Friday, June 29, 2007

DREAMS OF SANITY: (2000) Komodia

As I entered in this scene, I became familiar with Dreams of Sanity just as I was bieng reborn... Something about Dreams of Sanity: It was formed as a band in 1991 in Innsbruck, Austria just consisting of drums, guitar and bass. The basic idea was to make a different sound than the rest of the local underground scene that really was into black metal those days, so they called themselves "Dreams of a Non-Sick Mind" and made music, that we considered as heavy metal, or as melodic doom metal, but could hardly be labeled. They affirm their roots lie in the 80's pop, and the 80's heavy metal loke Iron Maiden, Helloween, King Diamond also some musicals and instrumental music.
After hard work in consealing with recording studios the chance to show their material to Lacrimosa, came and later they recorded for Hall of Sermon label, in 1997. Their Line up in Komödia Romed Astner - Drums, Martina Hornbacher - Vocals (exmember for the later CD "Masquerade"), Michael Knoflach - bass, Stefan Manges - keyboards, Christian Marx - guitars, Sandra Schleret - vocals, Andreas Wildauer - guitars. This CD of Dreams of Sanity come to be very special, has so many changes in music in only one track, Comes from slow and pasive to strong and almost heavy , ofcourse it never losses the melodic rythm that caughts everyone who listens to it. My personal favorite its a bonus track Called Treesitter, which tell a very sad story in the Beautiful voice of Sandra and Martina, the y came to be very good team for this CD. In the very first moment that you play this you come to want to hear more and more, and then you realise you are hearing the CD for the 2nd or 3th time already...
Every song has something to say ... just open your mind and enjoy the ride... You should buy it, dont think it over or sleep on it just take it at once, you wont regret it. ...stertor, Mexico

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DREAMS OF SANITY: (2000) The Game

I can't believe that I didn't know this band until last year! Me! That I claim to be have a worthy knowledge of the metal scene. Shame on me! So, how did I finally knew this band? A friend of mine brought to my house a mix CD-R of some of the best songs of his metal collection. In this Cd was 'The Beginning That Lies' by Dreams Of Sanity (included in this album). When I heard this song I was hypnotized, paralyzed, numb... What is this???? This is great! Long history short, I said to myself "I have to own this Cd"
So here we are, me reviewing this piece of art, 3 years after the official release, better late than never! For those unfamiliar with this band, let me enlighten you, Dreams Of sanity are playing Gothic Metal with a lot of symphonic arrangement and an overall progressive feel. The album is a concept album based on the life of one person ("the creature"), and all the struggles and bad moments he has to go through, but is also about the good moments, full of joy and love. Strange concept if you ask me, but it blends perfectly with the music.
The strong part of the album are the beautiful vocals of Sandra Schleret, they're simply great, she can express so much with her melodic and emotional voice! simply stunning, I can hardly find words to describe the voice of Sandra. The album starts with a short intro, a little peak of what's coming inside, right next is 'The Creature You Came To See' a great song, but it's only 2 minutes long... What's going on here? We want songs! Not previews... (although those are some great previews).
Thank god, someone heard my prayers, next in line is 'Time To Set The Stones' the first "real song" (more than 3 minutes). This song is great, great melodies, and a kickin' ass guitar solo. It also have a nice piano near the end. Now... Song number 4. 'The Beginning That Lies', killer track! Starts with keyboards, then the guitar enters, on top of that Sandra starts singing, really low at first, then explodes into a progressive gothic metal masterpiece!I could continue describing this records song by song as I was doing, but remember, this is a concept album, and it has to be observed as one work, and trust me on this, if you listen this as whole work is more satisfactory. Trust me please and get this one, you don't get to listen such beautiful work of art everyday...Review by Undercraft

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DREAMS OF SANITY: (1999) Masquerade

Dreams of Sanity was founded in April 1991 by Christian Marx (guitar and music) and Michael Knoflach (bass, lyrics) together with Hannes Richter (drums, ex-Blitzgemetzel, ex-Hypen) as a trio.
Summer 1992 the first vocalist - Gudrun Gfrerer - and Florian Razesberger (keys) joined the band and Dreams of Sanity debued live in the cellar of Michael's parents. Backing-vocals were sung by Christian.
Winter 1993 Hannes richter left the band and was replaced by Romed Astner, Florian Razesberger switched to second guitar and Sefan Manges took place behind the keyboard. Instead of Gudrun Gfrerer, Birgit Moser and her friend Robert were featured on vocals.
Luckily Sandra schleret and Martina Hornbacher replaced the former vocalists and finally Dreams of Sanity released their first Demo Tape in May 1994 (recorded at the Fleischorgelstudios of Christoph Niederwieser (KOROVA)). In December 1994 Florian Ratzesberger was replaced by Andreas Wilauer on guitar. With this line-up Dreams of Sanity recorded Komödia I and Komödia II in the Z-Sound-Studios in Insnburck and relesed the two songs on the self-financed A goddamed city-sampler together with four other Innsbruck underground-bands (btw: members of the band "Sarcasm Syndrom" can now be found in the line-up of DARKWELL and ANGRY ANGELS). In 1996 Ein Liebeslied war recorded in the same studio and released on the Hardboiled-Sampler togeter with a lot of other bands from the Tyrol. The song Komödia I got the attention of HALL OF SERMON in 1996 and after the "DARK WINTER NIGHTS" Tour together with Lacrimosa, THE GATHERING, SENTENCED and D-AGE a contract was signed on the 6.4.1997. Already in Janurary 1997 the Komödia-Album was recorded in the Zero-Point Studios (Robert Romagna, Kramsach, Austria), mixed in the Impuls Studios Hamburg and released on the 3.11.97.
Summer 1997 Dreams of Sanity split from Martina Hornbacher and Romed Astner for musical and personal differences and after a lot of vocal-auditions decided not to fill Martina's place anymore. Harald Obexer replaced Romed and later, as Stefan Manges left the band, Frédéric Heil joined the little "Sanity Family".
With this line-up Dreams of Sanity recorded Masquerade in August 1998 (released 25.1.1999) and The Game in August 1999 (released 25.9.2000 due to problems with the distribution in Germany). After the recordings of The Game Harald Obexer laft the band and was replace by Patrick Schrittwieser (drums). Soon also Frédéric Heil had to be replaced by Florian Steiner due to severe musical differences.

