Album Of The Week


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For Week Ending:
13 July 2024


TheBigBlack


Jimmy Page Logo

Outrider

Jimmy Page - Outrider (1988)

[Rock]

U.K.

Rating - 2 Stars

With riffs and a tone that were distinctively Jimmy Page, the great virtuoso's first true solo album 'Outrider' burst onto the hard rock scene in 1988 only a few shorts months after he featured all over Led Zeppelin band mate Robert Plant's return to rock on 'Now And Zen'. The buzz that appearance had generated only helped to build for this album, but ultimately the buzz wasn't justified. The album has a very modern blues feel, mostly aided by the vocals of John Miles on the two opening tracks. These launch the album well, but it is obvious very quickly that this is slicky produced product. Robert Plant returns the guesting favour and provides vocals to one track, 'The Only One', but sadly this is one of the tracks that suffers the most from the dated 80's production techniques. In fact most of the album is dripping in almost insipid reverb reflective of so many albums at the time, that it can only be from this period - stealing from it the opportunity to ever be seen as anything more than a product of its time. Instrumental 'Writes Of Winter' sounds like a barroom boogie, whilst the steel guitar on 'Emerald Eyes' is about the closest the album gets to his 1970s work. The final two tracks feature vocalist Chris Farlowe (who also performed vocals on Page's soundtrack to the film 'Deathwish II' back in 1982). These songs again head deep into blues territory, with 'Prison Blues' even being a slow song reminiscent of 'Since I've Been Loving You' in places, but never quite reaching that level of greatness. In fact the album as a whole never really reaches any level of the epic songwriting or guitar playing the public had hoped for from Page, and although it was big news at the time, it soon disappeared into department store bargain bins worldwide not long after.


mindkiller8


Freedumb

Suicidal Tendencies - Freedumb (1999)

[Thrash Metal (Crossover)]

U.S.A.

Rating - 4 Stars

When doing a general review of band history as I do for all reviews, I had to double take at the band forming in 1980. Wow, that is a long time ago. During that period to now, I have fallen in and out of love with the band. First being hooked by their second release 'Join The Army' offering that emerging punk, rock, thrash style at the time. Lead by this 'little' 20 year old upstart in Mike Muir putting on a show and writing such classics as 'Possessed To Skate', they were on their way. It was over a decade to 'The Art Of Rebellion' which saw a very different sound from the band, that I loved and still listen to this day. A short fast forward to the topic of this review of 'Freedumb' - a recording after a 5 year hiatus and a great play on words that I guess highlighted the bands view of the world at that time. It was a return to the 3-4 minute blasts of pure in-your-face punk-rock. The title track gives you a good indication of what you are in for. That bass click in the early part is great, and we hear it at other times, including the intro to track 3. What you will hear is Muir leading the way in his hatred and protesting of all things that piss him off. Songs to pick out if I need to - the first track 'Freedumb', as described, 'I Ain't Like You', 'Naked', 'We Are Family' with a sick bass line thrown in at the start. Overall, this shows Suicidal Tendencies, in my mind re-emerging as a significant force in the punk/rock space. Sadly, there was one more release a year later and nothing after that for 10 years with Mike having back issues. The important thing is they are still alive and well, currently touring.

For Week Ending:
6 July 2024


TheBigBlack


Cavalera Conspiracy Logo

Schizophrenia

Cavalera - Schizophrenia (2024)

[Thrash Metal]

U.S.A.

Rating - 4 Stars

The Cavalera brothers have completed their re-recordings of the original Sepultura trio of albums with easily the best of the three, both in terms of the song writing and performance. Whereas 2023's new versions of 'Bestial Devastation' and 'Morbid Visions' sounded a little unsure of themselves in places, almost as if the brothers were being cautious not to overdo things, the new version of 'Schizophrenia' hits with full force as if nothing has been held back. 'From The Past Comes The Storms' explodes into life with lo-fi retro-style force, showcasing the simple yet powerful riffs of early Sepultura in a way the original recording barely even hinted at. Every song on the album is given a second chance at life, and in every case far exceeds the original. It isn't just the better production that makes tracks like 'Escape To The Void' and 'Screams Behind The Shadows' classics that never were, but it is also the 30 years of experience in between that make so much difference. Whereas in the original Max's guitar would sometimes sound thin and out of tune, or Igor's frantic drumming was not quite as skilled yet as he had hoped, here the performers are seasoned veterans that are perfectly in sync. Max's voice has a (deliberate) old-school feel and charm about it, and although the production is light years beyond the original, it has still been given a 1980s feel to add to the authenticity. 'Inquisition Symphony' finally gets its chance to shine as the masterwork it is, and the lone new track 'Nightmares Of Delirium', a relic of the time, closes the album nicely (but not as well as the original closer 'R.I.P. (Rest In Pain)'). Whilst the first two re-recordings of their earlier material in 2023 gave a better insight into the early band and a refreshing take on the songs, 'Schizophrenia' goes one step further revealing an album that given better production at the time would possibly still be talked about today as an early thrash classic.


mindkiller8


Iron Maiden Logo

Fear Of The Dark

Iron Maiden - Fear Of The Dark (1992)

[Heavy Metal]

U.K.

Rating - 3 Stars

I had mates at school in the 80's that were big Iron Maiden fans. I was on the thrash path with Metallica, Anthrax, Sepultura etc. It wasn't until the early 90's that I decided to take a listen. Bought 'No Prayer For The Dying' and 'Fear Of The Dark' as they came out. I don't think they were hits with the true IM fans, but for me, I liked them. I could have chosen to review either, but have chosen 'Fear'. Again, still being a 'raw' fan, you see right from track 1 what a heck of a voice Dickinson has. The way he holds a note - he tops my previous love in Belladonna. In any case I see it as an enjoyable listen. Not particularly earth-moving, but some catchy songs that easily deserve many re-listens. Of most surprise is the final track that ends up the lead single and the only song from this album that has a permanent spot in their live concerts. Apart from this, highlights for me are the opening track and to be honest I skip to the final track "Fear Of The Dark". The middle songs are OK, but no standouts really. For whatever reason Dickinson left the band, only to return 7 years later. It's weird how successful bands can be so disruptive. Anyway this effort was never going to turn me into a devout IM fan.

For Week Ending:
29 June 2024


TheBigBlack


Metallica Logo

Live Shit, Binge & Purge

Metallica - Live Shit, Binge & Purge (1993)

[Thrash Metal]

U.S.A.

Rating - 5 Stars

After touring for almost 2 years straight (from Augst 1991 to July 1993) with very little reprieve, two things were inevitable at that point for Metallica. 1) the band would leave the public eye for some well-deserved downtime for a little while, and 2) that a live album of the lengthy jaunt would appear on shelves at some point. When the album did appear (carefully timed for Christmas) it was bigger and better than even the most dedicated fan could have hoped for. The hefty boxed set not only contained a triple CD concert recorded in Mexico City over five nights in February / March of 1993, but also contained three VHS cassettes featuring between them a full concert from San Diego in January 1992 and (somewhat oddly) a concert shot in Seattle in August 1989 on the band's previous tour. All this was packaged in a replica (cardboard) equipment road case that also had a glossy booklet, a replica backstage pass and a 'scary guy' t-shirt stencil. The sheer quantity of music made the box a mammoth listen (and watch), but none of it would have been worth anything in the performance quality wasn't there - so luckily it was. By the time of the Mexico show the band was arguably on autopilot, but this certainly doesn't sound so on the recordings. The band is tight, and James' voice is in excellent form. He has found his comfy place as 'rock star James' at this point, moving to stadium sized crowds and learning show after show how to keep the crowd begging for more. Sure, every word he says is repeated night after night and carefully placed for maximum impact, but he says them with such conviction that it doesn't sound that way. Jason is now at peace with his place in the band, and his bass rings throughout, filling the shoes of Cliff Burton with ability and pride. There are no true highlight tracks here, as there a no songs they are new, but every song is perfectly performed. The San Diego footage reveals more once we see the band. James owning the stage, pacing back and forth like an angry redneck, swilling beer and spiting both spittle and vitriol. Kirk reminds the crowd with every solo why he was Guitar Player magazine's guitarist of the year. Jason - ever in a Metallica t-shirt - jumps around smiling from ear to ear. Lars not so much plays his drum kit, but becomes one with it through out - tongue poking from the side of his mouth. This is arguable the band at its absolute peak, even playing the songs from the self-titled Metallica album with such force and intensity that they can't be told apart from the earlier heavier songs. This was when Metalica transcended from staging concerts to staging an 'experience'. No one leaves disappointed. The odd choice was the inclusion of the Seattle '89 show, not just because it was from a previous tour, but because it has a very good crack at becoming the crown jewels of the box. The band isn't as tight, and the stage isn't as big, and the bombast of the next tour isn't there yet - but none of that matters, as this concert is sensational from start to finish. This is the Metallica that still belonged the metal community. The Metallica that hadn't yet 'sold out' to the rest of the world, and were still the best kept secret in music. They always knew this was a stepping stone (as is evidenced in the incredible professionalism of the performance), but the fans were still in denial of the band's future at this point. The box still holds up today, and many online communities rank the Mexico recordings as possibly one of the greatest live albums in metal history, and something even the band themselves has never been able to come close to matching ever again. There could not have been a more perfect close to the first decade of the band.


mindkiller8


Meantime

Helmet - Meantime (1992)

[Alternative Rock]

U.S.A.

Rating - 4 Stars

Helmet, with a fresh major label signing made the most of their opportunity with a record that arguably holds more importance years beyond the release itself. Their 2nd release of their very early career, Meantime was released with little fan-fare and ended up being one of the most influential releases, along with the follow up Betty, to this day. Hailing from the other side of the country away from the Seattle & emerging Grunge scene, the title track opens up with a swirling of noise, followed by a simple drum beat before all hell breaks loose with a wall of guitars and a man that is very, very angry. 'Ironhead' and 'Give It' being next which is a more 'calmer' song and Hamilton not quite so angry. The next, 'Unsung', is the track of the record. Released as a single it bought them a lot of praise. Mr '6ft Hi-Hat' Stainer is the absolute star for the last minute or so of the song. Brilliant! It terms of influence, bands such as Deftones, SOAD and Korn to name a few, have all cited influences from the band. Didn't listen much to the band after Betty. They had 1 more release after a couple of band member left and went their own ways in 1997. During this time, amongst other things, Hamilton was guitarist for David Bowie when the band went on hiatus. Still enjoy going back and listening to Meantime.

For Week Ending:
22 June 2024


TheBigBlack


Exodus Logo

British Disaster, The Battle Of '89 (Live At The Astoria)

Exodus - British Disaster, The Battle Of '89 (Live At The Astoria) (2024)

[Thrash Metal]

U.S.A.

Rating - 4 Stars

Exodus suffered a number of unlucky setbacks in the 80s, and many believe this is the reason their early 1990s output suffered in the quality department. Whilst substance abuse probably had more to do with their downfall that lady-luck, it does pose many 'what if?' scenarios, one of which being 'what if this was released back in 1989 when it was recorded?'. Performed at London's Astoria with locals Acid Reign on support, this is a document of a band undisputably at its peak, and the performance is intense and brutal, reminding us that Exodus really deserved a place alongside the likes of Slayer and Metallica. This is the line-up most see as the band's peak - the twin lead of Gary Holt and Rick Hunolt held steady by Rob McKillop on bass and Tom Hunting on drums, and of course the razor-blade vocals of Steve Souza at front of stage. From the moment the first note of 'The Last Act Of Defiance' is played you can see the sweat-filled pit break in your mind's eye, and that familiar head crushing guitar tone only Exodus can dial into rips into your brain. The next hour and a quarter is filled with a selection of fan favourites from all three of the band's albums at the time, and although it is quite heavy with tracks from Fabulous Disaster (the album being toured), it doesn't skimp on earlier material. The songs are frenzied, but still tight, with the Holt and Hunolt (the 'H Team' as they were known at the time) perfectly in-tune with each other, delivering the riffs and solos on the earlier material with perfect precision regardless of the lighting speed. Hunting's drumming is insanely fast, with double kicks on songs like 'Fabulous Disaster' seemingly otherworldly. The energy bubbles throughout, and even on longer tracks like "An Then There Were None' and 'Like Father, Like Son' that slow the tempo, the band doesn't slow the intensity. With a mouth full of gravel and broken glass, Souza's vocals hold up well, and at no point in the high-energy show do the band feel fatigued. About the only thing that doesn't hold up is the between songs banter, which like most U.S. thrash bands of the time is full of cringe-worthy rants about violence and politicians. Closing with crowd favourite 'Strike Of The Beast' the whole thing ends in the same style it started, brutality, and then it is gone, and the time capsule is again closed. Archival releases like this are often just a way to clear the vaults, and act like a passing curiosity - but this album is more than that. It's rough-hewn edges and sheer sonic force reminds us of a time when metal wasn't about anything more than banging your head and making some loud and wonderful noise. Thankfully 35 years on Exodus are still doing just that.


mindkiller8


Red Hot Chili Peppers Logo

Blood Sugar Sex Magik

Red Hot Chili Peppers - Blood Sugar Sex Magik (1991)

[Alternative Rock]

U.S.A.

Rating - 5 Stars

I'd never heard of these guys prior to this release and was surprised to realise this was to be their 5th studio album. However very much a change of pace/direction for the band. Produced by the legendary Rick Rubin, previous fans may have been shocked. Again a 1992 release considered a tumultuous period for metal/rock music. Metal struggling to keep their identity on the surge of Grunge. However there was a band doing something a little different that managed to break through both with their funk/groove sound that seemed to stick with the music population of the day. They had their hits such as 'Suck My Kiss' and 'Give it Away', however it was 'Under The Bridge', a slow, melodic, soulful piece that hit a home run for them. I hadn't realised until this year, this had a very special meaning to the band. Search for Chad Smith and him reminiscing on the song. You can see he's almost bought to tears. If you bought the record after the radio attention you find a 17 song, 70 minute album that links Flea's bottom bass sound, Chad's funk/rock sound on the drums and let's not forget Frusciante's amazing guitar effort, crossing from that groove, into rock/metal solos. And there is Kiedis who is almost an instrument in itself with his voice. I could reference Mike Patton who is the only other that I consider that can use their voice to provide an additional sound to the band. Sure there are questionable songs with questionable lyrics that some may call cheesy or unnecessary, however it is more about the music and sound that such songs produce that is captivating. Overall, I love this record and it is clearly in my Top 5 of all time.

