Sunday, December 23, 2007

OPETH: (1996) Morningrise @256k

While they have taken a different approach with each album, Opeth has a very distinct and instantly recognizable sound: somber, mysterious, and very serious. Their style falls at a meeting point between melodic Swedish death metal and '70s progressive rock, though without any of the technical busyness that description might imply. Morningrise is, as far as the metal scale goes, possibly their least heavy album; it also contains their longest songs -- just five of them, ranging in length from ten to 20 minutes. The tracks all take their time developing, shifting back and forth from full-on metal sections (marked by distorted dual guitar riffs and growling vocals) to calm, acoustic guitar-based passages with more softly sung vocals. These shifts happen much like scenes changes in a movie, as there is very little repetition within the songs, and there are sometimes distinct pauses separating one section from the next. In fact, given the strongly narrative lyrics (which primarily revolve around the subject of a lost lover), the tracks here could best be described as miniature audio movies. This is a very painstakingly put-together album, and listeners will have to have some patience in order to mentally piece it all together. Some will be turned off by the long songs and the cold, gray atmosphere the album gives off, but for those who are on this band's wavelength and willing to show some patience, this album will repay many, many repeat listens. --- by William York, All Music Guide

1. Advent
2. Night & The Silent Water
3. Nectar
4. Black Rose Immortal
5. To Bid You Farewell

pass = heavymetalbreed

BUDGIE: (1998) Heavier Than Air: Rarest Eggs (DCD) @256k

Heavier than Air: Rarest Eggs is a double-disc set containing nothing but previously unreleased Budgie songs. There are both live recordings and studio outtakes on the collection, with the live cuts outnumbering the studio material by a wide margin. There's nothing particularly revelatory here, and it is certainly just for Budgie fanatics, but they'll likely be pleased by this well-assembled set. --- by Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide

CD --- 1
1. Rape of the Locks
2. Rocking man
3. Young is a World
4. Hot as A Docker's Armpit
5. Sky High Percentage
6. In the Grip of a Tyrefitter's Hand
7. I Turned the Stone
8. You're a Superstar
9. She Used Me Up
10. Hot as a Docker's Armpit
11. The Author
12. Whiskey River
13. Nude Disintegrating Parachutist Woman

CD --- 2
1. Breadfan
2. You're the Biggest Thing Since Powdered Milk
3. Melt the Ice Away
4. In the Grip of a Tyrefitter's Hand
5. Smile Boy Smile
6. In for the Kill - You're The Biggest Thing Since Powdered Milk
7. Love for You and Me
8. Parents
9. Who Do You Want For Your Love
10. Don't Dilute the Water
11. Breaking All the House Rules
12. Breadfan

pass = heavymetalbreed

BUDGIE: (1997) We Came We Saw Live on the BBC (DCD) @256k

A companion collection to Heavier than Air, We Came We Saw is a double-disc set of live recordings culled from Budgie's appearances at the Reading Festival in 1980 and 1982. Though they were at the end of their career, the heavy rock trio still sounded as good as they ever have; occasionally, their songs sound even better in concert than they do on vinyl. Like most archival releases, We Came We Saw is only of interest for hardcore fans, but they'll likely be pleased by the solid sound and packaging, highlighted by notes by bassist Burke Shelley. --- by Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide

CD --- 1
1. Breaking All the House Rules
2. Crime Against the World
3. Napoleon Bona Part 1 & 2
4. Forearm Smash
5. Panzer Division Destroyed!
6. Wildfire
7. Breadfan

CD --- 2
1. Forearm Smash
2. Crime Against the World
3. I Turned to Stone
4. Truth Drug
5. Superstar
6. She Used Me Up
7. Panzer Division Destroyed!

