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Ducks go quack quack quack-quisitions

 
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Tyrannorabbit



Joined: 04 Oct 2000
Posts: 3985
Location: Canada

PostPosted: Fri Dec 19, 2003 3:58 am    Post subject: Ducks go quack quack quack-quisitions Reply with quote

Running Wild, Pile Of Skulls, Black Hand Inn, and Masquerade
So far, I've bought Running Wild discs in three different sets of three. And one on its own. So when I get these discs, they tend to blur into each other like Friday The 13th parts 6 and 7 did. (that the entire series didn't for me is merely an indication of how much bad-horror minutae I'm able to distinguish) These three in a row are definitely no exception, and over the course of three albums, the band changed the least over these as compared to the other three's, so that problem is particularly pronounced here. Well established in their pirate sound by this point, Pile Of Skulls is Raider's favorite, and he's the closest thing to a Running Wild expert I know of. "Lead Or Gold" and closing epic "Treasure Island" are soaring anthems with wonderful singalong choruses and riffs recalling seagoing adventure - precisely what I love most about this band, but I still say there are four or five songs of that caliber on Blazon Stone, still my favorite. The title track is a fast, lively scorcher though. Black Hand Inn introduces the band's longest-running lineup (all of three albums) and probably their best title track ever. Also of note is the very Priestly "Freewind Rider" and the epic mythological lyrics of closer "Genesis", which prophecies doom in July of 1999! Masquerade differs from the first two only in that its last track isn't a big long epic, and I guess diminishing returns is the only reason why I would rate it lower than the other two. The sound would refresh itself a little with Victory. Wicked cover art on all three (especially Masquerade), unfortunately diminished to a three-centimeter square on my copies, which are Russian and have an EP tacked on at the end of each.
Ratings: 8, 8, 7.5

Moonspell, The Antidote
Oh man, they're doing it again! Whatever gave Moonspell the idea that being "heavy" was ever one of their strengths? The warm, romantic goth melodies of Darkness And Hope was a nice correction on the heavier, dreary The Butterfly Effect and I'd hoped this album would continue in that direction, but no, it backpedals. Long, repetitive songs with fairly basic, dry riffs and Fernando Ribiero's most guttural vocals ever (especially on "The Southern Deathstyle")...if the idea of Moonspell gone extra heavy sounds like a good one to you, maybe you'll like this more than I did. It gets nice and moody in the middle, but by the time that stretch is over, I feel like I've aged a year ("Lunar Still" goes on foreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeever). "Crystal Gazing" is probably the best compromise between what they seem to be going for and what I'd rather hear. I know not every band can be what I want them to be, but I know what aspects of a band's sound I like and Moonspell's are not much on display here. Same producer as last time, surprisingly. Includes a CD-ROM video of "Everything Invaded" (one of the better songs) and a Portuguese novel (translated to English), apparently conceived along with the disc. Considering my response to the album, I'm not in much of a rush to slog through the book.
Rating: 5

