Thursday, February 28, 2008

ANVIL: Still Going Strong (Re-up)

In the early '80s, the Canadian heavy metal band Anvil made an impact on the developing speed metal scene. Their first three albums featured some mind-boggling technically advanced metal at a previously unheard-of speed -- sound for the sake of sound, not songs. After releasing their third album in 1983, the band sank into a mire of legal and creative problems where their accomplishments and popularity were eclipsed by the bands that defined speed and thrash metal -- Metallica, Slayer, and Megadeth -- among other lesser-knowns who were all in debt to Anvil's previous work. After two marginally successful comeback albums in 1987 and 1988, guitarist Dave Allison left and the band effectively quit recording. --- by Stephen Thomas Erlewine, AMG

1. Race Against Time
2. In Hell
3. Holy Wood
4. Still Going Strong
5. Don't Ask Me
6. Waiting
7. White Rhino
8. What I'm About
9. Sativa
10. Defiant

pw -- heavymetalbreed

BLUE OYSTER CULT: (1994) Cult Classic

Perhaps recognizing Columbia Records' failure to release a proper greatest hits album, Blue Öyster Cult re-recorded its best-known material on this collection, which was tied into the broadcast of a TV mini-series version of Stephen King's The Stand, a horror novel that had mentioned BÖC's hit "(Don't Fear) the Reaper." The selection of songs here is good, and the current edition of BÖC (original members Eric Bloom, Allen Lanier, and Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser, plus replacement members Chuck Burgi and Jon Rogers) re-creates the original recordings closely. But they are re-recordings. (The album contains 12 tracks, plus extra performances of "[Don't Fear] the Reaper" and "Godzilla" in so-called "TV mixes" -- i.e., without vocals). --- by William Ruhlmann, AMG

1. Don't Fear the Reaper
2. E.T.I.
3. M.E. 262
4. This Ain't the Summer of Love
5. Burning for You
6. O.D.'d On Life Itself
7. Flaming Telepaths
8. Godzilla
9. Astronomy
10. Cities on Flame with Rock'n' Roll
11. Harvester of Eyes
12. Buck's Boogie
13. Don't Fear the Reaper
14. Godzilla

pw -- heavymetalbreed

BLUE OYSTER CULT: (1998) Heaven Forbid

Blue Öyster Cult prove that ten years sometimes doesn't account for all that much on Heaven Forbid, their first new studio album in a decade. Essentially, the group's sound has remained the same, with the same crunching power chords and sci-fi/horror lyrics that characterized their best songs. While the band sounds surprisingly muscular and powerful throughout Heaven Forbid, the material is below par, lacking memorable hooks or melodies. Still, some longtime fans might find the very fact that BÖC is back and rocking harder then expected reassuring, and that may be reason enough to check out Heaven Forbid. --- by Stephen Thomas Erlewine, AMG

1. see you in black
2. harvest moon
3. power underneath dispair
4. x-ray eyes
5. hammer back
6. damaged
7. cold gray light of dawn
8. real world
9. live for me
10. still burnin'
11. in thee

pw -- heavymetalbreed

BLUE OYSTER CULT: (2001) Curse of the Hidden Mirror

Long Island's favorite metal-lite purveyors continued their comeback in 2001 with this unexpectedly accomplished set of new songs. Boasting the core of the original band with Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser, Eric Bloom, and Alan Lanier, Curse of the Hidden Mirror stays rooted in the group's tough yet jangly approach but ups the ante with strong material that often matches, yet doesn't quite surpass, the band's best music. A return to the stylistic triumph of Agents of Fortune and the similarly titled Mirrors, the revived quintet coalesces around sharp riff-based rockers that show a band that has matured but hasn't lost its cosmic edge. Simplistic rockers like "Here Comes That Feeling" float on a fluently melodic bed, and when they slip into ballad mode, as in "Out of the Darkness," it's done without an ounce of pretension. Even the tougher rockers like "Good to Feel Hungry" and "Stone of Love" -- the latter co-penned by R. Meltzer (who worked with them in the '80s) and one of this album's highlights, a song as good as anything they've ever written -- never slip into either stiffness or, worse, self-parody. Roeser keeps his solos on low burn, never overstaying his welcome, and vocalist Bloom doesn't force his still-smooth voice, belying his age (early fifties) and veteran status. The opening tuneful rocker "Dance on Stilts" could easily fit on either one of the group's classic first four studio albums, as could the appropriately titled "One Step Ahead of the Devil," which is a high compliment indeed. In fact, except for a few slips on the simplistic "I Just Want to Be Bad," a track that's as bland as it sounds, Curse of the Hidden Mirror is a remarkably consistent, subtle, and even poetic album that expands their sci-fi undercurrents without getting lost in space. It's far better than some of the group's limp late-'80s work and stands as one of the finest albums of their nearly three decade -- and counting -- career of evil. --- by Hal Horowitz, AMG

