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HOLY CRAP I wrote a lot here
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Tyrannorabbit



Joined: 04 Oct 2000
Posts: 3985
Location: Canada

PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2002 3:42 pm    Post subject: HOLY CRAP I wrote a lot here Reply with quote

Oh, man...all this time without the internet has given me a LOT of time in which to write up reviews of EVERY SINGLE CD I've acquired in the meantime. I'm not gonna dare any of you to read to the end, but I'd love to hear some agreement or disagreement, so by all means, just zip through and peek at the ones that might interest you. I wanna see SOMEBODY defend that horrible Hammerfall album. Here they are, in (rough) order of how much they impressed me.

Blind Guardian, _Imaginations From The Other Side_. I loved _Somewhere Far Beyond_, but every BG release I'd heard since then has seemed lacking, especially fan favourite _Nightfall In Middle-Earth_, which always sounds to me like a lot of feathers and not much chicken, "Nightfall" aside. Well, this one's all that AND a bucket o' chicken, matching and even improving on SFB. (for once, I couldn't find Iced Earth in the thank-you's). Hails, for putting the best songs first and last! Rating: 9.5

Hollenthon, _With Vilest Of Worms To Dwell_. Impulse buy, inspired by Raider's enthusiastic praise for it. And one listen makes it clear - this is brilliant stuff, and despite how weird it is, quite accessible. It's got death vocals, orchestra hits, a horn section, freakin' surf guitar...and that's just track one, we haven't even got to the choirs yet. Like _Theli_ on peyote. Booted Slayer out of my top 10 for last year. Isn't this guy's day job in Pungent Stench or something like that? Quite the departure, then...Rating: 9.5

Summoning, _Stronghold_. Raider-inspired buy #2. Buddy, you are doing very well in my book (well, except for NFIME). More-epic-than-epic keyboardy black metal...track two is like a great epic journey through time and space. Well, to me, anyway. It's kind of hard to explain. I can't believe I found this used. Who the hell would give this up? Rating: 9

Evergrey, _In Search Of Truth_. If Zod hadn't already recommended this to me, I'd be recommending it to him but quick, since it falls into that Ark/Symphony X zone which has his name all over it. Playing is beautiful, songwriting strong and vocals are just on the human side of excellent. Just baaaaaaarely misses my top 10. Rating: 9

Alastis, _The Other Side_. Who knew music this simple could be this cool? Mid-slow-paced semi-melodic doom with rasped/wheezed vocals, somewhere between Samael and Cemetary. I knew this band would have one really killer album in them. I don't really think they'll have a second, but you never know. Rating: 9

Death, _Human_ and _Individual Thought Patterns_. I used to have the last Death album, as well as the Control Denied disc, but I ended up trading them in because I found them both quite unwieldy and, despite moments of obvious awesomeness, kind of annoying. (particularly CD's singer, whose voice annoyed the living shit out of me even more than Chuck's did) Chuck's recent, lamented expiration inspired me to re-visit Death, and this time I went for an album I felt I'd more likely embrace, because I've seen the video for "Lack Of Comprehension" a few times recently and love that song to death. And yeah, obviously, Chuck was awesome, and unstoppable on _Human_, really making me take notice of guitar solos in a way I haven't done in a long, long time. Songs are strong too, marred slightly by Steve "Mr. Reliability" DiGeorgio's annoying bass over-playing (nowhere near as bad as Randy Coven, though). This album features two members of Cynic, both of whom let their contributions show through clearly. This album will probably grow on me further in time. The Century Media reissue has a really informative essay on the history of Chuck and the band. ITP I got right afterward, and ended up liking even more...listening to this one last night had me shaking my head at how I could've missed these killer discs for all these years. Steve's bass playing is even more in front here (gah!), but the songs are generally a little stronger and new members Gene Hoglan and Andy LaRocque (replacing the Cynic guys) seem a less wild but maybe more appropriate fit. Rating: 8.5, 9

Sigh, _Imaginary Sonicscapes_. Parents, if you're trying to convince your kids that drugs are no fun, keep 'em away from this heavily drug-inspired Japanese trip into pop-metal psychedelia. Absolutely brilliant in a lot of ways, and totally dunderheaded in others (the black metal vocals have got to go), making for an incessantly entertaining, baffling, and engaging mix. I can't help but make connections to Japanese pop culture with some stuff here, like the karaoke vocals in one song, or vocals from what I can't help but think of as "the Mothra chicks" in the irresistibly funky "Scarlet Dream". I love how so many albums this year can be so weird, but so accessible at the same time. (trivia - I accidentally scratched this disc, and was shocked when one of those scratch-repair kits actually worked) Rating: 8.5

Absu, _Tara_. FORTY-PAGE BOOKLET, containing the statement "...the cover/phase illustrations you are looking at contain genuine soil and leaf tissue samples mixed in the paint from Tara's hilltop itself. You are holding an actual piece of Pagan history in your hands." The liner notes also feature a complete glossary of any of the terms in their lyrics (or names) you might have questions about. Holy crap, are these guys for real? Anyway, the sound here is of a technical (at least in drums) black metal, with a few curve balls, like the Zeppelin-like acoustics of "Bron (Of The Waves)" and the shockingly classic metal of "Stone Of Destiny", featuring awesome, Dio-like vocals from "Sir Ronnie Trent". There's been a lot of hype for these Texans in the past year, and though it took a few listens, it seems clear to me that it's deserved. Rating: 8.5

