Hard Reviews
by Martin Popoff

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Fresh Metal

Halford - Resurrection

First of all, see him live and you will like this record just that little bit more, if there is room for that, and I think there is. Rob's got this hunched, wrenched, swivel-shoulder deliberateness which looks somewhat angry, more like a man on a mission, a presentation that elevates the plain straightline metal of his new material to the level of royalty that the man exudes. Yes, resurrection indeed, felt most thoroughly when the man launched into Stained Class. The first thing one notices about this record is its punch, its verve, underscored by two fast-trackers opening the album, both about Rob and metal, metal and Rob, a theme that maybe recurs, albeit metaphorically, a bit too much. But things bowl you over quick here, Rob's delivery (for he is one of the great deliverers of a naff lyric, on par with Freddie), the singing, singeing twin leads, which are pretty much Tipton/Downing with brains, and the tidy grooves created by Halford's rhythm section. It is a great band backing a great man, who's biggest fault here is that he has made a safe, predictable career move, Resurrection containing no surprises. Okay one. After dispensing with the obvious crowd pleasers on the album, vaguely irritated as I did so, I found great depth in tracks like Silent Screams, Night Fall, Slow Down and the poppy Twist, the latter written half by order by Bob Halligan Jr., who has worked with Priest and BOC in the past, and now does country stuff in Nashville. Add it all up there is considerable variety, tons of great vocal melodies, the aforementioned controlled but explosive punch, and a flawless bundling of the whole thing by producer Roy Z. who had conjured similar magic with Bruce Dickinson, but in more of a literary direction. Something nags me about this record. It's all there on the surface. But that surface is pleasing in and of itself, polished chrome, reflecting steel, experts methodically crafting some beautiful metal featuring the genre's preeminent personality, a man who one senses has a love/hate relationship with this metal monster, wrapped in complicated feelings of acceptance, fear of rejection and urge to keep firing his flaming youth.
Rating 8.5

Icon - Night Of The Crime
(Axe Killer)

Semi-legendary Phoenix band (before everybody moved there) Icon seem to retain an audience based mainly on their first two albums from the early '80s. To that end France's elegant repackager Axe Killer reissued the debut and now Night Of The Crime. Night Of The Crime was a stylistic change into more of a tough hair band sound circa Ratt, and the results were quite worthy. The production, courtesy of bigshot Eddie Kramer, is a bit unwieldy, but Icon knew about melodies, twin leads, hooks, a pretty good representation of the struggling second tier. Hey man, it's come full circle. This stuff actually sounds inviting again. Axe Killer reissue contains the usual band history, a reprint of an article from Hit Parader, full lyrics and a gaggle of rare photos. See www.musicentury.com for more info.
Rating 7

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