Saturday, June 30, 2012

Hole - Live Through This

I remember when Kurt Cobain killed himself in 1994. I then remember everyone going on and on about how Coutrney Love's Hole was profitting off his death, because Live Through This was released four days later. I remember sticking up for Courtney for two major reasons. I recognized and understood the fact that record labels plan releases months in advance. Especially back in 1994 when CD production wasn't as fast as it is now, and mp3's weren't commercially available, if at all. The other being I liked Live Through This better than anything Nirvana released.

I also remember everyone saying that Kurt was the one that did all the writing on this album, which is why it was so good. I personally think that's complete bullshit. First there is not a single mention of Kurt anywhere on the album. Dave Grohl in fact is the only member of Nirvana to even recieve a mention on the album, and it's just in the thanks. Which, brings me back to there was only four days between Cobain's death and the album coming out. That's not enough time to change album notes in 1994.

Now that I have those formalities out of the way, let's move on to the best punk band that came out of the 1990's. The early to mid 90's gave us grunge and the next gen of punk. Bands like Nirvana, Alice In Chains and Soundgarden were giving us a constant whining drone while Green Day, Treble Charger, Gob and Rancid were trying to recapture the Sex Pistols and Ramones with style. Talk about anti-punk. Hole however, was getting it done right.

Let me start with the only elements on this album that make it Grunge is the fact that there's some accoustic work and not all songs are played fast. If it were not for that, this album would have ended up right up there with Girlschool or the Plasmatics, both of which are considered Punk/Metal.

The album opens with Violet, which was also the first video I clearly remember seeing, although not the first single. There's something about a woman singing about a woman singing about how she likes a good "Wham, bam, thank you ma'am". It's even better when she's just being a complete psycho tease, unless you are actually dealing with that bullshit in real life. Then you better be as rough as this song.

The first single/video for the album was Miss World. This was Emo a decade before Emo became the bastard subdivision of Goth. "I've made my bed, I'll die in it / I've made my bed, I'll cry in it / I've made my bed, I'll lie in it" just repeat over and over for the last minute almost until Love finishes with "I am the girl you know, can't look you in the eye". Not as good as the lead off track, but a great way to keep the album going.

The third song on the album is fast, furious and oddly heavy. Plump can be taken many different ways. It's either a brash song about being a man's sex toy, and getting sick of it. Or it's about dealing with pregnancy when you don't really want to be a mom. Then again if you go very literal, it could be just about a chick tired of chugging man seed. After almost 20 years, and I can't believe it's been that long, this is one of those song that I like more now than I did then.

Asking For It is probably the most standard rock song on the album. A little accoustic, a little distorted, and heavily rocking, It's a great mash-up of styles and sounds that shows Courtney Love's Heart influences. However, don't for a second think I'm saying Courtney Love sounds anything like the amazing Ann Wilson. This song is also like others on this album with the double interpretations. I'm not sure if this song is supposed to be a social commentary on "Women asking to be raped" or "Women wanting to be raped" either way it cuts to the bone. This song does contain the uncredited background vocals of Kurt Cobain, along with one other song.

Jennifer's Body was one of those songs that i remember everyone being totally into, and I'm not sure why. It was one of those songs that never did anything for me. It's a good song, but it's just album filler to me. The same applies to Doll Parts, which I know was a single, but have no clue why. It's mandatory grunge accoustic filler as far as I'm concerned.

I love the way that Credit In The Straight World begins, like the band is trapped in an echo chamber. From there it quickly turns into a deeming song that I lthink in retrospect was a cheap shot right at Kurt and his issues with pain and substance abuse.

The next song is the other uncredited Cobain background vocal song. It's also another one of those boring slow whining grunge songs. In fact this one has a bit of a country twang to it, which is okay. But, overall this is a bit of a skip it song to me.

I love it when an album comes back from a bunch of filler with more filler that's really angry and fast. She Walks On Me isn't filler like the previous track. I don't want to skip it, or move on to something better, because I want to bang my head. This is some major Sex Pistols like punk, but with more talent.

I think That I Would Die is one of the more powerful songs on the album. This is another that seems very Heart inspired, right until the end of the song when Love let's loose with her spoiled bitch screaming. Which sounds perfectly in place.

Now, when it comes to writing credits for songs it just lists all songs written by Hole accept for the previous track which was written by Hole and K. Bjelland, and Credit In The Straight World which was written by Stuart Maxham. Which means that Courtney Love – vocals, rhythm guitar; Eric Erlandson – lead guitar; Kristen Pfaff – bass, piano, backing vocals; and Patty Schemel – drums, percussion. Does that mean that this album was written by everyone in the Band? Maybe musically, but this album is pretty much all Courtney Love lyrically. Which sometimes is not a good thing. Gutless is the most stupid of the punk sounding stuff on this album. I skip it or ignore it, unless I'm in the mood to scream Gutless for 2:15.

The album ends with my favourite song Rockstar. I don't know why I so often love the song that finishes the album, but like so many others it's because this one really closes the album well. In fact it sums up the whole Hole experience in my opinion, right down to the Rock star bitch attitude.

To sum up this album the best that I can, I would have to say that this was a form of therapy, long before Love would actually need the therapy. Especially since bassist Kristen Pfaff died only months after it's release. I would say this is also a great exercise in Girl Rock, but that's insulting to a band that is not actually a chick band. It's just a band with a lot of females in it, and one poor male that was verbally abused by Love for years.

The only major downsides to this album is the amount of crappy punk sounding songs and the lame production. It sounds too much like the album is trying to be 1979.

7/10 - content

6/10 - production

8/10 - personal bias

Friday, June 29, 2012

Death From Above 1979 - You're A Woman, I'm A Machine

I normally have a rule when it comes to bands. I wait until they release a second album before I get into them. I happily broke that rule for Death From Above 1979.

Thanks to CanCom when Canadian bands used to release videos, no matter how bad they were, Much Music or Much More Music would play the crap out of them. (Nowadays, they only play a couple hours of video a day.) When you factor in that the band also has a heavy Montreal connection they are gold for playing on anything Canadian. Don't worry, there are no French songs.

Well I never buy an album based on the first single I hear, especially from a new band. That's just a waste of money most of the time. But, Romantic Rights really got me interested. Then Blood On Our Hands came out and I lost interest, which is why I never buy albums based on the first single. However, after Black History Month dropped I was hooked and went out and bought You're A Woman, I'm A Machine.

Let me start by explaining the sound of the band. Sebastien Grainger plays drums and is also the vocals. I love this, because that was me in my first band. His vocal style is a mix of yelling, howling, singing, wailing, and sometimes whining. Jesse F. Keeler plays the bass and synthesizer. That's it for musicians. But the sound they make together I think could best be described as Motorhead meets H.I.M. with a dirty sexy dance groove, and punk atttitude.

The album opens with Turn It Out. Fast, furious, and brandishing a lot of Punk chest beating. Vocally Grainger reminds me a lot of Josh Homme, which means that lyrically you have to read or really pay attention.

The second track was the first single. Romantic Rights which is very Rob Zombie sexy. You can dance, intoxicate and get burning the bed crazy with this one. It's everything that rock should be.

Going Steady is a nice fast album filler. Not lame filler that you want to skip, but filler that sounds like The White Stripes run through an old cut up ten inch speaker. It's nice that way. I should also point out that this track is the first time the filler endings are used. Many of the songs have these odd little left over sounding pieces slapped on the end. Some tracks do it in a way I like, others don't. This one I'm neither here nor there on.

The sound I described on the last song continues on Go Home, Get Down, but the drums sound more Punk less Meg White, and that's a bit of a good thing.

I almost walked away from Death From Above because of Blood On Our Hands. Musically I didn't really care for it, and it wasn't until I used this CD as my soundtrack to screwing around on Grand Theft Auto III that I actually started to enjoy the song. This was also my first introduction to the extra ending I mentioned earlier. I hated it at the time, it's what really turned me off the song. Now I think it's what makes the song as good as it is.

Black History Month is by far one of my favourite songs of all time. This is the song that made me a fan of the band. I love singing this song. Like most of their songs, there aren't a lot of lyrics, just a lot of lyrics repeated. With this song the lyrics are etched into my brain, because they flow with the music so perfectly. "Can you remember a time when this city was / A great place for architects and dilettantes / A nice place for midwives and crossing guards / And on, and on... / Hold on children / Your mother and father are leaving / Do you remember a time when this pool was / A great place for waterwings and cannonballs / A nice place for astrologists and blow up dolls / And on, and on... / Hold on children / Your best friend's parents are leaving". Also this isn't my favourite song on the album.

The next song comes blistering along with a great speedy hook. Little Girl is just good fun and enjoyable. It's a bit like Surf Rock and has a great upbeat dance groove. It also moves into Cold War with little to no effort. In fact I find the switch from one track to the other often goes unnoticed by me, eventhough the latter song is different. It's much more straight ahead punk.

The album's title track has a rip roaringly fast opening riff, and it just continues from there. If it weren't for the chorus "Now that its over this weight is off my shoulder / Now that its over I love you more and more" being so singable, this song would be the only skip it song on the album for me.

Pull Out is the shortest song on the album at 1:50. Lyrically, it's not even close to complicated. It ranks up their with Discharge songs that way, including the punk attitude, and the title pretty much covers the lyrical content.

My favourite song on the album is Sexy Results. It's the last song on the album and I think it was a good call. It ends the album on such a high note. Musically it's very groovey. I mean get your horizontal mojo pumping slow, hot and heavy type groove. Lyrically well, the entire song consists of "Sexy girl meet me in the bathroom / Sexy girl call me on the phone / Woman friend take me to your bedroom / Let me show how I'm full grown / Sexy woman call me to your office / Sexy woman meet me after work / I wanna show you how I handle business / I wanna show you how the mail-boy flirts / My man wants to buy you something / He wants to take you out for dinner and dancing / My friend wants to take you out then home / Then home alone". How can you argue with that little fantasy? I simpily can't.