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BAL SAGOTH: (1995) A Black Moon Broods Over Lemuria

This is the reissue of the hard-to-find imported album originally released in 1995. For newcomers, Bal Sagoth is a British band that commits itself to exploring fantasy with witches, warriors, wizards and the like. They're LOADED with imaginative imagery and have very elaborate songwriting that is uncommon for the genre of black/death metal. This album was an incredible debut for the darker side of metal, and was the first album I heard by the band which immediately turned me on to seeking more of their future works. A little heavier and rougher than the future albums, the vocals on this album range from guttural death (unfound on later releases) to black metal rasping, to the low James Earl Jones voice which became more of a signature for the band in their following albums. With the exceptions of the title track and the final track, the keyboards are a little darker and more maniacal than the later albums which sport a prettier, majestic sound. The guitar riffing on this album is also a little more akin to death metal...the rhythm guitars are low-tuned and sporadically it's chunk, chunk, chunk, but still catchy and well integrated into the song structure. Lyrically, the songs on this album are more like conventional song lyrics with rhymes and stanzas instead of staight-out epic storytelling. I think this album currently stands as Bal Sagoth's most different endeavor b/c "Starfire burning..." refined the signatures which were then elaborated into prettier keyboards with sudden speed bursts. Structural highpoints of "Black Moon..." are the title track (still one of my favorite songs ever) "Spellcraft and Moonfire", and the last song "Into Silent Chambers..." which has to be one of the greatest finales to any heavy metal album... So should you buy the album? Hell yes! Good roar and grind for the unquiet mind....Brahmael

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BAL SAGOTH: (1996) Starfire Burning Upon The Ice-Veiled Throne Of Ultima Thule

Back in '96, Bal sagoth was a totally new name for me and it was with some reluctance that i parted with the 20$ in my pocket :) -must say that the CD's artwork has a persuasion factor... The first track (a symphonic, synth-driven instrumental) automatically sets the mood: grand, epic, spine chilling (and many other synonyms to these words). Then comes the first (blow?) track: barbaric rythms,
rock solid riffs and what, 4? 5 breaks in each song? you feel each song is no more than 3 minutes long then you find out you've been listening to a 7+ minute track. now that's musical mastery! Byron alternates his low voiced speeches with his (equally low) menacing black metal growls, amidst torrents of breakneck drumming, stunning melodies and
a new atmosphere with every new song. i was so glad i bought this album! epic metal never sounded (and might never sound) better than that. these warhearts have skillfully crafted a brilliant piece of music with a rare intensity and power...Torquemada Sweating Demon

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BAL SAGOTH: (1998) Battle Magic

Nipping at the heels of Bal-Sagoth's second full-length album, 'Starfire Burning', 'Battle Magic' hits you full force with another CD chalk full of utter ear candy. From the whimsical, almost feel good, opening synthesizer intro 'Battle Magic', to the epic fanfare romp of 'Blood Slakes the Sand at Circus Maximus', to the mysterious and suspenseful soundscape of 'Return to the Presidium of Ys', this album covers a wide range of themes and emotions, as any Bal-Sagoth album does masterfully.
Production wise, everything on Battle Magic is much clearer than any Bal-Sagoth album coming before it, though I wish the guitars were a bit more pronounced as there are some interesting riffs. The drumming could've been a bit louder as well. Lord Byrons vocals and the simply fantastic keyboards have taken center stage on Battle Magic. Not a bad thing. While I like the song composition better on 'Starfire Burning', 'Battle Magic' comes in at a close second place. It should also be noted that this album has a more light hearted feel to it overall, than the ominously thunderous and mysterious sounds of 'Starfire Burning'. I can pick my favorite song on every other Bal-Sagoth album but each and every song featured on 'Battle Magic' is so good I've given up trying to pick a favorite. As with any Bal-Sagoth album, I'd highly recommend this. Whether it's the first time you listen to it, or the fiftieth, it just never ceases to be an entertaining journey through the mythological universe that Bal-Sagoth's tasty music is set in.
Bal-Sagoth are not for everybody. If you can accept the fact that they are not trying to be the most brutal band on earth, and you appreciate bands that innovate and do their own thing, you should give them a shot. They take their music very seriously and it shows... M. Weir

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BAL SAGOTH: (1999) The Power Cosmic

Yes, this album is a bit corny. if that turns you off completely, stop here. if you think you might be able to live with it, then to you i submit this simple review. this album is a collection of songs often well connected that tell some sort of story about conflicts between gods and the like. the music itself has a baroque-ish feel to it. there are many synthesized parts that support strong melodic lines and weave in and out of the main focus. the music here is competently written, comprehensible and ambitious. they do fall short at times of their intended goal, but such tracks as 'callisto rising' and the 'empyreal lexicon' prove their competence; one might almost consider them somewhat "prog-ish" in approach here. the technical proficiency is not spectacular anywhere, nor is the singing (james earl jones style narration and some black metal screeches) but rather it is clear, clean and professional. a fine album overall...Silvrcrank

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BAL SAGOTH: (2001) Atlantis Ascendant

Byron's lyrics are always great (Yea! See how many Robert E. Howard quotes you recognize!). His vocals are among my favorite extreme vocals, and his spoken vocals (althought sounding like a combic book narrator) are excellent. Chris's guitar playing has never been extremely great, but at least he can play it the same way twice (doubled guitar panned left and right). Their new bassist is a great addition. Their new drummer is a much better (technical) drummer than Jonny was (I think Jonny was more tasteful though).
And then there are those keyboards. Someone should lock Byron and Jonny outside the Mixing room during mixdown, and turn the keyboards DOWN! Now, if you turn the music up to max volume, then the keyboards get set right in the mix, but at ACCEPTABLE levels (read: not loud enough to wake the dead) the keyboards stomp on the entire mix. Only Black Moon didn't suffer from this, all four others do. That, and Jonny is a cheese factory. He writes video games music (I have nothing against video games music, I own several game soundtracks). He should be stopped, permanently, he should be writing music for the upcoming Conan movie (by the way, it ACTUALLY is going follows the REH stories, as closely as humanly possible), not Extreme Metal. Speaking of Extreme Metal, it would be alot easier if everyone just adopted my classification of music, and refered to Bal-Sagoth as Extreme (Being like black metal, death metal, dark metal, war metal, et cetera; characterized by the distorted speed picking, blast beats, straight double bass, extreme vocals, et cetera) Fantasy Metal (Fantasy metal being like "Luca Turilli," "Rhapsody," "Demons and Wizards," et cetera; they like to call it Epic or Syphonic metal sometimes). Doesn't that seem to fit the band. Extreme Fantasy Metal.
This album also includes my favorite Bal-Sagoth song, #8 "In Search of the Lost Cities of Antarctica."... Godemp

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

IMMOLATION: (1995) Stepping on Angels..Before Dawn

Stepping on Angels... Before Dawn is a compilation album by Immolation. It was released by Repulse Records in January 1995.

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IMMOLATION: (2005) Harnessing Ruin

2005 was a very good year for death metal fans, because numerous super heavy bands released albums. And don't despair if you're a Deicide, Cannibal Corpse or Dying Fetus fan, because Immolation also released a new disc last March. "Harnessing Ruin," the band's seventh studio effort, is just as brutal, relentless, and technical as almost any other album released in 2005. This record's production is the only drawback--the guitar solos are bumped to the middle, and the drums are pushed to the back of the wall of sound, thus making them sometimes hard to hear. And since Ross's vocals are growled instead of bellowed, he usually takes a back seat to the music, because the riffs and rhythms are more monstrous and ferocious than he is. But "Harnessing Ruin" is far from being ruined, because it has just about all of the traits of a great death metal album, including grinding, bottom-heavy guitar rumbles, and crazy drumming. "Swarm of Terror" is highlighted by jackhammer drumming, whereas the next two tracks ("Our Savior Sleeps" and "Challenge the Storm") feature speaker-vibrating riffs and super-fast, thumping blast beats (plus, the latter track has a pair of fairly long and tasty guitar solos.) The skinsman really gets to show off his talents on the title track, where he drives the rhythm with crazy, all-over-the-place drumming. The soft, dwindling guitar strings on song number five, "Dead to Me," offer the first glimpse of melody, but it's short-lived, because the next track brings on a barrage of booming guitars and drums (plus, this song even has some creepy, spoken-word whispers.) The last song worth mentioning is "My Own Enemy," which has blinding guitars and a fast, pounding double bass drum beneath the surface. "Harnessing Ruin" does not get my vote for the best death metal album of 2005, but, to be fair, Immolation did have a lot of competition that year. So pick this up if you're a death metal diehard... A. Stutheit

