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Hard Reviews
by Martin Popoff

Martin Popoff is the author of The Collector's Guide To Heavy Metal, a 540 page, 600,000 word compendium comprising 3,700 heavy metal record reviews. Also included are rock lists, a glossary of terms, a concise listing of almost 500 9's and 10's, plus a roll-call of non-metal faves. New to this edition is an exclusive 19 track sampler CD from Century Media. The book is now in its second pressing. For more information contact martinp@hardradio.com


Fresh Metal

Jaguar - Wake Me
(Neat Metal)

One of the rock solid if unremarkable original NWOBHM contingents, Jaguar made two very different records then were gone. In '98, Neat reissued the rollick-faced debut Power Games and here we are now with an all-new offering from a slightly adapted line-up. Bloody 'ell, no trying to stay current here, Jaguar leaping right back to those pint-draining days of old with an ancient school speed metal supporting quizzical lyrics that are quite entertaining really, sort of sage-like headbanger haikus that take a look around at the world from 40+ and have a right old larf. Like Power Games, it's almost complicated punk, recorded small and rushed, quite sturdy in the song department but man, it's positively archival. If you were a fan (and I guess there were a few thousand), you'll be happy if not perplexed at how the band was able to make a record that sounds like underground metal circa early '84. I'm still scratching me 'ead. Dirty Deeds, look out! A high 7, driven up by those NWOBHM vocals and the cottage industry feel of the damn thing.
Rating 7

Anthrax - Return Of The Killer A's

Greatest hits records have often been surprisingly successful in reviving flagging careers, but failing the success of that ruse, they are also a nice pat on the back, a cool survey that says, 'wow, you guys were actually pretty good!' Here we see the width and breadth of Anthrax's influence (and great records when they had none). Bring The Noise and I'm The Man relive the band's bridging of the rap and metal worlds, while a couple of Al Jourgensen remixes propose what the band might have sounded like with an industrial scrape. But the weight of the record looks at the glory days of the mid-'80s, while also doing the public great service by proposing a few tracks that should have been hits from the later, ignored years. Lone new track: a cover of the Temptations' Ball Of Confusion, featuring both of the band's main vocalists Joey Belladonna and John Bush. The best part of the whole thing, however, would be Scott Ian's liner notes, where he breaks into the motivations and environments surrounding each track one by one, jocular by funny bone.
Rating 7

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