS but only more interesting in a musical sense. The band also paid tribute to its antecedents such as the excellent Sweet cover of “Hellraiser / Action.” In short, RAVEN perfectly caught the real zeitgeist of the early 1980s with ROCK UNTIL YOU DROP. Metal about this time was all about just getting wild and crazy without overthinking things. Sometimes less is more and in the case of RAVEN’s debut, the bold and brash performances outweigh any criticism over production values, artistic statements or avant-garde eccentricities. Basically this is just a really enjoyable good old fashioned metal classic.

BALANCE OF POWER Perfect Balance

Album · 2001 · Heavy Metal
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lukretion
Balance of Power have been completely off my radar until recently when, as I was flipping through an old metal magazine from twenty years ago, I read a raving review of this album. Intrigued, I decided to track it down and give it a listen: oh boy, what had I missed out on! Perfect Balance is a little hidden gem of melodic power metal, strongly recommended to anyone who has even a passing interest in the genre. But more about this later. First, let me briefly introduce you to the band. Balance of Power were formed in 1995 by a bunch of up-and-coming London-based musicians. After releasing their debut album in 1997, the band went through a couple of line-up changes, which included the vocalist. Enter Lance King, US-based singer with a past as session musician in several American hard rock/prog metal acts. The band and King will release three albums together before parting ways in rather acrimonious circumstances. Perfect Balance is the last album featuring King on vocals and, arguably, the best album released by Balance of Power in their career. After this, the band will release one more album with a new singer before disbanding.

Throughout their career, Balance of Power have always tried to combine two distinct influences. One the one hand, the neoclassical metal tradition of Rainbow/Malmsteen that inspired the European power metal revival of the 1990s. On the other hand, these guys have clearly grown up listening to a lot of AOR and arena rock. The sweet, super-catchy vocal melodies of bands like Journey, Foreigner, Asia and Toto left a definite mark on the impressionable minds of these young British musicians. Perfect Balance is miraculously suspended between these two poles. The songs are anchored in exquisitely neoclassical guitar riffs and arpeggios that could have been penned by Blackmore or Malmsteen themselves. Given these foundations, you would expect the songs to climax in powerful metallic choruses. Instead, quite brilliantly, Balance of Power bring in these massive AOR choruses that are sweet, light and catchy and that you just did not see coming. It’s an endearing combination that turns things on their head and gives a special freshness to their music. This is most evident on tracks like “Higher Than the Sun”, “Shelter Me”, “One Voice” and “Searching for the Truth”.

Elsewhere things take a darker turn as the music becomes less flashy and more pensive and melancholic. Songs like “Fire Dance”, “The Pleasure Room”, “Killer or the Cure” and “House of Cain” would not have disfigured on an album like Queensryche’s Promised Land, another audible influence of the band. It’s because of songs like these that the band is sometimes classified as prog metal. That and because Lance King’s impressive voice can sometimes remind of James LaBrie, especially when he sings in the higher register. But there is much less complexity in the nine songs of Perfect Balance than in your standard prog metal album. The song structure is in fact fairly simple, sticking mostly to the verse-bridge-chorus canon, with only minimal digressions and instrumental detours. Sure, there are plenty of solos and keyboard/guitar duels, but these also feature prominently on most classic/power metal albums of the era. And even the solos are kept in check to make sure they do not steal too much the scene. Balance of Power are not a band whose objective is to showcase their technical proficiency. No doubt, these guys can play: just listen to the superb interplays between the two guitarists Pete Southern and Bill Yates. But the band strictly keep their technical skills to the service of the song, differently from a lot of the progressive metal of the time, where technical wankery often took precedence over sensible songwriting. Take the rhythm section, for instance. Drummer Lionel Hicks is the album’s producer and bassist Tony Ritchie is one of the main songwriters. You’d expect flamboyant and complex rhythmical patterns, but instead the rhythm section is mostly focused on giving the song a good groove. It may be unspectacular, but it is very effective as it gives the songs the solid and steady base that is needed for the rest of the band to develop the melodic and harmonic motives.

At this point, prog metal aficionados may start to fear that Perfect Balance is a fairly pedestrian and unglamorous album. But that’s not the case. The arrangements are very classy and sophisticated, also thanks to the excellent contribution of keyboard player Leon Lawson. He features on the album as a session musician, which is surprising because the keyboard parts are all over the place and a truly integral part of the band’s sound. The production is super-clean and detailed, which is quite remarkable for a fairly unknown band on a small budget. The melodic hooks that are at the heart of the songs are truly excellent, resulting in compositions that quickly grab the listener’s attention and leave a lasting impression. This is particularly true for tracks like the excellent opener “Higher Than the Sun”, the Rainbowesque “Fire Dance”, and especially the trio of darker tracks that appear in the middle of the album, “The Pleasure Room”, “Killer or the Cure” and “House of Cain”. And then there is Lance King, a truly excellent vocalist. He has a great range and sounds equally comfortable with mid-range vocals and high-end notes. His tone is very warm and expressive and he reminds me of a cross between James LaBrie and Geoff Tate. He leaves his mark on each and every song he sings on. It is truly a pity that King and the band split ways after this record because theirs was a partnership that had so much potential.

Fortunately, before splitting up Balance of Power gave us this little masterpiece that goes under the name of Perfect Balance. It is not a faultless album, as it contains a couple of songs that can be arguably considered as fillers (“Once Voice”, “Hard Life”). Yet, it does leave a strong impression on the listener. It is very melodic and catchy, but never cheesy as a lot of AOR and arena rock can be. At the same time, it also has that Rainbow/Malmsteen vibe that will make any metalhead’s blood rush to the head. It’s a perfect balance, as per the album title. Do not miss out on this hidden gem!

[Also published on metal-archives.com]

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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