HardReviews 2
by Martin Popoff

Sentenced - The Funeral Album
(Century Media)

Perhaps it's due to the potent combination of relentless press drubbings and their own fatalistic titles, lyrics, music and vocals, but Sentenced have found reason to call The Funeral Album their last - maybe they like the sound of words like last, end, final, coffin. In any event, the band's hoary, bed-headed dirty rock sound is very thankfully intact on this "just another amusing Sentenced album" Sentenced album. There's a really strange, almost stoopid anti-Christian screed on this thing, but other than that, look for scads and scabs of the band's almost giddily suicidal melodic trundle rock, Sentenced in possession of a sound all their own, a sound that I totally dig, and have done, for all the recent hangyerself 'n' roll records from the band. And in case you were worried, Ville is still weirdly and seductively out of tune, reminding me somewhat of Ian Gillan's or Anders Friden's approaches to melody, while riffs punk and plunk their way along craggy, unyielding ground somewhere in Finland, production rushed and electric and bold, lotsa songs in lotsa styles, critics be damned, for we pine.
Rating 8

King Crimson - The 21st Century Guide To King Crimson
(Discipline Global Mobile)

It's no surprise dark progressive and progressive metal fans often have a near fanatical interest in the mysterious and opaque King Crimson, especially the pioneering material from the '70s, up until the original band's break-up after the malevolent Red masterpiece of 1974. This plush box set charts those years, offering, as is expected from the innovative DGM, a novel format, namely four discs split into early and late, with a studio disc and a live disc representing each era. The packaging is stitched-in book format, housed in a thick slipcase, with the graphics comprised of a chaotic mˇlange of tour dates, chronological press excerpts and rare band photos and memorabilia shots. Into the music (and once in, it's hard to get out), and one gets all the leviathan tracks for which the band became notorious, including 21st Century Schizoid Man, Larks' Tongue In Aspic Part 1, and of course, Red and One More Red Nightmare. The latter two discs are of most interest to prog metal fans, with Fripp dark and circuitous, and Bruford mathematical and groovy at once, his cymbal work a crazy joy all its own, Wetton torn and tormented yet distant and smooth. Still, I get annoyed at these boxes that almost include the entire album but not quite, and Guide is certainly guilty of this. And the live material is culled from official '70s releases as well as vault-clearing releases from recent years. Jarring yes, but I suppose the fragmented, chaotic, commune-like nature of the band, even over the course of the '70s, lends itself to... even more chaos, uncertainty, fracture.
Rating 7.5

Hard Reviews Page 3