HardReviews 2
by Martin Popoff

Freedom Metal (Cruz Del Sur)

Lots to like here from Chicago's own fireplugs of post-NWOBHM retro-luv, but then again, there is lots to live up to given the last couple of the band's four albums thus far. And I'm not sure they nail it, Bible Of The Devil sounding beer-wobbly amongst a scant eight tracks over 43 minutes of greasechain clank. Vocalist Mark Hoffman sounds a little flat hither and thither, and I'm not digging the production, chiefly the drum sound, snare and bass and maybe even ride, the evocation forthright from there leading into a compressed vibe on the rest of it. 'Ol' Girl' is the most Lizzy-ish of many Thin parts, but a gorgeous twin lead sequence opens onto a rickety, spare verse. '500 More' is up a Lizzy notch into 'Emerald' terrain, but the vocals again are a bit rough, the performance garagey and ragged, perhaps off the NWOBHM into the substandard stable of bands from Belgium's Mausoleum label at the time. I'm being hard on the guys, like I say, because I expect so much, and man, the classic metal melodies and great ideas what to do with them... that's all over the place. Faves would be 'Night Oath' and 'The Turning Stone' (their 'Massacre'?), while the experimental 'Heat Feeler', essentially an acoustic boogie (!)... the verdict is still out, but I'm diggin' its charm and radical change of pace.
Rating 7

Still Dangerous (VH1 Classics)

I love this whole VH1 Classics thing and I'm glad they are recognizing the immense Irish, giving the album a proper North American issue. Still Dangerous captures the classic lineup live at the Tower Theatre in Philadelphia in 1977 on the Bad Reputation tour. Now, Live And Dangerous is from the same era, and the Killers Live! EP one record later, so most of these songs are available in live format (although this show in particular is previously unreleased). Extra is 'Me & The Boys' which is a crap shuffle jam which has been issued somewhere (too lazy to find out where, how official etc.). Extra also is 'Opium Trail' which was on the aforementioned EP and not the legendary double "live" album. It's a killer Kowalski classic, complex, heavy, dark, and here it sounds great, a little more punky, but tight and warm, given the set's cozy and rich mix by Glyn Johns. Fully extra however is relaxed and airyl charmer 'Soldier Of Fortune' which obtusely kicks off the set, Scott and Brian trying a few new-ish guitary leads within. 'Don't Believe A Word' is the heavy version - just thought I'd mention that - and the hits are all here, as is semi-obscurity 'Massacre', another godly hard-hitter. But yeah, 'Baby Drives Me Crazy' and 'Me & The Boys' are both crap, an erroneously material-challenged way to end this surprise yummy present to kick off of '09.
Rating 7.5

Hard Reviews Page 3