HardReviews 2
by Martin Popoff

Nostradamus (Sony/BMG)


Some pretty smart fans are saying the album grows on you, and I would expect that to be the case, although even the most ardent fan is bound to make a shuffled playlist for himself after a while, the usefulness of this thing as it is in a convertible in the dead of summer being limited, or only for the sullen. Good tracks that fall out though would include 'Persecution', 'Conquest' and 'Pestilence And Plague', and man, when Tipton and Downing fire up a solo, it's so intrinsically them, and so well reasoned, you just gotta... draw lines on graph paper. And as perfect synthesis of the heavy with the light, 'Exiled' is incredibly sophisticated of guitar tone, other fine attributes being the Abacab-like drum shove and tug and Rob's passion-filled vocal melody and performance. Damn, 'Alone' is pretty cool too, and moving on, wow, OK, a lot of disc two is indeed pretty epic ballad-y, innit? Then the title track, fast (cheesy chorus) and 'Future Of Mankind' heavy and slow and serviceable with a great finale. Hah, OK, now I'm kind of pleased Travis' double bass thrash is for the most part left at home. I dunno, I'm as confounded by the opacity of this thing as I was when I started this ramble. I mean, one minute you're listening to what sounds like a nondescript Italian or Greek power metal baby band on their hopelessly ProTooled debut album, and then it's variously what Queen, Zeppelin, Pink Floyd or Sabbath would sound like if they were obsessed with the sound of Turbo, picking Bob Marlette and Roy Z to co-conspire upon their absurd plan.
Rating 7.5

Unblessing The Purity (Peaceville)

Four new originals swellegantly packaged in a rounded-corner jewel case and a similarly die-cut oversleeve, Unblessing The Purity is a skull-frying collection featuring relentless, hollow-tipped production that is all fat bass and driller killer mids, plus a groovy death metal clinic from Martin "Axe" Axenrot who proves to be the main reason to dig in. Mikael Akerfeldt is back on vocals and does a chummy old school job, but yeah, these mid-'90s riffs, coupled with the surging sound and Axenrot's sixth sense death perfection, make for a canny combination of death 'n' roll with way trickier licks and breaks and bar endings than noticeable through beer. It's pure death of sort of one volume and beaker level, but any blasting is marbled in and not part of any of the four songs' verses. Love the stunned stomp of closer 'Mouth Of Empty Praise' the best, but really, not a duffer in the bunch, lots of changes built in seamlessly to keep things interesting.
Rating 9

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