Lullacry, _Sweet Desire_. Got this one from the band's management - and it's autographed by all five members, how cool is that? And what Lullacry does best is in ample evidence here, with a lot of great (pop), hook-oriented songwriting, damned good performances (Tanya's vocals would improve, but she still sounds great here - no doubt about it, I've got a new favourite female hr/hm singer) and, expectedly, totally vapid lyrics, courtesy of guitarists Sami and Sauli. Maybe it's time Tanya had a chance to share her wisdoms with us. I'm sure this'll be re-issued by Century Media any day now, so you guys who were impressed by _Be My God_, keep your eyes peeled for this; you won't be disappointed. Rating: 8.5

Thorns, _Thorns_. Thorns' mastermind, Snorre Ruch, is often credited with having invented black metal. No idea how accurate this is. But until recently, we haven't heard much from him (aside from a couple of EP's I've never heard of) because he's been in the klink for his role in Euronymous's murder. _Thorns_ is the full-length debut, and it's pretty damned good if you ask me, sounding like a caustic (but still kinda sparkling) cross between older black metal (Burzum, Darkthrone) and the new stuff (Zyklon, Satyricon...Satyr lends his lyrical/production/vocal talents here). Awesome cover art, good drumming from Hellhammer, and consistently, surprisingly solid music throughout. Frankly, I'd expected it to be a little more dated. Rating: 8.5

Rotting Christ, _Triarchy Of The Lost Lovers_. Despite the silly name, I have to admit this band's impressing me more and more with their melodic (but death-vox'ed) stylings. Song titles like "King Of A Stellar War" even reflect a bit of a Blue Oyster Cult influence - how cool is that? (yes, I say that a lot) Rating: 8.5

The Bronx Casket Co., _Sweet Home Transylvania_. Like the most recent My Dying Bride, this is a consistently very likeable album, which never quite reaches excellence but never descends into being merely good either. BCC has fun with their goth/doom-metal sound by alternating between treading their own turf, and having fun imitations of other bands ("Killing Mary Jane" = Trouble, "Black Valentine" = Type O Negative, the latter half of "The Other Me" = Type O Negative covering Queen's "Spread Your Wings"). Hey, all those Magna Carta guys call that experimenting. Comes with TWO booklets - one with artwork for each song, and the other with the pertinent liner notes. Rating: 8.5

Kreator, _Coma Of Souls_ and _Violent Revolution_. My experience with Kreator has, temporally, been all over the map, as I introduced myself to them with very early, very recent, and mid-years albums. These are the best albums I've heard yet, their mid-years peak (often hailed as one of the greatest albums of thrash) and their most recent "comeback" album. Vocals are pretty much what you'd expect all around, which is a bit of a shame with VR, since I'd come to like Mille's semi-melodic singing on _Outcast_. But the riffs are insane and the songs are a lot of fun, biggest standout being VR's "System Decay". Check out that _Escape From New York_ melody in...dammit, one of COS's solos... Rating: 8.5 (both)

Solefald, _Pills Against The Ageless Ills_. Maybe not as weird as you might've heard, this album is nevertheless pretty much indescribable, an impenetrable concept album (something about someone who murdered Kurt Cobain? That80'sGuy oughtta love this) which is nonetheless easy to like and is consistently a hoot. Solefald is the project of Lazare (AKA Borknagar's keyboardist) and some guy named Cornelius, who I'm not familiar with. This one never stops being interesting, but never quite reaches what it takes for me to really, really praise a band to the moon either. I've definitely got my eye on 'em, though. Rating: 8.5

Therion, _Secret Of The Runes_. Yaaay, they're heavy again! Still all choral vocals (track two oughtta re-define the word "soprano" for you), so if that's a put-off, stay the hell away. But the music's heavier than this band's been since _Theli_, and there's a lot of great lead guitar playing too. Apparently, a concept album about runes in Norse mythology, though unlike the similarly-themed _Monumension_, this one doesn't have head-scratching ritual instructions. Rating: 8

Enslaved, _Monumension_. Back with a new, super-doomy flavour, Enslaved again pursue their Nordic muse with their unique black metal stylings. Awesome cover art (and title!); baffling concept inside, though there's a nice little essay about the history of Enslaved, summing up the mood of each Enslaved album with two or three words each. And for once, most of this is in English! (like you can tell) Grutle's harsh scream is still a bit of a hindrance, though; I've long since concluded that about 80% of the difference between good grind vocals and bad grind vocals is personality, and Grutle's scream hasn't got it. Still, ripping stuff, and they do the doom thing monstrously (well), as doom should be done: malevolently. Ends with a chant-type-thing by, apparently, another band (!) with Enslaved on backing vocals. Rating: 8

