HardReviews 2
by Martin Popoff

TWISTED TOWER DIRE
Netherworlds (Remedy)

Lots has gone on in the Twisted camp since the release of the band's third album, Crest Of The Martyrs in '03, the most significant being the replacement of singer and nine year veteran of the band Tony Taylor (depression issues) with Viper vocalist Johnny Aune. The mission remains the same though, Netherworlds offering more of the band's antiquey, authentic power metal unglossed by modern European influence, more like just the best one might gather from Sweden '85 or America '87. It's cool how doomy the tracks feel without the guys actually playing doom - it's just a successful striving for timelessness. Aune's vocals are really quite high too, perfect for the band's very melodic, almost slippery and smeary vibe (these guys belong on Cruz Del Sur). There's both texture and a wall of sound to this, even as the whole thing is quite trebly, maybe even lacking in bottom end. It's the way the hipster classic metal bands are doing it - you know, play it loose and a little drunken, - except Twisted Tower Dire have the chops and deep-dish metal knowledge that slays trendiness. Such a synthesis should make this record fully acceptable to any traditional metal fan, and a cherished item indeed, if that fan "gets" the reason behind the organic vibe of the thing.
Rating 7.5

Y&T
Earthshaker, In Rock We Trust (Universal Music Special Markets)

In '05, Y&T took matters into their own hands and bought back the rights to reissue career-defining albums Black Tiger and Mean Streak (you want ratings? Let's go 8 and 9), following up a few months ago with another go at 1981's Earthshaker and 1984's In Rock We Trust. Dispensing with the somewhat dispensable, In Rock We Trust is the band's sixth overall and first less than stellar album, a surrender to commerciality, a vague sense of lethargy, label pressure and big name producers with radio on their minds. Tom Allom... I'll never forgive him for dumbing down Priest and simultaneously making bad sounds for them. He kinda does this here too. Although, the album is still guitar-charged and blessed with those boisterous vocals of Dave, Leonard is shackled as a drummer, and then nailed to the ground by a turgid drum mix. 'Don't Stop Runnin'' rules though and was rightly a smash hit. As well, this reissue offers a studio version of 'Go For The Throat' as a bonus - it's a weighty slow one with adequate pieces and passages. Back to '81, and Y&T were hitting on all cylinders. Having had three years in which to hone their craft as well as road-test these songs, the band was on fire, without a record deal, rocking like their lives depended on it. Earthshaker was the booming result, opening with the mid-paced party action of 'Hungry For Rock' before the heft of 'Dirty Girl' and more drenched-in-electricity party metal in 'Shake It Loose' establish the band as loud, proud, and eminently worthy of all the UK attention they were getting as pioneers of the new metal. A wall of sound is built around most of the rest of it, with three fast rockers dominating the field. The chemistry is undeniable; Leonard is in there participating in the mayhem like a dirty shirt but not dominating, and the production is what one might call desperate, frazzled, robust finger in the socket stuff. It is an album standing alone in the golden era early catalogue, with the first two Yesterday & Today's acting the pair, as would Black Tiger and Mean Streak. In that sense, Earthshaker is a cusp album, capturing an exciting era before the NWOBHM broke, the last gasp for metal as a contemplative craft practiced by a lonely few before everyone caught on in the '80s. Of note, another nice touch to this reissue program is the inclusion of liner notes written individually by all four original guys - Dave, Joey, Leonard and Phil. A nice read while yer rocked around the block. See www.yandtrocks.com for more info.
Rating 9, 6

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