pass = heavymetalbreed


When Mushroomhead signed with Universal in 2001, fans' reactions ranged from elation to knee-jerk pessimism. Some followers were thrilled that Cleveland's best-kept alternative metal secret had hooked up with a major label and hoped that the headbangers would finally receive the sort of national success they deserved; pessimists feared that a corporate powerhouse like Universal would neuter Mushroomhead and try to take away their risk-taking spirit. On a creative level, XIII is the first album that really tests Mushroomhead's relationship with Universal; it's the first album they actually recorded for Universal, whereas their previous album, XX, was originally an indie release before Universal remastered and re-released it. As it turns out, the pessimists had nothing to worry about; XIII is no less adventurous than Mushroomhead's pre-Universal output. XIII sounds quite focused but never comes across as contrived, and longtime followers will be happy to know that this 2003 release is state-of-the-art Mushroomhead -- forceful, loud, and in your face, but melodic and intricate as well. Bombast is still an important part of the picture, although not at the expense of musicality. And true to form, Mushroomhead continues to find inspiration in a variety of music. Metal remains the foundation -- they're an alt-metal band first and foremost -- but punk, rap, industrial, techno, and goth are still effective, tastefully applied ingredients. XIII has inspired a variety of interesting comparisons; reviewers have mentioned everyone from Marilyn Manson to Evanescence to Slipknot and Sevendust when describing XIII. But truth be told, Mushroomhead had a distinctive, recognizable sound (and a devoted cult following in Cleveland) long before Evanescence, Slipknot, or Sevendust broke through commercially -- and it would be a huge mistake to think that Mushroomhead is actually trying to emulate any other artists. XIII is the work of metalheads who have never been afraid to be original -- a band that, creatively, doesn't lose a thing on this Universal disc. ----- Alex Henderson, All Music Guide

1. Kill Tomorrow
2. Sun Doesn't Rise
3. Mother Machine Gun
4. Nowhere To Go
5. Becoming Gold
6. One More Day
7. The Dream is Over
8. The War Inside
9. Almost Gone
10. Eternal
11. Our Own Way
12. Destroy the World Around Me
13. Thirteen/Crazy

pass = heavymetalbreed

MUSHROOMHEAD: (2001) XX @256k

No one will accuse Mushroomhead of not having an intriguing image; on stage, most of its members wear black masks that look like a cross between S&M/bondage masks and World War I-style gas masks. The exception is the member who wears Kiss-like clown makeup instead. Mushroomhead's unusual look is definitely an attention getter, but having an interesting image wouldn't mean much if the Cleveland band didn't have some worthwhile music to go with it. Thankfully, Mushroomhead's music is as creative as its image; XX, in fact, is among the most ambitious alternative metal releases of 2001. Far from generic, this CD successfully fuses alt-metal with everything from hip-hop, punk, and goth rock to industrial and techno. Plenty of headbangers have jumped on the rap-metal bandwagon, but how many metal bands that incorporate a lot of rapping also incorporate goth, industrial, and techno elements? At times, XX almost sounds like Rage Against the Machine meets Ministry by way of Bauhaus -- with some techno/rave exuberance added to the mix. That isn't exactly the most conventional mixture in the world, and the nice thing is that Mushroomhead's experimentation always sounds organic rather than forced or unnatural. Anyone who is seeking something fresh and risk-taking from alternative metal should make a point of hearing this superb CD. ----- by Alex Henderson, All Music Guide

1. Before I Die
2. Bwomp
3. Solitaire/Unraveling
4. These Filthy Hands
5. Never Let It Go
6. Xeroxed
7. The Wrist
8. Chancre Sore
9. The New Cult King
10. Empty Spaces
11. Born of Desire
12. 43
13. Fear Held Dear
14. Too Much Nothing
15. Episode 29
16. Bwomp Part.2

pass = heavymetalbreed

MUSHROOMHEAD: (1999) M3 @256k

Mushroomhead's third album, M3, gets off to a harsh and abrasive start with "Before I Die." When that opening number is playing and one is hearing this CD for the first time, he/she tends to suspect that the entire album won't be quite that brutal. Mushroomhead, after all, is a band that thrives on intricacy and melody as well as intensity -- unlike some alternative metal outfits, Mushroomhead doesn't go for the jugular 100 percent of the time. And sure enough, M3 turns out to be fairly diverse. Parts of this 1999 release are dissonant, merciless bursts of metalcore noise, especially "Xeroxed" and the aforementioned "Before I Die." But most of the time, Mushroomhead is a lot more intricate -- and a strong sense of melody asserts itself on dark, moody offerings like "The New Cult King," "Solitaire/Unraveling," "Conflict -- The Argument Goes On," and "The Final Act." Mushroomhead, for the most part, isn't content to provide noise for the sake of noise or brutality for the sake of brutality. These guys are ambitious and risk-taking, and they keep things unpredictable on this alterna-metal CD (which was released on Mushroomhead's own Schroomco label and incorporates elements of rap, punk, industrial, goth rock, and techno). Although enjoyable, M3 isn't Mushroomhead's strongest or most essential album -- in fact, those who are making their first Mushroomhead purchase would be better off starting out with either 1996's Superbuick or 2001's X X. But it's a respectable disc that the Cleveland residents' hardcore fans will appreciate. --- by Alex Henderson, All Music Guide