Hypocrisy, _Penetralia_ and _The Fourth Dimension_. I'd expected my interest in earlier Hypocrisy to keep dwindling as I went further back, but to my surprise I like their first three albums about equally. TFD has the band pared down to the three-piece they've been ever since, with Pete taking over vocals and even deigning to toss in some, er, real singing. The previous album has them as a five-piece. I still haven't heard interim EP compilation _Osculum Obscenum_ yet. As always, both albums have a totally bitchin' title track. As always, both albums have no lyrics, though _Penetralia_ has a number of reviews for itself, for the exceptionally sharp-eyed - the ones in English praise it despite all mentioning that it's not very original. Rating: 8 (both)

Shape Of Despair, _Angels Of Distress_. Don't be too fooled by the ads that proclaim that this CD features vocals from Amorphis's Pasi Koskinen - yeah, he does vocals, but they're ALL deep and growly, sounding pretty much like Amorphis's previous singer. But the music (despite spreading 5 tracks over 55 minutes) rules; slow, very melodic doom with those vocals adding a nice creepy touch. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the best song is "Night's Dew", an instrumental. I would've appreciated some real singing from Pasi (despite the enormously lacking liner notes crediting him with some). Highly enjoyable nevertheless. Rating: 8

Rotting Christ, _Khronos_. Maybe a shade more "brutal" than before (so much as "brutal" can be used to describe a band that dares to cover a Brit-goth song), but not a big overhaul in sound here, Rotting Christ picking up after an album I haven't heard yet with a solid and consistently likeable album, possibly the only album I can think of which actually puts some of its lyrics right there on the cover. (the cover also prominently features the letters XES, the significance of which was explained to me when I coincidentally endured the movie _Lost Souls_ on the exact same day that I bought this) Lyrics are a little dumb, though ("You will stop breathing as you pass away"?). Features a (pretty good!) CD-ROM video for a song I don't recognize. Rating: 8

Blind Guardian, _And Then There Was Silence_. Everything _Nightfall In Middle-Earth_ tried to be, this is. If Queen made epic metal, it might sound like this, if we were lucky. If the rest of the forthcoming album is this good, we've got a top 5 contender for the coming year, no doubt. Still, at 14 minutes long, it's not something I'm gonna be throwing on a lot unless I know I won't be interrupted for at least the next 14 minutes. This single also features a sleep-inducing cast-off ballad from NFIME, and a CD-ROM video for a song off of _Imaginations_. Rating: 8 (reflects balance between the song's 10 status and the uselessness this single will be reduced to when it shows up again on the real album)

King's X, _Manic Moonlight_. Sweet, sweet recovery from the unbelievably awkward _Please Come Home...Mr. Bulbous_, King's X is back in...well, maybe not full form, but at least _Ear Candy_ form, and that's fine by me. Everything funky's and soulful (whatever that means), and Ty's playing is awesome everywhere. Probably the most improved band this year...though I wonder if they should qualify, when all they're really doing is improving from a big mistake. Rating: 8

Symphony X, _The Divine Wings Of Tragedy_. Wow. Even back then, Russell Allen was Pout Central, and Michael Romeo makes me wonder how he got that big with a mouth that small. Anyway, SX again suggest to me that time is what's needed to digest one of their albums (_V_ took about a year). No big surprises here, though the title track's something like 20 minutes long and begins with a choral thing you pretty much have to be Catholic in order to write, I imagine. Keyboards are (blessedly) a lighter touch than on _V_. But there's an Egyptian-themed song here, and like 99% of Egyptian-themed metal songs, it cannot help but bury the band under a cheese avalanche. Rating: 8 (because it feels like a 7 but I'm pretty confident it'll feel more like a 9 in a year's time)

Carnal Forge, _Firedemon_. Stay the course..._Firedemon_ improves upon _Who's Gonna Burn_ mostly by being over 30 minutes long. Nothing all that original, but these guys thrash with the best of 'em, putting in the double- and half-times exactly where they should be, giving me whiplash in no time flat from the involuntary headbanging. No longer will I confuse this band with Darkane. Though please, guys...under no circumstances, ever let your guitarist be photographed shirtless again. (fun note - three of these guys work in a mental institution) Rating: 8

Kataklysm, _The Prophecy - Stigmata Of The Immaculate_. This sounds pretty similar to the ass-kicker that followed it, except with fewer hyperblasts and a less accomplished upper-range vocal delivery (read: scream). The last track repeats the same lyrical line sixteen times. Thank you, I get the point. Otherwise, it's pretty killer, and fairly digestible, considering the inherent extremity of things going on here. Rating: 8

Darkthrone, _Plaguewielder_. I thought _Transylvanian Hunger_ was awesome...for about thirty seconds, and then they repeated those thirty seconds about seventy more times. This is not good songwriting. This album corrects on that (I know, there've been twenty or so albums in the meantime) by putting that awesome mix of terror, horror and tragedy in the service of good songs. "Wreak" is the best ending to an album I've heard in some time. Rating: 7.5

