Hard Reviews
by Martin Popoff

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Fresh Metal

Symbyosis - Crisis
(Listenable)

Man, first track ain't that much of a grabber, but once you get up into Triton (The Light guide) and The Obscure Periplus Of Thanos, the flowery genius of France's Symbyosis begins to emerge. I hear Soilwork, Carnal Forge, Arch Enemy, The Haunted, Carcass, At The Gates, but also Mental Home and Shadows Fall and Opeth in here, Symbyosis brimming with wild arrangements and heavenly guitar ideas amongst their generally extremist attack. One glaring negative, and I've had this happen to me with many albums: whether this is a drum machine or not (and some of the time versus all of the time), it sure sounds like one, and that just ruins it for me, even if Gene Hoglan is probably the only guy who could pull this off in the flesh. I don't know if I've heard a more unique metal band all year (and 30 of these riffs would make the top 200 of the year). It would be a disappointment for me to find out that this was a couple of geeks and a computer (one who can obviously play guitar) coming up with such amazing compositions. I mean, the writing here is unbelievable, capturing the magic of the time you first spotted a hook within a Paradise Lost or an Edge Of Sanity song.
Rating 8

Yngwie Malmsteen - Spitfire Reissues
(Spitfire)

Without much explanation or indeed illuminating credits, Spitfire have taken most, but not all, of the Yngwie catalogue and given it a more or less straight reissue. But there are little surprises sprinkled surreptitiously throughout. For example, Yngwie's really smokin' covers album, Inspiration offers a (reduced) second disc previously only available in Sweden, highlight being four old demos. The interview from the Swedish disc is not included here. There is also an album called Double Live, previously Live In Brazil from '98, that sees its first US release here. Europe's version of The Best Of '90 - '99 also sees its first U.S. release here. Also, two of the albums, Magnum Opus and Seventh Sign contain one bonus track each. And overall (whew!) most albums gets new cover art and booklets, mostly consisting of what looks to be hastily conceived photo shoot footage. Well, actually that's not really fair; they are all fairly (and frustratingly) different, and as usual when anybody does this, the spines don't have the same design either, one of them not matching the other seven! There you have it (and there you have it probably wrong on some small detail). A great catalogue if you don't have it already, and a few rarities made affordable.
Rating 7

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