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 contact martinp@hardradio.com


Fresh Metal

Demons & Wizards - Demons & Wizards

The next plateau in power metal's rise has been reached, that is the idea of a record truly anticipated in a emotional manner. Demons & Wizards is that record, benefiting from a bits 'n' pieces build-up through news items and interview mentions over the last two years. It is, of course, the collaboration between Iced Earth's leader Jon Schaffer (the new Joey DeMaio) and Blind Guardian frontman Hansi Kursch, and it does, of course, also benefit from the grand, elongated moniker (this stuff is important). The result is synergy personified: quality serious-minded power metal riffs from Schaffer, who straddles the American tradition of the mid-'80s and the European tradition of the late '90s, and slightly distinct hero-worship vocals from Kursch, whose secondary gift is his skill in writing and executing creatively fresh harmonies. Add to this a dramatic flair (see Fiddler On The Green, among other welcome acoustic respites) that realizes the project's importance as this special teardrop that could potentially fall way up the bill of many a Euro festival, and you've got a package that seems silver-spooned and briskly destined for gold-plating.
Rating 9

Dangerous Toys - Greatest Hits Live

One of the unheralded legends of the sleaze metal days, Dangerous Toys blasted up nigh on four albums before their fade, leader Jason McMaster keeping the flame alive through his four bands since, one being a continually simmering '90s version of DT, something which might become a reformation project given the solid live grooves of this archival smoker. Deadline's seen a lot of abuse for their misguided hair band ploys as of late, but it would be cool to see more of this kind of thing, proper in-context product, Greatest Hits Live spiffed with nice artwork from band illustrator Tommy Pons, liner notes from Jason himself, and 73 minutes worth of high fidelity Guns n' Rock, the first half being recorded in full metal flak jacket splendour in Boston for a Westwood One broadcast in 1989, ergo all tracks hailing from the debut. Always the consumate showman and an encyclopedic metal fan, Jason raises the party bar throughout, the band matching him for meat and potatoes rock that was a nice alloy between California strip mall rock, southern redneck traditions, and old Aerosmith. Seriously, in '89, this was already a tight band that could rock, no conscious attention to the execution thereof necessary. Eighteen tracks in total, really only four bow to boot quality, the album closing with non-LP kerosene riffster Dangerous Toys, which oddly never showed on one of the band's albums. See www.dangeroustoys.net for more info.
Rating 7.5

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