1. Before I Die
2. Solitaire/Unraveling
3. The New Cult King
4. Inevitable
5. Xeroxed
6. The Final Act
7. Conflict: The Argument Goes On
8. Exploiting Your Weakness
9. Beauteous
10. Born of Desire

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MUSHROOMHEAD: (1996) Superbuick @256k

For a band that was so cutting-edge and forward-thinking in the '90s, Mushroomhead did some things the old-fashioned way. Like so many bands that emerged in the '60s, '70s, and '80s, Mushroomhead realized that creating a strong buzz locally (local being Cleveland, OH) was the way to build a career. And even though Mushroomhead's music was very alternative, the Midwesterners were a throwback to the '70s and '80s in that they had a very theatrical live show and gave their audiences a healthy dose of fantasy -- they weren't just another post-grunge outfit that equated being frumpy and unglamorous with "keepin' it real." But Mushroomhead wasn't just selling image; those who acquired the Cleveland residents' second album, Superbuick, realized that they had plenty of great material. Alternative metal is the foundation, and Mushroomhead brings a wide variety of influences to that foundation -- rap, industrial, goth rock, and techno are all influences. One minute, Mushroomhead is being influenced by Rage Against the Machine or Public Enemy; the next minute, one might hear the influence of Metallica, Bauhaus, Ministry, or Nine Inch Nails. And through it all, Mushroomhead always projects a firm identity of its own -- one that involves being forceful yet darkly melodic. Mushroomhead obviously appreciates the intensity of Rage, PE, or Ministry, but it is also obvious that the band is just as appreciative of Bauhaus' dark goth rock melodies. Unfortunately, Superbuick had limited distribution; back in 1996, Mushroomhead didn't have a record deal and was still putting out CDs on its own Schroomco label. Superbuick didn't get into as many stores as it should have, but that doesn't make this sophomore album any less impressive. ----- by Alex Henderson, All Music Guide

1. Bwomp
2. Never Let it Go
3. These Filthy Hands
4. The Wrist
5. Chancre Sore
6. Flattened
7. Big Brother (feat. The Heathers)
8. Idle Worship
9. Fear Held Dear
10. Unintended
11. Bwomp

pass = heavymetalbreed

MUSHROOMHEAD: (1995) Mushroomhead @256k

Known for its theatrical live show and the black masks that most of its members wear on-stage, Mushroomhead is one of the more unique and adventurous alternative metal outfits that emerged in the 1990s. And the Cleveland band's music is as interesting as its image; Mushroomhead's forceful yet melodic alterna-metal incorporates elements of hip-hop, punk, and goth rock as well as industrial and techno. The members of Mushroomhead have been performing incognito since 1993, when drummer Skinny founded the band. At first, Mushroomhead was only meant to be a side project. Its members were playing in various local bands at the time, and they wore the blacks masks (which look like a cross between S&M/bondage masks and World War I gas masks) so that people wouldn't recognize them. The only Mushroomhead member who doesn't wear a black mask opts for Kiss-like clown makeup instead. After a few years, Mushroomhead became one of Cleveland's top local attractions -- and its members kept wearing the masks when they saw how intriguing people found them to be. Mushroomhead's self-titled debut album was released independently in 1995, followed by Superbuick in 1996 and M3 in 1999. The Midwesterners signed with Eclipse in 2000, and their next album, XX, came out the following year. In 2001, Mushroomhead's members included drummer/founder Skinny, lead vocalists J. Mann and Jeffrey Nothing, guitarists Bronson and Gravy, keyboardist Shmotz, bassist Pig Benis, and sample provider Stitch when they signed to Universal Records to re-release XX. Their first proper effort for the label was 2003's dynamic XIII, but the band soon parted ways with not only Universal, but also vocalist J. Mann during a subsequent tour. Undeterred, Mushroomhead pressed on with their D.I.Y. ethos intact and welcomed new frontman Waylon, formerly of 3 Quarters Dead, into the fray. The DVD Mushroomhead, Vol. 1 followed in mid-2005 before the guys returned in September 2006 with Savior Sorrow, released through New York-based indie Megaforce Records. ----- by Alex Henderson, All Music Guide

