Hard Reviews
by Martin Popoff

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Fresh Metal

Nevermore - Dead Heart In A Dead World
(Century Media)

Accept went from two guitars to one, just Wolf, for an album and you couldn't really tell. But Nevermore is down to Jeff Loomis after the drift of Tim Calvert into family life, and that fact, combined with a mountainous axe tone from new producer Andy Sneap, has made this band sharper, more focused, more immediate. The plan this time was to chop and change the band's grand designs into more memorable, chorus-strong mini suites, and that too has helped a 10 band retained their 10 status with a shift that lightens their step just a quarter ounce, if you get my drift. Again this universally respected act has created what in my mind, is the only viable form of power metal, recalling the bite of early Savatage, corroded and exploded by Sneap, taking grand and high by Warrel and his twisted psychological lyrics, a canon that blurs self-help to self-hurt, literature to a stockpile of metal emotions, crazy pie-skied concepts to bitchin' street talk. And geez, does Loomis come up with the barbed wire riffs to match, Narcosynthesis, Inside Four Walls and Engines Of Hate grabbing the throat of Machine Head and saying 'look what you had and threw away!' Ultimately however, Nevermore's feat is really creating metal that is old, olden, ripped apart, locked back together, reactionary and futuristic at once, this collided mash of pure metal scrapetones that miraculously sound fresh while coming measuredly to life through the genre's everlasting handmade tools.
Rating 10

Sammy Hagar - Ten 13
(Universal)

The guy's left a new, sunny impression on me over the last couple of interviews we've had. That's not to say I didn't join in the chorus of boos for his last couple albums though. Still I was pleased more than a total bystander when I heard him thump "this is my heaviest record since Standing Hampton!" (huh?!). Anyway, the guitars are back, the voice is intact and robust, the production like a clean, refreshing stinger on the face. The songs? Well this is Sam, and once the guy shows who he is, or possibly the affable sun god he wishes us to see, you can't hold him to artistic standards much higher than Kiss or Crue or Poison. It's all on the surface, which is maybe where real living happens, and the vague irritation at his predictable moves dissipates at the easy invitation to join his world. Compared to Slash, this is primary school, and of course, even Slash isn't exactly Radiohead. Ten 13 needs repeated plays and it quietly requests them. If you relent and consent, you may find yourself begrudgingly happy, even more so when you realize few these days dare to make such clear, evident, optimistic, even giddy rock music.
Rating 7

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