For Week Ending:
15 June 2024


TheBigBlack


Opeth Logo

Blackwater Park

Opeth - Blackwater Park (2001)

[Death Metal (Progressive)]

Sweden

Rating - 5 Stars

Apart from with rare exception, it is safe to say that by album number 5 most bands have crossed the line of their creative peak - and their best work is probably behind them. Opeth were one of those rare few, releasing what can only be described as their masterwork almost a decade into their career. Whilst previous album 'Still Life' started with a polite whisper, slowly awakening it's demons, Blackwater Park instead pummels the listener from it's opening notes, and the unique death growls of band mastermind Mikael Akerfeldt fill the speakers just moments from the opening of 'The Leper Affinity'. Shots have been fired, and like everything the band does, the song doesn't so much open an album, but open a period of time in the band's evolution. It starts the juggernaut that is the next 67 minutes of music rolling, and immediately tells those listening that this isn't the sort of music you play on random. It demands to be listened to as a whole. It is immersive. A 'movement' of music, rather than individual songs. Not before long Akerfeldt's voice changes, and an angelic vocal is heard, countering the demonic conjurings of early parts of the song. The guitar lines are achingly beautiful also, and the piano close is divine. Song after song the canvasses are filled with colours and textures, with 'Bleak' primarily in grey before 'Harvest' lifts the album like an acoustic distress call from beyond that floats and swirls in an out of reality. 'The Drapery Falls' is even better, a modern metal classic that will never be matched, both in the way the guitar harmonies draw pictures in the mind, and the swirling bass line wraps around the soul. Track after track the guitar melodies and sublime solos ebb and flow like waves coming and going from the shore, occasionally crashing in a crescendo that is fleetingly broken up with acoustic flourishes like the wonderful 'Patterns In The Ivy'. The album closes with the sublime wall of slow riffing that is the title track, and its deceptive simplicity (in comparison to other tracks) closes the album with a feeling of uneasy grandiosity, but nothing here was ever supposed to feel particularly inviting. The band followed with a number of brilliant albums after this one, but none will ever match the majesty on display here.

For Week Ending:
8 June 2024


TheBigBlack


Joe Satriani Logo

Flying In A Blue Dream

Joe Satriani - Flying In A Blue Dream (1989)

[Rock]

U.S.A.

Rating - 4 Stars

There is a lot of evidence that just because you are an exceptional guitar player doesn't necessarily mean you can write a song, and this evidence is usually found on the solo albums of great guitarists. Like any great artist is aware, knowing what to put where and how much of it to use is what makes or breaks the work. Sometimes great guitarists see their art as the lead-line or the shred, forgetting about the rest of the song, and those leads alone are not enough to carry repeats listens. Satriani has been guilty of this many times in his career, but on this album he found the perfect balance. From the moment the ethereal strums of the album's title track begin, the listener is transported to another place. That opening song nails the reason why the whole album works so well - the guitar line serves the song, rather than a song backing a guitarist. Track after track Satriani effortlessly (is there any other word to describe his playing?) weaves his leads and rhythms together like a patchwork quilt of ideas and styles and sounds. There is blistering pseudo metal on 'Can't Slow Down' and the track also gives us our first taste of something new to the guitarist's repertoire - vocals. Audiences were divided at the time, as it is safe to safe Joe's real voice can't quite sing like his guitar voice can, but it does create a welcome variation. 'Headless' and 'Strange' mix things up even further, whilst 'The Bells Of Lal (Part One)' works nicely as experiment in controlled feedback. 'The Mystical Potato Head Groove Thing' and 'Day At The Beach (New Rays From An Ancient Sun)' show off his insane level of finger tapping mastery, whilst 'Back To Shalla-Bal' is an all-out sonic assault. Whilst the variation in styles is one of the album's strong points, it doesn't always work, with tracks like the banjo-heavy 'The Phone Call' a better addition to the cutting room floor than the album (with or without vocals). Older fans will feel right at home with 'One Big Rush' and 'The Forgotten (Part Two)', showing off the more traditional 'guitar album' style. At just over an hour, the album hangs around long enough not to outstay it's welcome, and many of the songs are just long enough they don't lose their freshness. Although the majority of fans will still vote Surfing With The Alien from two years prior his best album, Flying In A Blue Dream often has the honor of being called a close second, and one listen should explain why.

For Week Ending:
1 June 2024


TheBigBlack


Slash Logo

Orgy Of The Damned

Slash - Orgy Of The Damned (2024)

[Hard Rock]

U.S.A.

Rating - 4 Stars

Although prolific, Slash hasn't really proven himself particularly versatile over the last few years. Sure, he has released some good albums, but they are generally carried by a couple of great songs amongst many that are paint-by-numbers. Arguably, his first true solo album, 'Slash' from 2010, is still his best solo work. That is what makes this album such a breath of fresh air, as it follows a similar template of featuring different guests on every track, but the twist here is that the songs are all old blues standards. Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top is (of course) perfect for some blues, and transports 'Hoochie Coochie Man' to a dive bar in the deep south, allowing Slash to show off his slide chops. Dorothy Martin channels her inner Joplin on 'Keys To The Highway', and although an odd choice, country star Chris Stapleton does an amazing job on the early Fleetwood Mac classic 'Oh Well' - a standout track. The album isn't perfect by any means, and some of the collaboration choices are odd. Punk icon Iggy Pop's world-weary warble on Lightning Hopkins' 'Awful Dream' is at best tolerable, and we he 'sings' the harmonica line it is cringe-inducing. Also somewhat disappointing is AC/DC's Brian Johnson tackling Howlin' Wolf's 'Killing Floor'. It was a song he could have tackled easily in his prime 30 years ago, but feels now like his voice just doesn't quite carry it. The addition of some electrifying harmonica from Aerosmith's Steven Tyler does lift the song nicely. 'Papa Was A Rolling Stone' is the clear centrepiece of the album, and pop elite Demi Lovato does a supreme job of carrying the track, until Slash really opens up midway through, reminding us why he is one of the greatest guitar heroes of the last few decades.

For Week Ending:
25 May 2024


TheBigBlack


Kerry King Logo

From Hell I Rise

Kerry King - From Hell I Rise (2024)

[Thrash Metal]

U.S.A.

Rating - 4 Stars

When Kerry King announced his new solo band he made it clear what the world was going to get - Slayerless Slayer, as that is what he likes to play. When the album was finally released, that is precisely what was heard, but it was clear that he had really taken his time to put a very personal stamp on it. Phil Demmel on guitar is a great touch, as his soloing style is very different to King's, but compliments it perfectly. The album is punchy as hell, and the production is faultless, really allowing each musician to shine - and King really has assembled a world class thrash act with the addition of Slayer alumni Paul Bostaph on drums and Mark Osegueda of Death Angel on vocals. From the moment 'Diablo' (the instrumental intro) starts this all sounds oddly familiar, but in a good way. A way that wakes you warm inside and feels like you are going home. Yeah, there are some moments straight from every Slayer song King has written (hear 'Idle Hands' and ' Trophies Of The Tyrant' for examples), but for the most part the album stands up as its own angry animal, with songs like 'Toxic' showcasing some of the heaviest music King has ever produced, and 'Two Fists' has nods to the punk that inspired young King to pick up a guitar. A couple more tempo changes in the form of mid-paced songs are perfectly placed, with 'Residue' and 'Tension' allowing a break from the pummelling, but this was clearly an album where King was out to prove something - and he has - that even post Slayer his music is still a force of nature that will continue unbaited.


mindkiller8


System Of A Down Logo

Toxicity

System Of A Down - Toxicity (2001)

[Nu Metal]

U.S.A.

Rating - 4 Stars

As most people will know - SoAD are primarily a protest band. For most they are a metal band that formed mid 90's, with their first release in 1998 introducing a sound that most would like to peg as nu-metal at the time. They got on some big tours as openers for bands like Slayer and eventually made an appearance on Southpark. It was their sophomore release in Toxicity that drove them to large success. This is not nu-metal (never was) and is a complex band with very unique sound - 2 to 3 minute songs that run the line of brutal vox by Serg, Darion and his softer vox every now and then, and encompassed with John punch his drum kit through to middle-earth. Shavo and his bass holding the fort when they take a short break from the brutal music attack. It might sound like I am describing a rinse and repeat approach. Far from it in my view. The opener 'Prison Song' sets the scene very quickly and became their first song in their live set during touring of the album. The chorus of 'Deer Dance' is a very confronting point being made about some American history. You can look up info on what the purpose behind some songs. 'Chop Suey!' is easily the highlight of the album and is the one that sees any pit, when played live, got to another level. There is a big quirkiness with likes of 'Bounce', which is Serj to a tee, particularly if you listen to any of his solo work. Other notables for me are 'ATWA', 'Toxicity' & 'Aerials'. Overall, a record I go back to regularly when you want to get energised. Just always wonder how many of us get deep into the protest being made and simply just love the music.

For Week Ending:
18 May 2024


TheBigBlack


Jimmy Page & Robert Plant Logo

Walking Into Clarksdale

Jimmy Page & Robert Plant - Walking Into Clarksdale (1998)

[Rock]

U.K.

Rating - 3 Stars

An album by half of Led Zeppelin almost 20 years after their break up was an exciting prospect for rock fans. Although quite prolific in Zeppelin's heyday, Jimmy Page had become quite a lowkey figure by this point, with only a range of ephemeral projects that could be counted on one hand under his belt. Robert Plant on the other hand had been very productive with his solo career, but had tried very hard to break free from his 'golden god' past. Opening with the subdued 'Shining In The Light', the album immediately feels like it is trying to shake off the shackles of it's past, but it isn't long before the big choruses kick in - and the guitar phrasings of Page and the vocals of Plant lock together in that familiar way. 'When The World Was Young' feels like a modern sequel to 'Ten Years Gone', even when trying not to make comparisons with the past. None of this is bad in any way, as it showed that although the duo was looking to the future, they also knew there was no escaping their massive legacy. 'Please Read The Letter' (later re-recorded by Plant with Alison Krauss as a country crooner) adds some nice muscle, whilst 'Most High' features some subtle Indian motifs linking the album to the No Quarter sessions of four years prior. 'Heart In Your Hand' offers a western-styled reprieve from the rock. Plant's vocals are sometimes strained (most notably on 'Upon A Golden Horse'), and the extra instrumentation on tracks like 'Most High' start to touch a raw nerve after a few reptations, but these are really the only downsides of the album. Everything slows towards the end, but ends with the punchy 'Sons Of Freedom'. Admittedly, not every song is memorable - but those that do stand out are earworms that demand you listen again and again. It is a shame that the two men working together ended here, as the album feels like the start of what could have been a wonderful journey now that the ghosts of the past had been exorcised.


mindkiller8


Something For Kate Logo

Echolalia

Something For Kate - Echolalia (2001)

[Alternative Rock]

Australia

Rating - 4 Stars

A complete shift from my normal listening party, however I do have a few indulgences outside of your typical rock and metal bands. Something For Kate is one of them. Great Australian band that are classed as Post-Grunge when they formed in the mid 90's. What the hell that means I have no idea. In any case, up to this point they had 2 releases in the bank which gave you a sense of what they were about. You could see in that, they were building on their craft and I think Echolalia, for me, easily hits the high-point to this stage in their career. So onto what to expect. Paul Dempsey is one of the great modern Australian vocalist and his reputation since this is testament to that. Musically it is Alt-Rock listen but with a smooth edge to it, with each song seeming to flow easily into the next one. No particularly call outs for specific songs as all have favourable traits. It's a perfect listen from start to finish (I don't believe there are any fillers) on a Sunday morning when you are resting up with your favourite pair of socks or slippers with a good cup of coffee (or whatever you do).

For Week Ending:
11 May 2024


TheBigBlack


ZZ Top Logo

Eliminator

ZZ Top - Eliminator (1983)

[Rock]

U.S.A.

Rating - 4 Stars

Album #8 for ZZ Top was the one that finally made them a household name. They had been around for close to 15 years at this point, but their southern soaked whiskey blues had never been much more than a slight blip on the radar of the mainstream charts. The band took some chances with the album, most noticeably with the synthesised guitar tones and the lack of the usual boogie blues. It paid off, producing four hit singles. Although some of the production choices are a little dated today, the crisp punchy mix means it still sounds great. 'Gimmie All Your Lovin'' opens with a bang, and although many great rock albums start with a recognisable and legendary guitar riff, very few can say the same about a drum beat. Moving through now-rock classics like 'Got Me Under Pressure' and 'Sharp Dressed Man', the album still demonstrates the ZZ style well, even if it is a little more. 'new wave' than previous albums. Most songs are also quite obviously faster in tempo than their older works, probably yet another move to get radio play. Although the second side still had some great tunes, the album definitely suffers from front-loading, with all its best (and most modern sounding) tracks up front. This is not say the second half isn't worth listening to, but the tracks certainly feel more like a throwback to the band's earlier sound. The Top continued down the synthesised trail for a couple more albums until they had done all they could with the sound, returning to their more traditional blues style in the early 1990s.


mindkiller8


The Angels Logo

Beyond Salvation

The Angels - Beyond Salvation (1990)

[Rock]

Australia

Rating - 4 Stars

This is another record where I can't recall what led me to purchase the tape. I'd not heard any of their previous efforts, so can only assume the local record store had it on play when I spent many hours of my youth in. It had been decades between listens, and listening to this recently I could still partially recall the lyrics of most songs. I have nothing to compare it with on past or future releases, but this one really hit home for me. The first track is an absolute Aussie pub rock and roll classic. Moving on you will see some really cool blues licks in the guitars with Doc's pipes providing that rustic edge to the music. Other oz rock classics include 'Back Street Pick-up' - the intro is great, actually like it is for most songs on the album, 'Dogs Are Talking' involves a subject typical to the time and not something you would sing about in today's age, but considering it for what it is, a great track and 'Pushing And Shoving' - love the guitar work on this one. Overall it is a very mature rock/blues loaded release with some great guitar work and Doc, in his suit and tie no doubt, completing the landscape with his pipes.