The part that pissed me off about this album is it was the only real release from Death From Above 1979. There's a remix album and some earlier singles/Ep's, but not anything worth getting. The band split up after the tour for this album ended. If it wasn't for the fans they wouldn't have even finished the tour, because the two band memebers got to the point they weren't even talking anymore.

Even sadder than that was they got back together in 2011 for a tour, but it seems nothing else has come from it. I just keep hoping for a proper follow-up album, and that it's not a let down, because You're A Woman, I'm A Machine was fantastic.

8/10 - content

8/10 - production

10/10 - personal bias

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Raconteurs - Consolers Of The Lonely

I was a fan of The White Stripes when Jack White started his run with The Raconteurs. Broken Boy Soldiers was the first album they released and it was pretty decent. I wasn't as impressed with it as I was with other albums Jack had played on.

When Consolers Of The Lonely was released I picked it up purely on instinct. I was a bit gun shy at first. It's not that I had been let down by the first offering from The Raconteurs, it was that I just hadn't been impressed. However, since Jack White is one of the few current artists that understands 60's and 70's rock mentality I felt that I should give this band a second shot.

Now, I should mention that I don't view The Raconteurs as Jack White's side project from the White Stripes. The band is made up of four very talented musicians, from Detroit (mainly). They are; Jack White – vocals, guitar, keyboards, stylophone, mandolin; Brendan Benson – vocals, guitar, keyboards; Jack Lawrence – bass guitar, banjo, backing vocals; and Patrick Keeler – drums, percussion.

The big difference between todays rock music and music from the "glory day" is lyrical content, and instrumentation. Most bands nowadays keep the songs simple with basic verses and catchy choruses mixed with a few electric instruments (accoustic for ballads) and some basic percussion. Older bands would tell stories with their music, and if it was catchy that was cool, but not necessary. There's not a single rock group that came out after 1980 that use mandolins, banjos, or stylophones.

The album opens up with the title track. It starts off a bit slow with a slight drag, like pulling yourself out of bed after a heavy night of drinking. Then once it finally get's moving, it keeps going slow, but with more consistant momentum. It's a great lead off. It sets an accurate flavour for the album. If you like this one, you should dig the rest.

From there it moves into the album's first single Salute Your Solution. I should mention that if it had not been for hearing this song first, I may not have picked up this album. It's a great fast, upbeat number. A lot of rhythm, since the bass and the drums are pretty much the only thing driving the song, until the guitar solo / mid section instrumentation kicks in.

After that the album slows down a lot. You Don't Understand Me is an ode to being the misunderstood person, or in a couple with someone you can't feel open and honest with. "And there's always another point of view / A better way to do the things we do / And how can you know me / And I know you / If nothing is true". I love the way piano notes dance around the light stop/start swing rhythm, and how it goes into overdrive the second the vocals stop. It's just a well arranged song.

Old Enough picks up the tempo with a song all about wisdom coming from age. It's sort of like listening to your parents tell you, "You don't know anything. Wait 'til you're my age. Then you'll know something." I normally don't care for that attitude, which turns me off this song a bit, even though it's totally true in most cases. This is a good song, though.

The Switch And The Spur is the first real story teller song on this album. It's here at track five that the album really starts to get good. The first four songs were essentially just the band shaking off the ring rust. Lyrically they clearly desided to bury all the good stuff in sections that are normally reserved for album fillers. Lyrically it's essentially the story of that coming dark rider from biblical lore.

The album gets back to a fast rock groove with Hold Up. Most of the song consists of the band singing Hold Up, but the three verses paint a clear image. "Had enough of these, modern times / About to drive me out of my mind / And you know this, too well / I'm hold up in my little cell / Friends took me to a freak show / But I think I've seen it all before / Well, can I get a look at you girl / Maybe take a peak in your world / Modern girl you're so kind / You're gonna help / me get through this time / Well and you know me too well / You didn't break up on; you broke into my prison cell".

The album goes back to it's steady yet slightly slower tempo with Top Yourself. Lyrically it can be taken two ways. It's either about not wanting to help someone commit suicide (or be an audience for them), or about one of those girls that has everything and still needs more just to make her feel special.

There are two songs on this album that totally get me off. Many Shades Of Black is the first one. In the days of vinyl this more than likely would have been the lead off track to the second side, and that would have been perfect. This song is clearly an ode to that disaster relationship you refuse to let die. "Everybody sees / And everyone agrees / That you and I are wrong / And it's been that way too long / So take it as it comes / and be thankful when it's done / There's so many ways to act / and you cannot take it back / no you cannot take it back / there's so many shades of black".

Five On The Five satisfies one essential need to rock songs, is has cow bell. Well that's not really needed, but on this song it's great. This song has a very Ramones meets Bob Dylan sort of feel. It's rapid fire playing with Folk sensibility.

Attention is very much a "Hey baby, I like what I see" song. Still running at the quick pace set by the previous song this one just moves along at it's own pace. It's a bit of a filler that flows into Pull This Blanket Off which is about the same amount of filler. Neither are songs that I feel a need to skip, but I don't feel a need to go out of my way to listen to them either.

The album then comes back with more good story telling on Rich Kid Blues. The song starts off slow and then builds up in a manner that allows the vocals to take the forefront. "Though my good times / Are just paying dues / I've got shoes and money / And good friends too / Though I always play to win / I always seem to lose / That's why I think I got / A rich kid's blues". Jack's trademark disjointed guitar work is also very heavily heard on this song too.

The album gets very accoustic before it ends, with the song These Stones Will Shout. This track would fit into almost any type of bar, except for a Metal bar. There's an edge of familiarity of so many types of music in this one. It starts off Country/Folk and ends with start ahead Rock. very versatile on so many levels.

The album finishes with my other favourite track. Carolina Drama is an epic story of jumping to conclusions and being a bastard child, that has a running time of 5:55. It's the tale of a boy, a priest, a short fused boyfriend and a milk man. That quick summary doesn't even begin to cover the in depth story that plays out to music that sounds a bit Gypsy, a bit Folky, and very much Nashville, without being overtly country. Carolina Drama is the song that makes the album for me, and I couldn't ask for a better closing song.

This album ranks up there with Jethro Tull's Aqualung, Chris De Burgh's Spanish Train, David Bowie's Ziggy Startdust and other story telling albums that aren't heavy. The true beauty of this album is the depth of it lyrically and instrumentally. If you are a music snob, this is an album you should have. If you are into well written records, this is an album you should have. If you are into Folk/Country/Rockabilly or anything that falls within, this is an album you should have. If you are into the Hard and Heavy side of things, I would still check this one out. In fact I did and I loved it.

8/10 - content

10/10 - production

9/10 - personal bias

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Rush - Feedback

One of the little things I love in life is when I come across CDs that are dirt cheap, and totally intrigue me. I had been just browsing the music department of the store I worked in one day, like I regularly did at the time, and stumbled across a Rush CD I didn't recognize. I don't remember how much it was, I want to say $12.99. I thought it was maybe a cheap compilation, because it seemed a few more of those than I would like were coming out.

When I picked up the little cardboard single sleeve I noticed right away this was not just another Best of... package. I saw Summertime Blues, Seven And Seven Is, The Seeker and Crossroads on the song list and discovered I was holding a Rush cover album.

When I got home I tore into the packaging and threw the CD into the player. As I read Neal Peart's liner notes I learned the how's and why of the song selection on this CD. Granted by the time I listened to the disc once it didn't matter how or why. This album is a piece of beauty, even if it is really short. The longest song is 3:51.

Let me start with Summertime Blues. I know this song best from a version I have from The Who. It's a classic song, and Rush plays it to the tee. However instead of having the various voices that present the obsticles, we are treated to various little drum fills.

The next song I didn't think i knew, at least by name. However, before the verses started I was ready to sing. Heart Full Of Soul is one of those classic Hippy songs from the 1960's.

For What It's Worth may be one of the best Anti-Government/Anti-Revolution songs I've ever heard and I didn't know the name of it. Like every other song on this album this one sounds just like the original, except for it's Rush playing it, and no one plays like Rush. This is also my favourite song on Feedback.

Another song I originally know from The Who is on this album too. The Seeker, one of the most classis Who songs. Now, to start with it was never one of my favourite Who songs, and Geddy is no Roger Daltrey, so this is the only song that I do prefer the original. Only for the vocals though, aside from that the song is perfect.

Mr. Soul was the only other song on hear I didn't know by name. It was also the only song that I only kind of sort of knew. I remember the chorus from somewhere, probably a movie or something, but the rest of the song I really don't know at all. I would like to say that it's awesome, heavy, thick, delicate, fuzzy, chrunchy and stylish. It's a damn good Rush song, eventhough it isn't.

The first time I ever heard Seven And Seven Is was Alice Cooper's Special Forces. Let me start with I couldn't stand that version, so I never bothered to check out the original. That was almost a decade before I heard the Rush version, which sounded pretty much the same. Which means I really just don't like the song. I can see why some artist like the song, but it's way to 80's New Wave for me. Which is interesting for a song from the 60's.

Shapes Of Things is a great song. I'm pretty sure I mainly know this one from a commercial, but I know that 94.7 WCSK use to play it too. I think Rush changed up the styling a little bit, or it could be a production thing, so it does sound slightly different from what I remember of the original. This song is probably my second favourite song on the album, or it's tied with the last one.

Crossroads finishes off the album. I know this song best from the Cream version, although there's was a cover too of Robert Johnson's Cross Road Blues. Listening to a Power Trio play a Power Trio Supergroup's song is cool on it's own. Listening to Rush outplay Cream is spectacular. Everyone knows Neil Peart is the man on drums, and only people he says are better than him are better than him. He may even say that Ginger Baker is better, but this song says different. Jack Bruce was one of the best bassists of the 60's maybe even still one of the best today, but Geddy just runs circles around him in this song. Which brings me to Eric Clapton and Alex Lifeson. I'm not even going to go there, because it's just too crazy. The guitar isn't better, it's just as distinctly unique as the version I know.