1. Slow Thing
2. Elevation
3. Too Much Nothing
4. Intermission
5. Ego Trip
6. Mommy
7. 2nd Thoughts
8. Casualties In b Minor
9. Indiferent
10. Simpleton
11. 43
12. Episode 29
13. Snap

pass = heavymetalbreed

TIGERTAILZ: (1991) Banzai (Link Updated!!!)

Simply put, if you like fun rock & roll/metal - BUY THIS! I'll say it again, I simply can't understand how these guys were not big - even though they came along at the end of the "hair metal" era. This album is a collection of B-sides and singles that were put together for a Japan only release. It was re-mastered, along with Bezerk, and both were reissued. This is typical Tigertailz; songs with great hooks, big sing along choruses, but with maybe a little more edge.
Song highlights include: Murderess, Living Without You, She'z Too Hot and Taking The Pain. Also, fans of Metallica and Megadeth might think "who are these guys" to cover Creeping Death and Peace Sells - but the versions here are pretty good. They pretty much stick to the originals and don't try to change the songs. It also shows the harder edge that the band has.
If you are new to Tigertailz, as I was before Amazon recommended Bezerk to me, you would want to start there - but I would suggest getting both Bezerk and Banzai as they are both full of pure Glam-metal fun.

1. Murderess
2. Livin' Without You
3. Million Dollar Smile
4. She'z Too Hot (Live)
5. Creeping Death
6. Nine Livez
7. Peace Sellz
8. Taking the Pain
9. For a Few Dollarz More

pass = heavymetalbreed

Saturday, December 22, 2007

EXODUS: The Atrocity Exhibition @ 320k

Once the kings of the Bay Area metal scene (widely accepted as the birthplace of thrash), Exodus were unceremoniously demoted from their post with the arrival of Los Angeles' Metallica in 1982. Sadly, with a little more luck, the group may have occupied the role of, say, Slayer as the purest purveyors of ultra-thrash, but while they continued to be perceived as a major influence by younger bands and proceeded to carve out a career of their own over the next decade, Exodus were ultimately fated to be the ultimate also-rans of the genre they helped spawn.
Formed in 1981 by singer Paul Baloff, guitarists Gary Holt and Kirk Hammett, bassist Geoff Andrews, and drummer Tom Hunting, Exodus were heavily influenced by Motörhead and New Wave of British Heavy Metal bands like Iron Maiden and Raven, whose lessons they combined with the raw, do-it-yourself aesthetic of the prolific Bay Area punk scene to create thrash metal. Their 1982 demo, Whipping Queen and Death and Domination, became wildly popular on the all-important underground tape-trading circuit and solidified their standing as the Bay Area's first thrash champions. They lost their numero uno standing a year later, however, when core member Kirk Hammett defected to Metallica, who then raced ahead of all competitors in their mission to bring thrash to the world. Undaunted, Exodus drafted guitarist Rick Hunolt and replaced bassist Andrews with Rob McKillop before signing with Torrid Records, for whom they recorded their Bonded by Blood debut in 1984. A would-be landmark of the genre, the album languished unreleased for over a year due to business problems, and by the time it was finally released by Combat Records in 1985, its impact had been severely dulled by the quick evolution of their peers. --- by Ed Rivadavia, All Music Guide

1. Call to Arms
2. Riot Act
3. Funeral Hymn
4. Children of a Wrothless God
5. As It Was, As It, Soon Shall Be
6. The Atrocity Exhibition
7. Iconoclasm
8. The Garden of Bleeding
9. Bedlam 1-2-3

links (COVERS)
password = heavymetalbreed

Sunday, December 16, 2007

GRIM REAPER: Rock You to Hell

Classic death metal reissue from Grim Reaper. 9 tracks including 'Night Of The Vampire', 'Lust For Freedom', 'Rock Me Till I Die' and the title track, 'Rock You To Hell'. Standard jewel case. Great album,the sound quality is the best they ever had,the songs on the previous albums were good but the sound wasn't as thick as Rock you to Hell it's just too bad they stop producing anymore music, Great Band!