Solefald, _Neonism_. This is their "You think our new album is weird?" album, sounding like a split between their new album and a Pet Shop Boys-like rhythmically-spoken-word (not rap) over synthy beats. I don't know why I like it, but I do, quite a bit. Crappy-ass packaging, reminding me of the fall-apart-after-three-listens _K.F.D._. Rating: 7.5

Nightingale, _The Breathing Shadow_. Dan Swano's first Nightingale album has much fewer 70's-prog pretensions than the second, and less AOR than the third. This one's more of a straightforward goth-metal thing, though a couple songs have that horrible 80's synth-pop thing going on. Definitely worthwhile for fans of the white Barry White, though. (lyrics wouldn't be included until the third album, which has printed lyrics for all three) Rating: 7.5

The Abyss, _Summon The Beast_. The Abyss is Hypocrisy, switching instruments and trying their hand at black metal. The result is a sound somewhere between older Immortal and Darkthrone, but with Tagtgren producing, you know it'll sound more professional than either. And he manages to pull that off without starting to sound shiny, or pleasant, or un-grim. What the hell, I like it. Rating: 7.5

Sonata Arctica, _Silence_. Massively-hyped bunch of Finns whose average age is, what, nine? Sonata Arctica are total power metal all the way, doing what they do best when they're blazing along with synth-shiny songs like "Weballergy" but occasionally making me cringe with hilariously dumb lyrics (sample nugget of wisdom: "If you live, you will die, you can't live forever") and an excruciating _Scream_-tribute intro to one song. This probably sounds most like countrymen Stratovarius, but with better vocals and overall songwriting. I initially thought this was destined for my tradelist, but further listens warmed me up to it. I can't help but feel that these guys may well end up being the Backstreet Boys of metal, and that's part of why this whole prospect has me thinking light, fluffy, and totally devoid of any real significance, but I have to admit - it's consistently enjoyable and beautifully crafted stuff, and I'd rather listen to this than the last couple of Stratovarius albums. Rating: 7.5

Gamma Ray, _No World Order!_. After the tepid _Powerplant_, I was starting to wonder if my interest in Gamma Ray was gone for good. It doesn't look like it's going to come back in full force any time soon, but this is a very respectable and enjoyable listen, Gamma Ray going back (three years back) to the Meat-Loaf-gone-metal sound that made _Somewhere Out In Space_ so cool. Kai's vocals continue to improve. Rating: 7.5

Entombed, _Morning Star_. I've heard a lot of (fan-originated) hype about how this is real metal this time, back to maybe a _Clandestine_-type sound...bzzzt. Nah, it's death-rock, death-rock as only Entombed can give it to us. And while it doesn't really give us anything new, at least it gives well what it gives, Entombed sounding in fine form in this, the sound that now seems likely to be sticking around for a while. Alex Hellid's starting to resemble Eric Bloom with those big shades on all the time, and "Bringer Of Light" is probably the best song from this band since _DCLXVI_. Nice to hear somebody making rock n' roll sound like the Devil's music again. Rating: 7.5

Skyclad, _The Wayward Sons Of Mother Earth_. Wow...Skyclad wasn't even all that folky on their debut, not even acquiring a full-time fiddle player yet. Instead, it's mostly semi-traditional thrash with Martin Walkyier's tuneless bark making it all sound almost German. A good effort from a band that hadn't quite found their muse yet. Rating: 7.5

Destruction, _The Antichrist_. Bullet belts anyone? If not, how about bad oral hygiene? Alas, there's nothing here that kicks my ass as much as "Nailed To The Cross" did, and for that matter, "Bullets From Hell" has all the brains of a serving of mashed potatoes. But it's still good stuff, like melodic Slayer with more panicked vocals. Silly title, but that's a pretty cool cover. Rating: 7.5

Nightwish, _Over The Hills And Far Away_. It would take an army of Limp Bizkits to screw this song up, and Nightwish does it great, classy justice. Also featured are a couple of other album castoffs (both good) and a re-recording of an early song (much improved), and several live songs, which I listened to once and can't imagine listening to again, like most live recordings. CD packaging includes a stylized world map which at first glance seems like a record of where the band might've toured, until dawning on me was the obvious incongruity of my home town of Calgary being mentioned, but cities like Los Angeles weren't. Uh...? Rating: 7.5

Absu, _The Third Storm Of Cythraul_. An earlier album from Texas's most famous black metallers (Phil Anselmo doesn't count, does he?), this album doesn't do it for me as much as _Tara_ does for two big reasons: one, the production, which reduces Proscriptor's punishing drums to a tinny banging sound, and two, bad vocals and way way WAY too frequent yelpy screams which remind me, hilariously, of Ned Flanders thinking he's killed Maude's fern. "...Of Celtic Fire, We Are Born" is pretty damned awesome, though, and "Highland Tyrant Attack" sounds a lot like Testament's COTLOD. Rating: 7.5

Limbonic Art, _Moon In The Scorpio_. If you listen to your keyboardy black metal CD's and think to yourself that they just aren't keyboardy enough, maybe Limbonic Art is for you. Opeth-long black metal songs with more keys than you can shake a Ukranian Nazi at. Definitely not for everybody. Rating: 7