This may be one of the best cover albums I have ever heard. It's the type of album I live for, because there is just something about bands seriously paying tribute to the influences that gets me off. And this album really gets me off.

8/10 - content

9/10 - production

10/10 - personal bias

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Jethro Tull - Thick As A Brick

This could be the shortest album review I ever write because there's only one song on Thick As A Brick, and that's the title track.

I know what you are thinking. "Why would you write a review for a single?" Well the answer is very simple, if you don't already know. It's a really good song. In fact the song is so good that Jethro Tull Prog Rock'd it to an unimaginable 43:36. A song so long that when it was originally released on vinyl it had to be split in half, and was listed on the album as Part 1 and Part 2. The CD plays the song in it's full uncut glory.

Let me start with the concept behind this album. It is a concept album, based on the idea of a fictional character "Little Milton" writing an epic poem that causes a major uproar amongst the religious, politicians and socialites. In fact you can read all about it on the front album cover. The fake newspaper explains it all. Including why Jethro Tull decided to turn the Poem into and album. It's a concept album, purely because the band made it into a concept album to make fun of concept albums. It doesn't get any more Prog than that. Also interesting since there weren't that many concept Rock albums by 1972. As far as I know of The Who's Tommy (1969) was one of the few true concept albums. Other's would be considered more obscure, or came out later.

Now, for those that don't know what Prog means let me clear it up just a little. A single song has to be written with a minimum of twenty different time signature changes, must contain thirteen different tempos, six different keys and can be no shorter than ten minutes. Thick As A Brick has four times those numbers. I should also point out that those numbers are not factual. Prog is like freeform Jazz, and Thick As A Brick is a giant fully functioning experiment in that.

Also if you don't know what a concept album is, it's basically an album that follows a story line. The Who's Tommy is the perfect, and most known version of a concept album. (I'm well aware of the fact that The Who call it a Rock Opera.) It has a very clear linear story. Another favourite concept album of mine is Welcome To My Nightmare. The in depth story isn't there, like Tommy, but it has a story all the same.

Thick As A Brick would never see the light of day in today's music enviroment, unless the band ponied up the money out of pocket, and that's a real shame. Sure it's not radio friendly, and radio edits do it no justice, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be released. Not releasing music like this should be a sin.

I do love this song. Forget all the musicianship. Forget the fact that the lyrics contain nine pages of double spaced lines. This album is pure art, chaulked full of meaning and talent.

For the album, the band line-up was; Ian Anderson – lead vocals, acoustic guitar, flute, violin, trumpet, saxophone; Martin Barre – electric guitar, lute; John Evan – piano, organ, harpsichord; Jeffrey Hammond (as "Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond"): Bass guitar, Vocals; Barriemore Barlow – drums, percussion, timpani, David Palmer – Brass and string arrangements. As you can see it's an impressive list of instruments, and they are just so tightly wound together.

This album just works for me on a multitude of levels. It's light and whimsical like a Sunday afternoon prancing around the prairie, but easily snakes in and out of desperation and despair. The intricate fantastical dancing instrument could easily be from a lost video from Fantasia, and the vocals are just so mystical.

Just go out and buy the album and listen to it. Don't be a cheap ass and download it either. Go drop a few bucks and get a nice solid copy in your hands. Then play the shit out of it. Also the louder you play it, the better it gets. I also think for optimum listening enjoyment the album should be cranked up in the woods through two massive P.A. speakers. It would sound perfect for miles.

The only reason I will not rate this album/song a perfect ten is that a 43:36 long song is not for everyone, no matter how good it is.

9/10 - content

10/10 - production

10/10 - personal bias

Monday, June 25, 2012

Motorhead - Overkill

* -These opening paragraphs are taken from my review of Metallica - Hero Of the Day (Featuring The Whole Motorheadache Mess). I thought it was the best way to start this review. I made a few tweeks for sychronicity purposes. Let's call it a remix.

I would like to start by thanking Metallica for introducing me to Motorhead. I'd only ever heard covers and Ace Of Spades prior to this, and a friend we shall call Varg, overplayed the shit out of that one Motorhead song. However, thanks to Metallica - Hero Of the Day (Featuring The Whole Motorheadache Mess) I later ventured into Motorhead all on my own, and the first thing I picked up was the album Overkill.

The song that leads off this album is the title track. It's one of the heaviest, hardest, thundering songs I have ever heard. It is the perfect mix of Hard/Metal/Punk. This song makes Thrash Metal it's bitch, after snorting a line of coke and sodomizing anything that musically resembles Deathklok, has to offer. Oh yeah, the song doesn't have just one fake ending. It comes back to skull fuck you twice with bone rattling fury. It's the perfect overkill.

Stay Clean is a great second track. It's one of those songs I would cover with the right group of guys. It's just a good tune.

(I Won't) Pay Your Price is okay. I find it a bit filler, but rockin' filler all the same. It's easy to listen to, especially placed between Stay Clean and I'll Be Your Sister. That's one of my favourite songs on this album. I love Lemmy's bass on this one, it just has a great Rock hook, mixed with a little gallop.

Track five is Capricorn. I'm not sure what to make of this song after more than a decade. It's like Motorhead doing some hippy trippy shit. It's some Iron Butterfly like Acid Rock, without the church organ. I love the song, but at the same time find it odd and out of place.

Th next song is a pretty basic sounding Motorhead song. I'm sure many people would argue it's an album filler. I respect those people and say, "Suck my ass." To which they say I have No Class, one of my favourite songs on this album.

Okay, I admit, not the best joke. But, I do really like this song. It's another song I would have gladly covered, even though it's a bit typical for Motorhead.

Damage Case is my favourite Motorhead songs covered by Metallica. As for the Motorhead version, It's in my top ten. I love growling the choruses, banging my head, and pumping my fist to this one.

I'm not a big fan of Tear Ya Down. It's a bit of a typical Motorhead song. But there is an alternate version of the song that at least conjures fuzzy memories. Metropolis is like Capricorn. I love the song, but it sounds out of place with Motorhead performing it.

Limb From Limb finishes off the original vinyl version of this album. It's not the greatest ending to an album, but it's still damn good.

The CD release of the Overkill album, at least the one I own, contains five bonus tracks. Too Late Too Late, which was a b-side to the Overkill single. Like A Nightmare, which also was a b-side, but to No Class, and instrumental version of Tear Ya Down, and two different versions of Louie, Louie.

The first song, Too Late Too Late, does nothing for me. It was a b-side because it wasn't good enough to make the album. That's how I see it anyway. The same thing could also be said about Like A Nightmare, except I like it the same way I like Metropolis and Capricorn.

My warm fuzzy memory for Tear Ya Down comes from my video production class, when I was in the Journlism program at St. Clair college. Let me start by saying that when I'm the most reliable and dependable person in the class there's a problem. Well, the instrumental version of this song, found as a bonus track on the Overkill CD, saved my classes ass. This happened to be a newer album to me, when the person responsible for the introduction music for our news broadcast totally dropped the ball. I quickly tossed them the CD and told them to pop on this track. Not only did it do the job, but the "normal" people were a little turned on by it. The headbangers just considered it an easy win.

I'm not sure why there needed to be two versions of Louie, Louie on the same album. One says that it's an alternate version, and it isn't that alternate really. It really seemed silly to have two.

However, hearing Motorhead perform Louie, Louie is really awesome. This is one of those great classic Rock & Roll songs, and Motorhead give it the respect that it deserves. It's a classic party tune for the modern age.

To this day, Overkill is still my favourite Motorhead album. It rocks, it rolls, it kicks ass and can't be bothered to learn any names. This album is bad ass, in ways that no one aside from Motorhead can do.

8/10 - content

8/10 - production

9/10 - personal bias

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Black Label Society- Skullage

My first proper introduction to Black Label Society was Fire It Up on the first Guitar Hero. I say proper, because it was the first time I knew for a fact that it was Zakk Wylde (If you didn't know, it's his solo band.) I mean everyone that listened to Hard Rock radio in 2003 knew Stillborn, but like me thought it was Ozzy. I eventually came to learn that it was BLS with Ozzy.

One of my best friends, Drew, has been into Black Label for what has easily been a decade or more. Although I looked at the albums, and was interested in hearing the contents it was a band that we never really shared. I never thought to ask to borrow the CDs and Drew never thought to throw them at me and say "Here, listen to these." After playing Fire It Up on Guitar Hero I was finally interested, well that's a slight understatement. I was ravenous for a real taste of BLS, and was finally hooked up with some heavy ass rock.

Drew had purchased the Skullage CD when it first came out, but the few previously unreleased tracks, or alternate versions weren't enough for him to keep the album. Now I have it, and am mighty happy I do.

This is a retrospective disc. A Best Of... or Greatest Hits, if you prefer those labels. It's also a fantastic introduction to Black Label Society, if you have yet to discover it. Although one album, Sonic Brew, is not officially represented.

The CD opens with Machine Gun Man, originally from the Pride & Glory album. You wouldn't think of opening a Hard Rock album, which is what Skullage is, with a Rockabilly-esque song, but Zakk is all about channeling some deep south Lynard Skynard on this one. Other musicians on this song are James Lomenzo playing bass and doing background vocals, and Brian Tichy playing drums.

Dead As Yesterday, from Book of Shadows, is nice but not my thing. The bassist is the same as the first song, but the drummer is now Joe Vitale. It's a beautiful song, with great instrumentation. However, I can't get over Zakk's vocals, or how the song sounds a little like Burt Bacharach.

The next track picks the pace right up, and smacks you in the face with it. All For You, from Stronger Than Death, is heavy. I swear that Rob Zombie and Zakk Wylde made a deal around the turn of the millenium to become the heaviest sounding rock bands ever, that still have sexy groove. I'm not saying you can dance verticly to this song, but this can fuel horizontal dancing no problem.

