Hard Reviews 3
by Martin Popoff

God Forbid - Determination
(Century Media) The much-talked-about Swedish neo-thrash version of Candiria, New Jersey's God Forbid have been caving in skulls with this album of moving, creative metal perfection. The idea here is not just Candiria, but other more hardcore forms of mathcore, as well as old school thrash, Meshuggah dissonance and, well, in a word (or two) Shadows Fall, maybe even hints of The Crown or Soilwork. But the album's great strength is in its execution. Determination is so tight, an ethic enforced by the brilliant slicing away of some undeterminable treble or high-mid frequencies. The result is a rich power to the guitars, and an equally unshrill set of tones emanating from drummer Corey Pierce, who is a crazy arms and legs maniac (check out his clinic on Go Your Own Way) that also knows how to groove. Vocally, Byron Davis is a little too much the performance art noise terrorist for me, his hollering even made more ear-bending by being mixed somewhat distant amongst the musical majesty. Still, this is theplace to come for the future of metal, and on a more pinpricked tack, some of the most thrilling, drilling twin leads since Mercyful Fate burned Maiden's wagon.
Rating 9

Nikolo Kotsev - Nokolo Kotsev's Nostradamus

With Glenn Hughes' denouncement of this thing (and I believe he was only complaining about the packaging), still ringing in my ear, having interviewed the man the day he received his personal copy, it was with minor trepidation that I approached this huge undertaking of a rock opera. And I must say, I'm quite pleased with it, Bulgarian/Finnish axe/violin virtuoso Nicolo Kotsev putting together an enjoyable, energetic musical soundtrack through which he tells the tale of the famous French seer (damn, I did a report on this bongwater reader in Grade 7). The vocalists steal the show, one reason being that there is pretty much every kind of rock, AOR, easy listening and classical on here in every arrangement and instrumental configuration imaginable, too much leaving nothing truly focal. But the overall vibe is like top flight weak years Rainbow crossed with modern no-hope-of-sales AOR. The rockier songs (and there are many), would sound proud as the Reader's Digest edition of the album (all I really need), or perhaps a follow-up to Stranger In Us All. My only complaint is that there are a few too many keyboard washes and maybe string sounds, but man, Hughes is a blast on these songs, like the man is back in '74 been cattle-prodded into rocking the way Ritchie wanted him to. Massive booklet too, with lyrics as well as narrative. Of note, the other vocalists on here project persona as well, Goran Edman, Doogie White, Jorne Lande, Joe Lynn Turner, and a couple of sparingly used female has-done-goods in Alannah Myles and Sass Jordan, also along for the flourish. Quite a contrast to Trent Gardner's similar Leonardo prog opera, which seems somehow more upscale, plush, mellow, mainstream and not quite so pomp rock power metal.
Rating 8

Hard Reviews Page 4