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IMMOLATION: (1991) Dawn of Possession

First of all, Immolation is like no other death metal band you've heard before. They don't sound like Morbid Angel, Cannibal Corpse, or Suffocation. On here, they haven't yet developed their innovative style completely, especially the dissonant riffs and bizarre melodies, but the riffing is still innovative. Its kind of like Morbid Angel's Altars of Madness, an album where they hadn't yet reached their full potential, but still had enough integrity to make them rise above the rest of the bands in the genre.
There is a real emphasis on the low end, especially the vocals which are probably some of the lowest I've ever heard. A few weird riffs pop up here and there, but for the most part, the emphasis is on pure brutality, but done in a really classy way. Many bands have tried to copy Immolation's style, but very few have actually come close to doing it... N. Jacobs

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IMMOLATION: (2000) Close to a World Below

"Close To A World Below" stands out as possibly THE best offering to the death metal genre from Immolation. The music is absolutely unrelenting the entire time, and the musicianship is some of the best out there. The vocals are also classic. I recently reviewed their 2002 release "Unholy Cult", which is also amazing, and I hailed it as quite an impressive work, but "Close To A World Below" is, I feel, still a bit superior to even their recent release. The reason for this is that the music here is simply done in a slightly more traditional style, and done VERY well. It's certainly some of the heaviest death metal available, not to mention a top-notch release when looking at technicality as well. The great production on this album really helps bring out the intricacies of Immolation's sound.
The huge downside to this album, as another reviewer noted, are the terribly cliché, extremely anti-Christian lyrics added for the sole purpose of being offensive. These days, bands that include that kind of thing simply date themselves and demonstrate that they are unable to evolve (which was proved wrong in this case, since their follow-up release of "Unholy Cult" is definitely an evolutionary step for Immolation). The anti-Christian lyrics get pretty annoying sometimes, simply for repeatedly kicking the dead horse, so to speak. "Close To A World Below" is quite possibly some of the most talented death metal available, but you have to be able to stomach the extreme anti-Christian lyrics. Despite the fact that a lot of aspects of this album are cliché, this is still a superb release and I highly recommend it... Azrael

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IMMOLATION: (1999) Failures for Gods

I whenwho heard this band's first offering I believed that they were the future of the death metal scene. I was also one of those who fretted over the band's disappearence from the scene due to label and financial woes, and in due turn was one of those vindicated when the band returned with Here in After (which was, undoubtedly, a unparalleled high point in death metal history). Again, there was a lengthy wait for this album, and as with Here in After, the wait was worth it and the results completely satisfying.
What sets this band apart from so many other death metal bands, is that, even from the beginning, there was no mistaking what Immolation is about. This is not a group of three or four lackeys that circle some self-aggrandizing ego-driven frontman; nor are they out for cheap thrills. Immolation has worked hard and sacrificed (no pun intended), they perform as a band of equal strengths with no egos interfering, and they have mastered their musical abilities so to superiorly carve out an powerfully unique sound that alone defines everything death metal should be--unrepentant pummeling aggression in distortion and dissonance that would yield to none. As is evident with the vicious lyrics, gutteral vocals, relentless percussion and omnious, sadistic guitars, Immolation know why this kind of music got its name, yet their distinctive creativity and passionate sense of vindictiveness give them a stamp of authenticity and credablity that is unmatched in the current metal scene. It almost makes you think God created these guys for the sole purpose of playing this music (haha!). This music is in their blood, their hearts, and their souls, and their sincere dedication and passion comes howling out of every note and word on this album, demanding your respect. If you want to know what death metal is about, get this album, and Immolation will teach you... treestamps

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IMMOLATION: (2002) Unholy Cult

The fifth album from New York's death metal legend's Immolation who have released albums for both Roadrunner and Metal Blade Records over their decade plus career. Century Media. 2002. Death metal, as a genre, is often criticized (with some merit) as lacking in creativity and new ideas. Fortunately, there are still bands like Immolation around to prove that every rule has its exceptions. The mighty Suffocation may have broken up years before I got to hear them (although they're apparently back together and working on a new album), but Immolation are still carrying on with an excellent approximation of Suffo's sound. "Unholy Cult," their latest album, is filled with complex rhythms and jarring time changes that elevate Immolation way above the death metal pack. Their influences clearly go beyond those typical of their genre, even showing a trace of the mathematical precision of Meshuggah. And since I consider to be Meshuggah the best band working right now, that's a good thing. Leading the way is Ross Dolan, who like Suffocation's Frank Mullen manages to achieve an extremely guttural tone without sacrificing clarity. If you don't like death vocals Ross probably won't change your mind, but there's no denying that he's good at what he does. Bill Taylor and Robert Vigna are a fairly standard guitar duo, but like Ross they're more than sufficient. However, the real standout in this band is clearly rock-solid drummer Alex Hernandez, whose combination of precision and variety does more than anything else to distinguish Immolation from their peers. Like all the best extreme metal drummers, Alex plays some excellent, well-timed blastbeats without overdoing it. The lyrics are a nice change of pace as well, going beyond the cut-rate blasphemy too often heard in the genre for more of a personal/social feel. If any one song here stands out it would have to be the title track, which deals out a stunning amount of punishment during its seven-minute running time. Like many otherwise excellent death metal albums, "Unholy Cult" does suffer a bit from repetitiveness (suffice to say Ross doesn't demonstrate a great deal of vocal range), but it's nowhere near as monotonous as a lot of what I've heard in the genre. Besides, when the results are this uniformly great, a bit of repetition isn't such a bad thing.

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IMMOLATION: (1996) Here In After

This album was recorded after a hiatus of about 5 years. Immolation had a lot of time to grow in that period, and you can really hear the development of new ideas, especially the dissonant riffs, but its pretty clear that they weren't entirely comfortable with this new style yet. The production is pretty shoddy, and really lacks the low end and punch of their debut, but does capture the feeling of hallowness and despair that they tried to create. Weird timing signatures pop up everywhere, as the death vocals shake your fillings loose. Its a good album, but I'd reccommend their first album or their new masterpiece, Unholy Cult, over this. Still, if you want innovative death metal, this is not a bad place to look...N. Jacobs

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Monday, June 25, 2007

LAKE OF TEARS: (2004) Black Brick Road

Lake of Tears first came together in 1992 when Daniel Brennare, Jonas Eriksson, and Michael Larsson left the death metal band they were playing in and hooked up with Johan Oudhuis. They recorded a demo in early 1993 which caught the attention of Black Mark Productions, who signed the band soon after. Their debut, Greater Art, was released in 1994, followed quickly by Headstones the next year. The band began to tour through Europe, losing guitarist Eriksson in the summer of 1996. They recorded a third album in 1997, A Crimson Cosmos, which gained them much attention in the metal underground. They hired a new guitarist, Ulrik Lindblom, and toured relentlessly until 1999, when they recorded Forever Autumn. This album was more in a progressive rock vein than their previous material, hiring full-time keyboardist Christian Saarinen to help round out their sound. Unfortunately, the lack of attention from their label as well as personal problems split the band by the time 2001 rolled around. In the winter of 2001, Brennare told his fans from Lake of Tears's official website that he planned on fulfilling the last album in the band's contract, and he had hoped that the band would decide to help him make one last album...by Bradley Torreano, AMG