The distortion and heavy can be felt on 13 Years of Grief, which comes from the same album as the last song. It also has many of the same traits, including the fact that Zakk played all the instruments and there's a drummer by the name of Philth.

Bleed For Me is wicked cool. From 1919 Eternal, this track has some wicked Rob Zombie-like groove, mixed with deep Type O Negative mourning and good old fashion fast chunky riffing. The only person to play on this track aside from Zakk is drummer Christian Werr.

If you want brutal, and I don't mean bad brutal, I mean Metal brutal, Doomsday Jesus, from Blessed Hellride, is just that. It's heavy, scarey, hulked out, and punches holes in your ear drums, without all the stupid stuff associated with Metal. This time the drums are supplied by Craig Nunenmacher.

Which brings us to the song everyone knows from Black Label Society. Stillborn, also off Blessed Hellride, has the same drummer as the last track, but also features the Godfather of Metal, Ozzy Osbourne on backing vocals. You can't tell where one starts and the other stops, unless you know for a fact. This song is Hard Rock, not Metal, and it doesn't make a lick of difference, because it's all Hellz Yeah!

Won't Find It Here is just too damn mellow for Zakk's own good, because this song is just too damn good for it being so mellow. From Hangover Music, Vol. 6, this song features the same drummer as the last two songs and James Lomenzo doing additional bass. I love Zakk's use of echo, and this songs uses it wisely to break into a solo that sounds like Pink Floyd jamming with Skynard.

The only album to get more than two songs on the compilation is Mafia. Suicide Messiah, In This River and Fire It Up are all from there and have the same line up as the last song, Nunenmacher on drums, Lomenzo on Bass, and Zakk doing vocals, guitars and bass.

The first track is kind of standard Zakk. It's full of attitute, comes across real heavy, and is allowed to breath. It's a bit stock sounding, if your stock is kickass Hard Rock. This is BLS filler, which is a lot better than BS filler, because this isn't shit. In fact the last minute of the song is like Led Zeppelin is being channelled.

In This River is very piano heavy, and we can only assume it's Zakk playing, because it's not listed in the liner notes. That big, badass, long haired, Billy Gibbon's bearded, guitar god, not only plays the piano, but he plays it well. That's where my praise for this song ends. I'm not a fan. It's a nice song, but it does nothing for me. Even the ripping solo seems off and out of place to me.

Which brings me to my first love from Zakk. I totally love Fire It up. First, it has a Talkbox. Second, it's got great drive. Third, it's real fucking heavy. I mean Kashmir heavy. Finally, you can just feel the fire burning. It's like he's walking, with each footfall lighting a new bon fire at his heels.

New Religion finishes off the previously released material, by starting with a very intense piano/string combo. From there it just goes fully dark and gloomy. This is a very Black Sabbath-like tune.

It's originally from the Shot To Hell album, and is one of the few tracks to not list Zakk as a bassist, aside from the first two. That position is filled by John DeServio, Nunenmacher is still on drums and Nick Catanese is also on guitar. Over all it's a good solid song.

Three of the last four songs are accoustic versions of previously released material. The Blessed Hellride, Spoke In The Wheel, and Stillborn, were recorded 2/13/04 for WZZO Radio. Zakk Wylde and Nick Catanese are the only two musicians, both playing guitar.

The fourth track is listed as Instrumental intro, also recorded at the same time as the other three. This is basically Zakk going to town on an accoustic. It's awesome on one hand, a little long and drawn out on the other. I feel the same way about Blessed Hellride.

Spoke In The Wheel is once again Black Label Society channeling Lynard Skynard. It's very clear at this point that Zakk is just very much a southern boy at the core of his music. This song is the only song representing the Sonic Brew album, even though this is not that version.

The album then finishes with the only song doubled on this album. Stillborn, done accoustic is very unique and different from it's plugged in version. It's still the same song, but not at the same time. I like it, but not as much as the original. This version I find a little too haunting, and ominus.

At the end of this collection I'm left feeling totally fulfilled musically. From Classical sounding pianos to screaming Metal solos this is the album you want as an introduction to Black Label Society. If you already have everything from the group, than you may not really need this. The accoustic stuff is cool, but not really needed.

8/10 - content

9/10 - production

8/10 - personal bias

Friday, June 22, 2012

Iron Maiden - Number Of The Beast

Iron Maiden is one fo the few Intelligent groups of musicians, that isn't technically Prog. Number Of The Beast is their glory child, and the tracks that make up this album are like God's commandments upon Moses' stone tablets.

Are these nine songs the greatest songs ever crafted by Iron Maiden? No, because The Trooper and Flight Of Icarus didn't come out until the next album, and Fear Of The Dark (the song) wasn't until a decade later.

Even though I know this is considered Maiden's greatest album, it is not my favourite. However, it is a spectacular work of instrumentation, mixed with Martin Birch's brilliant production and then capped off with Bruce Dickinson's vocals. This is the bands third album. The second one produced by Birch and the first to feature Bruce Dickinson. God must have personally crafted that man's voice, because not even Freddy Mercury could sound so amazingly beautiful.

The shortest song on the album is Invaders (3:24), which also is the opening track. The longest song is Hallowed Be Thy Name (7:14), which closes the album. Everything else in between is three minutes and change, four minutes and change or six minutes and change.

Some songs like the title track are surprisingly short, since they feel epicly long (but in a good way). Meanwhile The Prisoner is six minutes and feels more like a solid four. Nothing is as it seems with this album. Nothing at all.

Also instead of doing this in the usual order they are presented, I'm go ingto start with my favourite song from the album, Run To The Hills.

The story of the British invading, killing and slaughtering Native Americans, because "The only good Indians are tame." I learned something from this song. Metal bands have brains. I also learned the difference between screaming and singing. That insane high note I scream, thus ripping out my vocal chords, can only be sung by Bruce. Oh yeah, what about that crazy gallop that only Maiden can do!? HELL YEAH!!!

Gangland follows that and is a good song, but a bit of a filler. Might even be a song that had been laying around since the Killers album, or at least that's how it feels. This is the only song that sounds longer than it is in a bad way.

Total Eclipse is a lot like Gangland. These two songs are skip songs if I'm listening to just the album. Musically both are sound, and lyrically pretty typical, but you know they were put in the seventh and eighth spots, because they filled up space between Run To The Hills and Hallowed Be Thy Name and that is good enough to get them listened to.

Which brings me to the last song on the album. Hallowed Be Thy Name, is long, epic, and Iron Maiden's story of a man walking to his death at the gallows. So many bands have done this story, but very few have done it with such unique style and presence. It brings to mind Alice Cooper's Killer, which makes sense because of the showmanship of Dickinson's vocals and the surprisingly intricate muscianship.

This track registers as being 7:15 on my computer. I swear the computer, the liner notes and every other counter in the world is lying. Somehow Maiden managed to magically cram at least ten minutes of song in there, and it's all worth it.

Now, since I just covered the longest song I'll now jump to the shortest.

Invader is the lead on the Number Of The Beast. It starts the album of with blazing bass speed and slamming power chords. Let me very clear about Iron Maiden and their music. It matches exactly what they are singing about. Invader is about Vikings doing what Vikings do, and it sounds like it too. This is a band that understands classical composing. The concept that a song can and should tell you a story without there needing to be lyrics.

Children Of the Damned is a song I always loved, it's actually my second favourite song on the album. I'm not sure if it's about the original Village Of The Damned movie or the sequel that shares the same name as the song. The content is pretty much the same and it could easily match both. I can't remember if they cleared that up during the VH1 Classic Albums either. But I really like the original movie, as well as the 90's remake, and this song gives me the same feeling that those movies did.

The Prisoner was a surreal and exotic kind of show. This song is nothing less. It's amazing, rapid and has a chorus that is a fan favourite live. The part I love about this song so much is the fact that it actually seems to slow down going into the chorus. Who the hell does that? Iron Maiden that's who.

Some would say that a song like Charlotte The Harlot wouldn't need a sequel. In fact I've heard friends that like Maiden say that 22 Acacia Avenue proves them wrong. Not only is it good, and enjoyable, but it's about Charlotte now working in a house of ill repute, and then being rescued, after a life of S&M and various other forms of debauchery. Why? Because she's hurting her family with her actions, so they want to take her from her Hell. But we'll later learn that Hell isn't a bad place to be...

I'll now finish with the title track. Number Of The Beast is probably the most well known song from the band. This is the song that made Satanic Heavy Metal a real thing for many religious groups, just waiting to raise a whole lot of stupidity. This song is an arrangement of complex changes and textures, with a little Vincent Price for texture. Which once again has me thinking of another great showman, that also used Mr. Price's vocal majesty. I'm not talking about the King of Pop either, because he did it after Maiden.

The only band on this planet I respect more musically than Iron Maiden is Rush. I respect no vocalist more than Bruce Dickinson. They may not be my favourite band, and this is not my favourite record of their's, but Iron Maiden is the band to beat musically and vocally and this album is the album that defines the best of the best of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal.

9/10 - content

10/10 - production

9/10 - personal bias

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Kiss - Carnival of Souls: The Final Sessions

When you grow up next to Detroit Rock City it seems only natural that you should love Kiss, or hate them. You find very few people in the middle, but I am one of those. My dad was a huge fan and tried to get me into them when I was young. However, they didn't do too much for me. The only songs I distinctively knew from the band were Rock And Roll All Night, and Detroit Rock City. I really liked the second, and didn't mind the first.

Over the years my taste for Kiss grew, and I discovered I liked other stuff. Revenge ended up being the first album I bought (the newest at the time), followed by Alive!, and then a couple others. Most of which were live or compilations.

Now somewhere between 1992, when Revenge came out, and the original line-up releasing Psycho Circus in 1998, Kiss had been working on another album. An album that was pretty much tossed out in a shuffle to try and appease the fans. Kiss' biggest bastard child since Music from "The Elder" in 1982.

