7/31/2017

Rock Goddess - It's More Than Rock and Roll EP Review


ROCK GODDESS
It's More Than Rock and Roll EP (2017)
Genre: Heavy Metal
★★★★★
(Masterpiece - among the best in the genre)

Despite every metal fan knowing about the NWoBHM, most of the bands that belonged to it are sadly forgotten these days sans Iron Maiden and Saxon. Some people will know about the first two Def Leppard albums and the first Diamond Head album, but try and ask someone about any other bands and it will just get harder and harder. This is such a damn shame, as bands like Girlschool, Raven, Jaguar, Satan, Tygers of Pan Tang, and Rock Goddess delivered some of the greatest classic metal albums of the 80's. Out of those bands, Rock Goddess is back with their first release of new material in 30 years, and boy, do they deliver.

This is what I call classic heavy metal, no flash and flair, just pure old school metal. Jody Turner's vocals and guitar work is of classic metal tradition, filled with both raw attitude and melody. Her solos are beautifully melodic, while the main riffs always have a gritty crunch or piercing bite. Tracey Lamb's bass gives each song a great bottom end, enhancing the crunchy heaviness. Julie Turner gives an absolutely pounding drum performance, especially on the final track "We're All Metal". The title track is epic in it's delivery, and the killer "Back Off" is probably my favorite on the EP.


Everything about this release screams classic metal, and this is how it should be done. If you're looking for some killer 80's style traditional metal, this is the best you'll find. I can't wait for what Rock Goddess have coming next, because this is already some of the best classic heavy metal I've ever heard.

Written on MMA (MetalMusicArchives)

See review here: http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/review/its-more-than-rock-and-roll(ep)/342229

7/16/2017

Blue Öyster Cult - Heaven Forbid Review


Blue Öyster Cult
Heaven Forbid (1998)
Genres: Hard Rock, Heavy Metal
★★★★
(Pretty good - recommended listening)


The last decade of the twentieth century weren't exactly the kindest years to classic rock acts of the 70's. Albums from these bands weren't very well-received, therefore they usually fade into obscurity. I mean, not many people are talking about albums like Heart's Desire Walks On or Van Halen's Balance these days. Most of these albums are forgotten, and often for good reason. One album from a classic 70's rock band that was forgotten, but I find to be a surprisingly great album, is Blue Öyster Cult's 1998 studio album.

Being the band's thirteenth studio album and (at the time) their first in a decade, it would be expected that Heaven Forbid would just be another bland album that tries to recapture past glories. However, it presents itself as a surprisingly varied album. Of course there are quite a few stale moments that just sound uninspired, but there is thankfully an equal amount of fresh, catchy, and just plain enjoyable songs.

The album opens right up with what may be the band's heaviest song, "See You in Black", which almost reminds me of something that could be on a Metal Church album. The driving main riff is pure classic heavy metal, and is up there with the band's best. "Hammer Back" and "Power Underneath Despair" are a couple more heavy metal-oriented tracks that are among the highlights. "Still Burnin'" is a great old school hard rock track, while an oddball is "Real World". This almost sounds straight out of a Phish album, with one of the catchiest acoustic guitar hooks I've ever heard.

While it's no Tyranny and Mutation, Heaven Forbid is a pretty great album. There are some mediocre moments on the album, but that's to be expected from a 90's album from a classic rock band. If you're a fan of classic hard rock and heavy metal, this is well worth the listen.

Written on MMA (MetalMusicArchives)

See review here: http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/review/heaven-forbid/338715

7/13/2017

Incubus - S.C.I.E.N.C.E. Review


INCUBUS
S.C.I.E.N.C.E. (1997)
Genres: Funk Metal, Alternative Metal, Lounge-Funk
★★★★★★
(Legendary - a masterpiece of music)

While Incubus gained a huge surge of popularity with the release of their 1999 album, Make Yourself, the band already had two EP's and two studio albums under their belt before they reached alternative rock stardom. However, if you're getting into these early releases from the band, don't expect it to sound anything like what the band is mostly known for. This is eclectic funk metal at it's finest.

Along with the equally amazing Enjoy Incubus EP from the same year, S.C.I.E.N.C.E. is, simply put, an explosion of creativity. For starters, there's an incredibly wide range of styles here. It ranges from many styles of metal, funk, hip-hop, lounge, and even a bit of trip-hop. All of these styles are blended seamlessly, always sounding like they naturally belong together. Each song stands out perfectly on its own, even if it's just with a little unique embellishment. An example of this is the slight middle-eastern influences on the opening track "Redefine".

