by Martin Popoff

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Fresh Metal

MEGADETH - Th1rt3een

Advance lead single 'Public Enemy No. 1' reminds me of how improved Megadeth's increasingly academic thrash songs are when Dave applies a thoughtful vocal melody. Which is why opener 'Sudden Death' just fades in the ol' consciousness like other recent openers. But then it's back on track, for 'Whose Life (Is It Anyway)' this one winning like Charlie Sheen (have you noticed the resemblance with Dave?) for other reasons, more for its weird smeary tone, fast and loose drumming, and riff that is musical, solid, pointing to another great trait of this band, the ability to take like 6.21% of the abstract magic of the NWOBHM and apply it to Dave's form of timeless thrash, timeless not in that it sounds like old Kreator or Sodom, but in that it sounds like Rust In Peace (see 'We The People'). Elsewhere, man, it's just more killer metal that one might imagine is the heaviest thing old metalheads might get into, or something power metal fans might handle, you know, like the heaviest Accept songs. But again, there's also something intriguing about the production job, Johnny K. co-knob-jobbing with Dave, the two getting a really organic sound out of the drums (helped by open high-hat), real grit and fatness out of the guitars and bass, and placing Dave and his curmudgeoned complaints somehow right up front but not overpowering. The end result is downright groovy downright often, as exemplified by butt-shakers like 'Black Swan' and 'Wrecker', which give way to more of an epic dark ballad close to the album, the title track being perhaps one of the top shelf three of the catalogue down this path forged by Metallica on Lighting and Puppets and then given gravitas by Dave leading his damned life.
Rating 9

TWISTED SISTER - From The Bars To The Stars: Three Decades Live
(Eagle Vision)

Twisted live were always pretty convincing (depending on yer buy-in), as is evidenced by this five DVD box set capturing shows from '82, '82, '01, '03 and '09. The first '82 set is a show billed as the band's farewell to the New York bars, and it's the coolest thing of the pile (love the crowd shots - metal in transition), although the daylight Wacken set, also '82, is hands-down the legendary show here, Dee winning over the UK crowd with ease. New York Steel '01 is cool in that the band leaves the crazy hooker clothes at home, going with basic black street clothes. No wigs either, so all but Dee are in short hair, hinting at their (quite colourful) day jobs. Pretty interesting, and sort of a loosey-goosey performance, or more so, sounding that way because the axes are less powerful, less distorted, allowing for Mendoza's fluid, old school bass lines to show through. Most refreshing video here, but the least headbanging from an audio perspective. The Wacken reunion has the most extras, much of the package in fact offering interviews and bits and pieces from this band who loves to talk about themselves. But man, big egos aside, it's all pretty interesting because they are introspective about life, about business, they hold your interest, and it's expertly shot, poignant views woven together with vintage footage. The Christmas set... man, what a treat. Vegas got more bells, balls and whistles than we did in Toronto, I'll tell ya, and I'd take this sort of pure loud fun over Trans-Siberian any day, Dee singing and acting his heart out, the band captured bold and powerful, all coming together for the seminal moment of all of these discs, 'Shoot 'Em Down' 30 years past, Twisted's perfect Kiss song of many good and bad ones. I mean, in total, you essentially see the band winning in five different environments, through time, different stages of different sizes, different reasons, exploding onto the world stage in '82 already seasoned, to seasonal in '09 and impossibly, in some ways, at their best and most brash. Also included, tucked into a fifth DVD case is a reprint of the first letter to the TS fan club, a big pin featuring the glammy first band logo, one of them pressed tin logo badges from the Christmas experience and a repro laminate. Ha ha, it's very much fitting that these seminal metal workers turn in a full day's work, literally, this monster pack weighing in at more than eight hours of metal crafted specifically just simple enough to project like metal magic on live stages where any extra subtleties are more often than not lost.
Rating 8

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