Carnival Of Souls has to be a giant steaming pile, you must be thinking, if Kiss made it a bastard album. Rest assured, that's not the case at all. In fact one of the Detroit radio stations had gotten a hold of a bootleg of this album about a year before it came out and played it live on air. That was in 1996 right after the reunion tour started, and this album didn't end up dropping until 1997. I was not impressed, by the disrespect shown to the non make-up wearing members.

For starters this album was a million times better than Psycho Circus, which came out the next year. Carnival Of Souls is not an album of second rate Kiss songs that are trying to recapture the glory days, in all the cheesy glory. It's the exact opposite.

The musicianship on this album is fantastic. The guitars are full sounding, styled, well written, and heavy as fuck. I love Ace Freely, but Bruce Kulick is a better guitarist. The Bass is thick, heavy, and well played. Almost a little too well played for Gene. Paul's vocals are just as beautiful and grandios. Which bring me to Eric Singer, and the fact that the best part of the Kiss Reunion was Eric went back to playing with Alice Cooper. I love Singer, he's one of my favourite rock drummers.

The album opens with Hate, which is Gene doing his Demon, but without it being "The Demon". I love the bad ass monster of bass, and this is one of his songs, done in the vain of God Of Thunder, but really angry and Metal. It's an interesting selection to kick off the album, but the right choice.

I'm not sure when Paul Stanley went from being a flambouyant Rock singer to an Operatic vocalist, but this album was two years before he would don the role of The Phantom at Toronto's Pantages Theatre (May 25 to August 1, and September 30 to October 31, 1999). When his vocals kick in on Rain I'm just transported away. It doesn't matter what the words are, they just sound so pretty sounding. The music on the other hand is heavy and a bit Alternativish.

Master & Slave sounds like it should be an S&M song, by the music and title. Lyrically, I believe it's meant to be more symbolic and literal of the specific words. Instead of words like "whips and chain and all good thangs," the lyrics are about wanting someone to let up. The repeating ugmenting choruses at the end of the song are what really help drive the idea home. "Every time I see a sign / Tell me what's the bottom line / Tell Me / I just want a place to rest / Stop and let me catch my breath / Every time I see a sign / Tell me what's the bottom line / Tell Me / Forget all that I've been told / I just want to lose control / Every time I see a sign / Tell me / what's the bottom line / Tell Me / I just want to take my turn / Now before I crash and burn". Then again, sometimes the slave just wants to be the master.

The fourth song on the album is a bit slower than the first two, and is a bit typical of your standard reminiscing song. The part I find the most interesting about this song is that Tommy Thayer has a writing credit. Thayer would officially replace Ace on February 28, 2003, becoming the Spaceman guitarist after the reunion finally ended.

The album gets really slow with the accoustic ballad I Will Be There. Like other fine accoustic ballads that are enjoyable, this one is not about a woman. It's about a father and son. It's nice, pretty and does a great job slowing the album down, but it's not a skip it song. I rather enjoy it.

The only song from Carnival Of Souls to be released as a single was Jungle. It's a good song, nice and heavy, with a strong drive, and the bass is some of Gene's best work on the album. There's a very distinct altenative sound, like Alice In Chains or Soundgarden, which is the biggest draw back to the song for me, but it's also what makes the song cool on multiple levels. I both like this song and feel a need to skip it at the same time.

One thing I find really interesting with this album is how long most of the songs are, and not because they repeat the chorus over and over like Rock And Roll All Night, but because they are just musically intense. Bruce Kulick helped make Kiss their best musically, instead of the forced commercial BS that Gene is constantly trying to sell now.

In My Head isn't complicated, special or unique. It's another Demon song that stomps around spewing fire. However, with Gene singing the opening line "I'm obnoxious and no one's home / In My Head / In My Head" you can get a crisp look at Simmon's psyche. At this point the album starts getting a little too Alice In Chains droning. The part of grunge I can't stand. I find myself asking why would Kiss want a song like It Never Goes Away to just drone onnnnnn an' onnnnnnnnnnnn an' onnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn.

Then I look at who the producer is, Toby Wright. Here's a few other albums he produced; Alice in Chains - Alice in Chains, Alice in Chains - Jar of Flies, Korn - Follow the Leader, Primus - Rhinoplasty, Sevendust - Home, Fishbone - Muttasaurusmeg Fossil Fuelin, Jerry Cantrell - Boggy Depot, Soulfly - Primitive, Slayer - Divine Intervention, Slayer - Soundtrack to the Apocalypse, Tantric - Tantric, Tantric - After We Go, Tantric - The End Begins, and Ozzy Osbourne - Prince of Darkness. This guy does Alternative/Grunge/Hard/Metal like very few other people. He is the master of the drone.

Now the album starts to make more sense with it's overall sound.

Seduction Of The Innocent continues the album in the path that it was going, but this track is cleaned up instead. The buzzing drone is gone, and Gene is singing (best as he sings) along all nice and hippy like. In fact Hippy Grunge might be a good term for this song. Think Alice in Chains meets The Beatles, which I would say is oddly complimentary.

This song is actually kind of anti-religion, though. "The padre looks well fed / Remember what the good book said / Vultures circle overhead / Whatever gets you through the night / Friends sing to clear your mind / Seduction Of The Innocent". I don't even know where to begin with I Confess. It's slow, it's spiritual, it's uplifting, it's angry, it's depressing, and it's a pretty good listen. The construction of this song is complicated in it's simplicity, and just really thick and full.

In The Mirror sounds like Bruce and Paul decided to have some guitar fun. This is the most typical Rock sounding song on the album. It's nothing special, but musically it's really fun. It's like Bruce decided to show Vai and Satriani that he too can do wild ass things with his guitar.

The album ends with Bruce Kulick performing as the main vocalist for the first and last time on a Kiss CD. I Walk Alone is almost like Bruce saying good-bye to a band that he helped lift back up to rock star status. "I Walk Alone, can't you see? / I don't belong, let me be / Everything I dreamed of being / And I don't belong, can't you see? / I Walk Alone, let me be / Everything I dreamed of being is me / And I got myself to lean on / I got both my feet on the ground".

As I said I in the beginning, this album is a million times better than Psycho Circus. I hate that it became a casualty of the Kiss Reunion, and was subsiquently so horribly overlooked. It's a well written and performed album. Most of my complaints come from a production stand point, or the fact this album got screwed over so badly. It should have been one of Kiss' best albums.

8/10 - content

7/10 - production

9/10 - personal bias

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Beatles - Abbey Road

Let me start with some basic information about The Beatles Abbey Road. It was the last album recorded by the Fab Four, but not the last album released. Let It Be had that distinction.

The true beauty of Abbey Road is the band decided to do one last great album the old way, and not only did they succeed, but they ended up creating one of the best rock albums of all time. The break down of the original vinyl was simple. Side one consisted of six amazingly crafted songs, and yes I will argue that Octopus's Garden is amazing.

The second side was made up of Here Comes The Sun, a sixteen minute medley of various unfinished material, from other sessions, the last song on the album called Her Majesty, and finally the biggest steaming pile of shit I think The Beatles ever released.

I'll start with the song I loathe the most; Because, I have no use for this track. I dislike the song so much I won't even listen to the Alice Cooper version. I can't stand it during the musical motion picture Across the Universe, and that movie is wonderful. I don't like Because as a song. Period.

Now that I've got that out of my system.

Abbey Road opens with Come Together. One of my top five fave from the Fab Four. This, along with David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust, and Pink Floyd's Shine On You Crazy Diamond, is one song I will always karaoke, without question. It's slick, full of groove, and makes little to no sense. It's perfect.

Something is a great Harrison song. I should mention that I don't think there's a single Harrison Beatles song that I don't like. This is a bit sappy for me, but that's cool in it's sweet way.

Maxwell's Silver Hammer may be the most happy-go-lucky song about a murdering sosciopath I have ever heard. It's so whimsically disturbing. I love it.

The Little Richard stylings of Oh! Darling is cool. I could easily see it being done today with more crunch, but still sounding just as cool and passionate as always.

I love Ringo, he's so misunderstood in his childish like nature. Octopus's Garden sounds like it should be on a kid's album lyrically. Musically, it has a lot of intricate texture and ambiance. A style mainly found only in Beatles songs back then.

I Want You (She's So Heavy) is 7:47 of proto Goth Metal. So much so that it ended up being done by Type O Negative eventually. This song is very Blues/Jazzy and carries on forever it seems. By the end of the song you think more than ten minutes has passed, but not in a bad way.

Here Comes The Sun is the other ray of Harrison sunshine on this album. It's sweet, and pretty, and hopeful, and the perfect counter point to I Want You (She's So Heavy).

This is the point on the album where that retched song exsists.

After that the sixteen minute medly kicks in. It contains one longer song and 7 shorter ones, both finished and unfinished, blended into a suite by Paul McCartney and producer George Martin.

You Never Give Me Your Money, Sun King, Mean Mr. Mustard, Polythene Pam, She Came In Through The Bathroom Window, Golden Slumbers, Carry That Weight and The End are pretty much a miss mash of styles, sounds and techniques.

The first track in that line-up, is really a stand alone I think, and I'm not sure why It's considered part of the mix. From there it kind of winds a road that seems like it wasn't sure which path to take, so it took all of them. Normally this comes off jumpy, distorted and annoying. In the case of these songs it just allows them to move really quickly through a bunch of songs that would never be more than they are.

It's the recognition of that that makes the journey through Mean Mr. Mustard, Polythene Pam, She Came In Through The Bathroom Window seem seamless. It takes until Golden Slumbers and Carry That Weight until you notice that a bunch of different tracks have gone by. Then the End finishes it all off nice and pretty like.