For Week Ending:
4 May 2024


TheBigBlack


Pearl Jam Logo

Dark Matter

Pearl Jam - Dark Matter (2024)

[Grunge Rock]

U.S.A.

Rating - 4 Stars

Pearl Jam have never played by anyone's rules but their own. Sure, they love their fans and have always been known for taking care of them - but the music has always been their own. For that reason each new albums builds excitement to fever pitch, as the expectation of what the album will sound like is excruciating. The stomping irresistible groove of the title track is a grower that was a great choice for first single, even if it isn't completely reflective of the album as a whole - as like most Pearl Jam albums there are many styles on offer here. From the get-go the band shows this will be a rock album similar in style to 2020's Gigaton, with 'Scared Of Fear' launching the album. 'Wreckage' and 'Won't Tell' straddle the fence dangerously close to the radio rock, but the pumping tones of tracks like 'React, Respond' and 'Running' harken back to the glory days of the band (and their more 'alternative' beginnings). 'Upper Hand', with its soulful soloing reminiscent of 'Nothing As It Seems' in parts, starts out as almost dull with its drawn-out intro, but builds to one of the most exciting endings of the album. 'Waiting For Stevie' - written whilst literally waiting for Stevie Wonder to show up - is one of the album's many highlights, allowing Mike McCready to remind us all why he is one of the greatest guitarists in modern rock as he solos unrelentingly through about a third of the song. 'Setting Sun' starts as the usual recent Pearl Jam album closers do, but eventually builds to a magnificent finish. The band feels more like a band than on any of their albums in recent memory, and vocalist Eddie Vedder not only seems comfortable with the material, but actually happy with it. Most fans have accepted that the Pearl Jam of 'Ten' and 'Vs.' and 'Vitalogy' is long gone, and so it should be 30+ years later, but does that mean they no longer have a part to play? Not at all, as an album like this proves that although they are now different, they are still dependable and relatable - and that is all a fan really wants from their favourite bands.

For Week Ending:
27 April 2024


TheBigBlack


My Dying Bride Logo

A Mortal Binding

My Dying Bride - A Mortal Binding (2024)

[Doom Metal]

U.K.

Rating - 4 Stars

As a progenitor of the death / doom metal style My Dying Bride has always worked within the guardrails they set themselves over 3 decades ago. The great thing is that they do have some space to work within - moving between death riffs and growls, and the slower plodding darkness tinged Sabbath style epics with gothic flourishes. A Mortal Binding as a whole doesn't really fit in either camp, instead alternating freely between the two, and even blending the styles on some tracks. For this reason newcomers to the band may find the album a jarring experience. It opens with 'Her Dominion', using a bold death metal style, complete with heavy riffs and growled vocals, making it quite inaccessible. Following right after is the moody 'Thornwyck Hymn' that fits right into the gothic dirge category. This continues throughout the hour long journey, which adds to the interest, as it twists and turns in ways the band haven't explored for the last few albums. The violin takes a step backward, and isn't an pronounced as some of their works. Midway is the standout 'The Apocalyptist' which combines growls with doom to great effect, and leaves an unsettled feel across the track. As always, the guitar work of Andrew Craighan is exquisite, but the versatility of vocalist Aaron Stainthorpe again steals the show. In a time when many of the original doom metal bands are heading lighter and lighter as they grow in age, it is great to see My Dying Bride staying true to their original vision of so long ago.


mindkiller8


Ammonia Logo

Mint 400

Ammonia - Mint 400 (1995)

[Alternative Rock]

Australia

Rating - 4 Stars

1994/95 arguably being the height of Australia Alternative music, there was a market saturation of so many bands, it was a challenge to keep up with all of them. One band that I believe went under the radar a little and didn't get the plaudits it deserved was Ammonia and their Mint 400 release. Forming not much earlier than this release, it has to be said that for a first release, from a new band, this a well put together solid alt-rock effort. Not to be forgotten they had legendary Kevin Shirley (Iron Maiden, Slayer) produce their record. There is a story I would love to know. You don't just get him for an unknown band. Their JJJ legacy is the lead single 'Drugs', which in all honesty is the most simplest of songs lyrically and musically. It's repetitious but for some reason very catchy and I loved it. I listened to this release for the first time in over 10 years the other day as I am now, and can recall lyrics to most songs. It's just a simple but effective catchy release. Other songs to call out are 'In A Box' & 'Suzi Q'. I'll never know why they didn't get the accolades they deserved. TheBigBlack and I have a number of times discussed bands that have nailed their first full-length, with Pearl Jam and Ten clearly at the top. I'd have Ammonia in my list somewhere for sure. I did wonder with what I thought was a brilliant first release would go onto her much more from them. But alas they tried something different on the second album and self-imploded by 1998.

For Week Ending:
20 April 2024


TheBigBlack


Blind Melon

Blind Melon - Blind Melon (1992)

[Alternative Rock]

U.S.A.

Rating - 3 Stars

Blind Melon were a band that got caught in the wave of new rock music that crashed onto the shores in the early 90s, and although they did get a bit of mainstream attention, they were not destined to be a band that would become a household name. It is hard to nail the style of their debut, with songs passing between traditional rock and the heavier alternative rock that was on the rise at the time. Regardless, it is a unique experience, with songs like the opener 'Soak The Sin' incorporating some funk groove, and 'Seeds To A Tree' even giving the listener a bit of blues guitarwork. 'Tones Of Home' could be mistaken for an early Jane's Addiction track, and songs like the mellow 'Sleepyhouse' set up a mood perfectly. The centrepiece of the album is the mega-single 'No Rain', which is nicely placed, as it gives a bit of breathing room midway. Shannon Hoon's voice isn't for everyone, and his nasally drawl can get a bit on the nose at times (no pun intended), but his voice is unique, and an asset that proved irreplaceable we he passed in 1995. It is a debut that shows a lot of promise, but for some reason that promise was not really delivered on with the follow up.

For Week Ending:
13 April 2024


TheBigBlack


Creedence Clearwater Revival Logo

21st Anniversary, The Ultimate Collection

Creedence Clearwater Revival - 21st Anniversary, The Ultimate Collection (1990)

[Classic Rock]

U.S.A.

Rating - 4 Stars

Listening to an album by Creedence Clearwater Revival is a somewhat jarring experience, as amongst the classic songs everybody knows and loves is often what can only be described as second rate filler. It isn't always that way of course, but does seem the case more often than most diehards would probably care to admit. For this reason a collection of every one of the band's best songs together on one compilation is something hard to look past. The band's swampy bayou sound it perfectly showcased here, with 24 tracks on display, starting with the irresistible 'Bad Moon Rising' and working through stomping 1950s tinged rock ' n roll like 'Molina' and 'Travelin' Band', and giving the blues a work out on 'The Midnight Special' and 'I Put A Spell On You'. At their core, what makes a good CCR songs irresistible is simple - they just make you feel good when you sing along to them. Try to get through 'Who'll Stop The Rain' or Lookin' Out My Back Door' without smiling, and something about the California sun-soaked croak of John Fogarty's otherworldly vocals make it all the more magical to experience. All in all this a wonderful listen, that like every great album, leaves you wanting more.

For Week Ending:
6 April 2024


TheBigBlack


Midnight Oil Logo

Blue Sky Mining

Midnight Oil - Blue Sky Mining (1990)

[Rock]

Australia

Rating - 3 Stars

Following a mega-hit album like 'Diesel And Dust' was never going to be an easy task, but Midnight Oil did what they did best - made another album of their distinct Australian rock, with just enough evolution in style to push forward into the new decade, without forgetting the past one. The song 'Blue Sky Mine', written about the miners that once worked the asbestos mines of Western Australia, is a swirling harmonica filled carnival ride that sets the listener up for the album ahead. It shows that the band isn't planning on letting up on their political messages (with them even protesting at the Exxon building in New York around the time of the album's launch), but also showed there were still some fresh musical ideas in the tank. The album features a few slower (bit equally poignant tracks) than usual, and played alone songs like 'Bedlam Bridge' or 'Mountains Of Burma' are a tad too mellow - but they work within the context of the songs around them. Radio favourites 'Forgotten Years' and 'King Of The Mountain' remind us of the people and places that make our country great. The album ends on a sombre note with 'Antarctica', an ode to the planet we are slowly destroying. Whilst the subject matter may not be quite as topical today, the music will always be timeless.


mindkiller8


Megadeth Logo

Countdown To Extinction

Megadeth - Countdown To Extinction (1992)

[Thrash Metal]

U.S.A.

Rating - 4 Stars

Hello me, meet the real me. Coming from being completely blown away with the Rust In Peace release, as most fans were, there was the obvious question, what could ever top RiP? In short, nothing. And I get the sense Dave knew this to be the case. So just 2 years short of the masterpiece's release, we were presented with Countdown. You only need to listen to the first track to hear that the band were working had to not try RiP Part 2, but do something different. In fact, not just different to RiP, but also releases prior to RiP. Gone for the most part was the intense riffing on each song. Enter a polished, controlled song structure with the production sound most definitely upping the ante. Most songs have that undeniable raw guitar sound we all know Mustaine owns. However for the most part the guard dog is not being let off the leash and the sound is very controlled and purposeful, only escaping that entrapment when appropriate. If you listen to a single song, you might say 'Ehhh'. As a complete album, tracks 1-11, it melds together well as an enjoyable listen. Highlights for me - 'Symphony Of Destruction', 'Foreclosure Of A Dream', 'Sweating Bullets', 'This Was My Life' and 'Captive Honour' in particular having some amazing lyrics. There is a bit of 'cheese' although I hate to label it that with 'High Speed Dirt' (OK perhaps '502' revisited?), and 'Psychotron'. If you give a few listens to let it grow on you, you will come to love it. As I mentioned, it is not a RiP Mark II and nor should it be. It stands rightly on its own as a classic in the MD discography.

For Week Ending:
30 March 2024


TheBigBlack


Counting Hours Logo

The Wishing Tomb

Counting Hours - The Wishing Tomb (2024)

[Doom Metal]

Finland

Rating - 3 Stars

Hailing from Finland, Counting Hours have crafted an amazing album for their sophomore effort. Fitting nicely into the more accessible side of the doom metal genre, the band have crafted something that contains both the old atmospheric black-tinged work and the newer dark gothic rock work of Katatonia in one place, so much so that they sometimes sound like a clone of the band. This isn't always the case though, as the band does break free of the obvious influence at times, and these are the moments when the album really shines. The drums sometimes pummel in blasts, and vocally the band occasionally goes into some deep death-doom territory. Most of all though, it is about the atmosphere, with a tight and crisp production leaving the dual guitar lines almost weeping in sorrow. For better or worse (depending on your tastes), no tracks really stand out against others, instead this being an album that begs to be listened to as a whole - but one that will leave you in a melancholy mood at its conclusion.

For Week Ending:
23 March 2024


TheBigBlack


Pantera Logo

Cowboys From Hell

Pantera - Cowboys From Hell (1990)

[Groove Metal]

U.S.A.

Rating - 4 Stars

In 1990 heavy music didn't have the multitude of genres known today. Mainstream metal fans really only knew of three styles - You either played traditional metal, anything heavier was thrash, and the newly emerging really brutal stuff fell into the death metal bucket. Pantera exploded onto the scene with Cowboys From Hell, and although it was initially marketed as a new thrash album, it didn't take more than one listen to know this was something very different - and very new. This was Ground Zero for what would later be known as groove metal, a style Pantera launched, but was quickly popularised by Machine Head, early 90's Sepultura, Grip Inc and many others. The album launches a thousand future mosh pits with the title track, showcasing not only the new style, but also the guitar wizardry of Dimebag Darrell (still known as Diamond Darryl at that point). 'Psycho Holiday' razorblades its way through the listener, and 'Domination' is great display of the exquisite and varied vocals of Phil Anselmo. The album still has its fair share of traditional head-bangers, with tracks like 'Cemetery Gates' showcasing a very 1980's metal ballad, and 'Primal Concrete Sledge' and 'Heresy' bordering on thrash. 'Shattered' and 'Clash With Reality' have some amazing guitar work, but almost come dangerously close to falling into cliche, but for the most part the songs are all rock solid. This was album number 5 for the band after all, although very few listeners knew that at the time.


mindkiller8


Limp Bizkit Logo

The Unquestionable Truth (Part 1)

Limp Bizkit - The Unquestionable Truth (Part 1) (2005)

[Nu Metal]

U.S.A.

Rating - 4 Stars

Limp Bizkit were a band that slotted themselves into the mid 90's music scene with a lot of activity in place. Grunge/Nu-Metal and Metal in general trying to survive. At the time, there were two views of LB. You either loved them or you laughed at some pretentious white boy with his Adidas apparel and orange hat pretending to be a proficient rap artist. But also there were the likes of me that secretly was interested in their early sound. They had much turmoil in the years to come, importantly with lead guitarist Wes Borland who was the cornerstone of their sound, leaving the band. Thankfully he returned to record this E.P. in 2005. One thing I will say is that Durst is an intelligent lyricist and this is displayed perfectly on The Unquestionable Truth - a dark recording that covers many social issues, however it is the music/sound that is much heavier. Perfectly displayed on the intro to 'The Truth', with a heavy bass line, slowly introducing an ice splitting guitar and jungle drumbeat emerging into after a minute or so a colossal sound that matches the song as it progresses. Is a highlight song of the E.P. All up it's 30 minutes of enjoyment closed with a subdue Durst solo at the end which calms the listener down. In summary as short as it is, I see a very mature LB here, looking nothing like their 90's brat days. I was hoping we would get a Part 2 at some stage, but that is yet to eventuate.

For Week Ending:
16 March 2024


TheBigBlack


Judas Priest Logo

Invincible Shield

Judas Priest - Invincible Shield (2024)

[Heavy Metal]

U.K.

