HardReviews 2
by Martin Popoff

Black Sabbath - Past Lives

Biggest dick-off of this thing is that the first disc is a reissue of management scam-bammer Live At Last. Actually, that's the only downer, well, other than the fact that the poster is the same band shot as portrayed on the splendid digi fold-out (like I'm gonna unfurl this tiny roadmap and stick it on my wall), and that the liner notes are too general, pedestrian, brief and lacking in detail with respect to these version origins. But man, I always thought Live At Last cooked with gazzoline, violently but acceptably recorded, the Sabs pounding out clanging versions of hits plus deep album tracks Killing Yourself To Live, Cornucopia and Tomorrow's Dream. Disc two is previously unreleased material and kicks off a notch down in sound quality but still glorious despite. Poor Oz has to hit (and miss) a lot of high notes with the band showcasing three Sabotage songs, but all told, he and the guys, especially Bill Ward, are kicking pastor ass. And lords a' leapin' if we don't get an oft-booted sigh and cry through Megalomania, pretty much the gem of the package. Late in the disc, things get older and more bootleggy and hoary like frost, fleeting fun found with Iommi doing a little delicate, out of tune strumming pre-Black Sabbath (the song). Nice idea and nice overall unity to the thing, aided and abetted by the sepia-toned theme and a profusion of rare photos.
Rating 7.5

Note the digi version is a limited edition, so get yours now. It's not clear what will be missing from the bare-boner, but for sure you'll miss the l'il Master Of Reality/devil guy pick and the poster.

Spiritu - Spiritu

This slow and fuzzy rock ride rises out of New Mexico, the guitar and bass performances thick and stoner-ish, general production by Seattle legend Jack Endino mostly what is expected and pedestrian but slightly magical. His extra, non-usual tones are found somewhere within the drums, Endino capturing "James" close and intimate at the high end and wallowed at the low frequencies. It's strange and only subtly different but just as abstractly and obtusely refreshing. The main ace of this however is the vocal performance of Jadd, the man sounding expressive, eccentric, nothing like all them Garcia clones, more in the spirit of Neil Fallon but higher and squeakier: very cool, the guy also blessed with a plentiful and colourful set of lyrics that again, flourish like Clutch but are more vague and mysterious. Other pluses include better than average riffs, often melodic and not sinister, often iced with little licks and fills and high train comin' bits that give the thing ample colour despite the downwound speeds.
Rating 8

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