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LAKE OF TEARS: (2003) The Neonai

Lake of Tears' fifth album, The Neonai, is also set to be their last, with singer/guitarist Daniel Brennare announcing that he will be moving in a different direction, possibly with a new project also named Neonai. And what a pity too, since many would argue that the band was still in its prime. Considering this is the end of the line makes Lake of Tears' trajectory all the more interesting to look back on -- especially since their drastic evolution from depressive doom metal to spacy, post-Pink Floyd goth rock took place without compromising the quality of their music, something other respectable bands like Paradise Lost and Tiamat have failed miserably at. Brought home by the album's fantastical, psychedelic artwork (a bright, colorful, mirror-opposite of the dark collages often used by Cathedral), the truth is that there's little left in Lake of Tears' sound that even resembles heavy metal. Sure, the guitars are usually heavy in tone, but were it not for the group's general propensity for complex, often minor-chord-based songwriting, cuts like "The Shadowshires" and "Solitude" could very well pass for straight-up rock & roll. Even further away from metal, the quasi-ballad "Leave a Room" and the dreamy "Sorcerers" (containing flute-like synthesizers and rampant psychedelics) take full advantage of guest vocalist Jennie Tebler, while the pop-tastic "Nathalie and the Fireflies" is reminiscent of Jellyfish. The driving "Can Die No More" (perhaps the album's most "metallic" track) strikes an effortless balance between heavy rock and pulsing techno effects, but even here, Brennare never sets himself to screaming, nor barely raises his tone above a melodic croon. In short, whatever the future may hold for Brennare, The Neonai provides a fitting swan song for this truly talented band...by Ed Rivadavia, AMG

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LAKE OF TEARS: (1999) Forever Autumn

The most instrumentally dense, musically accomplished release from Lake of Tears, Forever Autumn is probably the group's finest accomplishment. With its metal-cum-folk dramatics and melancholy harmonicas, Lake of Tears draws what must be an unintended comparison to American alt-rock prankster outfitWeen. It's very doubtful that members of either band even heard of -- much less listened to -- the other, but Forever Autumn's high-contrast folk/prog/metal (especially the sedate and conversational vocals on tracks like "The Homecoming") bears an eerie comparison to many a Ween classic. All random musical associations aside, the dense, well-arranged "So Fell Autumn Rain," "Hold on Tight," and "To Blossom Blue" stand out as career bests for Lake of Tears. Listening to Lake of Tears' mid-'90s work, it would have been hard to guess that the group could assemble a recording this realized and well-performed by the end of the decade. That said, Forever Autumn is very far from being a superior rock or metal recording. It is simply a fine effort from a lesser '90s Euro-metal band...by Vincent Jeffries, AMG

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LAKE OF TEARS: (1997) A Crimson Cosmos

Sometimes heavier, and generally more traditionally structured, Lake of Tears' third Black Mark release A Crimson Cosmos, turned out to be the band's breakout recording. In Europe (where the Lake of Tears brand of dour but traditional metal never fell completely out of favor), critics and fans finally began giving some respect to the group and their rapidly improving sound. Songs like "Raistlin and the Rose" and "Cosmic Weed" are some of the most musically satisfying efforts from the band. But strange numbers like the curious and hokey "Lady Rosenred" and other singalongs, like "Devil's Diner," almost go too far. After starting out with a debut marked by its aimlessness, the turnaround of Crimson Cosmos -- released just four years later -- is profound for sure, but not always comfortable. A continued improvement on the Lake of Tears sound, this 1997 release signified the beginning of a new musical chapter for the band that while imperfect, represented real improvement as well...by Vincent Jeffries, AMG

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LAKE OF TEARS: (1995) Headstones

Abandoning their doom and death metal affectations almost completely (and appropriately, for that matter), Lake of Tears take a more traditional metal approach on "Headstones." Released on Black Mark just a year after their debut for the label, this sophomore outing is a noticeable improvement upon Greater Art. The songwriting and recording is tighter, and in what would become a long-term trend for the group, the guttural chants of their prior release are refined, as more melodic vocals are used to create greater emphasis on repeating memorable choruses. This traditional, almost Metallica-like vocal delivery combined with more aggressive guitar work is an improvement for Lake of Tears. "Dreamdemons" is perhaps the best song on Headstones, but the material is pretty consistent throughout the recording. Far from being a must-have '90s metal offering, Headstones is a decent release from a group experiencing a much-needed musical evolution...by Vincent Jeffries, AMG

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LAKE OF TEARS: (1994) Greater Art

The pretense of this group's name and their debut record's title are generally in keeping with the tenets of '90s Euro-metal. Dominated by the many Scandinavian derivations of death, black, goth, and power metal, the movement was as strong as ever when Lake of Tears tossed this disc into the overcrowded metal marketplace. While there were a few decent notices, not much was made of this recording, and for good reason. The guitar work is especially unremarkable, as too many well-worn riffs litter Greater Art, that is, when riffs are attempted at all. Much of the time, a pallid chugging is all Lake of Tears can come up with to support the hoarsely shouted vocals that lack the vivid tone that defines black and death metal ranting, while the guitars lack the heft of doom or sludge metal, making the recording difficult to categorize, but not in a good way. So much mid- to slow-tempo nothingness simply makes Greater Art one to avoid... by Vincent Jeffries, AMG

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CHINCHILLA: (2004) Take No Prisoners

CHINCHILLA started in 1988 and released their first demo-CD "No Mercy" in 1990. Due to some personal differences the band split-up, but main man Udo Gerstenmeyer couldn't live without a band and three years later in 1993 he reformed CHINCHILLA with a complete new line-up. In 1994 CHINCHILLA recorded the 5-song-Mini-CD "Who Is Who?" with ex-LETTER X singer Martin Obermeier. Excellent reviews from the national press attested the fact that CHINCHILLA was a band to watch out for.
In the end of 1996 the band went into the studio again to record the second album "Horrorscope". The album got released in Japan through Virgin Music in May 1997, but it took the band until the end of 1998 to release the album in Europe through Point Music. Meanwhile Martin Obermeier left the band and CHINCHILLA had to look out for a new front man. It took the band only a few rehearsals to find Thomas Laasch, a man with a great voice and a perfect live performance. With the best line-up the band ever had CHINCHILLA played many, many live-shows, mostly in Germany, and got excellent feedback from the fans and the press as well.
In the end of January 2000, the band played its first European tour as a support for VANDEN PLAS. CHINCHILLA had the chance to play Germany, Italy, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland and France. Finally the band got the recognition they deserved and they already had for a couple of years in Japan and Germany. It was no surprise the five boys got invited to play bigger festivals like the "Biker Union 2000" in Schleiz and the "Bang Your Head" in Balingen. CHINCHILLA is an experienced live band that already shared stages with SCORPIONS, KROKUS, SAXON, URIAH HEEP, RUNNING WILD, PRIMAL FEAR, DORO, PINK CREAM 69, VANDEN PLAS, EDGUY, U.D.O., RAGE, ect...