1. Rock You to Hell
2. Night of the Vampire
3. Lust For Freedom
4. When Heaven Comes Down
5. Suck it And See
6. Rock Me 'Till I Die
7. You'll Wish That You Were Never Born
8. Waysted Love
9. I Want More
10. Fear no Evil
11. Final Scream
12. See You In Hell
13. The Show Must Go On

link (Covers)
pw - heavymetalbreed

JAG PANZER: Mechanized Warfare (Link Updated!!)

Old school fans say they've been waiting for Jag Panzer to return to the reputation of their highly acclaimed cult-classic debut Ample Destruction. Taking the challenge to heart, Mechanized Warfare proudly frees them from this expectation, and proves they have retained the integrity of conviction that launched them over fifteen years ago. An epic statement that respectfully pays tribute to their roots and clearly prophesizes all that is still ahead of them, Mechanized Warfare continues the momentum gained from all the years of their studio and touring experiences in the metal scene. It speaks boldly to the act of embracing two decades' worth of struggle and achievement, the art of reconstructing it, and the finesse of transforming it into a mythological creature worthy of legendary status. A 2001 Century Media release.

1. Take to the Sky
2. Frozen in Fear
3. Unworthy
4. The Silent
5. The Scarlett Letter
6. Choir of Tears
7. Cold is the Blade
8. Hidden in My Eyes
9. Power Surge
10. All Things Renewed

link (Covers)
pw - heavymetalbreed

HOLLENTHON: With Vilest of Worms to Dwell

Yes he does. First he went outside his quality death metal band Pungent Stench to form Hollenthon with its impressive debut. And this release is far better than the debut. It’s hard not to compare Hollenthon to Therion as they both are two of the leading symphonic metal bands of today, yet it’s dangerous to do so. While Hollenthon makes symphonic metal out of their base of melodic death metal with a few folk elements to it, Therion has went a far way to combine heavy metal with classical music. They’re totally different genres, and aren’t experienced the same way. If we compare though, With Vilest of Worms to Dwell are closest to Theli in terms of pure energy and sheer symphonic madness. But don’t think that it sounds like Theli.
We have growls here, no opera. We’ve got a sick cover artwork instead of just a strange one. We don’t have the pulsating music, but a groovier one. Parts are played just with guitars and drums, turning into just strings and then some strange synthetic effects that unfortunately sink the album a little. The vocals of Martin Shirenc are mediocre at best, but do work. His clean vocals are better than his growls. When Elena starts singing the quality and beauty factors multiply. She wrote the lyrics too and deserves every compliment. The drums are played by Mike Greoger (or is it Greger?) and he does a wonderful job. He’s in Summoning too and it’s a shame that he’s not allowed to play the drums over there. He’s energetic, doing interesting rhythms and never sounds monotonous. The only downfall is that a few of the songs feel like fillers, and the exaggerated keyboards that sound a little too strange at times. With Vilest of Worms to Dwell isn’t a marvellous display of skill, but of visions and talent.
The melody isn’t a driving force in the music, nor is the rhythm. Actually the cyclic orchestrations are, and also they’re the better part of the albums. There’s an excellent solo in The Calm Before the Storm, apparently provided by Rob Barrett (Cannibal Corpse, Malevolent Creation etc.). Too bad the riffs aren’t on par with it.
And if we should compare this to Therion, Hollenthon hasn’t got the same majestic, handcrafted, well-designed compositions. It’s more like Mr. Shirenc knew that he wanted to do an album with the dark, medieval war-like sound he’s accomplished here, and decided to make the songs after the sound instead of doing the correct way around. There’s not much negative to it, just that the song blend into each other a little too well, that there are a few fillers and the riffage. Oh, forgot about the incredibly out-of-place electronic amusement park music box intro to Conspirator. Elena does some real goose bumps-causing banshee sounds a bit into the song. ----- Corimngul

