HardReviews 3
by Martin Popoff

Asia - Asia
(Classic Rock Legends)

One of a series of many often obscure concert DVDs from an old British concert series by Central Music (see www.classic-rocklegends.com for more info), this installment features one of Asia's finer line-ups (John Wetton, Carl Palmer, Geoff Downes and Pat Thrall) running purposefully through the band's big early hits and post-hits, all in fine form, highly professional camera angles and sound all 'round. Comprising 13 tracks in all, Asia contains a couple cool bonuses in two rarely seen production vids, one for Praying For A Miracle and one for Kari-Anne, the latter deemed "rough demo 1989." A bit more on the credits front would be in order though, say for example some contextual liner notes. That's it, save for a pretty cool and lengthy sampling of the other DVDs in the series (snippets of five or so tracks each), a partial list of which includes Caravan, Steve Howe, Ian Gillan, Saxon, Gong, Hawkwind and Wishbone Ash.
Rating 7

Black Label Society - 1919 Eternal

Dedicating the album to his war veteran, hard working dad, and then taking that violence theme and kicking it around his new crushing songs, Zakk Wylde has created his most memorable yet, sequencing and pacing expertly addressed, lead track Bleed For Me kicking things off with a blast of pure neck-snapping metal euphoria. Adding dimension to the album is the fact that half these songs were Ozzy rejects, the Oz and his handlers I'm sure finding too much artillery, smoke and disease in these uniquely dark yet structurally quite traditional stompers. Admittedly, the record's best two tracks are situated one and two on the album, but that's just the rub to rub you out and into Zakk's world of hell-raising and hellbent hangovers and the mood-swung but morose contemplations of mortality that exist in both brain cell prison states. Deep into the album, there's evidence of ill peace, most impressionable being Life, Birth, Blood, Doom, which evokes images of the Grim Reaper walking through the bowery swinging a ball on chain like Zakk with wallet on chain. So yeah, Zakk is still Zakk, his mellow stuff sounding like Gregg Allman stuffed with chemicals and feeling suicidal, his heaviest, like organic Pantera with a few frequencies missing. And that would be my only complaint actually: this mechanistic feel to Zakk's records, particularly the synthetic drum sound, and the gap between bass guitar and the bassy bits of the percussion world. I mean, this is Crowbar's drummer, and Zakk could do nasty, mean business with a Crowbar drumming performance and subsequent rendering. With a fatter bottom end (note that Bleed For Me's snare is always the same, even come chorus when there should be grace notes), you'd have a thick audio experience to match Zakk's unique thick voice, thick riffs and thick lyrics.
Rating 8.5

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