HardReviews 5
by Martin Popoff

Hatesphere - Bloodred Hatred
(Scarlet/Century Media)

Speaking of hatred, I feel moderately that way (Hate. Bad.) when I see the stupid cover art, characterless band name and rudderless album title to this second album from our favourite thrashy Danes. But once inside the musical maelstrom entombed, I'm quite enthralled, eager, ready to hear more Swedish melodic death metal written and played and percussively pounded at the high standards the genre demands through no other reason than merciless, exhaustive precedent. I love the way this thing is thick and not steely and screechy, a sort of halfway handshake extended to high fidelity American death metal. That's one big-ass drum sound, from the crucials through, it seems, every last tom tom. Near bloody anthems like Disbeliever, Insanity Arise and the proggy Deeper And Deeper raise the trusty names of Dark Tranquillity and Arch Enemy and as things wind out with the gothic melodies of Kicking Ahead (and a groove that's got to be one of the biggest of '03), I come away damn impressed at the pluck of these not all that metal looking rookies.
Rating 8.5

Dio - Evil Or Divine
(Spitfire) This slightly better than average DVD package has done a pretty cool thing for me: it's sent me back for a new listen to Killing The Dragon, which I liked then and I like more now. How? Well, the massive 15 track concert that this was filmed specifically for (The Roseland, NY) kicks off with the amazing title track to the album. As we move through the set, the production values ain't great (it's weirdly jerky) but the performance is ripping (still I'm sad to think Doug's gone). The other cool thing that made me scurry back to the recent album is the inclusion of the Push video, which is a full-on production piece, band in black on a white background - top-notch and a great song with a flat-out hilarious intro. Elsewhere, there's an interview with Ronnie and a bunch of typical behind the scenes stuff featuring both band and crew and... Bo!
Rating 7.5