Hard Reviews
by Martin Popoff

Martin Popoff is the author of The Collector's Guide To Heavy Metal, a 540 page, 600,000 word compendium comprising 3,700 heavy metal record reviews. Also included are rock lists, a glossary of terms, a concise listing of almost 500 9's and 10's, plus a roll-call of non-metal faves. New to this edition is an exclusive 19 track sampler CD from Century Media. The book is now in its second pressing. For more information, visit the book website or contact martinp@hardradio.com

Fresh Metal

Bruce Dickinson - Scream For Me Brazil
(Air Raid)

Unleashed while Bruce toils away on the insanely anticipated reunion record with Maiden, Scream For Me Brazil is the Air Raid Siren's first live album, fashioned as a thanks to the man's rabid Brazillian fanbase, and his general impression that metal is alive and growing stronger in the South American powerhouse. Culled from three Brazillian dates (Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Curitiba), the set is mixed to sound as if you were onstage hearing what Bruce and the band hears through the monitors. Whereas this causes a bit of muffling on the high end, it really feels like a live show, with all the violence of sonic leakage, buttressed by hungry performances which are downright fierce. The material is almost exclusively from Bruce's last two effusively received albums, Accident Of Birth and The Chemical Wedding, a canny ploy not only due to the quality of the songs, but for the fact that the two records are almost identical in disposition, and that both feature the same line-up as this 70-minute churn 'n' burn. It's also nice to see that the label (essentially Bruce's own, part of the cash-stuffed conglomerate that is Maiden's Sanctuary Management, which has also spawned Steve's Beast label and US imprint Never) didn't cheap out on the booklet, offering 24 pages crammed with photos, many in spiffy silver-tinted duotones.
Rating 8

Dream Theater - Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes From A Memory

After two leaden, ponderous records, Dream Theater return to a palpable buoyancy, both lyrically and musically, given that Scenes From A Memory (this seems to be becoming the unofficial title) is reflective of James LaBrie's studies in spiritualism. Basically, it's a concept album about reincarnation, multiple past lives (vague Cabbala connection here), and a love triangle and murder thereof. But it's more familial love than michievous intrigue, the band matching James' soaring and connecting melodies with a fireworks display of glossy, energetic prog, offering touchstones from Pink Floyd, Yes, old Rush, and the land of shred. No question, this is a record for fans of the classic sound, Dream Theater even magnifying their unique stadium rock/prog disposition, offering a record of high upon high. If it's not flyin' geometrically, it's an empassioned Queen moment or a middle eastern kickback; if it's not whacked keyboard wizardry, it's moody effects, acoustic guitars and arrangements: always something Impressive going on. And just to drive home the prog detailing, the record's main title indicates a continuance of the band's Metropolis opus. As well, there is no regard for hitmaking, the tracks being long, inter-connected and built on a logic only prog understands, save for the two brilliant ballads Through Her Eyes and The Spirit Carries On, which (conveniently) could be hit singles in a Freddy Mercury does Styx glassy-eyed FM-in-the-'70s sort of way. Bottom line: both way out there, and possibly the most accessible Dream Theater record ever.
Rating 9

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