Bruce Dickinson - The Chemical Wedding
Like labelmates Deep Purple, this is one wheelchair-banger (Bruce just turned 40) who is firing on
all sixes, a heavy metal legend finding creative wells that seem limitless and groovy and literary
all at once. Dickinson's particular muse this time out was poet, artist and closet alchemist
William Blake, Blake's inspiration and works being echoed throughout this elaborate, highly
interesting concept album. The story rules (despite the occasional cheese-metal line that
curiously leaps from the sonics), but it is the music that makes this record special. Bruce and
cohort Roy Z (absolutely vital co-writer and producer of the thing) have assembled a record of
phat, traditional, sombre and aged heavy metal that sounds like bloody, beefy Piece Of Mind-era
Maiden crossed with (and I mean this in a positive sense) Fight or Subhuman Race-era Skid Row.
Together, the boys flow knowingly through dark, powerful mellow passages into top-flight anthemic
metal choruses and riff-rockers that rumble with authority, the conceptual nature of the album
being effortlessly subjugated if need be, to the drums, bass, and more bass power stroll cooked up
by these wily veterans. And those vocals, Lord save me.
Cradle Of Filth - Cruelty And The Beast
Whether they want to be or not, Cradle Of Filth are the cleanest, clearest and most corporate of
the black metal acts. This is usually more of a good thing, and here one becomes pleasured by
crystal-bright mixes, spot-on drums (and drum machines, unsurprisingly) and general separation and
identification of all the light-speed neutrinos of mayhem. But for this reason, Cruelty quite
often ceases to be heavy. Almost always, keyboards suffocate the guitars, which are rarely furious
or electric, usually resigned to sob medievally along with various electronic drones. Dani's
vocals are still an acquired taste, but he does sound appropriately demonic, pretty much the
scariest part of the show, along with the lyrics which tell the story of Countess Elizabeth
Bathory in all her cruel glory. Ultimately, Cradle have become idiosyncratic, anachronistic,
inward-congratulatory black metal ambassadors, still perhaps the most regal, upper crust and
fastidious, if less so the most dangerous, or the most fun, or the most alcoholic.
Poundhound - Massive Grooves...
Ah yes, the sweet, spiritual rumble of the predictable. I mean, bow down and kiss the ground that
this record is exactly what the unimaginative could imagine, King's X singer/bassist Doug Pinnick
carving deep into his personal psyche and effortless King's X-ness for a record that (surprise)
evokes recent gut-punchy King's X with the bass turned up. Jangle pretty much self-reviews Massive
Grooves... (the extended title is the only dil move here: Zodiac and Suicidal both buried this
kind of funk diatribe), but the record doesn't really swim within the white-knuckle emotion of
Doug until the mid-section, Darker and Friends both slicing with scant precision into the man's
make-up, one that is less copacetic than foil Ty Tabor, whose own solo spread was better written
yet less properly produced. Love the one word titles and bare, bare-assed, barely werds, Doug
offering mere haikus of intense wisdoms you just gotta know are real beyond your dull time o'
life. After it lumbers and buzzes by, all you can say is, Īman, harsh', but you know a
purification has down-dressed you forthrightly. Now if the figgerin' wherefore and why can take
place, an enhancement is inevitable.