1. Y Draig Goch
2. Woe to The Defeated
3. Lords of Bedlam
4. To Kingdome Come
5. The Calm Before the Storm
6. Fire Upon the Blade
7. Conquest Demise
8. Conspirator

pw - heavymetalbreed


1. Enrapture - Hinc Illae Lacrimae
2. Homage - Magni Nominis Umbra
3. Vestige - Non Omnis Moriar
4. Lure - Pallida Mors
5. Interlude - Ultima Ratio Regum
6. Reprisal - Malis Avibus
7. Premonition - Lex Talionis
8. Eclipes - Vita Nova

link (Covers)
pw - heavymetalbreed

Sunday, December 2, 2007

ROB ZOMBIE: Hellbilly Deluxe @ 320k

Malevolent megalomaniac or eerie artiste? Rob Zombie is a bit of both. With spooky metal music that's as colorful and kitschy as its comic art, the singer's solo debut bears more than a little resemblance to his band of many years, White Zombie. These 13 tracks (yeah, there just had to be 13!) continue to explore Zombie's fascination with psychotic noise, pummeling grooves, campy samples, and all things horrific. Instead of just playing dictator, however, this astrocreep allows space for cohorts such as guitarist Danny Lohner and drummers John Tempesta and Tommy Lee to shine darkly. He also shares artistic credit for the LP's elaborate 24-page booklet. Zombie's finely crafted disc is heavy-metal thunder that's turbocharged for the new millennium. --Janiss Garza

1. Call Of The Zombie
2. Superbeast
3. Dragula
4. Living Dead Girl
5. Perversion 99
6. Demonoid Phenomenon
7. Spookshow Baby
8. How To Make A Monster
9. Meet The Creeper
10. The Ballad Of Resurrection Joe And Rosa Whore
11. What Lurks On Channel X?
12. Return Of The Phantom Stranger
13. The Beginning Of The End

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MAGNITUDE NINE: Decoding The Soul

This is an excellent CD for those who enjoy great rock musicians and singers performing full-bore, melodic songs. As you would expect the guitar playing is supreme, the band is over the top and tight, the singer is a REAL singer and the production is excellent (make sure you EQ this CD flat, otherwise you will lose the excellent lead vocals). This CD is much more listenable then a lot of progressive rock, such as Symphony X and Dream Theater. If you want great musicians playing songs that you can enjoy than this is an excellent choice. As great as the band is, the singer ensures that you get your moneys worth as he is up to the task and has what sounds like a well trained voice. --- Andrew P. Banas

1. New Dimension
2. Lies Within the Truth
3. Facing the Unknown
4. To Find a Season
5. Walk Through the Fire
6. Dead in Their Tracks
7. Changes
8. Torn
9. Thirty Days of Night
10. Sands of Time

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MEMORY GARDEN: Tides + Mini-CD Forever

1. Genesis
2. Dream Horizons
3. The Rhyme of the Elder
4. Trapped at the Pharaoes
5. Judgement Day
6. The Innocent Sleep
7. A New Dawn
8. Blissful
9. Warlord
10. Inarticulo Mortis
11. Forever
12. Autumn Anguish

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A good Stratovarius album, if that's what's your thing. And by this stage of their career you should know if it's your thing. And hard to argue when there is great stuff like moving ballads (Million Miles Away) that had a cool video to accompany it and rockers like the darn excellent Hunting High & Low. Sure, it all gets a bit silly in places with the whole melodic rock peddling of keyboard laced pomp, which for this listener tends to dilute the enjoyment of this particular band.
While reviewing this album I should also point out that the tour for this disc makes up a lot of the footage used on their first home video and certainly that's a release that any fan of the band should get. In some ways I think of this as the last proper studio album of Stratovarius' rise to power, for after this the Elements would close in for a couple of albums and take the wind out of their sails (and sales too presumably). --- Paul Lawrence

1. Hunting High And Low
2. Millennium
3. Mother Gaia
4. Phoenix
5. Glory Of The World
6. A Million Light Years Away
7. Freedom
8. Infinity
9. Celestial Dream
10. What Can I Say?

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