Rating - 3 Stars

When a band hits its 50th anniversary, you generally don't expect them to have much of a fire burning in their collective belly anymore. Judas Priest have proven that isn't always the case, with each recent album topping the one before - and Invincible Shield doesn't disappoint either. This is an album that sounds like it was made by an angry young band with something to prove, not a bunch 70+ year old men that have earned the right to slow down. It is almost unfathomable how Rob Halford can still sing the way he does at the age he is, as the entire album smashes everything in its way and leaves devastation in its wake. Opener 'Panic Attack' starts the album at a walking pace, but within a minute or so builds to a gallop, and moments later the album has already hit its top speed - and it likes to run fast. No one has reinvented anything here, and after 50 years. something about if it ain't broke? What Judas Priest does do though is use every trick in their arsenal to keep the listener nailed to their chair. 'The Serpent And The King' is a riff-fest with Halford moving through multiple vocal styles, and the title track provides many a fist-in-the-air stadium moments. The album ends on one of its (few) slower moments, with 'Giants In The Sky' plodding to a finish in a similar style to the band's 80's heyday. All in all, there is not much for a metal fan not to like here, and even if you aren't a fan of the band, it would be hard to fault the album much at all.


mindkiller8


Black Label Society Logo

The Blessed Hellride

Black Label Society - The Blessed Hellride (2003)

[Heavy Metal]

U.S.A.

Rating - 4 Stars

I started my interest in BLS when I read mostly about this amazing guitarist playing for Ozzy and his solo band. I loved his playing, which included that unique 'twang' I'll call it at certain parts in his playing (followers will know what I mean). So I delve further. A six-foot-plenty beast of a man, with tats, shoulders the length of your grandmothers height, how can he have a band of his own as lead guitar and lead singer. Joke right? Listening to this, I was slapped in the face quicker than it takes a hooker to say yes for a job. Dang this guy - he is good. Let me explain why. The opening few tracks very much cement the sound for BLS. High-paced rock/metal sound that has a certain groove to it that you can appreciate and enjoy. It's not metal 101, rather shows a unique sound out of Zakk's guitar that only he can do. The rest of the band simply complement it. There is then the vocals from him. In parts high-pitched is very Ozzy like, but he then has this drone of a voice that makes for a great mix. The tempo drops and the acoustic is bought out for the title track, which I love. If you needed any more inspiration take a listen to the track that could be argued is the highlight of the record. You just need to wait until close to the end, but it is worth the wait - 'Dead Meadow', which when I first listened was completely unexpected. It has Zakk behind a piano singing the most soulful of songs which brings his unique vocal to the fore. It just shows he is a man of many talents and if you have not taken a listen to any of his releases, this a good start but pick any in the catalogue, they will give you an idea of the talent of this man.

For Week Ending:
9 March 2024


TheBigBlack


Live Logo

Throwing Copper

Live - Throwing Copper (1994)

[Alternative Rock]

U.S.A.

Rating - 5 Stars

To say an album is a masterpiece is a big call, but every so often something is released that is so perfect, so definitive, and so ultimate - that it can wear the badge proudly. Throwing Copper is one of those albums. Although Live's debut album was hard to categorise (sounding like a clone of early R.E.M.), their second album knew what it wanted to be - not quite so mainstream to be regarded pop, but not quite so heavy to be purely alternative rock. Opener 'The Dam At Otter Creek' builds slowly to a cacophony, setting up the incredibly infectious 'Selling The Drama' to lead the way into the rest of the album. It all unfolds one great song after another, moving through 'I Alone', the mega-single 'Lightning Crashes' and even the punchy 'All Over You'. The songs are varied in style, yet wonderfully cohesive, and the album even finishes with a cowboy song, the beautiful 'Horse'. The lyrics seem to alternate between hard hitting social commentary and whimsy, but the whole album is performed with such conviction it all exudes the same power. Post this the band followed a more commercial direction, leaving this standing tall to carry on in a class of its own.

For Week Ending:
1 March 2024


TheBigBlack


Bruce Dickinson Logo

The Mandrake Project

Bruce Dickinson - The Mandrake Project (2024)

[Heavy Metal]

U.K.

Rating - 3 Stars

After a 19 year wait Bruce Dickinson finally unveiled his latest solo album, a concept album loosely based (is any concept album ever not loose in its storyline?) on wacky characters like Dr. Necropolis and Professor Lazarus. The story isn't clear from the album itself (you need to read the comic book series to understand it), but the album is better for it anyway, as each song stands alone nicely on its own merit. The album is big and bold - as you'd expect from the front man of Iron Maiden - but also takes some mellower unexpected twists along the way. From the hooky riff and fist punching chorus of 'Afterglow Of Ragnarok' the album signals its intent as something brash, and second single 'Rain On The Graves' has some sweet Deep Purple undertones driving it. 'Resurrection Men' sounds like the theme tune to a modern spaghetti western with its twanging guitar, and the newer (older?) version of 'Eternity Has Failed' has more punch than its Iron Maiden counterpart, probably due to its looseness. The album's big ballad, "Face In The Mirror', feels somewhat undercooked, and doesn't really hit the mark of feeling like the anthem it should be. The second ballad 'Shadow Of The Gods' suffers a similar fate, but has a lot more punch when it builds to its heavier ending. Epic closer 'Sonata (Immortal Beloved)' sends off the album wonderfully with its grandeur. It would be a shame if the world had to wait 19 more years before it hears anything solo from Bruce again, as this is the sort of music the heavy music world needs more of.


mindkiller8


Regurgitator Logo

Regurgitator

Regurgitator - Regurgitator (1994)

[Alternative Rock]

Australia

Rating - 4 Stars

Slightly different approach on this review as I am reviewing 2 E.P.'s that are so close in their content, a single release would be epic. Regurgitator's 'Regurgitator' (1994) and 'New' (1995). As you can see, released within 12 months of each other. If you listened to the 'Regurgitator' (The Hamburger) release and was turned off then I can understand why. It is essentially cluster-phuck of songs with each song being as out there or even more so than the previous one. I'd like to take you through track by track as I have spent a lot of time with these E.P.'s. Full of samples, questionable song topics, including a quite alternative use for an empty bucket of KFC in the opening track of the S/T, through to some 2-3 min Alt Rock classics, both E.P.'s end before you get a chance to catch your breath. Band lead Quan has been a questionable character but he plays a mean guitar. While I think he brings most of the weird, his main man, partner in crime and bassist Ben encourages this approach. You can imagine these guys in their garage laughing crazy at what they have written. Re the songs themselves over both E.P.'s highlights for me are immense. There are 5 tracks also on 'New'. If I were to pick 1 song as a favourite of the two I will pick 'Hang Up' from the S/T. Has a cool but disturbing sample behind some fast passed rock. In the middle, there are some extremely cool breakdowns which I love and can listen to again and again. Since these two E.P.'s, which lead to Big Day Out festival appearances, they quickly grew a following and have a built a successful career. While the music they release these days is not as weird/quirky as their E.P.'s, I cannot deny that they nudged their way into Australia's Alternative Rock scene in the mid to late 90's, which is a credit to them.

For Week Ending:
24 February 2024


TheBigBlack


Iron Maiden Logo

Killers

Iron Maiden - Killers (1981)

[Heavy Metal]

U.K.

Rating - 4 Stars

'The Ides Of March' announces out the gate that Iron Maiden is no longer just a pub band, but a major contender in the race. As brilliant as the first album had been, the production was somewhat primitive (and founder Steve Harris to this day still complains about it). As luck would have it, the band landed Martin Birch to produce the second album - and with a history of band credits behind him such as Deep Purple, Wishbone Ash, Fleetwood Mac, and Black Sabbath, he had nothing to prove in credentials. It was a match made in Heaven, so much so Birch would work pretty much exclusively with Maiden from here on for the next decade. In fact, the production is what carries a lot of the album, as it is lacking in consistency in places. There are obvious stand-outs (many still fan favourites today) like 'Wrathchild' and the masterpiece that is the title track, but other tracks like 'Another Life' and 'Prodigal Son' feel like they are lacking in some of this punch that a great sophomore album requires. At least half the album was made up of older songs the band had played for many years on the pub circuit when they were still finding their identity, with only a few newer compositions. The instrumental 'Genghis Khan' feels like an attempt to match the grandeur of the debut album's 'Phantom Of The Opera', but it falls flat without a lyrical narrative to carry it. It isn't all bad though, as barnstormers like 'Purgatory' and somewhat grand 'Drifter' wrap the album nicely in a bow. All in all, it is a great addition to the Maiden catalogue (and their last with vocalist Paul Di'Anno), but over the years it would usually not be remembered as one of their best albums, especially considering the quality that many of their future 1980s albums would exhibit.


mindkiller8


Chevelle Logo

Vena Sera

Chevelle - Vena Sera (2007)

[Alternative Rock]

U.S.A.

Rating - 4 Stars

I can't recall where TheBigBlack crew stumbled on Chevelle, but I'm glad we did. In the mid-2000's new music that was attractive to the TheBigBlack crew was scarce, so stumbling on the raw guitar sounds at its peak in the album and drifting into a sound supporting the vocals is a treat. The first track 'Antisaint', very much sets the scene for what you are about to listen to. High fueled music and vocals that can pull the reigns in when needed to make sure not every song sounds the same. Other highlights include 'Well Enough Alone' with Loeffler taking a deep breath before he screams his lungs out for approx. 10 seconds, then presenting a track that mixes that vocal repeated with a melodic mid-tempo vocal that encompasses most of the songs on this release. 'Straight Jacket Fashion' & 'The Fad' that follow are also other highlights of the release. I was going to avoid comparisons, but I will indulge a short opinion. For me I had a rough edged Deftones as my initial though, for what it is worth, which isn't much. They do mention Helmet as an influence that I am more than happy to agree with. They have 5 releases since this gem. I must invest some time in those. They are well worth it.

For Week Ending:
17 February 2024


TheBigBlack


Soundtracks Logo

The Crow (Music From The Original Motion Picture)

Various Artists - The Crow (Music From The Original Motion Picture) (1994)

[-Various-]

-Various-

Rating - 3 Stars

The early 1990s were a great time for rock fans, because the line between so many audiences blurred under the banner of the 'alternative nation'. Rock, indie, metal, -insert style here- all stood side by side, rubbing shoulders at festivals and all charting worldwide as albums flew out the record stores in numbers they hadn't since rock's heyday in the 1970s. Albums like the soundtrack to The Crow were a direct result of this, mixing and matching bands to capture the widest audience possible. Film-makers themselves were often hamstrung in music choices in their own films, due to back door deals to promote the flavour of the month for an associated record company. For this reason many soundtracks of the time are now long-forgotten - a mish mash of bands and styles with no coherency, and only a single track or two worth listening to today. The Crow manages to avoid this trap by carrying a strong set of songs that thematically weave together. Matching the movie's dark tone, many of the tracks are brooding and build slowly, and there is a definite industrial undertone evident throughout. Like many of the best soundtracks it also contains a bunch of unreleased tracks and features great bands like Stone Temple Pilots, Rollins Band, The Cure, and Pantera mixed with other less-known artists to create a great contrast. Shrouded in shadows, it i isn't an album to listen to when you are looking to lift your mood, but it is great to carry you through a sombre day.


mindkiller8


Red Hot Chili Peppers Logo

Californication

Red Hot Chili Peppers - Californication (1999)

[Alternative Rock]

U.S.A.

Rating - 4 Stars

I'm a big RHCP fan so I'll declare that first up, although I'll admit what they produced in the 80's I wasn't exposed to at the time. As a metalhead there was so much else going on in during those years. In any case following on from 'Blood Sugar Sex Magik' in 91, I was disappointed by 'One Hot Minute' in 95. I'll be honest and admit that the commercial radio success of 'Californication' in the late 90's had me curious to listen to them again. I'd almost go as far as to say this release is quintessential RCHP with a maturity that I think they were always aiming for perhaps. I'd argue that any future release matches this song for song. The dudes have grown up, and while not necessarily rooted in their punk sound, it still maintains elements of their roots. The cornerstone always has been Flea and his bass and he intertwines his sound beautifully in most songs. The likes of 'Otherside' is a classic, if not a confronting song, but has bought them radio play as a single. There are still the cool punk elements that early fans would love, like 'Get On Top' but they don't saturate the album. I only picked this up last week for a listen as it must have been years, and I'd forgotten how good this release is.

For Week Ending:
10 February 2024


TheBigBlack


Death Angel Logo

The Art Of Dying

Death Angel - The Art Of Dying (2004)

[Thrash Metal]

U.S.A.

Rating - 4 Stars

Releasing an album 14 years after your previous one is always a dangerous proposition, but when you add to the mix that your band has been inactive during the period and the style you play has been horrendously unfashionable for the last decade, the odds are really stacked against you. Even though they had started the band incredibly young, Death Angel had always been one of the more technical of the thrash breakthroughs of the 80s, and their comeback lets their precision and impeccable musicianship shine though - but there is nothing here that strays too far from being accessible to being unlistenable. The songs are beautifully crafted and immaculately produced, working within a wide range of heavy styles (but always close to their thrash metal roots). Some songs have punk-like undertones (reminiscent of Anthrax's 'Got The Time') whilst others, 'The Devil Incarnate' being a good example, have an infectious and catchy chorus, hooking the listener in. Just to mix it up a little more, Mark Oseguda (with his immediately recognisable voice) hands the mike to others, and all but one of the group sing lead vocals on one of the tracks. Final track 'Word To The Wise', sung by lead guitarist Rob Cavestany, is a wonderful breath of fresh air to end the album, sounding more like a mid-90s alternative rock song than a 1980s-style thrash anthem - but it somehow still works.


mindkiller8


Faith No More Logo

King For A Day... Fool For A Lifetime

Faith No More - King For A Day... Fool For A Lifetime (1995)

[Alternative Rock]

U.S.A.