Dream Theater, Train Of Thought
Bullets and blanks, bullets and blanks...I read those words attached to Annihilator, something I'd have a tough time disagreeing with. I think maybe Dream Theater is as deserving of such a tag - I find I either love their albums to death, or I'm thoroughly indifferent to them. How does a band's muse so cruelly appear and disappear like that? There are seven tracks here, and starting with "As I Am", I find myself mostly pleased - it's long, and pretty good with a few sweet harmony solos, but surprisingly basic in riffage. Keyboardist Jordan Rudess is barely there, and John Myung's bass is probably lower in the mix than I've ever heard it (though I know at least one guy here disagrees with that). The next song is longer, and more expectedly Dream Theater - at least once we get around six minutes. Before then, again, surprisingly basic riffage. Then snoozer "Endless Sacrifice" is weak - lame arpeggio ballad verse, lame jump-up-and-down meathead chorus, though the bridge is pretty good. Then the fourth track gives us the most controversial thing here: James LaBrie rapping. More or less, maybe it's more of a spoken snarl. It's close enough, but otherwise this song has more fire in its belly than anything on this or the last album, with even (eep!) some naughty words. LaBrie is still sticking with his controlled, restrained, mid-range voice here, which he's been using exclusively since 1997 and dammit, I'm tired of it. Somebody get that man's nuts in a vice - I wanna hear him squeal like it's 1992! "Scream Of Consciousness" is a good instrumental with wild soloing from both Rudess and John Petrucci, easily the most recognizably Dream Theater song on here. Closer "In The Name Of God" actually has some deathy screams if you listen close. So my first-couple-of-weeks impression is not ecstatic, but pleased. Now I'm worried though, because that was my first-couple-of-weeks impression of the last album, which ended up being one of my very least favorite albums of 2002. I gave that a 7 at first. Looking back, I think I probably would've given every Dream Theater disc a 7 at first...and they either grew on me, or the opposite. Most meaningless rating ever. But I'll give this a little bit of a benefit of the doubt, since I put it away for a couple of weeks, gave it another listen, and still found myself enjoying it. The CD contains a key to unlock content at the band's site...and for once it works (I have at least two other such CD keys on discs, and they didn't work), getting 25 minutes worth of videos showing the writing and recording of the album.
Rating: 7.5

Sabbat, History Of A Time To Come
British thrash featuring Skyclad's Martin Walkyier and Andy Sneap on guitar! I don't recall previously hearing about Sneap being in a band - we all love the guy as a producer, right? Well, he doesn't produce here, 1988 possibly being before he figured out how great he could make other bands sound. So production-wise, this is like all the other thrash from 1988 - tight n' trebly. Music-wise, it's like a median between the German thrash of the time, and the more savage American ones (Exodus, Slayer). Walkyier's vocals are all spitted venomously without a shred of melody, and his lyrics are less secularly political, more religion-critical. I'll take most Skyclad albums over this, since the pagan themes of the lyrics and cover art here don't much translate into the compositions like they would in Walkyier's later band, but it's good for anyone who enjoys really harsh 80's thrash. Walkyier recently sort-of reformed this band under the name Return To The Sabbat, though they haven't recorded yet and Sneap is not involved. Since Sneap wrote all the music, I don't see the point.
Rating: 7

Racer X, Street Lethal
I remember in high school, my friend Chris played "Frenzy" for me, and new as I was to guitar shred, I was blown away. I found that Steve Vai had a song called "Frenzy", wrongly concluded it was the same song, and bought the album, Flex-Able, which was weird as **** and I hated the shit out of it. Racer X never really came to my attention again, until now. After that long-unheard song - which I suppose is Paul Gilbert's own "Eruption", pretty good but I'm not as easily blown away by shred as I used to be - it starts with the title track, getting the best song on the album out of the way quickly. It's like 80's Priest meets Marching Out-era Yngwie - cheesy, but it slays! Badass singing from Jeff Martin, and Gilbert's playing is expectedly awesome. (I think he was 17 when they made this album) Cheese lyrics reign throughout, and the song titles are all likely to make just about anyone either laugh or cry ("Dangerous Love", "Rock It", "Blowin' Up The Radio"...they're ALL like this). Something tells me that Shrapnel uber-meddler Steve Fontano had something to do with those ("Getaway" = Winger). The rest of the songs are all varyingly enjoyable, none worse than okay, and of course offer up a lot of shredding guitar (though, like that Apocrypha disc, nowhere near as much as expected considering that the first thing I've always thought of when it comes to Shrapnel is Cacophony). One of those discs that makes you wonder if the 80's were ever THAT 80's...but for once that's in a good way.
Rating: 7.5