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D-load album :-) http://lix.in/8f3c01
=====================================

CHINCHILLA: (1997) Horrorscope

In May 2000, CHINCHILLA signed a record deal with Metal Blade Records and about the same time they finished the recordings for their (by the time) new long player "Madness". Again they produced with Achim Köhler and the result is superb. The press reactions were excellent; especially in Germany they reached highest ratings and very good sales figures. Besides loads of headliner shows CHINCHILLA also supported Paul Di Anno for a few shows. The highlight of the year was the gig at the Wacken Open Air, the feedback from fans and press was overwhelming and the show a big success for the band.
After that show CHINCHILLA completed the song writing for the new album "The Last Millennium?" and entered the House Of Music Studios once again to record with Ingmar Schenzel this time. The mix was done by Achim Köhler, responsible for the works of bands like PRIMAL FEAR and BRAINSTORM. CHINCHILLA were able to support the album with a complete European tour together with DEMON and TAD MOROSE. The band had a few line-up changes in 2002, but got ready with the song writing in December to record the new album. "Never Change A Winning Team" - CHINCHILLA followed this rule and went again to House Of Music to record the fourth long player "Madtropolis" with Ingmar Schenzel - the mix was again handled by Achim Köhler. As a special guest CHINCHILLA invited ex-MOTÖRHEAD guitarist Fast Eddie Clarke to play a solo on one of the new songs - it turned out amazing! "Madtropolis" is fantastic Power Metal on highest level!

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D-load album :-) http://lix.in/9b066d
=====================================

CHINCHILLA: (1994) Who is Who? (Demo CD)

Current Line-Up:
Udo Gerstenmeyer - Guitar (ex-BELDA BEAST)
Thomas Laasch - Singer (ex-BACKWATER & ex-TAI PAN)
Josh Häberle - Bass (ex-THE HEAT & ex-PUSH)
Chris Schwinn - Drums & Backing Vocals
Artur Diessner - Keyboards & Backing Vocals (ex-BELDA BEAST & ex-FUNS)
Previous members:
Martin Obermeier - Vocals (on "Who Is Who?" & "Horrorscope")
Michael Vetter - Bass (on "Who Is Who?" & "Horrorscope")
Mike Kühner - Drums (on "Who Is Who?" & "Horrorscope")
Marc Peters - Bass (on "Madness" & "The Last Millenium")
Steffen Theurer - Drums (on "Madness" & "The Last Millenium")
Marc Steck - Keyboards (on "Madness" & "The Last Millenium")

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D-load album :-) http://lix.in/92fbbe
=========================================

CHINCHILLA: (2001) Madness

After we could get a first listen at the new songs at this year's "Bang Your Head"-festival, CHINCHILLA offer us our second album with "Madness" and they do it in style. Of course CHINCHILLA don't play the most original style, sure, some of you might ask themselves, who needs another Melodic Power Metal-release, but to give you an answer is our job, that's why we're here. So, the main ingredients that you can find within this sound are not different from countless other bands: tempo between stomping and fast, melodic, partly classic-influenced riffs, choirs in the choruses, a good bit of hymnic sounds, but still the execution is what makes it music. And the quintet outs itself as excellent executioners, so to say. Be it a hymn like "Fight"; a great choir, as on "Freedom", a wonderful melody-line in combination with a grand choir, like in the highlight "Queen Of The Rain", the obligatory, but still very good ballad "Broken Heart" or "Where The Brave Belong", introduced by the sounds of a big battle, it all holds water.
With Thomas Laasch they also have found a vocalist, who has just the right voice for this sound, so what could you ask for more? Oh, a cover-version? Hm, let's see. Here is a song that has credits by a certain Paul Stanley, "I Stole Your Love", I think... Satisfied? Yes? See, so where's the problem? ..by Alex

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D-load album :-) http://lix.in/258596
========================================

CHINCHILLA: (2003) Madtropolis

Madtropolis is something that few bands would be gutsy enough to attempt in 2003: a full-on, '70s-style progressive rock concept album, complete with "heavy" lyrics (as a band, Chinchilla seems to be against corruption and apathy), a guest cameo by Motörhead's "Fast" Eddie Clarke, and a codpiece-classical opening and closing theme played on Rick Wakeman-style synthesizers! God love 'em for bringing back the days of Hawkwind (or at least Queensrÿche), and even better, they managed to record an entire hourlong metal album in 2003 without once stooping to the inane growled cartoon voices that are the bane of post-millennial metal. Actually, if anything, singer Tommy Laasch recalls the histrionic likes of Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickenson or Skid Row's Sebastian Bach, a keening vocal style that's currently so out of date that it's retro-cool; ditto the so-cheesy-it's-fun power ballad "Satellite," the sort of Bic-lighter sway-along that the likes of Poison and Guns N' Roses made a staple of during the late-'80s hair metal scene. There's undeniably something goofy about Madtropolis, but it's also both endearing in its sincerity and surprisingly powerful...by Stewart Mason, All Music

pas = hmbreed

D-load album :-) http://lix.in/4abf2a
=======================================

CHINCHILLA: (2002) The Last Millenium

The Last Millennium provides more epic Valhalla metal from the land that invented such histrionics; the average track length is five minutes, every song has grandiose, fist-pumping choruses that sound as if they were coined on a field of war, and the chanting of said choruses is punctuated by dramatic, swelling keyboard fills and an overall vibe straight out of the '80s, with lyrics that do nothing to make it seem any less dated. "The Boys Are Back in Town" wasn't a very good cover choice, as the Thin Lizzy classic clashes with the rest of the disc's power-prog, which even at its best still leaves the oddly named Chinchilla lacking in comparison to several other similar revivalists....by Brian O'Neill, All Music

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D-load album :-) http://lix.in/b53f85
====================================

SIX FEET UNDER: (1999) Maximum Violence

With the presence of former Cannibal Corpse frontman Chris Barnes, it was a pretty safe bet that Six Feet Under would epitomize death metal at its most cartoonish, and that proved to be true. Maximum Violence, the group's third full-length album, isn't vastly different from its predecessors -- basically simple riffs alternate between slow and fast tempos, with ridiculously over-the-top vocals spewing tales of death, dismemberment, and other variations on gore and splatter themes. The main problem with the record is its lack of variety, in both style and subject matter -- one gets the impression that any riff or lyric could be moved from one song to another with no noticeable difference in the overall effect. Still, if you're a fan of this particular style of death metal, Maximum Violence does deliver the goods...by Steve Huey, All Music

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D-load album :-) http://lix.in/ee1ddc
===================================

SIX FEET UNDER: (1995) Haunted

Six Feet Under's debut album, Haunted, promised to be an exciting collaboration between Cannibal Corpse vocalist Chris Barnes and Obituary guitarist Allen West, and by and large it lives up to its promise. After all, it's hard to go wrong with Barnes, one of the best vocalists in stateside death metal, West, a veteran guitarist who had anchored one of the genre's leading bands, and producer Scott Burns, the most accomplished death metal producer in the industry. Six Feet Under points toward a bright future for this very dark band....by Jason Birchmeier, All Music

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D-load album :-) http://lix.in/a01459
==========================================