Her Majesty was a snipet from the medley that was cut and accidently saved twice into Beatles history. Basically because of a rule about not throwing anything The Beatles recorded out, this song became a hidden track that the band found neat. It does nothing for me, or the album, in the grand scheme of things.

So, the best way I know how to sum up this album is side one is for a good time, and side two is for some artistic wanking. It's a combination of everything that made The Beatles The Beatles. It's the high note that any band could only hope to end their careers on.

9/10 - content

9/10 - production

9/10 - personal bias

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Iron Butterfly - Heavy

Like everyone born after, let's say 1975, the first song I knew from Iron Butterfly was In-A-Godda-Da-Vida. Unlike most people, my song knowledge goes beyond that song. It even extends past the album of the same name. I won't claim to be the biggest fan, but I will claim to own two Iron Butterfly albums, because aside from one Best of... package I once found, these are the only two CDs I've come across in my journeys.

I've personally owned two different versions of the aforementioned album. One was the standard CD release. The other was a special addition that only included alternate versions of the famous track that I purchased years later.

When I stumbled across the Best of... package I was just starting my CD collection and hadn't even bought the standard copy of In-A-Godda-Da-Vida yet. My dad, which introduced me to Iron Butterfly, didn't even realize that they had more than one album, since Detroit didn't play a lot of California Acid Rock in the 70's. So, when I asked him about if it would be worth picking up he wasn't sure.

Years later while in college, and long after replacing my orignal In-A-Godda-Da-Vida with the special edition version, I stumbled across Heavy. I was working part time, my only real expense was food and schooling, so I was more risky about buying music I had never heard. We didn't have youtube or napster (which I was against anyway) yet, so there was no way to preview the music.

I get home, throw the CD in the player, sit back and enjoy. I have enjoyed this CD ever since. It's my favourite of the two CDs I own from Iron Butterfly. This album was also the band's first.

It opens with Possession which is a heavy and haunting song about a man's possessive nature towards a woman he really seems not to care about. It's like The Beatles meet Type O Negative. In fact I often wonder how much Peter Steele and Josh Silver listened to Iron Butterfly.

Now I should mention that this album does have a differnt feel than the other mentioned because half the band changed from the first album to the second. Doug Ingle (vocals, organ) and Ron Bushy (drums) were the only members that stayed on. Musically this may have been for the best, since this allowed the band to get heavier in later years.

Unconscious Power, is the second song on the album. It's a fantastic number, that's really upbeat and has a fast boogey to it. I would say that the bass line gives it almost a Surf Rock feel.

The next song is a cover of Allen Toussaint's get Out of My Life Woman. After researching the name I discover it's the same guy that wrote Working In Coalmine, to which I love Devo's version. This song I don't care for as much. It's a little too slow and draggy on this album, and it slows things down in a way I don't like. The album picks back up with Gentle As It May Seem, and because of the heavy blues feel on the last song, this one seems very natural in it's placement afterward. This song's a bit Bluesy, a little Pop, and very cinamatic in a certain way.

Side one of the vinyl finished with You Can't Win. This would have been a fantastic conclusion to the first side. Musically it's more like the first two songs, but with a slower beat like Possession.

I also feel I should mention that the last two songs were written by two of the members that left the band after this album, Darryl DeLoach (tambourine, vocals) and Danny Weis (guitar). Jerry Penrod (bass guitar, vocals) also left after this album but had no writing contributions.

So-Lo opens up the second side of the vinyl. From this point on DeLoach writes all the lyrics and Ingle the music. Based on that, I must say that Ingel was definately the better music writer. Iron Butterfly's lyrics have always been a bit sketchy. The next song on the album should have opened the second side. Look For The Sun, the only song on the second side to feature Weis as a music writer as well. It is once again back to being haunting as all hell. For a bunch of hippies they sure got freaky.

Fields Of Sun is just as heavy as every other song on this album. I have no clue how the hell Ingle was able to constantly achieve such a beautifuly creepy sound with his vocals and organs, especially on songs that should be more sunshine sounding lyrically.

The second to last song on the album is Stampede Ideas. It's a fast paced, pleasantly happy sounding number. A little more Hippy typical, but not as loose and free.

I normally only like songs that contain the band's name because of camp value. However, the last song, Iron Butterfly Theme is a work of fucking genius. It sounds like a Mecha Mothra attacking a city. I mean a really big iron butterfly totally trashing the city of San Diego. Douglas Ingle is just absolutely brilliant when he is writing heavy instrumental based songs, and this one doesn't contain a single word.

As I said at the beginning this is my favourite Iron Butterfly album so far. There are three more I have yet to hear. However, based on just the two I have mentioned in this article, I have to say that the band members that stayed, except for Penrod, were the ones that needed to stay. Penrod's bass I think would have added to future albums. I don't really care for DeLoach's vocals, at least not as much as I like Ingle's. As for Ron Bushy, he was the only member of the band to play on every album, and his drums were one of the best parts of the band.

8/10 - content

7/10 - production

9/10 - personal bias

Monday, June 18, 2012

Last Action Hero - Music From The Original Motion Picture

As a movie Last Action Hero had one thing going for it. The soundtrack was chalked full of awesome goodies, from a variety of styles that help make up the world of Rock and Metal. There's even a little Hip Hop and Nu Metal (which didn't officially exist yet).

The main reason everyone, including myself, bought this album was for AC/DC's Big Gun. The boys from Downunder were riding high off the success of their double CD, Live. This was the only radio single the band had for the next four years or more. It was huge for them, and a great example of why some songs go on soundtracks. It's great in that cheesy kind of way.

I've never been a fan of Alice In Chains. What The Hell Have I was recorded during the Dirt album sessions, but was shelved. It later ended up on here, and it's okay. But this is a prime example of what soundtracks are really made of.

Megadeth Angry Again is a song I like. It's a bit of a throw away, and a little commercial, but other than that pretty solid.

Queensryche and Def Leppard help fill out this albums sissy girl quota. In other words they supply the two ballads for this album. Real World, from Queensryche, it at least pretty and nice to listen to. Two Steps Behind on the other hand is the reason I started to really dislike Def Leppard. In fact it was the reason I stopped listening to them for a couple years.

Anthrax is another band I normally have very little use for. East Coast Thrash Metal always seemed so much thinner than it's West Coast countrer parts. Poison My Eyes is one of the songs I've heard from them that I actually enjoy. However, it may just be from the amount of times I've listened to this album.

The Aerosmith version of Dream On is not the original. It was performed with an orchestra for MTV's 10th Anniversary Special. Except for the vocals, I like this version better than the original. The orchestra really adds to it.

A little Bitter is the second song Alice In Chains contributes to the album. Although heavy, and full of the rage I normally like, I can't stand the droning sound found through out all of their music.

Cypress Hill may be one of the few Hip Hop acts back in the early to mid 90's I didn't hate. Cock the Hammer was the reason for this. The only other song from them I knew was Insane In The Membrane, which had gotten way over played by the contingent of students that were stoned thug wannabes. However, this song kept me respecting Cypress Hill as musicians to some extent.

I know nothing of Fishbone. The song Swim is the only song to this day that I ever remember hearing. It was one of those songs that would be the prototype for Nu Metal, but I like this better than most Nu Metal.

Tesla performs the albums title track, or movie theme song if you prefer. Telsa was one of those hair bands I normally avoided. With the exception of their cover of Sign, I can't think of a single song I know by name and my step mom even owned one of their albums.

The last song on the album is the only song that is movie score like. Michael Kamen and The Los Angeles Rock And Roll Ensemble Featuring Buckethead performed Jack the Ripper. Let me start by saying this is the first time I had ever heard of Buckethead. It was also the last time until some point five or more years later. The song is really well done in a very standard action movie score sort of way.

On the whole most of my feelings toward this album are feelings of nostalgia. This album is a shining example of the confused and slightly sad state of music at the time. There was a lot of flash and styling, but the substance was missing. The heart and soul were absent in a body of splashy design. It's like a Corvette with a Chevette engine.

6/10 - content

7/10 - production

7/10 - personal bias

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Metallica - Hero Of the Day (Featuring The Whole Motorheadache Mess)

When Metallica started releasing singles for the ...And Justice For All album they did something awesome that most bands didn't do. They released songs you wanted to hear that weren't on the album as just b-sides. They were collectable, and oh yeah, they were also covers, not just studio out takes.

Breadfan by Budgie was the first song to start this awesome craze. This continued on with every single from the Black Album. By the time Load and Reload came out the band had shifted to releasing live versions of all those covers, for those like me that couldn't get them the first time around. However, we still got four new covers as well.

Overkill, Damage Case, Stone Dead Forever and Too Late Too Late, all ended up on a special Strictly Limited Edition version of Hero Of The Day. This was the only way to get all four songs together at the same time, and I made sure I had it.

The only reason I'm covering this album, and I won't cover any of the other singles, is due to the reason I will cover Garage Days Re-Visited. The Original Garage was only five songs, a Maxi EP, of covers. This album is the same, except it has one studio track and four covers recorded in a way that sounds like the original Garage. So, this review feels justified.

Let me start with Hero Of The Day. The Metal side of me goes, "What's this Alternative shit!?" The Hard Rock side of me goes, "This is a bit to mellow for me." The Classic Rock side of me goes, "This isn't too bad. Not great, but okay." The side of me that listens to everyhting else goes, "Ummm, hmmmm."

Eventually I'll write more on that song when I cover the Load album. Now on to the good stuff.

I would like to start by thanking Metallica for introducing me to Motorhead. I'd only ever heard Ace Of Spades prior to this, and a friend we shall call Varg, over played the shit out of the one song. However, thanks to this album I later ventured into Motorhead all on my own, and the first thing I picked up was the album Overkill.

The song that leads of this four song collection is the title track from that album. It's one of the heaviest, hardest, thundering songs I have ever heard. It is the perfect mix of Hard/Metal/Punk. This song makes Thrash Metal it's bitch, after snorting a line of coke and sodomizing anything that musically resembles Deathklok, has to offer. Oh yeah, the song doesn't have just one fake ending. It comes back to skull fuck you twice with bone rattling fury.

