Hard Reviews 4
by Martin Popoff

Westworld - Live... In The Flesh
(Z Records)

Some problems with this one, namely the lack of treble and the surprising fact that Tony Harnell, usually an expert vocal technician, sounds flat, worst tracks unfortunately being openers 'I Belong' and 'Skin'. Things improve as the album moves forward however, and this crack semi-supergroup band does a good job of their journeyman melodic yet quite heavy power metal. Violin terrorist Mark Wood adds to the festivities, and near the end, we get a rendition of Riot's 'Swords & Tequila', unremarkable as it is - and again, very curiously, Harnell isn't staying in tune. I'm actually quite curious as to what Tony thinks of the album. See www.westworld-web.com for more info.
Rating 5.5

Anathema - A Fine Day To Exit

There was furtive, furrowed brow discussion with respect to whether Anathema was even part of a metalhead's food for thought after a shared consortium meander through the band's brooding new Radiohead-trip album A Fine Day To Exit. Indeed, no band has ever moved farther afield from their original sound within this genre we love, and possibly even outside of it. But it is Anathema's death roots that potentially coil around the hearts of a wizened noise consumer who might deem it a worthy pastime to read our ramblings. Or maybe not, given the nearly unrecognizable acoustic alt-rock postures and understandings pervading every song on here. But the difference is the convincing nature of the album's darkness (only ex-doomers could sound so down), as well as the deft navigation of the guitar in its many moods, even if the metal is only the occasional brief swell of behaved noise. S'funny: from a metal point of view (which, if Koch doesn't market this properly, is going to be the only view the album will see), you're going to hear clarion cries of genius, punctuated by the deafening silence and alienated glassy stares of those who can no longer relate. Put me in the former camp (begrudgingly: a band isn't automatically supra-intelligent because they arrive here from there), myself a listener of tons of acoustic music. But man, I can understand those who lament that we've lost another one.
Rating 8