SIX FEET UNDER: (2000) Graveyard Classics

A year after Six Feet Under debuted their new guitarist, Steve Swanson, on Maximum Violence, the Chris Barnes-fronted band recorded an all-covers album, Graveyard Classics. Most of the featured songs are generally well known ("TNT," "Smoke on the Water," "Purple Haze," "In League with Satan"), which is a little disappointing, since some of these songs have been covered a million times before. However, that seems to be the idea -- reconfigure metal standards for the death metal age. The end result is indeed curious, if not something worth returning to for multiple listens. Graveyard Classics seems well in line with the cartoonish slant of Six Feet Under, and listeners who enjoy the band on that level will surely find plenty of entertainment here....by Jason Birchmeier, Allmusic

pass = hmbreed

D-load album :-) http://lix.in/b470ab
=====================================

SIX FEET UNDER: (1997) Warpath

For Six Feet Under's second and final album with Allen West on guitar, the group fulfilled its potential, merging Chris Barnes' Godzilla-like growl with West's lumbering, snail-paced riffs. Though Cannibal Corpse fans may still long for a more uptempo set of guitar riffs, West's work really defines this album, making it an interesting variation of his other band, Obituary. Of course, the simplicity of the riffs and their slow pace may just as well inspire criticism as it does celebration, given the fact that most death metal bands pride themselves on velocity. As expected, Barnes puts in a dominating performance here, making this arguably the group's best 1990s album, depending on whether you prefer West's guitar playing or that of his successor, ex-Massacre guitarist Steve Swanson, as featured on the band's other celebrated 1990s album, Maximum Violence....by Jason Birchmeier, All Music

pass = hmbreed

D-load album :-) http://lix.in/b5e52e
=====================================

SIX FEET UNDER: (1996) Alive and Dead (Ep)

The Alive and Dead EP compiles a handful of live songs culled from Six Feet Under's debut album, Haunted, and features three new studio tracks, including a cover of Judas Priest's "Grinder." While it's quite interesting to hear how Chris Barnes' colossal voice carries in a live setting, there isn't anything too special about this album -- it's a standard issue stopgap release, albeit one by an exceptional group. However, that in itself makes Alive and Dead worth seeking out, especially for fervent fans looking for some live recordings....by Jason Birchmeier, All Music

pass = hmbreed


D-load album :-) http://lix.in/9d550b
======================================

BUDGIE: (1998) We Came, We Saw...

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, AMG

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D-load album 1 :-) http://lix.in/67de90
D-load album 2 :-) http://lix.in/f770f6
=========================================

BUDGIE: (1998) Heavier Than Air - Rarest Eggs

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, AMG

pass = hmbreed

D-load album 1 :-) http://lix.in/996318
D-load album 2 :-) http://lix.in/a264aa
=====================================

Sunday, June 24, 2007

ROUGH SILK: (1993) Roots of Hate

ROUGH SILK were founded in 1989 by FERDY DOERNBERG ( keyboards, slide-guitars & vocals ), HILMER STAACKE ( guitars ), JAN BARNETT ( lead vocals, guitars ), RALF SCHWERTNER ( bass, vocals ) and HERBERT HARTMANN ( drums, vocals ) and have released 8 albums ( "Rough Silk" - 1991, "Roots of Hate" - 1993, "Walls of Never" - 1994 , "Circle of Pain" - 1996, "Mephisto" - 1997, "Beyond the sundown"- 1998", "Symphony of Life"- 2001 and "End of Infinity" - 2003 ) and one best-of-album ( "Wheels of Time"- 1999 ) before they split up after some line-up-changes in 2003.
ROUGH SILK have definitely created an own style. The name says it all : "Rough" stands for the real heavy ( sometimes even trash- ) metal influences and "Silk" for the unusual singer-songwriter-elements and piano-parts. After the success of the first albums ( especially the band´s 1994-breakthru-album "walls of never" ) they could build a good reputation as a live-act by suporting bands like HELLOWEEN , DEEP PURPLE , DIO , SAVATAGE, MANOWAR, FATES WARNING , ACCEPT , MAMA´S BOYS, WHITESNAKE , AXXIS , EUROPE, SAXON, CROSSROADS, and VICIOUS RUMORS as well as BOB GELDORF, ROGER CHAPMAN or JEFF HEALEY.The original members JAN BARNETT and HILMER STAACKE ( who unfortunately died in 2006 because of an asthmatic stroke ! ) left the band after the 3rd and the 5th album and had been replaced by THOMAS LUDOLPHY ( vocals ) and ANDREAS LASCHEWSKI who was later replaced ( after just one album - "circle of pain" ) by NILS WUNDERLICH ( guitars ). The original drummer HERBERT HARTMANN left the band after the 4th album in 1995 and got replaced by Ferdy´s brother CURT before he rejoined the band in 2001 for the album "Symphony of Life" , that was co-produced by JON OLIVA, the mastermind of the legendary US-metal band SAVATAGE, who also sang a duet with Thomas on the album. The band and Oliva became friends as ROUGH SILK were supporting SAVATAGE on two European tours.
In March 2002 THOMAS LUDOLPHY left the band due to personal reasons but only a few minutes later it was clear, that they would not look for a new singer. On the band´s last album before the split, "End of Infinity", Doernberg, Hartmann & Wunderlich shared the lead-vocals. That worked pretty well and in the live-situation it also did but after more than 40 shows as a four-piece it was obvious, that Doernberg, who wanted to stick to the roots and keep the band heavy and the other 3 bandmembers, who were more into prog-rock and pop, had no common vision anymore.
So after a successful show at a metal-festival in Peine where they had performed the "old" metalsongs from the first albums plus some of the heavier newer tunes one more time, it was definitely over.

Tracks:
1. the grapes of wrath
2. roots of hate
3. in the deep of the night
4. calls of the world
5. when the thunder roars
6. candle in the rain
7. cemetary dawn
8. sentimental trust
9. wasteland serenader
10. through the fire
11. ups and downs
12. why
13. eyes of a stranger
14. forever

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D-load album :-) http://lix.in/f98d35
======================================

ROUGH SILK: (1994) Walls of Never

Tracks:
1. walls of never
2. h8 what u want
3. somebody's out there
4. toxical roses
5. one more for the ride
6. gloria in destiny
7. never loose again
8. missing you
9. lust is a killer
10. never say never
11. don't leave me now
12. the down

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D-load album :-) http://lix.in/87a953
=====================================

ROUGH SILK: (1996) Circle Of Pain

Tracks:
1. the end
2. insania
3. circle of pain
4. les chiens de la guerre
5. life goes on
6. when the skunk's got you down
7. ...and the winds scream in anger
8. for once in my life
9. on the wrong side of the moon
10. the mysterious boot hill grave inscription
11. the angel and the raven
12. the beginning (instrumental)

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D-load album :-) http://lix.in/a7accd
====================================

ROUGH SILK: (1997) Mephisto

Tracks:
1. mistery bay
2. recall
3. mephisto
4. subway angel's caravan
5. my last farewell
6. dust to sand
7. glissando
8. stay gold
9. far from home
10. the day of the loner
11. wheels of time

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D-load album :-) http://lix.in/784d36
===========================================

ROUGH SILK: (1998) Beyond the Sundown

Tracks:
1. from here to eternity
2. nosferatu
3. beyond the sundown
4. gods of darkness
5. a mather of size
6. neutrophobia
7. face to face
8. something to believe in
9. when life and pain unit
10. friends
11. where the wet waters flow
12. never loose again '98

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D-load album :-) http://lix.in/102faf
=======================================

