HardReviews 2
by Martin Popoff

The Black Crowes - Freak 'n' Roll... Into The Fog
(Eagle Vision)

I'm of two minds with this. First, I love The Black Crowes albums and music, and think they deserve this exalted reputation and extended life and sort of tacitly blessed placement among the elite that they (and maybe great management?) have managed. But it chafes me that the guys seem to smugly know how great they are. Their onstage demeanor is a combination of messianic (Chris) and sullen (everybody else), and the tenor of this DVD is one that casts them, show and bonus footage alike (boring), as the greatest blues band ever to walk deeply and steeply into legend, as if they were... I dunno, Howlin' Wolf, The Dead, The Allmans, The Band and the Stones making Exile all wrapped up in one. So it's the Fillmore in poignant shots, so there are bare feet and carpets and beards, acoustic hotel jams, the weariness of the bus, country songs, and a band of six friggin' Crowes, a four-piece brass section and two black chick back-up singers. Plus the rows of (fake) candles and a heavy, mystical New Orleans-ish backdrop. But then there's the music, and all those great blues rock songs (only these guys and ZZ Top can make the blues so interesting for some level of a headbanger), framed o'er a 19 track concert, which ends, er, with a Band song. The sound is gorgeous, the cinematography sensual, with only Chris a bit struggling - his style has always meant that he can sing "harmony" by himself, meaning that he can duck notes often and at will and it still works. Indeed, the Crowes have fully ducked being coined a hair band, while Tesla has managed the same but at half measure. The Crowes deserve almost all the praise they've gotten, and Tesla deserve much more than they've gotten.
Rating 7.5

One Man Army And The Undead Quartet - 21st Century Killing Machine
(Nuclear Blast)

The Crown's Johan Lindstrand returns to metalizing the planet, only this time he's not slicing with a rusty scythe, rather it's more like he's dropping anvils from the roof between swigs of ale, and then chucking his mug for punctuation. This tragically named outfit couldn't help but please Crown fans, even if One Man Army sound nothing like The Crown (see, Crown fans just like good metal). The sound here isÉ well, damn, first the sound itself, is explosive, welling up from the punchy drums and the insane grooves and fills of the tragically named Marek Dobrowolski. Over his alcohol-in-the-blood headbang, the band create a mid-moshed death 'n' roll 'n' thrash, that approximates all of the grinding best bits from an American death metal band, spiced with a few technical thrash/almost power/fussy old school (Annihilator? Anthrax? Eidolon?) riffs. Lindstrand then adds his whiskey-drunk sea captain roar o'er the storm-ravaged prow, and by neck-snapped end, a boozy but inspiringly perfect meat and potatoes spot of metal magic has been had by all. That's what happens at these "heavy-feeling" speeds, and that's what happens when the drummer is as Dokken rockin' as his drum sound is. I dunno, nail this down somewhere in the wide, lonely expanse between Evergrey and Unleashed.
Rating 8

Hard Reviews Page 3