Rating - 4 Stars

A quick recap is necessary - I reviewed 'The Real Thing' a while back and love the heck out of this release. 'Angel Dust' kinda passed me by in 1992 due to the gluttony of great music released at the same time and the lack of reception it got. 95 was now a time where the wave of Alt/Hard Rock and even Grunge was dying off. Then enter Faith No More. Looking back, this is classic FNM. You listen to one song and you may expect the next to be similar, but it just isn't. For example the anger ridden track 2 'Ricochet' leads into a moody, passive 'Evidence' and then launches to my favourite 'The Gentle Art Of Making Enemies', with its sinister undertones, and I'll finish with a jazz inspired 'Star A.D.'. It's all over the place. It has been noted that Patton's vocal extends to another instrument in the band. I can see that in some points the songs have been arranged around his vocal thoughts on a song. I can't see how they could not be. I could honestly go on a track-by-track review. Little were we to know that there were better things to come (in my opinion anyway - perhaps another review to come).

For Week Ending:
3 February 2024


TheBigBlack


Black Sabbath Logo

Heaven And Hell

Black Sabbath - Heaven And Hell (1980)

[Heavy Metal]

U.K.

Rating - 5 Stars

To say the least, 'Heaven And Hell' is a masterpiece. Generally classic heavy metal albums use verbs like 'brutal' or 'fast' or 'angry' to describe them, but none of those words ring true here. The album is a thing of beauty, full of winding harmonies and stellar musicianship - a work of art that will stand for all time as a reflection of the pinnacle of heavy music of the period. With Ozzy Osbourne and his drink and drug fuelled unpredictability jettisoned for the final time, the band knew that survival would rely on them rebuilding from the ground up into something far more streamlined and modern. They had stretched their wings on the previous two albums (reasonably unsuccessfully), and now was the time to find the Black Sabbath for a new decade. A key part of this renewal would be finding the right vocalist, and Ronnie James Dio - having recently exited Richie Blackmore's Rainbow - was the perfect choice. For many fans, the voice of Osbourne was a defining piece of the band's identity, so by replacing that voice with someone infinitely more talented and professional required music that matched. The songs are sleek and full of melodies never heard before on a Sabbath album, and the production is smooth as silk - really allowing the songs to shine. Dio's vocals are sublime throughout, and he launches songs like 'Children Of The Sea' and 'Die Young' toward places Osbourne, with his limited range, would not have even dreamt of. The vocals on the title track are transcendent, not to mention the incredible solo by Tony Iommi - one of the greatest ever committed to tape. This was more than just a new album, it was an announcement of what the 1980s had in store for heavy music. The band would never make an album as good as this again, and some would say it even bettered anything they had released preceding it.


mindkiller8


Nailbomb Logo

Point Blank

Nailbomb - Point Blank (1994)

[Thrash Metal]

U.S.A.

Rating - 4 Stars

After being reminded this past week that this band was listed in the one hit wonders for a metal album list, I decided to re-acquaint myself with the release. 30 years on from this release, we know Max Cavalera of Sepultura fame has a penchant for calling up members of other bands and asking then to collaborate with him. Of all bands, he asked Alex Newport from Fudge Tunnel (yes, "who?" do I hear you say). Despite the graphic cover picture for the album, this turned out to be an enjoyable listen. Taking on a very industrial/military sound, the guitars were tuned down, the drumming was abrasive and for the most part had the general sounds any metalhead would enjoy. I say most, as unlike other bands or albums that start with some killer songs and may decline in quality as the tracks continue, for me, this one is the opposite. I actually think the first 2 songs are nothing to get excited about. From there onwards, we get to understand what the band were trying to achieve. Adding in the somewhat trend at the time of a hidden track on the last track and I really enjoyed a listen after such a long time.

For Week Ending:
27 January 2024


TheBigBlack


Entombed Logo

Left Hand Path

Entombed - Left Hand Path (1990)

[Death Metal]

Sweden

Rating - 3 Stars

In a world where every death metal band now sounds the same and plays the same it is hard to think back the glory days when the genre had an awkward birth, carefully shedding it's 'extreme thrash' skin to reveal something darker and more sinister beneath. The American's lead the charge in the mid 80's but by the decade's end the Europeans were giving them a run for their money, and when Entombed (out of Sweden) released such a watershed album so early on it almost single-handedly signalled in the next era of metal. This was ground zero for true death metal, and the albums 'buzz-saw' guitar tone is still revered today for its unique sound. Although this was the band's first album, Entombed had grown from the ashes of the proto-death metal band Nihilist, so had honed their chops for years before making it, and it showed in the intensity of the material. The title track pulverises from the moment it launches, but things get even more brutal on 'Drowned' and 'But Life Goes On'. Entombed over their next few albums would move away from straight up death metal into more of a 'death & roll' direction, and interestingly in hindsight tracks like 'When Life Have Ceased' and 'The Truth Beyond' already have a rock undertone showing through. Like most early albums of the genre, the production is ragged, but L.G. Petrov (R.I.P.) growls has way through every track, sounding destitute and anguished, and perfectly complements the tone of the production. In 1990, this was truly mind-blowing.


mindkiller8


Def Leppard Logo

Hysteria

Def Leppard - Hysteria (1987)

[Hard Rock]

U.K.

Rating - 4 Stars

Looking back now, I can't believe we are 40 years on from their breakout Pyromania record. My heart does lie 4 years later with Hysteria. The record is chock full of hits, including the first track which appeals to any male ('Women'). This had them juggling the line of a pop vs hard rock record. There are other examples, including 'Animal' and 'Pour Some Sugar On Me'. The alternate side is tracks like 'Rocket', the second track that brings that stadium sound to the record and gets the hairs on the back of your neck standing up. My favourite on the record is 'Gods Of War'. A very emotional song. I will admit, the record does peter-off toward the end with tracks such 'Don't Shoot Shotgun' and the cheesy 'Excitable'. Despite this, I keep returning for a listen. Brings up great memories of 1987. Also quick mention of Allen and his first attempts at drumming with one arm. Watch him on video. Amazing.

For Week Ending:
20 January 2024


TheBigBlack


Blackbraid Logo

Blackbraid II

Blackbraid - Blackbraid II (2023)

[Black Metal]

U.S.A.

Rating - 4 Stars

Generally the word 'sophistication' isn't used when reviewing black metal music. It denotes a degree of finesse and even restraint the genre is not known for. Blackbraid's second album is an exception, with timing and even grandiosity that would normally fit orchestral works - but make no mistake, this is by no means an orchestral work like those of Emperor or Dimmu Borgir. The album is still straight up guitar and drums black metal (again all played by one man, the ingenious Sgah'gahsowah), but takes the listener on an immersive journey by keeping the musical themes of the album tight and repetitive. The debut album (released less than a year ago) was quite an amazing work, but II possibly tops it. It follows a similar template, using traditional indigenous American motifs buried beneath the lush wall of brutality, but does stretch its wings a little to show a greater depth. There is possibly more speed and aggression on display, with tracks like 'The Wolf That Guides The Hunters Hand' sounding closer to death metal in places, but the nemesis to this are the acoustic interludes such as 'Spells Of Moon And Earth' tearing the anger back down. Many of the tracks are long (some clocking in over 10 minutes), but they are multilayered and don't linger in one place too long. The production is top-notch, and every instrument cuts through perfectly. The album ends with an excellent cover of the Bathory's Viking metal masterpiece 'A Fine Day To Die'.

For Week Ending:
13 January 2024


TheBigBlack


The Cure Logo

Disintegration

The Cure - Disintegration (1989)

[Alternative Rock]

U.K.

Rating - 4 Stars

By 1989 The Cure had become a known name by music fans. They had a handful of well-known songs that had charted well over the past decade, but for the most part their albums were still very much for their fans alone. Like most bands that caught a whiff of that sweet smell of success, they chased the rainbow for a couple of long-players - and that is why Disintegration was such a shock upon release. With personnel changes (due to the usual rock n' roll tropes) band leader Robert Smith took a step (or three) backwards to more familiar territory, creating an goth-style album that would have sat easily in the band's earlier repertoire. Whether it was successful or not came down to how much of a fan you were. If you were into vintage Cure, it shone like a diamond. If you were looking for the more recent 'radio ready' version of the band, you would have spent a lot of time scratching your head. The album is draped in lush textures of majestic keyboards and reverb soaked guitar, giving it a distinct feel, somewhat akin to soundscapes rather than classic song structures - but it works beautifully, and the sound never gets stale. The lyrics on tracks like 'Pictures Of You' and 'Prayers For Rain' are wonderfully textured, and the bass driving on 'Fascination Street' and the title track is just sublime. This is an album that begs for repeat listens, but is also moody, and won't suit every time of the day. It perfectly set the band up to enter the next decade, when music like theirs would soon be dominating the charts.

For Week Ending:
6 January 2024


TheBigBlack


Roger Glover Logo

The Butterfly Ball & The Grasshopper's Feast

Roger Glover And Guests - The Butterfly Ball & The Grasshopper's Feast (1974)

[Classic Rock]

U.K.

Rating - 4 Stars

As the bass player of Deep Purple Roger Glover had certainly earnt his dues in rock fan circles, being the mind (and hands) behind those driving basslines on songs like 'Highway Star' and 'Smoke On The Water'. He departed the band in 1973, and started working on his first solo work - that which would become 'The Butterfly Ball & Grasshopper's Feast'. Originally written for Deep Purple keyboardist Jon Lord, Glover eventually decided to make the album himself by using a range of well-known rock musicians to play the part of each creature attending the fictitious ball. Many Deep Purple connections can be heard such as his own replacement Glenn Hughes, David Coverdale who was the replacement for the also recently departed Ian Gillan, and Ronnie James Dio who was soon to be the vocalist for Rainbow when Richie Blackmore himself would leave Deep Purple in the near future. Among them is also a range of other great vocalists, many of which are now only a footnote in rock history, like John Lawton, Barry St. John and Glover's then wife Judi Kuhl. The results are a rich tapestry of musical styles including rock, jazz, waltz and folk (amongst others) that ebb and flow through the short songs. Slowly building out the story of the ball piece by piece. The album is tied together wonderfully by each side of the original vinyl closing with a masterpiece that include the vocals of Ronnie James Dio, the obvious star of the show - as always. This would be the first time he received mainstream exposure.

For Week Ending:
16 December 2023


TheBigBlack


Motorhead Logo

Another Perfect Day

Motorhead - Another Perfect Day (1983)

[Hard Rock]

U.K.

Rating - 4 Stars

Motorhead are a band that are often accused of making the same album over and over. Released in 1983, Another Perfect Day didn't deviate much from the formula, but it was different enough that many fans rejected it - and it wasn't just about the music. Brian 'Robbo' Robertson of Thin Lizzy had joined the ranks, and replacing 'Fast' Eddie Clarke was never going to be an easy gig. His guitar lines were often filled with flourishes Clarke would have instead bulldozed through, adding a level of delicacy to the music many took umbrage to, and Lemmy himself tired of the man very quickly himself. Robertson gradually began refusing to play older Motorhead classics, and add to this his odd fashion sense (such as ballet shoes and leg warmers - on stage) meant that his tenure was short. Regardless of all that the album has stood the test of time well, and has a number of bright moments. The opening track 'Back At The Funny Farm' along with the singles 'I Got Mine' and 'Shine' opened the door to allow the band to add more melody into future music, with or without Robertson on board. It stands up and keeps its own against any of the earlier 'classic' albums, but certainly does have its own unique personality.

For Week Ending:
2 December 2023


TheBigBlack


The Black Crowes Logo

Shake Your Money Maker

The Black Crowes - Shake Your Money Maker (1990)

[Rock]

U.S.A.

Rating - 4 Stars

If you were asked to describe The Black Crowes debut album in one word, it wouldn't be hard - swagger. Full of the grooves and rhythms that made mid-period Rolling Stones albums so listenable, the album showcases the new band with punch, and was a raised middle finger to anyone who dared to say southern rock was dead. 'Jealous Again' is the epitome of a great rock song, and exudes the star power this band exhibited with ease. The band makes Otis Reading's 'Too Hard To Handle' their own, and the classic Nicky Hopkins style piano in 'Thick 'n Thin' are just perfect. At such a young age Chris Robinson's voice proves perfect for the music, drifting with a world-weary charm, and brother Rich has clearly studied the guitar greats of the era they both so perfectly emulate. Slower songs like 'Seeing Things' and 'She Talks With Angels' (eluding to the dangers of heroin) are great rock ballads, but don't quite cross that barrier into all-time classics, lacking the hook a good rock ballads needs. A good debut album is everything in rock, and The Black Crowes are perfect proof of this, bursting onto the scene with such impact that they are still around rocking today.

For Week Ending:
25 November 2023


TheBigBlack


Nirvana Logo

MTV Unplugged In New York

Nirvana - MTV Unplugged In New York (1994)

[Grunge Rock]

U.S.A.

Rating - 5 Stars

To say Kurt Cobain had become an icon of a generation post-suicide was a big call, but actually somewhat an understatement. His ghost loomed in hard rock everywhere, and certainly any band out of Seattle couldn't even sigh without fans clamouring to find hidden meaning in their laboured breath. It was inevitable that the flood gates of unreleased Nirvana material would pour forth to the masses quickly, but this first release (around 6 months after Cobain's death, timed of course to cash in on the Christmas market) was not what was expected - but it was certainly appreciated. Cobain's songwriting legacy to the general public was the loud/soft dynamic of so many Nirvana singles, so this album was a perfect way to help the world appreciate the subtleties of his songwriting. It also allowed him to explore some of his musical influences. MTV were looking for a set of hit singles, but what they got instead was a range of lesser known Nirvana songs stripped back (not quite unplugged, as Cobain insisted on amping his guitar still) played with a unique charm. Cobain was mostly zoned out for the performance, reportedly suffering from heroin withdrawal at the time, but every vocal moment still shines magically. Nirvana mega-fans already knew a couple of the covers played from various recent performances, but for those hearing songs like The Vaselines' 'Jesus Doesn't Want Me For A Sunbeam' (with Krist Novoselic on piano accordion) and the epic Lead Belly closer 'Where Did You Sleep Last Night?' (something Cobain had toyed with for years) these were revelations. Bowie's 'The Man Who Sold The World' was also a very welcome surprise, but the addition of The Meat Puppets playing some of their own songs was like nothing in Unplugged history. It was a move typical of Cobain, once again showing that he played by no one's rules but his own.


mindkiller8


Metallica Logo

Metallica

Metallica - Metallica (1991)

[Thrash Metal]

U.S.A.