Enslaved, _Frost_. Hmm...I'm not getting into this one like I've managed to with the rest of their releases, though it does surprise me with its unexpected emphasis on keyboards and Ivar Bjornson's bondage gear (I didn't need to see that). Lots of mouth harp too (doing, doing, doing). This is probably the most "black metal" of the Enslaved albums I've heard, and as usual, they're really playing up the Viking thing (Grutle Kjellson: bluest eyes in the world under that helmet). I don't know if it's going to grow on me in the future, but I do know this: this is a band that's been consistently very cool for a long time, and isn't afraid to throw a scare into their fans. Rating: 7

Green Carnation, _Journey To The End Of The Night_. Picked this up because I heard a snippet of their new album (a 70-minute-long song, or something) on the radio and was pretty impressed. This isn't their newest album, it's the one from just before, and what I heard on the radio (and the fact that this band is probably most famous for it being a project from Tchort, formerly of Emperor and Carpathian Forest) didn't prepare me for how much this album sounds like My Dying Bride, circa _34.788...% Complete_ (AKA the album most MDB fans hated). Vocals are stronger and less cartoony than in MDB though, and there are lots of guest vocalists, the only one of which I recognized was Tristania's Vibeke Stene. Still, the aping of MDB is so blatant, and they take so damned long to do it (70 minutes), that my enthusiasm for this genuinely good bunch of songs is blunted. Still keeping my eye out for the new one, though I wonder how often I'm going to be listening to one 70-minute track. Rating: 7

Darkthrone, _Soulside Journey_. Awesome cover art! This album catches Darkthrone at a VERY early point in their career, before they decided to go black metal. Here, they pretty much sound like any other Skogsberg/Sunlight band, though it's amusing to hear a band like Darkthrone throw in things like guitar solos. Actually, it's all pretty likeable...not something I'll be listening to much, but a cool item to have. (trivia: Fenriz here is credited with the most hilarious metal pseudonym of all time, "Hank Amarillo") Rating: 7

Demolition Hammer, _Epidemic Of Violence_. I never knew much about this band except for a song on an older Identity disc, but their song on the 10-years CM retrospective rocked, so I jumped at a chance to pick up two of their CD's dirt cheap. This is, basically, Kreator - musically and vocally, it sounds like Kreator. And they do a fairly good job of it, at least here, and the lyrics are a hoot (one song's about people getting killed by magma). Big changes ahead for their next disc (see below). Rating: 7

Ulver, _Metamorphosis_. Ulver's announcement to the world that they aren't metal anymore, and this is good enough to suggest to me that just because they aren't metal doesn't mean they have to become boring. It's all techno-ish stuff, but for some reason, I found it pretty enjoyable. _Perdition City_, on the other hand, puts me to sleep. Rating: 7

Stuck Mojo, _Violate This!_. Eighteen tracks...two new songs (both great)...two cover songs (with Devin Townsend on vocals..."Wrathchild" is cool, but "Shout At The Devil" is kinda lame)...eight alternate versions of previously available songs (only one of which is an improvement)...six early, previously unreleased SM songs, one of which sounds poppy enough to seem like it might've been commissioned by Atlanta's tourism board (I always thought that "Hotlanta" was one of those things that make real Atlantans cringe, like "Frisco" for San Franciscans), another of which is from "Stuck Mojo, the funk band". Pretty much for fans only, but those new songs rule, and it looks like that's all we're ever gonna get again. Rating: 7

Luca Turilli, _King Of The Nordic Twilight_. Confession #1: while I don't toss around the word "gay" to describe even the gayest sounding metal releases (nobody ever takes it the right way), in my head, for sure, when I hear something like this, I'm thinking "Damn...this is the gayest thing I've ever heard!" It also (predictably) sounds like a simplified version of Rhapsody, a band that, for my money, loses most of its charm when you simplify it. It's fun if you can get past that, though. Nice try, but to sell me on his next album, Luca's going to have to work as hard on it as he does at his day job. I am, however, somewhat heartened to read in the liner-notes essay that Luca didn't start playing guitar until he was 16, the same age I was when I started (my guitar heroes as a teenager all said they'd been playing since they were in the womb). Rating: 6.5

Therion, _Of Darkness..._. Weird, how bands as different as Darkthrone and Therion could have once sounded so alike, even Therion cruising along on this sound for a while before Cristopher Johnsson started getting symphonic. The music's as good as the Darkthrone, maybe a bit better, but the packaging freakin' blows, the original cover reproduced inside in a little 2-by-3-inch black-and-white square, no lyrics, just a brief (and badly-spelled) paragraph from Johnsson, and the new cover is so basic it kinda hurts. Four bonus tracks (alternate versions of songs already on the album), but otherwise, this is the biggest re-issue ripoff I've ever seen. I'm glad I already have my copy of _Symphony Masses: Ho Drakan Ho Megas_ with it's bitchin' original cover. Rating: 6.5

Cadaver Inc., _Discipline_. I call this recent wave of Norwegian metal (think Zyklon, Myrkskog, recent Satyricon) "morgue metal", because it's got that chilling vibe, but not of a grim frozen forest, but the clinical coldness of a forensic examiner's workplace. Cadaver Inc. seems to be doing what they do well, with vocals that sound like Mike Patton having one of his shitfits, but I know I'm never going to listen to this. I know, I said that about the Zyklon, but this time I mean it. Rating: 6.5

