HardReviews 4
by Martin Popoff

Jackyl - Live From Full Throttle
(Sanctuary)

Jackyl smokes the competition live. I dunno... they just seem to fire up - to a man - the band working like a booze-swilling hard rock force that sweeps along any crowd in front of them, o'er to the bar for shots, o'er to the woodchip pit for totem-carving contests. No surprise that they've become a Sturgis staple (one step up a specific non-heritage act food chain from the equally blistering American Dog), with Jesse striking a commanding wild-eyed pose somewhere between Ted Nugent, Johnny Van Zant, Kid Rock and the efficiency of non-fat hair metal. That said, Live From Full Throttle is not without flaws, main ones being its brevity at ten tracks, another its slightly muddy "worn cassette" drum sound. But this is live, in front of a big (hollerin' along) crowd, and they are there making the onslaught all the more inspiring. Highlight would be 'Down On Me', which is as simple and catchy as anything Ugly Kid Joe could do in their heyday, here rendered intimate and anthemic at once. You want advice? Spend your money on Jackyl - they deserve your voting dollar - but place it on the (four song longer) DVD version of this rock 'n' roll circus.
Rating 6.5

Wintersun - Wintersun
(Nuclear Blast)

Just when you thought all under the sun had been potted melting, Jari Maenpaa (ex-Ensiferum) comes along and offers a new hair-splitting proposal, combining head-spinningly fast and meticulous power metal with progressive black plus the folk tones of Finntroll, to form a tripartite maelstrom. One may not approve of the steely cold production and playing - this is curiously a two man band, Jari in charge of programming and all else, except for Kai Hahto, who is credited with drums, resulting in a percussion display that often sounds like a cyborged mix of the two. As well, keyboard and synth lines are usually the bringer of those dreamy, northern melodies, the whole damn thing solid and unforgiving as the frozen couple o' corpses on the album's very strange cover art. Picture Rhapsody applying their Italian elbow grease to layabouts Finntroll and you sorta get the drift of where this frilly sleeves pageant is going. Personally, I love the progressive heart attack writing, not so much the tonalities and sterile execution.
Rating 7

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