Also, the only differnce between the Metallica version and the Motorhead version is no one sounds like Lemmy.

At this point I would like to just say go out and buy the original versions because these sound just like those, but with James singing and James is not Lemmy. However, these songs are just fucking awesome. These covers rock hard.

As much as i love Overkill I think Damage Case is the best Metallica-like performance of the four covers. By which I mean that it's the only song I think James isn't chasing the ghost of Lemmy's voice. It sounds like it could easily be a Metallica song all on it's own.

Stone Dead Forever is a good song, but you can hear this is not really a produced track. It's awesome for the value that is this song, and the way it was released. It may be the weakest song on the collection.

I don't care for Too Late Too Late, including the Motorhead version. It's just the song. This version is just as good as all the other covers, and much like Damage Case sounds like it could even be a Metallica track. Just a track I don't care for. At the time I was uber happy I picked up this collection when I did, even if it was on the Hero Of the Day single. In retrospect I could have waited the extra two years to get them all together on Garage Inc., without the actually single.

7/10 - content

8/10 - production

9/10 - personal bias

Bonus Track: Kill/Ride Medley (live). I decided at the last minute just to mention that the other H.O.T.D. single I have includes a medley (not the same as a mash up, for today's musically retarded). The songs thrown into the mix, and in order, are Ride The Lightning, No Remorse, Hit The Lights, The Four Horsemen, Phantom Lord and Fight Fire With Fire. I love this medley, it's 10:17 of fast paced fury, that covers a great collection of songs from two different albums. When I saw them perform it live my only complaint was, that Horsemen was in there and not played as the full song. However, this track rocks my Mp3 player often.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Black Sabbath - Never Say Die

* Note from the Author. There is only one Black Sabbath, and they are Geezer Butler, Bill Ward, Tony Iommi and Ozzy Osbourne. All other versions of Black Sabbath may be referred to as Heaven and Hell to prevent confusion and my going off about the subject.

After writing the reviews for both Nativity In Black albums (Black Sabbath tributes) I decided I should write a review for an actual Sabbath album.

I only own two albums from the original Heavy Metal band, that are not compilations. The first one is Paranoid, a staple of any serious Classic Rock collection. Also you can't really be into Metal without owning that album. However, that's not the album I decided to review.

I decided to start reviewing Black Sabbath with their second most obscure album, and the last album with the band I consider Black Sabbath.

This album never should have been released. In fact Ozzy had already left the band, and the other three members had started working with Ronnie James Dio on what would become the Heaven and Hell album. Although after some discussion the group decided to try making one more album and see if they could recapture the old vibe. It didn't quite work, but they made one of their most unique albums.

In 1978 they released Never Say Die and then promptly fell apart, died, and released the album they in fact wanted to release with Dio, which was much better. However, that doesn't mean this album should be ignored. If you like Jazz, and I mean real Jazz, you may be interested in this one.

The title track starts the album off. It's pretty much the best commercial song on the album. In fact only one other song is in that precious 3:30 time limit of commercial success. I love the song Never Say Die, for one major reason. A Black Sabbath song that you can honestly dance to. It's not a dance song, or a slow song like Changes. This is more like a classic 50's style rock song that you might hear at a sock hop, or a bit poppy like early Beatles. Real classic Rock & Roll stuff.

Johnny Blade is the next track on the album. Very dark alley Jazz sounding. It's seedy in sound and really grimey in feel. It could kind of be considered proto Goth. I really like this one, in it's artistic capacity. From thethe first verse "Toutured and twisted, he walk the streets / People avoid him, they know the street's his own / Cold blade of silver, his eyes they burn so wild / Mean as a tiger, socety's own child", this song conjures up a victim of the wrong side of the tracks.

The second track flows so smoothly into the third that it's hard to figure out where one stops and the other starts. Junior's Eyes is listed as being 6:41 and when you tack that on to the 6:27 of the previous track it seems like a really big Jazz jam. This song isn't as good as the first two, and this is where the album starts to get shakey.

I swear that only Black Sabbath and Metallica can get away with having an average song length of five an half minutes on each album. A Hard Road is a bouncy track that comes in at 6:03, although the last minute or two are a bit repetitive for my likings. It would be an okay tune if it were done by someone other than Black Sabbath, but not that okay.

Shock Wave is okay. It sounds a bit like a filler track from Masters Of Reality or Vol. 4, but without the cool, heavy, scary sound that normally comes with a Sabbath song.

A very pretty, and totally out of place song, is Air Dance. I don't know how to describe this song correctly. It's like Zappa meets Bowie meets my Papa's Jazz collection. It's a really good song instrumentally, but it does not have that Sabbath feel or vibe.

Over To You picks the pace back up a bit, but only in a dragging your ass kind of way. Also what the fuck is with all the piano? I think if I had been in charge of the vinyl album cover production at the time, side two would have read Piano Side. There's nothing wrong with all the piano either. I liked it in Air Dance and I don't even mind Changes from a previous album, but Sabbath is not really a piano/keyboard band. They should have left that purely to Led Zeppelin.

The shortest song on the album is Breakout at 2:36. It's another really Jazzy kind of track, complete with a saxaphone this time even. It's a wicked instrumental, that sounds very jammy, and it seems to serve more as an intro for Swinging the Chain. Which is the last song on the album.

Bill Ward sings the final track, instead of Ozzy. This song is very much an old blues kind of song. Black Sabbath working on the chain gang would be the best way to describe it.

Over all this isn't a bad album, it's just a bad Black Sabbath album. If it were an album by Earth (when Black Sabbath was a Blues/Jazz band) it might be a different story. I wouldn't suggest this album to any Sabbath fan, but I might suggest it to someone that was looking for something dark, artsy and different.

5/10 - content

4/10 - production

6/10 - personal bias

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Deep Purple - Come Hell Or High Water

I love Deep Purple, in a "Best of..." kind of way, based on my experience. I've never had access to proper albums, just compilations or live stuff. Anyone I knew with classic Purple vinyl didn't have a needle, and once CD's were around all anyone ever bought was Greatest Hits packages. To this day I've never ventured out of this myself except to buy a live album.

The very first Deep Purple anything I bought was Come Hell Or High Water. I picked this up through BMG, one of those mail order clubs. I don't remember if it was part of my 12 for 1 cent introduction offer, or one of those mandatory CDs to finish my obligation.

This album was recorded in two seperate locations, on two different dates, both in 1993. The line-up for this album was Ritchie Blackmore, Ian Gillian, Roger Glover, Jon Lord and Ian Paice, and to be honest you can tell that they are feeling their age in the face of being forced out by Grunge and Alternative bands.

Most of the album is made up of Deep Purple standards, and a couple others I don't really know except for being on this album. I should mention that Deep Purple is one of those bands that Detroit Radio really liked when I was a kid, and they weren't afraid to play a variety.

The album opens with Highway Star. A song that I always thought was over rated, and on here it's really lack luster. It does nothing for me at all. In fact it sounds more like it was recorded during a soundcheck than in front of an audience.

Black Night, is good song normally on it's own. Not even close to one of my favourites, but a good song all the same. On here it suffers from the same piss poor production that hurt the opener.

A Twist In The Tail was the first song on this album I didn't know. It really sounds N.W.O.B.H.M., or what directly inspired it. I was happy to hear the song, is was a nice fresh breath of air. Sadly the production really hurt it too. But when I relisten to the song as i write this it inspires me to go search out the original and see if it blows my mind.

Deep Purple was, and still might be, the loudest band on Earth. When I say that, I mean they at one time held that actual distinctive world record. That being said, I will no longer mention the shitty ass production of this album, because it was a real bring-me-down. It is the reason I only listen to this album maybe once every half decade.

The next track up is Perfect Strangers. Another song I didn't really know from Purple. I've heard it before, maybe once or twice, but only enough to know that this version didn't sound very good.

I also don't know Anyone's Daughter. I don't want to know this song either. It's more humourous sounding than I like from a band that is so damn amazingly gifted. I also don't think Deep Purple should do country/folky sounding stuff like this either. I don't even want to look for the original.

Child In Time left me feeling a bit let down too. The keyboards, while sounding close to the original, were not close enough to be enjoyable. In fact they sounded dumbed down. I swear all the production value went into this song. The band finally opens up and explodes in just the right spot, and then slowly moves into a slightly disjointed exploritory rediscovery of a classic song.

I think at this point it switched from one show to the next, just due to the sound production changing. It actually get's much better on the second half.

The next track is really pretty and a sign of things to come from Blackmore. That is right up until Anya becomes big, brash and something more atuned to Rainbow than Deep Purple. Another song that I didn't know before hearing it here, but I don't know if I'd look up the original.

I would have to say that of all the songs on this album Speed King is another one I wish they wouldn't have used from the older days. I don't mind the song, but it isn't the Purple I like. It's one of those ones I don't understand why it's as popular as it is. I could also do without the extra goofy jam in the middle of the song. We didn't need to go there, or anywhere else extra that it went.

Okay, you know it has to be on the album. You can't have a live Deep Purple album without it. So here it is, 10:09 of Smoke On The Water. It's the last song on the album. The big encore that get's everyone moving and shaking and leaves you wanting more. It gets a really big build up. This has an exploration that I can understand. They work the crowd really well, something that only really shows up on this song, and go somewhere worth going, before getting where they need. When they do, they do it with a sledge hammer.

This is the only song on the entire album that clearly sounds like the original band is performing it. It's also the only song that really sounds like a live album. The way the crowd is worked and the music is played, has that great live feel and energy. Basically the production on this album sucks. It's complete and total rubbish. It's also easy to tell this is the end of the Blackmore era of Deep Purple. The band just doesn't sound together at all. Using today's technology, I would describe it as listening to a good tribute band that recorded a live performance for Youtube.