Kamelot, _Karma_. Here's a little irony about grind vocals and clean vocals: I prefer the clean vocals, but if I don't like grind vocals, 90% of the time I can sort of tune them out into a buzzing texture in the background, and concentrate on the instrumental aspect. But if I don't like clean vocals, they're almost always front-and-centre, integral to the composition, and they won't be ignored - the instruments are usually there to support the vocals. It looks like the (fan-beloved) vocals of Roy Khan are always gonna be a big barrier to me really enjoying this band. I've said so before; if this guy's voice was any more smooth n' creamy, he'd be Barbara Streisand. Sure, it's a really good voice - I just find it wildly miscast in a metal context, particularly on this album. I don't think I can take seriously a song about Elizabeth Bathory sung by this man...let alone three songs. Analogously, I love Drew Barrymore. I mean, whose heart is so stony that he doesn't love Drew Barrymore to death and back? But I don't want to see her to play Elizabeth Bathory, the mad countess who butchered virgins to bathe in their blood. (Barbara Streisand, ironically, would be a pretty inspired casting choice though) With a Matthew Barlow - or even just a Tim Owens - on the mike here, I'd be giving this, oh, probably an 8.5. As it is...Rating: 6.5

Morgoth, _Odium_. Early Century Media release, basically sounding like everything else Century Media was putting out in 1992 (semi-melodic doomy death). I can't say I'm all that interested in hearing more from this band, but I'll give their more recent stuff a shot before writing 'em off. Rating: 6.5

Skyclad, _The Answer Machine?_. I once tried selling a friend of mine on this band by describing them as "Great Big Sea gone metal". This album just sounds like Great Big Sea. Rating: 6

Paradise Lost, _Believe In Nothing_. Don't. Even. Ask. What the pricetag on this was. I wouldn't have bought this if I didn't get $25 off that purchase. And I still feel kinda ripped off; this was hyped as sounding like a cross between _Draconian Times_ and _One Second_, but it sounds more like _Host_'s songs played on _One Second_'s instruments. And when did Nick start sounding like a Backstreet Boy? It doesn't suck, but it does kinda blow. Yeesh, and what's with the "lyrics" - one line from each song? Haven't we seen that before, on an album everybody hated? Didn't we see that again, and that was the first sign we had that everybody was gonna hate that album too? Just because you're British doesn't mean you can't learn from Dave Mustaine's mistakes. Rating: 6

Exhumed, _Slaughtercult_. What many call gore-metal, I call slasher-metal, because at its best, it invokes the pulpily pleasureable mood of some crappy (but still endearing) circa-1980 slasher flick. The notes and songs themselves are unimportant - it's all about atmosphere. _Slaughtercult_ isn't really it, but it's competently played and fairly clearly produced, and sounds like a masterpiece next to my other recent attempt to find the one really killer album I know this genre must've produced (see below). What I've heard suggests that the long-avoided Cannibal Corpse is mostly likely to have produced that album. Rating: 5.5

Demolition Hammer, _Time Bomb_. Could Demolition Hammer be the uncredited inventors of nu-metal? Could be, with this album from 1994 coming out at about the same time as Korn's debut, and sounding more like where a lot of this stuff would go in the future. Slowish, jump-up-and-down riffs, angry lyrics, an 80's pop cover song...yeah, that's nu-metal all right. One pretty-good thrasher at the end, but that's about it. The liner notes say that this band "used d'addario strings"...used, as in past tense? Was this the end of Demolition Hammer? Like I said, I know nothing about this band...but if this was the end for them, they sure went out with a whimper. Rating: 5

Eisheilig, _Eisheilig_. Napalm hypes these guys as Rammstein meets Type O Negative. Uh, sort of. Imagine a really, really light TON, with lyrics sung in German, though if they were sung any more quietly, they wouldn't be there at all. Ends with a Doors (gah!) cover. Rating: 5

Darkseed, _Give Me Light_. Somebody at Nuclear Blast must've thought they were gonna make the company a fortune when they signed these guys...they sound like a cross between (bad) Sentenced and (very recent) Metallica, and image-wise, they're the prettiest bunch of metal guys I've seen since the big-hair days. Something tells me we're more likely to see an ad for this in Good Housekeeping than in Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles. Anyway, it's not really that putrid, it's just boring and uninspired and has cash written all over it (is that a vocoder I hear?). Blessedly, they don't appear to be much of a success, even though this is album number five or six. Rating: 4

Godhead, _2000 Years Of Human Error_. Conned again. When will I learn? I was suckered into buying this one based on their pretty-cool cover of "Eleanor Rigby". Too bad the rest of the album (great title excepted) is a total bore. Like a lot of American hard rock bands these days, they have a reasonably likeable sound, but pretty much zero in the way of songwriting ideas (hint: that's why they all release cover songs as their first single). I should've been warned off when I found out this is the second or third release they've put this cover song on. And with Peter Tagtgren covering the same song on his next Pain album, something tells me I'm going to forget all about this in a couple of months. Rating: 3

