Hard Reviews
by Martin Popoff

Fresh Metal

Various Artists - Catch The Rainbow: A Tribute To Rainbow

This explosive tribute album works wonders due to Helloween's drummer Uli Kusch assembling a good chunk of the band plus the cream of German metal for a hi-tech, hi-fidelity romp through the catalogue. Man, I would venture to say this cover of Lost In Hollywood is one of the best er, tributes I've ever heard, the band kind of Radar Lovin' it, adding wild production and a performance from hot German throat Henne Basse that is impassioned and pure. In fact Basse, lauded for his work on the Metalium project, sings nine of twelve tracks here (others being Andi Deris, Ralf Scheepers and Uli himself), and along with the powerhouse percussion from Uli, is this record's trump card. Japanese bonus track, a sparkly and spirited Lady Of The Lake. Slight letdown: Eyes Of The World, where Uli drums it more Cozy than Cozy.
Rating 8.5

Annihilator - Criteria For A Black Widow

Maple Ridge, B.C. metal legend Jeff Waters is now up to nine albums of ironically clean carnality, nine records of tuneful moderate thrash featuring advanced riffs and a good ear to the songcraft of the '70s. Criteria For A Black Widow essentially reforms his old team, Randy Rampage rejoining on vocals, and John Bates on lyrics being the material witnesses to the man's new bile-soaked diatribe. Why the bile? This is a post-divorce album for Waters, and the man has thrown a few chunks of gravel into his usually fairly sterile, disciplined, self-flagellating machination. But thankfully it isn't a throwback, or if it is, it's to better albums than old Annihilator, more like the record that might have crouched between Megadeth's Rust In Peace and Countdown To Extinction table-turners, with more mechanistic critical mass than either. It's a real team effort (or it at least seems like one), Waters' high science riffery still centre stage, albeit with Rampage doing his best ol' thrashin' Exodus for a seething upkick on what is usually a one-man show. Out on Roadrunner in the states for a few low-key months, the switch to CMC/BMG should result in more even distribution across all the Americas.
Rating 8

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