HardReviews 3
by Martin Popoff

Warchest (Capitol)

One wonders if it's Rhino's lead that has kicked up the quality of packaging these days. Whatever the case, Warchest is gorgeous. Housed in a printed clear plastic oversleeve, the box feature's 3-D bullets and logo. It then flips open to reveal the continuation of the weaponry theme on the lavishly printed discs and booklet sleeve. The perfect-bound booklet includes liner notes by Ian Christe, a few photos, a detailed discography and lotsa credits. The music... this is a weird catch-all, leaning heavily to live material, plus demos, a few studio rarities, interview snippets... sort of a disorganized symphony of destruction as it were. Sure there's "six hours of music" but's it's a sort of iPod shuffle hodgepodge, a celebration but a frustrated scatter for completists (who would have been quite satisfied with the extensive reissue program of a couple years back). High points, i.e. rarities of substance: 'Breakpoint', 'One Thing', 'Duke Nukem', 'New World Order', 'Coming Home' (er, a fairly impromptu-sounding ballad) and yes, Dave's amusing sneer through various covers, including Kiss' Strange Ways, which grooves and greases nicely. Plus I always thought soundtrack track 'Go To Hell' was one of the coolest Megadeth songs ever. And the DVD stuff? Competent filming and sound recording of the band looking and playing totally metal, captured at the Hammersmith Odeon. One last remark - the lion's share of the live stuff is from '90 and '92, namely the band at its commercial and creative peak, including all the upscale hits from that era and the scrappy songs of an earlier white knuckle time... cleaned up and made as presentable as possible.
Rating 9

Downburst (Metal Blade)

Nice balancing act sounding dark and at the heavy end of power metal in the substance end of it, yet being seen as nice personable guys a couple partitions from Edguy. Not sure I agree with the added Primal Fear-like symphonic elements, and as usual, this is way too clean and robotic (a big problem for power metal, particularly double bass songs). But still, Andy B. Franck is ever the convincing thespian as well as a great writer of vocal melodies. Not much of a difference really from the well received Liquid Monster of two years back, save for the window-dressing. But nice to see Brainstorm sounding almost progressive metal and in fact quite diverse in their thoughtful arrangements.
Rating 7.5

Hard Reviews Page 4