Rating - 5 Stars

The 5th album in their repertoire, this album single handedly broke many hearts, but equally won new ones. 'They have sold out', was the call as the singles released hit mainstream plays. It is a consequence of the general need to feed music fans with something new, a little left of centre. The likes of AC/DC in the hard rock space were a little quiet, so too were the likes of Van Halen who had their share of radio play in the past. Equally the band were moving on from arguably their greatest release, even up to this day. When you think of it, what band would not crunch on the carrot that could provide them with the wealth they couldn't even dream of as a bunch of teens in the early 80's sharing bedrooms etc? Even to this day, there is the old school and new school who start any discussion with 'when Metallica's first release came out in 1991...' OK, let's look at the record itself. Firstly it is different from previous releases, no doubt. If we skip over the singles that opened them up to a wider audience, you uncover some smart songs, not always at full speed, but equally as nasty. 'Sad But True' is the starting point. Mid album you find some fast paced, but very measured songs that still gives us the 'Yeeaahhaa' and 'Ohhww' from Het. My favourites come at the end of the album with 'God' and 'Misery' which finally has Jasonic applying his trade by himself. Final track is what we have expected over previous albums - a fast paced end, which leaves you in thought of it you will ever buy another record from them or not. I certainly did.

For Week Ending:
18 November 2023


TheBigBlack


Nirvana Logo

Bleach

Nirvana - Bleach (1989)

[Grunge Rock]

U.S.A.

Rating - 4 Stars

This is the humble beginnings of a band no one ever expected would be any more than a blip on the radar, and indeed Nirvana's debut only sold a few thousand copies in its first couple of years of existence. Recorded over a 12 month period (although rock legend would have us believe it was in a single session) the time taken to record this motley collection certainly doesn't reflect in the cohesiveness of the songs. With mostly rough and simple compositions we see only a hint or two of the grunge-pop that would change the rock landscape two years later with Nevermind. The contrasts of The Beatles-like 'About A Girl' alongside the abrasive metal stylings of 'Negative Creep' or 'School' is perfectly sequenced, with the track running order mimicking the heavy/soft dynamics that characterised many of the band's songs. The lyrics are mostly simple and repetitive (and often odd or goofy), but they are very much in keeping with Cobain's quirky style - and some of these songs had been in his repertoire for a number of years. Jack Endino's production is flat, but like all of his work at Reciprocal, is has a razor sharp edge to it that better studios would probably never be able to come to naturally. The album ends of the melancholy strains of 'Sifting', leaving us feeling like Cobain is searching for something he just can't find - something no doubt reflected in his real life.


mindkiller8


AC/DC Logo

The Razors Edge

AC/DC - The Razors Edge (1990)

[Hard Rock]

Australia

Rating - 4 Stars

OK, once again I'll start a review that has me admit I was more involved in the likes of Iron Maiden, Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax at the time this album was released. Adding to this I hadn't purchased a single E.P. or album of AC/DC up to now. Too 'heavy' for mainstream radio, and not 'heavy' enough by those independent radio stations that just wanted to play metal when they had a chance. Such a shame now that I reflect back on this album. 'Thunderstruck' is clearly the outstanding track, but I peel the layers and look to songs like 'Money Talks', which has that bluesy type sound from the guitars with Johnson's, funny enough, razor vocals. This mix is repeated on a number of tracks through the remainder of the record which I love. At this point, Angus is still putting together some tasty solos, 30 years after he started. If I had to pick a favourite song from the album it is the title track. The somewhat haunting intro followed by an upbeat guitar and drum intro does me every time along with the moody chorus, before it picks up the tempo. Anyway I could on for ages on this.

For Week Ending:
11 November 2023


TheBigBlack


Paul McCartney (and Wings) Logo

Flaming Pie

Paul McCartney - Flaming Pie (1997)

[Classic Rock]

U.K.

Rating - 3 Stars

By his own admission Paul McCartney was left feeling nostalgic when he began working on Flaming Pie, coming off nearly 2 years of working on Beatles focused music for the Anthology project. In particular he noted that The Beatles were always fast and loose when putting albums together, and never spent too much time overthinking things. He used that approach here, and the results are immediately noticeable. As one of the greatest song writers of popular music history McCartney has still managed a large number of stinkers sitting alongside his zingers, but for the first time in a long time fans agreed that Flaming Pie somehow managed a level of consistency throughout - and it was quickly elevated to the status of one of his best ever albums very soon after release. The production is modern and crisp, and after quarter of a century still holds its vitality, but more importantly - it's the songs that matter. 'The Song We Were Singing' starts the album on a slow note, but before long the big chorus kicks in, and it's the song we were all then singing. 'The World Tonight' and 'If You Wanna' have some great rock punch, reminding us that McCartney was once in the rock 'n' roll game. 'Young Boy' is the single only a member of The Fab Four could write, but we are also reminded of just how great McCartney always was at the gentler moments on tracks like 'Calico Skies'. Jeff Lynne of ELO is on board here to give the album a lift, but we also see old friends like Ringo Starr and Steve Miller helping out, and Paul's son James even plucks a guitar string or two. and just to really bring back that nostalgia - the fifth Beatle himself, George Martin, even scores some orchestra. All in all, the albums strength isn't what it is - but what it isn't. It doesn't try too hard to be anything in particular, giving it a wonderfully organic and natural feeling. But what is a Flaming Pie? Only John Lennon could tell you that.


mindkiller8


10% Weird

The Meanies - 10% Weird (1994)

[Alternative Rock]

Australia

Rating - 4 Stars

Press play, immerse yourself for 29 minutes, and at the end you will be asking the number of the train that just hit you! Forming in the late 80's, they cut their chops in those early years on numerous Big Day Out appearances and even clinching a support gig for Nirvana. Their 'commercial success', if you can call it that, getting airtime on Triple J, resulted in a leap in their audience base and the release of 10% Weird in 1994 and hit the mark perfectly for where they were on their musical journey at the time. Some raw Alt/Punk Rock with in your face 2 or 3 minute songs. They shared the limelight with the likes of Tumbleweed, early Spiderbait and Magic Dirt to some extent - however these guys were always the ones causing trouble at the back of class while those bands were shining. I certainly don't have a problem with that. Uniquely, the band don't take themselves too seriously on this release. Apart from '10% Weird', there are catchy tracks like 'Conan', 'Smack Bottom', and 'Corpse In Love'. Essentially a very catchy record to sing along to after a few listens if you like this type of music. What was the number of that train again?

For Week Ending:
4 November 2023


TheBigBlack


INXS Logo

The Years 1979-1997

INXS - The Years 1979-1997 (2002)

[Rock]

Australia

Rating - 4 Stars

A great compilation can showcase every strength of an artist, and it is a testament to the musicianship and song writing skills of many bands that they can even fill a double album with classics. The original INXS are one of those bands, and with the 41 one tracks on the album (in chronological order) you can follow their journey - hit after hit. The earlier years are covered by new-wave styled classics like 'Just Keep Walking' and 'Stay Young', and we move through their classic years with charting songs like 'Don't Change', and 'I Send A Message' until we find the late 80s mega hits of 'What You Need' and 'New Sensation'. The second disc is full of the band's 90s outputs, and although it could be argued that their albums weren't a strong by that period, the singles on display here remind you that they were still a force to be reckoned with. 'Bitter Tears', ' Taste It', and 'The Strangest Party' all being great examples of where the mature band landed toward the end. All in all, a great compilation that reminds us that INXS were worthy of all their successes, and what a great talent we lost when Michael Hutchence left us.


mindkiller8


Faith No More Logo

The Real Thing

Faith No More - The Real Thing (1989)

[Alternative Rock]

U.S.A.

Rating - 4 Stars

I'm wracking my brain about how I came to be playing this record at full tilt in my parent's lounge room when no-one was home, in 1989. Growing up in the country, there was no radio exposure. Must have been my Hot Metal mags that lead me to them. Well, what can I say about this classic release? It introduced the world to the vocal extremes of Mike Patton (from Mr. Bungle fame). It has everything. From your classic alt-rock anthem that is 'Epic' - the first track, shifting to the in your face, fasted paced 'Surprise, Your Dead', quirky 'Zombie Eaters' and the moody title track. It's a heck of a soundscape from the 5 of them. Even, yes OK, 'Roddy Bottum and his keyboard work which hangs it all together. If you get a chance to watch their live sets back in the day, you see the characters that bring us such a unique sound. Bordin with the dreads, the camp Bottum, Patton looking as though he has walked off as an extra in a Miami Vice recording, down to the coolest looking guitarist at the time in Martin. Big hair, red sunglasses with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth. Oh did I mention the incredible cover of 'War Pigs'? Love this release! Love this band!

For Week Ending:
28 October 2023


TheBigBlack


Alice In Chains Logo

Rainier Fog

Alice In Chains - Rainier Fog (2018)

[Grunge Rock]

U.S.A.

Rating - 4 Stars

Alice In Chains are one of those bands that are able to make an album that is immediately obvious as them, and yet every album is distinctly different from the ones prior. From the opening notes of 'The One You Know' this is obviously them, but this one is nastier and darker than the last (The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here). Jerry Cantrell again shows his amazing ability to weave heavy riffs into a fabric that also allows brighter moments to seamlessly stand alongside. 'Rainer Fog' and 'So Far Under' sound like vintage AIC, whereas 'Red Giant' and 'Drone' grind along in ways only the post-Layne version of the band can. The Cantrell / DuVall vocal harmonies are used heavily again, but not as extensively and obviously as previously, giving the songs some more breathing room. 'Maybe' sounds like it is straight off a Cantrell solo album, whereas 'Never Fade' is DuVall's chance to vocally shine. Overall, this is possibly the best 'reunion' album Alice In Chains have released to date. As a side note, this was the last album recorded at Studio X, previously Bad Animals, in Seattle before its doors closed. Not only had AIC recorded there previously themselves (their self-titled album in 1995), but other legendary albums from the alternative rock genre were also recorded there by Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, R.E.M., TAD, Hole and even Jerry Cantrell solo during the 90s.


mindkiller8


Slipknot Logo

Vol. 3 (The Subliminal Verses)

Slipknot - Vol. 3 (The Subliminal Verses) (2004)

[Nu Metal]

U.S.A.

Rating - 4 Stars

This marks the 3rd release from the Iowa band. Following on from the first 2 full-lengths, the band had the confidence to move on from the shock-metal (yeah I made that up) years that had them belting their instruments (all 8 of them) as hard as they can, questionable song titles and Corey growling like the devil. On this record, you need not look further than listening to the first minute of the opening track to be aware you were in for a treat. A new experience that had the band growing the balls to start off with an emotional, but angry ballad. Absolutely brilliant. But don't let that fool you - they drop right back into the aggressive pit, which gave us such gems as Duality and Vermillion. Add in the genius of dedication a song to their fans (the Maggots) with Pulse Of The Maggots and you have an incredibly attractive and mature release from the band. Still to this day their best release.

For Week Ending:
21 October 2023


TheBigBlack


Bob Dylan Logo

The Rolling Thunder Revue (The 1975 Live Recordings)

Bob Dylan - The Rolling Thunder Revue (The 1975 Live Recordings) (2019)

[Classic Rock]

U.S.A.

Rating - 4 Stars

The idea behind Bob Dylan's 1975-76 Rolling Thunder Review Shows was simple. Get a bunch of early 1960's folkies together on the road in a throwback to the old troubadour shows of the 1920's. It was a great idea, and the eventual outcome was just under 60 shows with the likes of Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, Jack Elliot, and Roger McGuinn. Even beat poet Allen Ginsberg was along for the ride. The music was (deliberately) wild and free and the artists reinterpreted their songs from soft folk to rollicking rock 'n' roll. Those looking to hear Dylan in his 1960s guise would have been surprised by the white faced minstrel they saw on stage, stomping around and barking lyrics like a hoarse shaman. 14 CDs in length, the box contains all known recordings of the 1975 leg, nestled snugly between two of Dylan's masterworks, Blood On The Tracks and Desire. We start with 3 discs of loose rehearsals showing the fun (and sometimes directionless) nature of the tour, and then get 5 complete concerts of the Dylan segment of the show from various stops. As fans of most bands would know, a number of shows from one tour is just needless repetition - but that is never the case with Dylan, who morphs and changes his performance every show. The sound quality and mixing is superb, and the only thing that would improve the experience would be visuals to go with the music, to really show the passion every musician puts in. The package wraps up with a single dis of random oddities from various stops on the tour, and whilst it isn't as essential as the other discs, it is a nice bookend to an amazing boxed set.


mindkiller8


V, Halmstad

Shining - V, Halmstad (2007)

[Black Metal]

Sweden

Rating - 4 Stars

2007 was during a period of a few years looking for new things to listen to. When music fans choose something to listen to, sometimes this is based on your mood. For some reason, when I listened to Halmstad for the first time, I knew I'd be drawn back to many listens. It's not pleasant in its music. I have comparisons I could make but that isn't worthwhile. The lyrics are Swedish so I don't know what is being sung. I can tell you that the translation of the title of the first track is 'Yet Another Step Towards Complete Fucking Isolation', so you will start to get the point on the theme of this album. Musically, sharp walls of guitar sounds, leading into incredibly moody parts where you have a slow drum beat and an almost silenced guitar. I'll call it an incredibly depressing release, but if you can manage it, equally as beautiful in its execution.

For Week Ending:
14 October 2023


TheBigBlack


U2 Logo

Achtung Baby

U2 - Achtung Baby (1991)

[Rock]

U.K.