ROUGH SILK: (2001) Symphony of Life

Tracks:
1. symphony of life
2. suicide king and chaos queen
3. savannah
4. lucifer
5. the truth
6. nice day for a funeral
7. the opposite of yes
8. silicone
9. under the guilotine
10. stories to tell
11. savannah (radio edit)
12. nice day for a funeral (radio edit)

pass = hmbreed

D-load album :-) http://lix.in/e1f4b1
=====================================

ROUGH SILK: (2003) End Of Infinity

Tracks:
1. who killed vinyl
2. isolation
3. lucifer's hotel
4. restless heart
5. ambrosia
6. what if darkness is brighter
7. my little friend
8. fiddler on the skeleton horse
9. carry on
10. the end of infinity
11. mrs. jealousy & mr. greed
12. set me free
13. dolly the sheep

pass = hmbreed

D-load album :-) http://lix.in/92752c
=====================================

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

AMON AMARTH : (1996) Sorrow Throught the Nine Worlds

Swedish death metal band Amon Amarth originally formed in 1988 under the name Scum; by the time the new moniker was adopted four years later, the line-up consisted of vocalist Johan Hegg, guitarists Olli Mikkonen and Anders Hansson, bassist Ted Lundstrom and drummer Niko Kaukinen. In 1993, the quintet recorded their first demo Thor Arise, which went unreleased due to sound problems; a second demo, Arrival of the Fimbul Winter, followed in 1994, quickly selling out all 1000 copies. Signing to the Singapore-based Pulverised label, Amon Amarth issued the EP Sorrow Throughout the Nine World in mid-1996; soon after Kaukinen exited, and was replaced by drummer Martin Lopez for 1998's full-length Once Sent from the Golden Hall. When both Hansson and Lopez defected from the line-up, the remaining members of Amon Amarth tapped new guitarist Johan Söderberg and drummer Fredrik Andersson for 1999's The Avenger. Crusher followed three years later...by Jason Ankeny, All Music

Tracks:
1. sorrow throught the nine worlds
2. the arrival of the fimbul winter
3. burning creation
4. the mighty doors of the speargod's hall
5. under the grayclouded winter sky

D-load album :-) http://lix.in/3d642a
(( pw = hmbreed ))
===========================================

AMON AMARTH : (1998) Once Sent from the Golden Hall

When a band is named after the Mountain of Doom in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, you're pretty much guaranteed epic metal at its most extravagant. But despite their lyrical bent (including Dungeons & Dragons titles like "Ride for Vengeance," "Victorious March," and "The Dragons' Flight Across the Waves"), Sweden's Amon Amarth eschews the expected Germanic power metal usually associated with such subject matter for brutally intense Scandinavian death metal. Firmly rooted in the At the Gates school, the band doesn't really break any new ground here. But they get the job done with plenty of spirit, more than competent songwriting, and excellent musicianship -- most notably from future Opeth drummer Martin Lopez. The song that bears the group's namesake is probably the most memorable, as it contains the chaotic noises of battle, the screams of the dying, and much sword-clashing to boot. Cool! Ultimately, Amon Amarth's war hymns often take themselves a bit too seriously and are bound to provoke either delirious head-banging or irresistible laughter, but what else would you expect from good heavy metal?.. by Ed Rivadavia, All Music

Tracks:
1. ride of vengeance
2. the dragon's flight across the waves
3. without fear
4. victorious march
5. friends of the suncross
6. abandoned
7. amon amarth
8. once sent from the golden hall

D-load album :-) http://lix.in/ed2f84
(( pw = hmbreed ))
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AMON AMARTH : (1999) Avenger

The Avenger is Amon Amarth's second album for Metal Blade, and it features new guitarist Johan Söderberg in place of the departed Anders Hansson. It's not dissimilar to Once Sent from the Golden Hall -- basic Scandinavian death/black metal, somewhere in between the predominant flavors of the Norwegian and Swedish scenes, mixing lightning-quick rhythms and noisy guitar textures with deep, growling grooves...by Steve Huey, All Music

Tracks:
1. bleed for ancient gods
2. the last with pagan bloodq
3. north sea storm
4. avenger
5. god, his son and holy whore
6. metalwrath
7. legend of a banished man

D-load album :-) http://lix.in/3d3166
(( pw = hmbreed ))
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AMON AMARTH : (2001) The Crusher

After nearly a decade of recording and a few lineup overhauls, each contributor to Amon Amarth's previous effort, Avenger, stuck around for The Crusher. Original members Johan Hegg (vocals) and Olavi Mikkonen (guitars) are again joined by Fredrik Andersson on drums, Johan Söderberg on guitar, and bassist Ted Lundström. There is nothing new on this outing to surprise fans of this band's familiar Scandinavian death metal. The riffing from guitar and drums is workmanlike, and Hegg's vocal rants carry all the requisite ferocity. During slower, more musically focused numbers like "As Long as the Raven Flies" and the opener, "Bastards of a Lying Breed," certain attributes of '80s thrash and song-driven metal create spaces that enhance the rest of this album's dense material. The Crusher blends seamlessly with the rest of Amon Amarth's Metal Blade catalog. There isn't a standout among these recordings, as their textural differences are negligible. Listeners who enjoy this kind of metal should certainly check out Amon Amarth, and The Crusher would be a good place to start...by Vincent Jeffries, All Music

Tracks
1. bastards of a lying breed
2. masters of war
3. the sound of eight hooves
4. risen from the sea (2000)
5. as long as the raven flies
6. a fury divine
7. annihiliation of hammerfest
8. the fall through ginnungagap
9. releasing surtur's fire
10. eyes of horror

D-load album :-) http://lix.in/47c898
(( pw = hmbreed ))
=========================================

AMON AMARTH : (2004) Fate Of Norns

Amon Amarth's fifth full-length isn't so different than its 2002 predecessor, The Crusher. Musically, Fate of Norns is Spartan death metal built on epic, anthemic melodies, a perfect example of the Iron Maiden/death metal fusion tagged the "New Wave of Swedish Heavy Metal." And lyrically it's still full of Viking imagery, as songs like "Valkyries Ride" and "The Pursuit of Vikings" attest. It's the same theme that these guys have been hammering at since their 1996 debut mini-album, Sorrow Throughout the Nine Worlds. It's also a theme that literally hundreds of other Scandinavian bands have hammered at too, most of them leaving it a hackneyed corpse ready for the pyre. Which is where Amon Amarth have set themselves apart. These aren't just songs written about Vikings, they are written by Vikings. They're ready for death in "Arson" where one of five left to burn survives and comes back for revenge in that tracks' sequel, "Once Sealed in Blood." Blood lust themes aren't unusual, but Amon Amarth tackle them with a depth often lacking from their contemporaries. Which brings up the most intriguing track, "Fate of Norns": "No man should have to bury his child/Yet this has been my share/The tears I shed run bitter and wild/It's a heavy burden to bear." A knotty subject for a band and a style more given to crushing skulls than tears, but that kind of depth is what Amon Amarth have brought to Fate of Norns and what makes it stand out in a sea of barbarian pretenders....by Wade Kergan, AMG

Tracks:
1. an ancient sign of coming storm
2. where death seems to dwell
3. fate of norns
4. the pursuit of vikings
5. valkkyries ride
6. the beheading of a king
7. arson
8. once sealed in blood