Mortiis, _The Smell Of Rain_. I don't have anything against music that isn't metal. I just have something against crappy Boney-M-meets-New-Order goth disco. I couldn't care less if that makes me closed-minded. For once, I wish I'd listened to the guys who said "that ain't metal!". Instead, I listened to the guys who said "it's like dancy metal" - something I happen to think is a great idea (I know, I'm the only one). This is not dancy metal, it's just dancy. And the #1 Tyrannorabbit rule of music is, "If you can dance to it, it probably sucks." I put "probably" in there to excuse the bands I do like, like Samael, The Kovenant, and Pain. Mortiis is a long way off from joining that club, sounding more on the New Order side of that New Order song that Orgy covered, if that tells you anything. Rating: 3

Carpathian Forest, _Strange Old Brew_. Without a doubt, one of the lamest black metal albums I've heard, the booklet and lyrics of SOB feature five words I don't ever, ever want to see in a black metal album: miniskirt, enema, lithium, constipation, and saxophone. There's a jokey waltz track, one track that totally rips off "Procreation Of The Wicked", a jokey enema-sample track, a bonus track that sounds like the Ramones...I like a sense of humour in metal, even famously humourless black metal, as much as the next guy, but it's gotta be more sophisticated (or at least funnier) than this. Features Tchort, ex of Emperor. What a waste of my last free CD at HMV. Rating: 2.5

Hammerfall, _Legacy Of Kings_. Confession #2: while I've long been one of those guys who always makes fun of Hammerfall, I admit that until now I'd never heard an entire album from them, just isolated songs, all of which I really disliked. But the metal show on the radio here played "Glory To The Brave" a couple of months ago, and I liked it, so I decided to trade away that Dark Funeral I know I'm never gonna listen to. Silly me - I didn't know which song that was at the time, and I got the wrong album. I'm still kinda curious about that one, but for this one, I can only be blunt: this is simply the most bland, by-the-numbers, and unbelievably boring power metal release I've ever heard - I've heard better sounds coming from my bathtub drain. Everything is on the boring side of pedestrian, from the production to the songwriting to the performances, only singer Joachim Cains managing to stand out, and even then by totally sucking. What a weak, weak voice on this guy, no power to it at all, and he couldn't carry a tune (at least here) if it were locked in a briefcase and shackled to his wrist. THIS is what brought power metal "back"? No wonder today's power metal has such a lousy reputation, if it's spearheaded by something like this. Just when Blind Guardian was reminding me of how good this corner of the genre can be, Hammerfall reminds me of why so much of it makes me cringe. Rating: 2 ('cuz I can't honestly say it's worse than the Mortician, and it's not like this is Limp Bizkit or anything)

Mortician, _Chainsaw Dismemberment_. Don't ask. Well, okay, go ahead, ask, but the answer's at [url=http://www.geocities.com/tyrannorabbit/horrormetalm.html]http://w ww.geocities.com/tyrannorabbit/horrormetalm.html[/url] (haven't written the results up yet). I picked this up (for next to nothing, and I still feel ripped off) for research into that, as well as the (naÔve) hope that maybe this might be that killer slasher-metal album I'm looking for. It ain't. Guitars and bass are super-distorted and mixed into an indistinguishable sonic mush, and vocals are delivered in a stomach-rumble so deep and mixed so low that you can hardly tell when they begin or end. A drummer is credited and photographed, though it's no secret that this is drum machines all the way. "Wolfen" and "Camp Blood" are of VERY mild interest, because they have some good groove in 'em, and it's only at those velocities that you can even tell what's going on (the other twenty-six - yes, TWENTY-SIX songs are pretty much all the same). Incredibly, one of Relapse's biggest sellers. Rating: 1 (feeling generous, for them wearing their love of horror on their sleeves)
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woosta



Joined: 12 Mar 1999
Posts: 780
Location: PA

PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2002 8:14 pm    Post subject: HOLY CRAP I wrote a lot here Reply with quote

Of all the ones I have from your list, I'd agree with almost everything you said (I'd rate Kamelot a little higher).

I will disagree strongly with your opinion of Hammerfall, but I won't take the time to try to defend them because it'd be like pissing in the wind I think.

Nice reviews overall.
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General Zod



Joined: 24 Jan 2001
Posts: 2519
Location: Krypton

PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2002 9:21 pm    Post subject: HOLY CRAP I wrote a lot here Reply with quote

Tyranno-

Wow... you've had some time on your hands. Why no net connectivity?

Yeah... that Evergrey CD is excellent. You should also check out the disc before it "Solitude, Dominance, Tragedy". What it lacks in polish it makes up for with a beautiful rawness.

I am going to have to check into Sigh... your description has entrigued me.

I got a real kick out of your rating on SX. I tell people all the time, if you don't love SX it's only because you haven't listened to them enough.