Rating - 5 Stars

U2 had been slowing climbing to success for a number of years, and the recent studio & live combo album Rattle & Hum had positioned them at the top of the pack for the new decade. Their music now oozed with Americana charm, and it seemed obvious what would come next - and this is why the music world was left stunned when the first single 'The Fly' hit the airwaves. Reinvention is common in bands, but reinvention is about stripping back to the basic parts and rebuilding. This new U2 felt like none of those basic parts had ever existed. That first single, and the album that followed, was light years from anything the band had done before - and just about as far from anything else being played on the radio at the time. Be it by expert design or by total fluke, Achtung Baby positioned U2 at the forefront of the alternative movement that was about to flood the airwaves. The album sampled songs and sounds, it compressed and altered the instruments, it used odd song timings and arrangements, and Bono used his voice in ways he never had before. 'Zoo Station' bolts from its pen, its brazen overwrought guitar signalling like a warning of what is to come, and even mega hits like 'One' are produced to within an inch of their lives, deliberately removing any trace of the band that existed in the 1980s. 'Mysterious Ways' is so groovy you just need to move with it, and that is what makes the soul of the album - building a set of songs that regardless of how many overdubs are put on them, you can still hear the greatness of the tunes beneath it all. The Edge truly shines here, with tracks like 'Ultra Violet (Light My Way)' really showing his versatility. The album ends with some sombre moments, closing with 'Acrobat' and 'Love Is Blindness', ending a damn near perfect album.

For Week Ending:
30 September 2023


TheBigBlack


Alice In Chains Logo

Black Gives Way To Blue

Alice In Chains - Black Gives Way To Blue (2009)

[Grunge Rock]

U.S.A.

Rating - 4 Stars

Replacing a fallen band member is always difficult in the eyes (and ears) of your fans, but it makes it even harder when that person is considered a legend of their craft. The first new album from the band in nearly 15 years was highly anticipated, and they made the right move of touring extensively with new vocalist William DuVall firmly in place before recording a note. This meant the fans had mostly accepted him when new music did arrive, and the first single 'A Looking In View', although not particularly radio friendly, was a great lead-off due to its vintage AIC style. Also being a guitarist (and songwriter) Duvall wasn't as front and centre as Layne had been previously, instead sharing vocal duties (and guitar lines) almost 50/50 with Jerry Cantrell. The result is an album with some amazing highs (and a couple of lows), and Cantrell ensured enough of the songs connected with the classic version of the band to allow fans to feel like this was still the hard and heavy band they knew ('Check My Brain', 'Take Her Out'). Other tracks ('When The Sun Rose Again' and 'All Secrets Known') branched out in new directions, allowing the band to continue to grow. The album could have been flat (as many 'come-back' albums are), but instead acted as a reintroduction to the world, showing that great things were still to come.

For Week Ending:
23 September 2023


TheBigBlack


Devin Townsend Logo

Casualties Of Cool

Casualties Of Cool - Casualties Of Cool (2014)

[Progressive Metal]

Canada

Rating - 3 Stars

Devin Townsend has never been one to take it slow or keep it simple. His prolific writings swing from brutal metal to ethereal mood music, and sometimes all on a single album. He inspires and challenges, as every great artist should. As eclectic as his works can be Casualties Of Cool is one that still stands out beyond the others. Teaming up with fellow Canadian musician Che Aimee Dorval, Devin created an album that relied more on mood and chic than the actual songs themselves. That is not to say the songs aren't any good, because there are some here that of exceptional quality - but the album relies on an odd haunting (out of time?) feeling and country melodies to take the listener on a truly unique journey. He leaves the majority of the vocals to Che, but still uses his voice when necessary to move the listener to the next place in his landscape. Che's voice is perfect for the arrangements, and their duets on songs like 'Mountaintop' are so infectious you never want them to stop. In fact the, whole album ends leaving you feeling like aren't finished yet, and you just want more - but much like Devin's earlier one-off project Ocean Machine, this one is probably best left to one single album of lightning captured in a bottle.

For Week Ending:
16 September 2023


TheBigBlack


Burzum Logo

Burzum [Darkness]

Burzum - Burzum [Darkness] (1992)

[Black Metal]

Norway

Rating - 5 Stars

Appreciation of art is a very personal thing, and by extension what is even considered art at all will vary between individuals. Music of course is a form of art, and a lot of art is extreme because it is often created not to purge emotion - but to incite it. The second wave of black metal introduced a new abrasive style of metal, that even today is a difficult listen for the uninitiated, and the first Burzum album led the charge of this new metal style. The music isn't an easy pill to swallow, and in 1992 even seasoned metalheads used to listening to Exodus and Slayer may have found the vocals and lo-fi production of this one-man-band to border on the side of too extreme. The riffs are deliberately cyclic and repetitive, taking an almost hypnotic form, and along with the grating treble-heavy production the album grinds on the nerves as each note is played. The tortured vocals are still to this day like no other human voice ever recorded, as they leap from the songs more as wrath-like banshee cries than vocals. All of this comes together to bring a coldness and agony to metal that had never been heard before, and decades later is still relatively unmatched.


mindkiller8


Metallica Logo

72 Seasons

Metallica - 72 Seasons (2023)

[Thrash Metal]

U.S.A.

Rating - 2 Stars

I have thought of a number of ways to address this review. Loving, accepting, scathing? I'm in the middle of the latter 2. There is very little I like about this release and a lot I don't like. 'Lux Eterna' is a killer track and deserves a place on any record from them up until now. Additionally, across most songs, A-plus rating to Kirk and his solos. The best as a collective I have heard for a long time. What I don't like - why was Rob not given an opportunity to shine, present an intro or something like he has in the past? Very disappointing. As for Lars, apart from 'Lux Eterna', he's hardly asked to move out of second gear. Useful I suppose if they play into their 80's. He'll have no trouble. Finally I read about the maturity and sincerity of James' lyrics and how personal they are. I have never listened like a Rhodes scholar into the meaning of his lyrics. That's not the reason I listen to music for. His singing of the chorus on a number of songs is cringe worthy. The title song is sloppy with his singing of Wrath of man in the chorus. He has never sung like that!! Finally a 11 minute song at the end when we are already 66 mins in. And it's not your typical Metallica last track. Slow paced and boring (apart from Kirk which as I said is the star of this record). Quality over quantity please. I've come to accept that I loved Hardwired ...To Self-Destruct so much, particularly it's variety per song, that this record is a step down and for the most part is a rock band playing stock music. Never thought I'd say that.

For Week Ending:
9 September 2023


TheBigBlack


Possessed Logo

Revelations Of Oblivion

Possessed - Revelations Of Oblivion (2019)

[Thrash Metal]

U.S.A.

Rating - 3 Stars

30+ years is a long time between drinks, but from the instant the razor blade guitar of 'No More Room In Hell' kicks in there could be no other band but Possessed that could make these sounds. Picking up where a band left off in 1987 would not be an easy thing to do for any musicians, and sole remaining member Jeff Becerra toured this new line up for a number of years before writing and recording to ensure the DNA of the early songs were imprinted on the new ones. It certainly paid off, with the spirit of those original albums shining through on every note. Arguably the world's first death metal band, those 80s albums were (and still are) hugely important to future generations of metal artists, and unlike many other reunions the new music has expanded and enhanced their legacy rather than diminish it. The riffs on 'Abandoned' and 'Omen' and straight from 1985, whilst other songs like 'The Word' seamlessly integrate more modern feeling influences. Possessed has shown than age doesn't necessarily mean you need to slow down, so let's hope the next new music takes less than 33 years to reach our ears.

For Week Ending:
2 September 2023


TheBigBlack


D.A.D. (Disneyland After Dark) Logo

No Fuel Left For The Pilgrims

D.A.D. (Disneyland After Dark) - No Fuel Left For The Pilgrims (1989)

[Hard Rock]

Denmark

Rating - 4 Stars

In the late 1980's if you had long blond hair, an unbuttoned shirt, and played hard rock music - you were guaranteed to have a hit record. Often talent wasn't even particularly important, but a few bands - Disneyland After Dark being one of them - actually managed to release an album that was worthy of its successes. It wasn't the band's first album (and certainly wasn't their last), but it was the album where everything worked - and the inclusion of the baritone guitar lead lines through many of the songs gave it an extra edge that no one had ever heard before. They'd done similar on previous albums, but nailed it on this one. 'Sleeping My Day Away' was the perfect radio friendly first single to introduce the world to Denmark's best kept rock secret, and follow up singles like 'Girl Nation' and 'Jihad' really drove home their commercial, yet still edgy style - with infectious choruses that couldn't be ignored and the occasional barnstormer to get you bouncing around the room. Much like any bands of this style at the time, their quality didn't drop, but their audience did, and the band was mostly unheard of again, although they have continued to churn out albums of reasonable quality.


mindkiller8


Alice In Chains Logo

MTV Unplugged

Alice In Chains - MTV Unplugged (1996)

[Grunge Rock]

U.S.A.

Rating - 4 Stars

On reflection, while this is one of the last times we would hear Layne sing and I hate that we never heard his unique voice on a recording again, have to be incredibly thankful that this evening eventuated. I don't have much to say apart from that. Songs picked were perfect for an unplugged session. Some not that all familiar and I understand they wanted to play more, but ran out of time. So cool to hear Layne interact with the audience in his cheeky way (LL Cool Jay video's? will now play for the rest of the concert - ha ha). Jerry is just a gem and his support vocals are spot-on. He is such a rock for that band. Big callout to Sean on drums and what an unplugged session can uncover in terms of the complexity of the sound he contributes to the session. I'll leave you with the absolute need to listen to 'Sludge Factory'. This is Layne at his best!

For Week Ending:
25 August 2023


TheBigBlack


Probot

Probot - Probot (2004)

[Metal]

U.S.A.

Rating - 3 Stars

Over his lengthy career Dave Grohl has time and again proven himself to be full of surprises, but none probably turned heads more than Probot. At a time when the Foo Fighters were heading into their most consumable and radio friendly music yet, Grohl decided to record a metal album. Originally for fun, but later growing into a full project, Probot as a concept was simple - Grohl would write the songs, and invite his favourite metal vocalists from the 80s to feature on them. What takes the album to the next level is Grohl's ability to perfectly mimic the styles of music the guest vocalist are known for. 'Shake Your Blood' featuring Lemmy on vocals is the song Motorhead should have recorded, whilst 'Red War' sounds so Max Cavalera in style that it is uncanny. 'Sweet Dreams' featuring King Diamond is an 80s metal masterpiece that never was. The album was hyped upon release, but quickly disappeared to no more than a foot note in Grohl's repertoire - but that is unsurprising considering his audience were probably scratching their heads at voices like Cronos of Venom and Snake of VoiVod. One song has seemed to endure though - a hidden track called 'I Am The Warlock' with Jack Black front-and-centre explaining how he is going to destroy the listener's life, in the way only Jack Black can.


mindkiller8


Rage Against The Machine Logo

Rage Against The Machine

Rage Against The Machine - Rage Against The Machine (1992)

[Alternative Rock]

U.S.A.

Rating - 4 Stars

In some of my reviews I start with understanding why a band and their release became so popular in the years to come. 1992 was a tough year for any band to release something that would catch the attention of anyone listening to Rock, Metal and now Grunge. RATM doesn't fit into any of these so how/why? I challenge anyone likely to be in their teens or early 20's to identify that RATM is essentially a protest band. I certainly didn't. It wasn't about the lyrics back then, it was the infectious, uniqueness of Morello and how he massaged his guitar to make some sounds that are quite obscure but captivating. Encourage anyone to look up some vids on how he plays. Then you have the angry man Zack. And he is angry. He can play the peaceful, sorrowful, worrying, merciful vox. Next he has built up the rage, anger, spite, revenge type vox. If you read the lyrics, their protest is real - Zack a descendant of those involved in the Mexican revolution and Morello with a Kenyan father that was involved in their uprising in the 1950's and ended up being Kenya's first ambassador to the UN. Anger is a Gift. In any case if there is a poll on best first releases for a band, you have Pearl Jam (Ten) up there and RATM wouldn't be far down the list in my view.

For Week Ending:
18 August 2023


TheBigBlack


Sepultura Logo

Beneath The Remains

Sepultura - Beneath The Remains (1989)

[Thrash Metal]

Brazil

Rating - 4 Stars

Although the term didn't really exist at the time, the first handful of Sepultura albums were deeply rooted in death metal, and were hugely influential to later bands in the genre. But 1989's 'Beneath The Remains' the band were largely ensconced in a genre that had been named - thrash. Much like the rest of the Brazilian metal scene at the time the band still made their metal with intensity, rather than melody, and straight out the gate (after a short acoustic interlude to introduce the album) the track 'Beneath The Remains' bulldozers its way through the listener's eardrums. 'Inner Self', with its great double time chorus, has slowly become a no-holds barred 80s metal classic, and it is followed by another strong track in 'Stronger Than Hate' straight after. Although thrash by nature the album is still extreme, and at times the pummelling riffwork and drums are unrelenting on tracks like 'Slave Of Pain'. The band's follow up album 'Arise' is arguably a better album, but 'Beneath The Remains' keeps just enough of the primitive early sound of the band in place against the backdrop of better production to make this a truly unique and satisfying album that will be known as a classic of the genre.


mindkiller8


Soundgarden Logo

Badmotorfinger

Soundgarden - Badmotorfinger (1991)

[Grunge Rock]

U.S.A.

Rating - 4 Stars

Back in the day, living country South Australia, anything outside Top 40 didn't hit the local record shop. Thank God for ABC RAGE, that did make local TV - and you know where I am heading here - 'Jesus Christ Pose'. It was played every week as I was finishing Year 12. Blew me away. I can safely say, outside of thrash metal music, this was the first record I purchased (via a trip to Adelaide), loved, and turned into a huge fan. There are two simple but valuable elements to this record - the gritty, nasty, and in parts ear piercing, guitar sound form Thayil and Cornell, and then of course the brilliance of Cornell's vox. Incredible! He is rated with his peers at the time, with Eddie Vedder being a worthy comparison. Different sounds but equally brilliant. I'd put Cornell at the top. He had amazing range - listen to 'Slaves & Bulldozers' as an example. Oh, the other thing to mention is the lyrics - he wrote or had a hand in most of the tracks on the record. Shout out to Matt Cameron on his drum work. His timing to cover the different tempos in this is amazing. Just realised in re-reading I used past tense for Cornell - continue to R.I.P., my friend.