Each musician is in absolute top form, delivering one of the best albums of the 90's. Brandon Boyd gives one of his best vocal performances on this album, especially on "Glass", "Nebula", "Deep Inside", and "Calgone". Dirk Lance earns his place among the bass gods on this album, and S.C.I.E.N.C.E. is one of the best bass albums out there. Listen to any song on the album, and you'll get some of the tastiest and funkiest bass licks available. "Glass" of course has some of the best, as does the smooth "Deep Inside". Jose Pasillas II absolutely slays on drums, displaying insane amounts of syncopation. Mike Einziger is a riff making machine, even bringing in some hooks that edge pretty close to thrash on songs like "Favorite Things" and "Calgone". Finally last, but not least, is Gavin Koppell. While some may find the turntables annoying, his electronic embellishments and turntables add a lot to the uniqueness of the album.

It's almost impossible to pick highlights due to how the album has a perfect flow and every song could be called a highlight. What I can say, is that "Glass" is probably my favorite Incubus song. "Summer Romance (Anti-Gravity Love Song)" is probably the song that stands out the most in style, as it takes a break from the metal, taking on a lounge-funk sound that is catchy as hell. "New Skin", which was originally seen on the Let Me Tell Ya 'Bout Root Beer EP from 1995, is incredibly catchy as well. The only slightly weaker moment on the album is "Magic Medicine", but even that song works within context of the whole album.

The lyrics and even the title showcase the same boom of creativity. At first the lyrics seem absurdist, after all, what else would you expect from and album title that's an acronym for Sailing Catamarans Is Every Nautical Captain's Ecstasy? However, once you look into them more, some of them can be interpreted as clever metaphors. Going back to the opening track of "Redefine", there's lyrics such as "Imagine your brain as a canister filled with ink", which don't make much sense until lines like "I'm sick of painting in black and white" come in. Even if the lyrics don't make any sense, you will still find yourself singing along anyways. Best examples for me are "Glass" and "A Certain Shade of Green". "Deep Inside" very well may have one of the greatest lines in music history, with "I know exactly where we are...the fuck are we?".

This is an album that takes multiple listens to fully sink in, and I'm still noticing different things every time I listen. Once it does sink in, this is one of the best and most eclectic funk metal albums. While Incubus would make a couple more fantastic albums later, this is a one-of-a-kind that should be essential listening for any bass and funk fan. One of my all time favorite albums.

Written on MMA (MetalMusicArchives)

7/06/2017

Slab! - Descension Review


SLAB!
Descension (1987)
Genres: Industrial Metal, Funk, Post-Punk
★★★★★
(Masterpiece - among the best in the genre)


After releasing a few singles in 1986/1987, British industrial group Slab! took their sound in a much darker, sludgier, and more dissonant direction than their more upbeat singles had shown. Mind you, this was still 1987. Godflesh hadn't formed yet, and Ministry still had no metal elements in their music. I can only imagine how jarring Slab's studio album debut would have sounded to music fans back in 1987.

Slab's Descension is adorned with a simplistic blue album cover, which seems to showcase the urban legends of giant mutated reptiles coming out of the sewers to roam the streets free. This fits, as the album has a massive sound that wreaks about as much havoc that one of these giant beasts would. Descension still showcases all of the influences that their singles featured, industrial, metal, funk, jazz, and even the avant-garde, but cranks up the industrial and the metal.

The album opens right up with the misleadingly titled "Tunnel of Love", which is one of the heaviest and most dissonant tracks. The mechanical, crunching, and crashing dissonance is contrasted perfectly with an infectiously catchy beat that immediately gets the listener grooving. This song, along with "Undriven Snow" and the misanthropic "Flirt" predate Godflesh, yet sound like they could have come straight from a classic Godflesh album.

The greatest song on the album, and one of the greatest industrial tracks is easily "Dolores", which will change the way you think about funky bass playing. The main riff is infectiously catchy industrial funk, but right after the main chorus the bass remains funky and catchy as hell yet becomes so dissonant. It's impossible to not get lost in the locked in groove. Some other highlights on the album is the jazzy "Dr. Bombay", the ominous "Gutter Busting", and "Loose Connection Somewhere".

While unfortunately Slab! remains an obscure band, Descension is perhaps the very first industrial metal album. It provides somewhat of a missing link between the early material of Killing Joke and KMFDM with the primal sound of Godflesh and Ministry. For industrial metal fans, this is essential listening.

Written on MMA (MetalMusicArchives)

See review here: http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/review/descension/342994

7/02/2017

Slab! - Smoke Rings (Single) Review


SLAB!
Smoke Rings (Single) (1987)
Genres: Industrial Metal, Funk Metal, Jazz, Avant-garde
★★★★
(Excellent - recommended listening)

Before Godflesh and Ministry took the metal scene by storm in 1988/1989, there was a little obscure band by the name of Slab! who started all the way back in 1982. Before releasing their debut studio album, the band had a few singles under their belt. These singles were characterized by a unique sound that I doubt anyone would expect to exist as early as 1987.