D-load album :-) http://lix.in/c4e1ae
(( pw = hmbreed ))
============================================

THIN LIZZY : (1983) Thunder & Lightning

Thin Lizzy's final studio release, Thunder and Lightning, was their most consistent album since 1979's Black Rose. Guitarist John Sykes replaced Snowy White, and the new blood must have inspired Lynott and company to write some of their best compositions in years. Although a pop-metal production hinders the tracks, there's more of a harder edge present than on their last release, Renegade. While the title track served as the ensuing tour's raging opener, half-baked lyrics detailing a fistfight and an unwarranted synth-solo weakens what should have been a straight-ahead rocker. But such heavies as "This Is the One" and "Cold Sweat" suit the band much better. Lizzy takes a stab at dance-rock with "The Holy War," while laying back with the tranquil "The Sun Goes Down" and the album's underrated highlight, the melodic "Bad Habits." Like Lizzy's other '80s releases, filler is present -- "Someday She Is Going to Hit Back" and "Heart Attack" and disappointingly, guitarist Scott Gorham abandons his trademark harmony leads of yesteryear in favor of '80s-era high-tech shredding. Not Lizzy's best release, but a definite improvement over their other '80s studio output....by Greg Preato, All Music

Tracks:
1. thunder and lightning
2. this is the one
3. the sun goes down
4. the holy war
5. cold sweat
6. someday she is going to hit back
7. baby please don't go
8. bad habits
9. heart attack

D-load album :-) http://lix.in/af26d0
(( pw = hmbreed ))
===========================================

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

NAPALM DEATH : (2005) The Code is Red..Long Live the Code

Had you dared to suggest back in the late '80s that Napalm Death -- not one of their supposedly more stable peers -- would be the ones to survive through thick and thin and become elder statesmen of extreme metal, you might have been laughed right out of the meat market. But here they are, still thriving decades on from grindcore's violent birth and 11 (that's 11!) studio albums into their career, despite continued challenges like the long-mooted, now seemingly official, departure of long-serving guitarist Jesse Pintado after a decade of work alongside mainstay Mitch Harris. Of course with this elder statesmen status comes the matter of (cough!) maturity, and that right there may be the single word that defines 2005's The Code Is Red...Long Live the Code, whether Napalm likes it or not. It also serves as the dividing line between those fans who have either stuck with or recently discovered the band, and those for whom Napalm Death may as well have died an excruciatingly painful, er, napalm death after releasing those two grindcore-defining first albums: Scum and From Enslavement to Obliteration. The latter are encouraged to take a hike right now, because even ultra-brief new punishments like "Right You Are" and "Pay for the Privilege of Breathing" only barely recall those early years, of which enduring bassist Shane Embury is the only remnant. Rather, though signature new material like "Silence Is Deafening," "Climate Controllers," and "Striding Purposefully Backwards" retains a concerted punk edge in its riffing and arrangements (a trend begun with 2000's revitalizing Enemy of the Music Business), Napalm's maturity (there's that word again), improved technical abilities, as well as a cleaner, more sophisticated production can't help but manifest themselves throughout this set. And yet, even as they prove that reinstating a certain punk ethos still won't get you back to Kansas again, these tracks carry an implicit challenge, daring even the most cynical of listeners to remain unmoved by the gigantic riffs unleashed by the title track or the colossal "All Hail the Grey Dawn" -- not to mention Barney Greenway's still inimitable throat of Armageddon. At this stage, all that's left to comment on are the guest appearances from Hatebreed's Jamie Jasta (pretty nondescript, somewhere in "Instruments of Persuasion"), old Carcass sparring mate Jeff Walker (more obvious in "Pledge Yourself to You"), and lending his unmistakable warble to "The Great and the Good," none other than Jello Biafra. In sum, while most certainly not likely to reconvert old-school grindcore purists, The Code Is Red...Long Live the Code shows Napalm Death in finer form than arguably any of their '90s efforts and lacking little in terms of the uncompromising fury and intelligence that helped make their name....by Ed Rivadavia, All Music

Tracks:
1. silence is deafening
2. right you are
3. diplomatic immunity
4. the code is red...long live the code
5. climate controllers
6. instruments of persuasion
7. the great and the good
8. sold short
9. all hail the grey dawn
10. vegetative state
11. pay for the privilege of breathing
12. pledge yourself to you
13. striding purposefully backwards
14. morale
15. our pain is their power
16. morale (bonus)

D-load album :-) http://lix.in/706a2c
(( pw = hmbreed ))
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THIN LIZZY: (1977) Bad Reputation

If Thin Lizzy got a bit too grand and florid on Johnny the Fox, they quickly corrected themselves on its 1977 follow-up, Bad Reputation. Teaming up with the legendary producer Tony Visconti, Thin Lizzy managed to pull of a nifty trick of sounding leaner, tougher than they did on Johnny, yet they also had a broader sonic palette. Much of this is due, of course, to Visconti, who always had a flair for subtle dramatics that never called attention to themselves -- witness Ziggy Stardust, which is layered with color but still sounds muscular -- and he puts this to use in dramatic effect here, to the extent that Lizzy sounds stripped down to their bare bones, even when they have horns pushing them forward on "Dancing in the Moonlight" or when overdubbed vocals pile up on the title track. Of course, they were stripped down to a trio on this record, lacking guitarist Brian Robertson, but Scott Gorham's double duty makes his absence unnoticeable. Plus, this is pure visceral rock & roll, the hardest and heaviest that Thin Lizzy ever made, living up to the promise of the title track. And, as always, a lot of this has to do with Phil Lynott's writing, which is in top form whether he's romanticizing "Soldiers of Fortune" or heading down the "Opium Trail." It adds up to an album that rivals Jailbreak as their best studio album...by Stephen Thomas, All Music

Tracks:
1. soldier of fortune
2. bad reputation
3. opium trail
4. southbound
5. dancing in the moonlight
6. killer without a cause
7. downtown sundown
8. that woman's gonna break your heart
9. dear lord

D-load album :-) http://lix.in/53552a
(( pw = hmbreed ))
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THIN LIZZY : (1978) Live and Dangerous

Released in 1978, just as the hot streak starting with 1975's Fighting and running through 1977's Bad Reputation came to an end, Live and Dangerous was a glorious way to celebrate Thin Lizzy's glory days and one of the best double live LPs of the 70s. Of course, this, like a lot of double-lives of that decade -- Kiss' Alive! immediately springs to mind -- isn't strictly live; it was overdubbed and colored in the studio (the very presence of studio whiz Tony Visconti as producer should have been an indication that some corrective steering may have been afoot). But even if there was some tweaking in the studio, Live and Dangerous feels live, containing more energy and power than the original LPs, which were already dynamic in their own right. It's this energy, combined with the expert song selection, that makes Live and Dangerous a true live classic...by Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music

Tracks:
1. jailbreak
2. emerald
3. southbound
4. rosalie/cowgirl's song
5. dancing in the moonlight
6. massacre
7. still in love with you
8. johnny the fox meets jimmy the weed
9. cowboy song
10. the boys are back in town
11. don't believe a word
12. warrior
13. are you ready
14. suicide
15. sha la la
16. baby drives me crazy
17. the rocker

D-load album 1 :-) http://lix.in/9201b6
D-load album 2 :-) http://lix.in/b4118d
(( pw = hmbreed ))
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