Your Babs analogy with Khan made me laugh, even though I am one of his many huge fans. When I first heard "The Fourth Legacy", my first impression was similar to your opinion. However, I eventually really began to love his smooth voice against Kamelot's sound. You might try checking out Conception, if you haven't already. If you aren't familiar with them, they were fronted by Khan, and featured Tore from Ark on guitar. They made four killer discs, the best of which was their final release "Flow". His voice sounds much better against a prog back drop.

I actually totally dig Hammerfall's "Legacy of Kings". Although, I can certainly see why someone would find them overly generic. However, if you think that's bad, you should hear their latest effort (or lack there of) "Renegade". In a word, yuck!

GZ
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POWERMETAL&AOR



Joined: 27 Sep 2001
Posts: 485
Location: West Coast

PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2002 9:54 pm    Post subject: HOLY CRAP I wrote a lot here Reply with quote

It's no secret that i am no fan of Black/Death/Extreme Metal so i'll leave your reviews of those alone.
They are certainly not my bag.

I just don't understand how you can call Luca Turilli gay when you rated Emperor like a 9.5

Sorry dude but to my ears , Emperor (and the majority of fly-by-night 'extreme' metal bands) will always be gayer than Elton John's fannypack.

The cheese factor in barfed vocals will always out-fromage great bands like Kamelot (10 out of 10) , Luca Turilli (10 out of 10) and Hammerfall (8 out of 10).

But thats my opinion.
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Icarus



Joined: 26 Jan 2001
Posts: 1695
Location: where anger and euphoria collide

PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2002 6:56 am    Post subject: HOLY CRAP I wrote a lot here Reply with quote

Thanks for the reviews.
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Brian



Joined: 02 Feb 1999
Posts: 147
Location: Cleveland, Ohio, USA

PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2002 10:14 am    Post subject: HOLY CRAP I wrote a lot here Reply with quote

quote:
Originally posted by POWERMETAL&AOR:
It's no secret that i am no fan of Black/Death/Extreme Metal so i'll leave your reviews of those alone.
They are certainly not my bag.

I just don't understand how you can call Luca Turilli gay when you rated Emperor like a 9.5

Sorry dude but to my ears , Emperor (and the majority of fly-by-night 'extreme' metal bands) will always be gayer than Elton John's fannypack.

The cheese factor in barfed vocals will always out-fromage great bands like Kamelot (10 out of 10) , Luca Turilli (10 out of 10) and Hammerfall (8 out of 10).

But thats my opinion.

You start off your post saying you arent going to comment on his extreme metal reviews, than the very next sentence you rip him for giving Emperor a 9.5, than you go on yet another rant about how much you hate the vocals of extreme music. Shut up already. Do you have any idea how dumb you sound? you are a complete waste of time.
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POWERMETAL&AOR



Joined: 27 Sep 2001
Posts: 485
Location: West Coast

PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2002 2:32 pm    Post subject: HOLY CRAP I wrote a lot here Reply with quote

quote:
Originally posted by Brian:
You start off your post saying you arent going to comment on his extreme metal reviews, than the very next sentence you rip him for giving Emperor a 9.5, than you go on yet another rant about how much you hate the vocals of extreme music. Shut up already. Do you have any idea how dumb you sound? you are a complete waste of time.

Brian why don't you swallow me you waste of space. If you can't handle me criticizing someone else's ridiculous rantings then YOU shut up. The only person who looks like an idiot is YOU.
I didn't rip on his 'reviews' - try READING what i said you retard.

JESUS CHRIST - ANOTHER moron at this board shows his ugly mug....
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Rockangel



Joined: 28 May 2000
Posts: 1367
Location: A step away from crazy

PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2002 2:45 pm    Post subject: HOLY CRAP I wrote a lot here Reply with quote

quote:
Originally posted by POWERMETAL&AOR:
[QUOTE]
JESUS CHRIST - ANOTHER moron at this board shows his ugly mug....

go away then.
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Tyrannorabbit



Joined: 04 Oct 2000
Posts: 3985
Location: Canada

PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2002 3:26 pm    Post subject: HOLY CRAP I wrote a lot here Reply with quote

quote:
Originally posted by General Zod:


Wow... you've had some time on your hands. Why no net connectivity?

There's a surprisingly long wait to get hooked up to ADSL here.

quote:
Originally posted by General Zod:
Your Babs analogy with Khan made me laugh, even though I am one of his many huge fans. When I first heard "The Fourth Legacy", my first impression was similar to your opinion. However, I eventually really began to love his smooth voice against Kamelot's sound. You might try checking out Conception, if you haven't already. If you aren't familiar with them, they were fronted by Khan, and featured Tore from Ark on guitar. They made four killer discs, the best of which was their final release "Flow". His voice sounds much better against a prog back drop.

This would not surprise me at all, actually. His voice sounds like it would work beautifully in a prog context.

quote:
Originally posted by General Zod:
I actually totally dig Hammerfall's "Legacy of Kings". Although, I can certainly see why someone would find them overly generic. However, if you think that's bad, you should hear their latest effort (or lack there of) "Renegade". In a word, yuck!

GZ

Yeah, I knew that one wasn't the one I wanted, because even the band's fans thought that one blew. I'm still kinda curious about GTTB, though.
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