HardReviews 5
by Martin Popoff

Twisted Sister - Still Hungry

Dee never liked the Tom Werman recording of Stay Hungry, although I'm sure he didn't mind its triple platinum status (stretched to six million copies worldwide in the liner notes). He calls it thin. On the contrary, it wasn't that, but it was sort of "manufactured" sounding. Anyway, the band went in and re-recorded it, and I'd say this recording is different but equal in merit, with the performances being better and a little more wild, most notably drummer A.J. Pero (groovier, bigger fills) and Dee himself on vocals. The recording is indeed thick, as it was on the original, but not particularly mountainous like many metal albums are today. It's still sorta unremarkably old school. As well, there does seem to be more guitars, as can be heard on the newly chugging 'We're Not Gonna Take It'. So sure, all told, Still Hungry is a little more raucous than Stay Hungry, although I gotta say it's tainted meat, 'cos it's sorta second-hand, a creepy covers thing, the work of a bunch of old guys reliving it. I mean, you put the old one on, and you're cracking a smile 'cos you know the guy singing was broke when he made it, and pretty rich a year later, know what I mean? The guy singing was one of the gang, in yer boat, and now he's been there, done that, doing other pretty cool things, well off. It's slightly embarrassing. Nice package though, including explanation of the ruse, lyrics, and the original (dumb) concept for the cover art. The best bonus comes with the seven extra tracks, most available, no real logic to why they are here - or if there is, it's not adequately explained. I dunno, happy as a clam to have a new 16 track Twisted Sister album, and I'm glad all the bits hang together well and that everybody is still around and can play good. But I'm not sure how necessary all this was. In any event, Werman doesn't look any worse for wear through this exercise. Best Twisted Sister album is still Under The Blade.
Rating 7.5

Dream Theater - Live At Budokan

Sure, no one needs any more Dream Theater live albums, but man, this three disc extravaganza is quite refreshing actually, with the band expanding on their individual prowesses, each an island state of virtuosity, each with his own little mountain of releases, each a band unto himself. What's more, the production is vast, expansive, yet still live, but cleaner, more polite, less heavy and with less bleed than that of Live Scenes From New York. You can hear everything, and the crowd is a part of that too. It's no surprise the album is co-produced by Portnoy, 'cos everything sits on a clearly stated bed of busy drums, his snappy snare a signature of the sound, his performance possibly the greatest live drum performance ever. Only two tracks from the dark and surging Train Of Thought don't make the album, so that right there is the main thrust of this live spread versus the equally massive old albums, 'As I Am' starting things off heavy as hell, crowd chanting along to the intro, the band slamming into the song and then into the even heavier 'This Dying Soul'. Note: also available as a DVD with bonus solo bits and tour documentary, plus the same 18 track of prog metal madness.
Rating 7.5