4/10 - content

3/10 - production

4/10 - personal bias

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

David Bowie - Ziggy Stardust

The full title of the album is The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars. Originally released on vinyl in 1972, this album contained only 11 songs. The version I'm reviewing is the 1990 CD re-issue that contains five bonus tracks.

Let me start with I don't care what you say about David Bowie. I don't care if during the 70's he was enjoying being gangraped by all of The Rolling Stones at one time. He was making amazing music, that timelessly transcends so many boundries.

However, he was an ever changing face in music. More so, and with much more class, than Madonna. He went through so many phases, right up until the early days of main stream Goth/Industrial. Like many though, my favourite was the Spaceman/Ziggy Stardust period.

The album opens up with Five Years. It set's the mood, and gives a great opening. It's very strong and passionate, like the rest of the album.

Soul Love is very nice but doesn't do much for me. It's the only real filler to me, and I'm happy it's over and done with so early on the album.

Moonage Daydream is a fantastic song. The beauty of Bowie is his ability to perform as a true character. This song get's so crazy Sci-Fi, that you can't help but feel like you are following this beyond-gendered spaceman to the furthest reaches of the cosmos.

The song is only 4:37, but the epicness of it makes a person with eyes closed, and imaginations opened, travel for millions of light years. To quote a favourite movie of mine, "Lost in time, lost in space, and meaning." That sums up the feeling conveyed by the song, not my feelings toward it. There's a whole bunch of meaning in it.

Starman is a fun poppy tune. I like to sing along especially in the chorus "There's a starman waiting in the sky /He'd like to come and meet us / But he thinks he'd blow our minds / There's a starman waiting in the sky / He's told us not to blow it / Cause he knows it's all worthwhile", evertime I hear it. I never feel a need to skip, or turn it off. In fact I'd smack the hands of someone that tried. I wouldn't put it on my Mp3 player, though. Not the type of Pop Rock I enjoy listening to. It sounds too distant and orchestrated.

Now it should be said that this is a concept album. The trials and tribulations of the rise to stardom, and the inevitable crash that always follows. It Ain't Easy would be a fantastic song, although a bit of a filler, if it weren't for the fact that it's essential to the story of the album. The story of how hard it is to be a struggling up and coming band, because it ain't easy. That makes the song even better.

I'm not sure what to make of Lady Stardust. It's a great, smokey frontier bar, kind of song. In the idea and vain of Let It Be or more recently Lady Gaga's Speechless. Other than that it's like other songs from here. I wouldn't skip it, and I enjoy it, but wouldn't Mp3 it.

I feel the exact same way about Star as well. However, this song is more of a rockin' old school Rock & Roll song.

Hang Onto Yourself is a great ruckus of a song, in the classic whirlwind style of A Hard Days Night. Which at the time wasn't that classic, less than a decade old in fact.

My favourite Bowie song is Ziggy Stardust. It's my goto Karaoke song when in doubt. It's the one Bowie song I would have wanted to include in a set list with any band, no matter how Metal. I love this song. If I were to put together one mix tape that I could only listen to for the rest of my life, this would be on it.

Suffragette City taught me the expression "Wham, bam, thank-you ma'am." For that reason and that reason alone this song is totally cool to the thirteen year old boy in me. This song is just pure dirty, down on your luck sex, in a way that only a good upbeat Soul song can do. I have to say that David Bowie, especially in the 1970's, really knew how to use and exploit that Big Band, Soul, Stokes, Beatles Pop, combination that I've never heard done the same since.

The original vinyl ends with Rock 'N' Roll Suicide. This is in my top ten of Bowie songs. It starts so simple, with Bowie saying/singing "Time takes a cigarette, puts it in your mouth / You pull on your finger, then another finger, then your cigarette / The wall-to-wall is calling, it lingers, then you forget / Ohhh how how how, you're a rock 'n' roll suicide", and builds up in a way that is so gradual that you barely notice it. By 1:20 it's clear that this song is going to get big. By the time you hit 2:12 the song has hit what could be considered arena status. It is the big closing number.

The bonus tracks begin with a previously unreleased mix of John, I'm Only Dancing. I'm not sure how the mix is that much different, but it doesn't matter because it's the same fun danceable song as always.

Originally an out-take that became a B-side from the Ziggy Stardust recording sessions, Velvet Goldmine, is a great song. It's so good that it's not only a song I enjoy on this re-issue, but it's become a fan favourite over the decades. To the point where it's included on most compliations that reflect that time period.

Sweet Head is another previously unreleased track and it's very easy to figure out why. I think the censors of that day would have gone ballistic about listening to Bowie singing/shouting "Give you sweet head." Especially considering he's clearly singing about another dude. The early 70's weren't that progressive. That aside, this is actually a good song.

The last two tracks are unreleased demo versions of Lady Stardust and Ziggy Stardust, except they appear in the opposite order. However, the Lady Stardust demo only deserves the mention of, it's a nice bonus for the fans that want it. The Ziggy Stardust demo is fucking fanstastic, if you want to listen to Bowie perform an accoustic version of the song. I do. I don't put it on my Mp3 player, but I do like cranking it up at home. I would put this on a mixed tape of various accoustic songs.

This album is considered one of the greats for a good reason. My main argument for that is, it's a fully functioning concept album, where each song works perfectly in an individual manner. Very few artists know how to do that as well as Bowie does on this album.

I wouldn't call every song a masterpiece, but they don't need to be. The beauty is in the rough edges, and off colour sounds, that have been polished to a spectacular shine, without over production. Were it not for my personal bias towards certain songs this would be a perfect album, without the CD's bonus tracks for extra points.

10/10 - content

10/10 - production

8/10 - personal bias

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Nativity In Black II - A Tribute To Black Sabbath

Six years! It took six long years to finally get a follow up to Nativity In Black, and it wasn't entirely worth it.

Most of the songs on the original Nativity were pretty faithful to the originals, but with personal tweeks from the bands so that the songs sounded like the artists/groups performing them, and not just blatant covers. This album went a little more to the personalized side. All the songs sound like the original, except for one, but the different stylization changes in some cases really hurt some songs while others were made into interesting listens.

Also like the original, this album mainly features groups performing the songs together, with the exception of Ozzy. This time he is joined by Primus. Also a quarter of the bands this time represent a new style of Metal that didn't exsist when the last album was released, Nu Metal. There's also Hip Hop/Rap elements on this album too. Yikes!

The album starts with Godsmack performing Sweet Leaf. I'm not a fan of Godsmack, but I don't dislike them either. This cover is pretty much the same thing. It's good, but not as good as the original.

Hole In The Sky, performed by Machine Head follows that up. It's pretty decent, not as good as other covers I've heard of this song, but acceptable.

Static-X crank out a version of Behind The Wall Of Sleep, which is impressive since it's not the *most common Sabbath song. That's where the praise stops, and the ripping on the album never starts.

Megadeth are the only returning band from the original Nativity In Black. This time they are performing Never Say Die, a song so rare that it never gets airplay of any type. In fact the Original band pretty much ignore this song and the album it came from all together. That being said, this is a great song, and the Megadeth cover is just as good, if not better, than the original one.

A uniquely stylized version of Snow Blind is played by System Of A Down. This is a band I've never really cared for. I respect them as musicians, but for the most part they are a little too screamy for me. This song doesn't have that problem. Instead it sounds like they only learned half the song and then faked their way through the rest. The product is actually a very interesting and still enjoyable rendition of the song.

Electric Funeral is done by Pantera on this album. I'm not sure why they weren't able to contribute to the last tribute record, but based on this performance that was a mistake. Pantera is one of the few yelling Metal bands I like. They also cover Black Sabbath better than anyone else I have ever heard. I would have paid good money for an entire Sabbath album done by them.

Primus backs up Ozzy for a stunning rendition of N.I.B. Much like the last album this pretty much sounds like a complete modern redo of the original, except Primus plays this complicated song with more of the same ease as the original band. In fact you would swear that Les Claypool studied every single finger placement that Geezer Butler originally played.

Aside from Seasons In the Abyss, and maybe one or two other songs, I have never had any use for Slayer. I owned a shirt I use to wear all the time from them, but that's only because my grandma bought it for me, and I felt I should wear it. However, this cover of Hand Of Doom is fantastic. They really did a bang up job on this song, while keeping it Slayer sounding.

Now Slayer is a band that's a little too much with the yelling and screaming for my likings, but they toned it down for their cover. Soulfly on the hand stunk up their cover of Under The Sun with nothing but boring standard punk growl yelling. Musically the song is very sound, but vocally I can't be bothered with it. Just not my thing.

Sabbra Cadabra is one of my favourite Sabbath songs, and I even come very close to saying that I like the Metallica version better than the original, because of the different arrangements. On this album that song is done by Hed (PE). It is like the original, more or less. This is the Hip Hop element I was talking about, which doesn't hurt the song, but it doesn't entirely help it either. It is the second most interesting (not best) song on this album.

Monster Magnet's Into the Void brings things back to normal, after an abnormal intro. I like these guys, they seem to know how to make good sounding music. I don't own anything from them as of this writing, but anything I've heard I've liked more or less. This song falls into that catagory too. My only real complaint is the track tends to drag on a bit longer than I would like.

The most interesting song on this album belongs to one of the few Rappers I actually like. Busta Rhymes performs Iron Man (This Means War). This is more Busta sampling Iron Man, but with actual musicians and Ozzy performing different/new lyrics that have nothing to do with the original. To me this is an entirely different song from the original, but is still very much a tribute in it's own way.

After this album I don't know if i would pick up a copy of Nativity in Black III if one ever came out, but it's cool to see the influence of Black Sabbath in different and unique ways. If I was a fan of more of the bands I would probably like this album more than I do. It's not that it's a bad cover album, I've heard worse. It's just not as good as the previous Nativity In Black.

7/10 - content

8/10 - production

7/10 - personal bias