The two songs on this single are of course the title track, and Abbasloth. The title track is a catchy as hell industrial and jazzy funk metal tune, which has some of the tastiest bass licks that will ever grace your ears. There's such a gigantic sounding beat, that you can't help but stomp your foot or bang your head. The vocal melodies are infectiously catchy, and the saxophone plays off of the funky bass perfectly to bring a jazzy swing to the song.

The second song, the instrumental Abbasloth, is the song that lays on the more avant-garde side. The saxophone has little melody here, instead just sounding like it's being tortured. While avant-garde jazz fans will eat this up, I'm not a fan. What I am a fan of though in this song, is the interesting contrast. The bass remains catchy and funky, though dissonant. Both songs include fantastic screeching and discordant guitar solos which sound straight out of the cult classic 90's Adult Swim show Space Ghost: Coast to Coast.

Slab! would make their masterpiece with their debut studio album in the same year, but this is a great single with a interesting contrast of catchiness and the avant-garde. If industrial funk metal with jazz sounds cool, check this out. 

Written on MMA (MetalMusicArchives)

See review here: http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/review/smoke-rings(single)/342996

6/30/2017

Rush - Power Windows Review


RUSH
Power Windows (1985)
Genre: Synth Rock
★★★
(Good - worth a listen)

Power Windows is the eleventh studio album from hard rock/progressive rock band Rush. Going further and further down the synth-rock route, Power Windows shows the band remove some of the stark ominous vibe of the previous two synth-led albums, instead opting for a more pop-oriented sound. Not that this is a pop album, but it certainly fits in with the popular music at the time.

Don't worry though, this album still has most of the essential elements of a Rush album. Geddy Lee's bass slaps are especially excellent, adding a nice bounce to some of the tracks like the single "The Big Money" and "Marathon". While Lifeson does take a bit of a back seat as far as riffs go, his solos sing with so much feeling. Speaking of feeling, Power Windows features what I think are two of the most beautiful songs the band has written. These two songs are "Manhattan Project" and "Mystic Rhythms", the melodies from both the vocals and instruments are some of the most emotive the band has done. Peart's lyrics are strong on this one as usual, "Manhattan Project" in particular.

The only real issues with the album are that the keyboards can sound very dated on a few tracks and that the album isn't as consistently good as the previous two albums. There's not really any bad songs, but only about half the album really stands out and stays in my mind after listening. As far as dated keyboards and synth goes, "Grand Designs" is a good example of that. It's a fine song, but the dated synth can get a bit grating after awhile.

If you're a fan of the previous two Rush albums and/or 80's synth-rock/new wave, this album is well worth a listen. Like Hemispheres had exhausted the band's complex progressive rock sound, this album had exhausted their synth sound. Unfortunately, the band didn't realize that and ended up producing their first dud two years later.

Written on MMA (MetalMusicArchives)

See review here: http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/review/power-windows/340581

6/23/2017

Power Trip - Nightmare Logic Review


POWER TRIP
Nightmare Logic (2017)
Genre: Thrash Metal
★★★★★★
(Legendary - a masterpiece of music)

Is it 1988?

Power Trip takes the listener back to the days when extreme metal still had all of its crushing fury, there was no such thing as an overproduced extreme metal album, mosh pits were still chaotic, and knew that complexity meant nothing if you couldn't still rip out the listener's guts and shove them down their throat. There's no sterile modern tech death/grind/core drumming here, no overproduced modern Kreator-choruses, and no bullshit. This is pure fucking thrash metal.

Taking the heaviness of riffage from Ride the Lightning, slow destructive dirges from South of Heaven, the pure rapid aggression and screeching solos from Razor's Violent Restitution, and the grooves of Vulgar Display of Power, Power Trip is completely old school. The album opens ominously with the thunder and static of "Soul Sacrifice" before crushing every one of the listeners bones with a crunching riff that has the force of a slab of concrete. Soon the guitar turns from slow and crunching to razor-sharp and traps the listener into a tornado of rapid-fire aggression.

That song is just the beginning, as Nightmare Logic is the modern Reign in Blood. It's only about 33 minutes long, but it's 33 minutes of skin-tearing riff after riff. "Firing Squad" sounds just like the title, the guitars and drums rain down upon the listener like a multitude of bullets. There's also some groovy hooks and blistering solos throughout the whole album. The title track brings to mind the masterful riffing of Slayer and the groove in the middle of "Crucifixion" would not sound out of place on a Pantera record. Pretty much every song features guitar solos that will destroy everything in their path, and are like speeding cars on a raceway ready to spill some blood.

Riley Gale roars and screams on every song, where usually only the title of the song is audible in the lyrics. His voice is filled with so much rage and anger, that you can't help but get pumped and want to thrash and mosh. His vocal fury combined with the shredding instrumentation just makes for one wild ride into the pit.

If you're sick of all the overproduced and derivative extreme metal albums that plague today's metal scene, give Power Trip a listen to be reminded of what extreme really means. This is all old school and ready for moshing, get ready to thrash!

Written on MMA (MetalMusicArchives)