1. dance on stilts
2. showtime
3. the old gods return
4. pocket
5. one step ahead of the devil
6. i just like to be bad
7. here comes that feeling
8. out of the darkness
9. stone of love
10. eye of the hurricane
11. good to feel hungry

pw -- heavymetalbreed

BLUE OYSTER CULT: (2002) A Long Day's Night

Shortened by six songs from its accompanying video, Blue Öyster Cult's fifth live release is a rugged and often exciting trawl through their 30-year career. Featuring songs from their debut like the inescapable "Cities on Flame" and even a few tracks from works such as 2001's sadly underappreciated Curse of the Hidden Mirror, the album also serves as a reasonable career summation. Guitarist Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser's chops are in fine form, as the six-and-a-half-minute "Buck's Boogie" proves, and the band plays passionately throughout. Recorded at a single Chicago show in June of 2002, there seems to be few overdubs patching up this exuberant performance. Although only three of the original five bandmembers (Roeser, Allen Lanier, Eric Bloom) remain, there is no mistaking the sound. From dreamy to bone-crunching, Blue Öyster Cult retains a knack for melody, even on the newer tracks like Roeser's "Harvest Moon" and "Dance on Stilts." A ten-minute "Astronomy" highlights the band's sci-fi origins and never gets boring. Nor do extended versions of the set-closers "Godzilla" and "Don't Fear the Reaper." Digging deep into their catalog, they emerge with "Perfect Water" and "Lips in the Hills" (from Club Ninja and Cultosaurus Erectus, respectively), two forgotten gems that sound just fine dusted off for this concert. Excepting a fewcrowd-pleasing, Spinal Tap-ish moments in the closing minutes of "Cities on Flame" and the lumbering bass and drum solos in "Godzilla," Blue Öyster Cult remains one of the more enjoyable relics of a time when hard rock bands ruled the airwaves. Three decades of shows have only sharpened their attack.. --- by Hal Horowitz, AMG

1. Stairway to the stars
2. burning for you
3. od'd on life itself
4. dance on stilts
5. buck's boogie
6. quicklime girl
7. harvest moon
8. astronomy
9. cities on flame
10. perfct water
11. lips in the hills
12. godzilla
13. don't fear the reaper

pw -- heavymetalbreed

RUSH: Vapor Trails

Most longtime Rush fans realize that a new album from the Canadian trio in the early 21st century is quite an accomplishment. After drummer Neil Peart's much-publicized tragic turn of events in his private life not long after Rush's 1996 release Test for Echo (the death of both his teenaged daughter and wife less than a year apart), the group's future was understandably cast into doubt. Slowly but surely, however, the band regained their footing and issued their 17th studio album in 2002, Vapor Trails. You would think that a veteran band entering their fourth decade together would perhaps mellow out a bit, but this doesn't prove to be case -- as evidenced by the leadoff track, "One Little Victory," while the majority of the album follows the same direct and hard-hitting sound as their past couple of releases (fans of the group's more synth-based and sterile mid-'80s style will have to look elsewhere). Peart, who remains the group's main lyricist, opts to conquer such challenging subject matter as the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on "Peaceable Kingdom," while bits of the lyric to "Ghost Rider" ("Pack up all those phantoms/Shoulder that invisible load") leads the listener to believe that perhaps the drummer is sharing his personal healing process with the fans. Other standouts include the melodic "Sweet Miracle," the explosive "Out of the Cradle," the mid-paced title track, and "Earthshine," the latter of which showcases how fine Lee's voice has matured (especially when compared to his high-piercing shriek on Rush's early albums). All in all, Vapor Trails does an amiable job of signaling the welcomed return of Rush. --- by Greg Prato, AMG

1. one little victory
2. ceiling unlimited
3. ghost rider
4. peaceable kingdom
5. the stars look down
6. how it is
7. vapor trail
8. secret touch
9. earthshine
10. sweet miracle
11. nocturne
12. freeze (part IV of Fear)
13. out of the cradle

pw -- heavymetalbreed

Saturday, February 9, 2008

RAGE: (2003) Soundchaser @224kbps

Rage's "Peavy" Wagner is the most underrated songwriter in metal today. This one man has gone through so many different styles of metal over the years that it's become very difficult to define exactly what kind of band Rage is. However, you can be certain that whenever you pick up a Rage album, it will be GOOD! Soundchaser, Peavy's latest offering, continues where "Unity" and "Welcome to the Other Side" left off, combining Mike Terrana and Victor Smolski's Progressive Metal styles of playing with Peavy's mixture of Thrash, Power, and True Metal. The newest result is the best of this era of Rage, "Soundchaser" is a rock opera with serious attitude and technical power. The title character has been the band's mascot ever since their famous third album "Perfect Man", now, we finally get to hear his story told through intense riffing, incredible drums, and lyrics that not only impress the ear but are quite fun to sing along with. Soundchaser is a must buy for any Metal fan. ---- By Karnivorr