Roland Grapow, Kaleidoscope
If I'd heard this CD before Masterplan, my expectations for that supergroup would have been much, MUCH lower. Kaleidoscope is the then-Helloween guitarist's solo album, and obviously, he wishes he was Yngwie. There are no fewer than five pics of Grapow with cream-colored Strats in here. And many of the things that make people laugh at Yngwie are here - laughably lame attempts at blues rock, agonizing ballads, horrible lyrics. Even the other musicians here have all played for Yngwie, except the keyboardist, but that's okay because there's a guest appearance from Jens Johannsen. But Yngwie's most distinct and loveable vice is not present here - unlike the loved and loathed Swede, Grapow does not feel the need to constantly explode into fills, and usually plays tastefully for the songs. Problem is, the songs ****ing suck. It's true - when you have a ballad called "Angel Face", and your anti-suicide song makes people want to kill themselves to escape it, and the song "Lord I'm Dying" makes listeners hope it's autobiographical, you sir have songs that ****ing suck. Like on just about any Yngwie album, the best song here is the instrumental, "Listen To The Lyrics" (get it? GET IT?!?!?) - a pure class piece that sure as hell belongs on another album. I feel like I'm rating this album high, but that song is the only reason I'm rating it higher than zero. What a turd - I can't believe I'd been keeping an eye out for this disc for four years.
Rating: 2
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woosta



Joined: 12 Mar 1999
Posts: 780
Location: PA

PostPosted: Fri Dec 19, 2003 5:48 am    Post subject: Ducks go quack quack quack-quisitions Reply with quote

I agree with everything except the Moonspell review. I found this cd to be their best yet and it's a "mood-experience" cd that really can't be taken apart into separate songs easily. I think the melodies are stronger, the vocals are less "elvisy and Type Oish" and everything works for me. Of course, I liked Butterfly Effect too, so maybe that says something about my tastes?
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Ug



Joined: 26 Oct 2002
Posts: 1028
Location: Down in a Hole

PostPosted: Fri Dec 19, 2003 6:53 am    Post subject: Ducks go quack quack quack-quisitions Reply with quote

OK, now I have one more person who thinks Labrie "raps" on the album. As for his mid-range singing, I like it more than what he did on "Images..." and "Awake". And yes, Myung is somewhere at the back behind the thick velvet curtains, that's why you can't hear much of him.

As for Moonspell, I am actually enjoying it for now but with any Moonspell album, it usually takes me a while before I decide whether I like or not.
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Jake



Joined: 02 Mar 1999
Posts: 4963

PostPosted: Fri Dec 19, 2003 2:00 pm    Post subject: Ducks go quack quack quack-quisitions Reply with quote

Only album of those I have is Black Hand Inn. I agree with most of your review, though I do like it more than Blazon Stone. I plan on getting the other two Running Wild discs you mentioned soon, along with Under Jolly Roger and the Brotherhood.
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bringer



Joined: 23 May 2003
Posts: 226
Location: somewehere in between the specs of pictures burnt beyond

PostPosted: Fri Dec 19, 2003 8:23 pm    Post subject: Ducks go quack quack quack-quisitions Reply with quote

quote:
Originally posted by Ug'stoneage genius'Ogson:
OK, now I have one more person who thinks Labrie "raps" on the album. As for his mid-range singing, I like it more than what he did on "Images..." and "Awake". And yes, Myung is somewhere at the back behind the think velvet curtains, that's why you can't here much of him.

As for Moonspell, I am actually enjoying it for now but with any Moonspell album, it usually takes me a while before I decide whether I like or not.

Actually I think that Awake is his best vocal performance because it's both agressive and melodic.
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Wyvern



Joined: 03 May 2002
Posts: 2214
Location: Costa Rica

PostPosted: Fri Dec 19, 2003 8:37 pm    Post subject: Ducks go quack quack quack-quisitions Reply with quote

Once again we disagree you gave too much to Dream Theater, that album is a 3.5 in a good day with wind on the tail.

And Grapow's "Kaleidoscope" is a 9.0, that album is one of the best melodic metal albums ever conceived. Not only that, Grapow managed to take people that work with Malmsteen and make them shine for real instead of clowning around like in the Swede albums.
Grapow plays with passion and class without masturbating the damn guitar. The ballads are full with emotion and class, unlike the saccharine ballads that YM punish us with since "Fire
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