1. Orgy of Destruction (Intro) - 2. War of Worlds - 3. Great Old Ones - 4. Soundchaser - 5. Defenders of the Ancient Life - 6. Secrets In A Weird World - 7. Flesh and Blood - 8. Human Metal - 9. See You In Heaven or Hell - 10. Falling from Grace: Wake The Nightmares (Pt. 1) - 11. Falling from Grace: Death is on It's Way (Pt. 2)

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SAMSON: (1982) Before the Storm @192kbps

Still smarting over singer Bruce Dickinson's recent defection to join the on-the-verge-of-greatness Iron Maiden (and to a lesser degree, the simultaneous departure of "colorful" drummer Thundersticks), Samson mainstays Paul Samson (guitar) and Chris Aylmer (bass) once again set about signing up new bandmates who might help them carry on with their career. In came the quite capable if less than photogenic Nicky Moore, a portly veteran of numerous small-time blues-rock outfits, along with drummer Pete Jupp, and, after touring the U.K. for much of 1981 in search of their chemistry (not to mention a new record deal), Samson got to work on what would become their fourth album, 1982's Before the Storm. Issued by Polydor, it was in fact a very competent effort that saw the bandmembers successfully turning their backs on the Dickinson era by replacing some of their New Wave of British Heavy Metal edge with a less explosive but, frankly, more natural-sounding hard rock grit -- at times quite reminiscent of recent touring partners Blackfoot, in fact (see first single "Losing My Grip"). Convincingly anthemic rockers like "Danger Zone," "Test of Time," and "Turn Out the Lights" carried the rest of the day, and despite the odd, ill-fated retread (the slow-paced "Red Skies" rewrote portions of early favorite "Vice Versa"), the new Moore/Samson partnership seemed to be off to a promising start. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia, All Music Guide

1. Dangerzone / 2. Stealing Away / 3. Red Skies / 4. I'll Be Round / 5. Test of Time / 6. Life on the Run / 7. Turn Out the Lights / 8. Losing My Grip / 9. Young Idea / 10. Running Out of Time / 11. Driving with Z.Z. / 12. Living, Loving, Lying / 13. Pyramid to the Stars / 14. Front Page News / 15. Riding with the Angels

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SAVAGE: (1983) Loose 'n' Lethal @320kbps

A classic album from this band of the NWOBHM..era..

1. Let It Loose
2. Cry Wolf
3. Berlin
4. Dirty Money
5. Ain't No Fit Place
6. On the Rocks
7. The China Run
8. White Hot

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HOLY MOSES: Disorder of the Order

"Disorder Of The Order" is the first, full-length album of HOLY MOSES after their reunion. Positively to mention are the vocals of front-shouter Sabina in comparison with their Mini-CD "Master Of Disaster", it's less Black Metal-like but it orientates more on the glorious 80s ("Finished With The Dogs").
In fact, I still wait for the definitive follower of "Current Of Death", but until then, this record is good, too (apart from the intro, that belongs more to bands like CRADLE OF PILS but not to HOLY MOSES). But after that, the band rocks straight forward. "We Are At War" is a great thrasher, the title track has something of "GUN'S N MOSES", and the theme of the lead guitar, that is pulled through the whole song, is just strong. "Break The Evil" is a breaker again, while "Deeper" with its staccato-riffs reminds more of a mixture of SLAYER and old ANNIHILATOR. Apropos ANNIHILATOR and staccato-riffs: if Jeff Waters would record a Thrash Metal-CD, the result would be sound like this album here. Altogether, all songs are well-made, heavy as fuck, tight as a duck's ass and they have great choruses, to join singing, alike as it should be. The exception is maybe "Verfolgungswahn", which would belong better to Sabinas' former band TEMPLE OF THE ABSURD. At all events, the album looks well between classics like "Finished With The Dogs" and "World Chaos". (Online October 17, 2002) --- by Hawk, The Metal Observer

1. Intro
2. We are at War
3. Disorder of the Order
4. Break the Evil
5. Deeper
6. Hell on Earth
7. I Bleed
8. Blood Bond
9. 1.000 Lies
10. Princess of Hell
11. Verfolgungswahn
12. Heaven Vs. Hell

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