For Week Ending:
11 August 2023


TheBigBlack


My Dying Bride Logo

A Line Of Deathless Kings

My Dying Bride - A Line Of Deathless Kings (2006)

[Doom Metal]

U.K.

Rating - 4 Stars

My Dying Bride is band that is hard to describe, but the term 'brutally beautiful' comes to mind. The band's music is both elegant and harmonious at the same time as being extreme and discordant. Generally their albums contain large sections of pure gothic misanthropy, but 'A Line Of Deathless Kings' took the band in the opposite direction. This album is still firmly planted in the destitute graveyard of doom metal, but gone are the long passages of sorrowful yawl - instead replaced with death metal intensity that is unusual for the band post their early demos. From the onset of the opener 'A Line Of Deathless Kings' it is clear this is a heavier album than usual, and even tracks like the tale of forlorn love 'L'amour Decruit' still have a massive doom sound rather than the soft passages the band is known for. In fact there is very little on the album that doesn't hammer its way into the listeners ears, and ending on the massive double hit of 'Deeper Down' and 'The Blood, The Wine, The Roses' is one of the best album closers of the era, or any era really.


mindkiller8


Sgt. Hetfield's Motorbreath Pub Band

Beatallica - Sgt. Hetfield's Motorbreath Pub Band (2007)

[Comedy]

U.S.A.

Rating - 4 Stars

This review is aimed to be fun. A parody review of a Beatles vs Metallica mash-up band that take lyrics and music from both bands. It is incredibly impressive. These guys - Jaymez Lenninfield, Ringo Lars, Kliff McBurtney and Greg Hammeston are great musicians in their own right. From the very open of track 1, the title song, I gotta say they have pulled it off with Hetfield's sound. Brilliant. Of course you need to be familiar with both bands to appreciate this. Highlights for me are 'Blackened In The U.S.S.R.' - which starts with the 'Blackened' intro from Metallica and then shifts into the Beatles sound for their classic song. 'Sandman' where there again is a typical intro except for the bass, you know that is going to turn into something else 'Cashman'. There is a playoff with lyrics between to the two songs which is very smart. Also lyrics not related to each band such as 'For Horseman' where Larz needs to get more beers. They even include a mash of Cliff Burtons classic Anesthesia, with then turns into 'Birthday'. The highlight has to be 'Hey Dude' which talks about starting to be a shredder and to avoid posers, with callouts to 'Kip Winger' and 'Diamond Header'. Brilliant! Add a few more Lenninfield 'Yeehaahh's' and this is a release you will have you grinning from ear to ear.

For Week Ending:
4 August 2023


TheBigBlack


Pearl Jam Logo

Vs.

Pearl Jam - Vs. (1993)

[Grunge Rock]

U.S.A.

Rating - 5 Stars

Pearl Jam's debut 'Ten' was a landmark album that still stands up today as one of the greatest debut albums of time. Following an album like would never be easy, and the obvious route to take is to make something similar for your sophomore. Pearl Jam, true to their style, did the opposite. Putting themselves in unfamiliar surroundings with half-finished songs and a deadline that was tight, they reproduced nature - making a diamond under great pressure. Whilst the debut was polished and focused and had a strong grounding in classic rock, 'Vs.' instead was intentionally jarring and felt more like the songs were organic. 'Go' leapt out the gate, shaking off the last of the band's comparisons to dinosaur rock of the 70's, instead looking to The Sonics and Fugazi for inspiration, and although songs like 'Daughter' and 'Dissident' have gone on to become radio standards, these songs were like nothing else at the time. On 'Animal' and 'Blood' Eddie Vedder pours out venom, with social commentary at the fore, yet the same voice of the 90's then penned the lyrics to a touching masterpiece like 'Elderly Woman'. Never a band to be satisfied, Pearl Jam morphed into something different again on their next album, freeze-drying 'Vs.' as a perfect snap-shot of the state of alternative rock in 1993, and 30 years on it still goes head to head against anything released by any band today. and easily wins.


mindkiller8


Pearl Jam Logo

Vs.

Pearl Jam - Vs. (1993)

[Grunge Rock]

U.S.A.

Rating - 5 Stars

Let me guess - anyone in their right mind that experienced 'Ten', 2 years earlier, were chomping at the bit on what these twenty-something, raw behind the ears misfits were going to trump us with next. Their answer is emphatic and a one-up on their debut. Possibly the best sophomore release I have ever heard. 'Go' is simply a perfect intro to pick up from where they left off with 'Ten'. Fast-paced and challenging you to not only listen, but keep up with the tempo. The next set of songs simply drag you into their lair with 'Animal' and 'Glorified G' bookending a classic in 'Daughter'. 'Dissident' brings you back to that 'Animal' type tempo - desperate, cry calling lyrics. And we are only at the halfway point. The remainder has quirky songs in the fast paced 'Blood' (c'mon keep up!!!) and 'Rats'. In the middle is the mid-tempo classic 'Rearviewmirror'. I'll finish with acknowledging 'Elderly Woman' - how Eddie can write such classics as 'Go', and put his head into a space where he can write the ballad 'Elderly Woman' I have no idea. The man is a genius with the world at his feet at this point. 30 years old this October, this puts current rock/alt bands to shame. Such an amazing release. Is it better than 'Ten'? Let the debate begin.

For Week Ending:
29 July 2023


TheBigBlack


Oasis Logo

(What's The Story) Morning Glory?

Oasis - (What's The Story) Morning Glory? (1995)

[Rock]

U.K.

Rating - 4 Stars

For 10 minutes in the 90's Oasis were without a doubt the biggest rock band in the world. '(What's The Story) Morning Glory?' is a perfect example of why. Often known for their offstage antics, the brothers Gallagher were not the most likeable characters at the time (and still aren't), but it would have been interesting to see how much bigger the band could have become if they had treated their fans (and each other) a bit better. Many of these songs have gone on to reach rock classic status, and deservingly so. 'Don't Look Back in Anger' and 'Champagne Supernova' are effortless in their balladry, whilst rockier songs like 'Roll With It' and 'Morning Glory' are loud and raucous, but still keep a radio friendly edge. The band were often compared with The Beatles, and although there is no direct connection - there is a hint of Lennon/McCartney buried deep, especially in the perfect way the songs are structured to hook. In fact there is nothing really new here at all - this is just straight up rock played with a mischievous swagger - but the songs are so damn good they can't be ignored. Try to find anyone anywhere that has not been in a late night sing-along of 'Wonderwall', even if they don't like the band.

For Week Ending:
22 July 2023


TheBigBlack


3rd Secret Logo

3rd Secret

3rd Secret - 3rd Secret (2022)

[Grunge Rock]

U.S.A.

Rating - 3 Stars

The term 'supergroup' is often overused in music, but often when a bunch of big name musicians get together it is hard to describe them as anything less. Throwing Soundgarden's Kim Thayil, Soundgarden / Pearl Jam's Matt Cameron, Nirvana's Kurt Novaselic together with a few other lesser knowns promised an interesting experiment, and the first album doesn't fail to intrigue. Most of the music is actually pretty mellow, and the twin harmonised female voices are not what is expected, but the songs are consistently catchy. The album opens acoustically with 'Rhythm Of The Ride', setting the scene for the sprinkling of acoustic tunes throughout, with 'Winter Solstice' being a stand out. Moments of Soundgarden shine through on the louder tracks, with Thayil's distinct guitar tone and playing style evident, especially on tracks like 'I Choose Me'. The pop sensibilities on many of the songs leave the listener with a feeling of 'do I know this song?', and overall this is really pleasant and easy listen. You won't hear any Nirvana or Soundgarden heaviness here, but there are flashes of the grunge noise that made all these guys famous.

For Week Ending:
15 July 2023


TheBigBlack


Slayer Logo

World Painted Blood

Slayer - World Painted Blood (2009)

[Thrash Metal]

U.S.A.

Rating - 3 Stars

'World Painted Blood' had something of a messy birth, and it reflects throughout the album. The band admitted they weren't prepared to record (and even wrote in the studio), and they parted ways with long term producer Rick Rubin soon after. The proceedings start off with a slow burn in the same way 'South Of Heaven' did 20+ years earlier, and builds into some massive riffs. 'Hate Worldwide' and 'Psychopathy Red' are classic vintage Slayer, whilst other tracks such as 'Human Strain' and 'Americon' sound more like the band we heard in the late 90s. If any complaints can be made about the album it is mostly in the production. The guitar tones are thin, and rubber band like in places instead of the thick rich wall of guitar Slayer is known for, leaving the album feeling somewhat underdeveloped at times. The drum sound luckily carries the album, and this was the last album to feature the recently returned Dave Lombardo. Also worth noting, it was the last album to feature guitarist Jeff Hanneman before his death in 2013. 'World Painted Blood' is far from being a Slayer masterpiece, but it does have personality and charm to boot, and this tends to carry it through the patches of mediocrity it occasionally touches on. All in all it is a great listen, but just not a 'Reign In Blood' for the new millennium that reunion album 'Christ Illusion' from 3 years earlier hinted it was capable of possibly aiming for.


mindkiller8


Tool Logo

Undertow

Tool - Undertow (1993)

[Alternative Rock]

U.S.A.

Rating - 4 Stars

I won't dwell on the metal/alt music scene of the early 90's. You've all had the history lesson. During this time it was a challenge for non-alt/grunge music to stand out. I introduce to you Tool from LA., who with little fan-fare and a small following put together an E.P. in 1992 and fast tracked to their first full length, Undertow, a year later. Again, in the myriad of other music filling the scene and such genre's as thrash metal being challenged, a young Maynard J Keenan and his band very much kept metal music relevant. In a different way however with a very dark, moody approach. The majority of the songs having a large focus on the back-stop of the band. In particular Paul and his bass work introducing a number of tracks, backed by Dana and his complex drum work. Married with Maynard's desperate-like vocals and you have a heck of a first release. Two years later, their sophomore release Anima would elevate the band even higher in popularity and again keep that metal flame alive. Indulge me some lyrics. brilliant! "I am a worthless liar / I am just an imbecile / I will only complicate you / Trust in me and fall as well / I will find a centre in you / I will chew it up and leave / I will work to elevate you / Just enough to bring you down"

For Week Ending:
8 July 2023


TheBigBlack


Rainbow Logo

Rainbow Rising

Rainbow - Rainbow Rising (1976)

[Classic Rock]

U.K.

Rating - 4 Stars

Richie Blackmore, having been the axeman for Deep Purple for close to a decade, had already cemented himself as a rock legend when he formed Rainbow. His vocalist on the other hand, a fresh-faced American named Ronnie James Dio, hadn't yet broken the big time. Whilst 1975's debut album showed promise, this is the album where both vocalist and guitarist really locked together to bring out each other's best. With proto-metal in abundance here, songs like 'Tarot Woman' and 'Starstruck' really shine, and Blackmore's solos feel like he really is invested in this music. The vinyl side B opened with the orchestrated monster 'Stargazer', setting alight the minds of heavy music fans everywhere, and showcasing Dio's amazing soulfully powerful vocals like no other track. Rainbow slowly became most 'commercial' after this release, with Dio unfortunately only hanging around for one more album, but there was little chance of them ever besting this masterpiece anyway.


mindkiller8


Opeth Logo

Damnation

Opeth - Damnation (2003)

[Death Metal (Progressive)]

Sweden

Rating - 5 Stars

Firstly I have to stop myself from writing an essay on this release. It IS brilliant. Opeth released Deliverance and Damnation 5 months apart. It seemed a deliberate attempt to highlight to fans that future releases will not be full of heavy death metal vocals and that Mikael will truly embrace is love of Prog. Nothing wrong with that - we knew that would eventuate. This is an amazing piece of work from Mikael. For some reason, from first listen I loved it. His vocals perfectly match the music composition, which itself doesn't deviate to far from song to song. I do have to point my favourite song 'Closure' which has that middle eastern sound from the middle. Listening today still brings back the same memories from my first listen. Incredibly bold release, and it worked for the band, given the acclaim it has received.

For Week Ending:
1 July 2023


TheBigBlack


Foo Fighters Logo

But Here We Are

Foo Fighters - But Here We Are (2023)

[Alternative Rock]

U.S.A.

Rating - 3 Stars

It probably goes without saying, but this is an album about loss. The death of Taylor Hawkins in March 2022 would have left a large hole in the band, but this isn't the first time Dave Grohl has had to work through grief with music - He had to do the exact same thing almost 30 years prior. He is an older (and arguably wiser) man now, and the songs target his thoughts, but often not through an open outpouring of emotion. Many lyrics are veiled references disguised as odes to lost loves or losing direction. An album highlight, 'Hearing Voices', is more direct in its messaging whereas something like the brilliant opener 'Rescued' is more alluding to the pain of needing to be supported through chaos. Musically the album suffers from a bit of a slump in the middle, but overall this is the best album the band has produced since its early days, and playing it alongside the classic 'The Colour And The Shape' reveals a lot of stylistic similarities between them. The album closes on a sombre note with 'Rest', really nailing home the dark themes overall, and musically using passages from the album opener. Powerful stuff.


mindkiller8


Sodom Logo

Better Off Dead

Sodom - Better Off Dead (1990)

[Thrash Metal]

Germany

Rating - 4 Stars

German band playing black metal turned to a thrash metal band in the late 80's and gave us a landmark effort in Agent Orange in 1989. However this review focuses on the next effort Better Off Dead. I have no idea how I found this band to listen to, however listening to this today, I still love the true German thrash metal that it is. If you had Millie from Kreator singing then you would hardly notice the difference. Now that is not to suggest that Tom isn't a killer singer. More-so the respect this band should have in German thrash metal. And of course no other band could write arguably the most evil song known in 'The Saw Is The Law'. Some might say a cheesy name, but the lyrics depict a great story. If this doesn't get you up and singing your lungs out to each word, then you aren't alive. What I mostly like listening back to this effort is the album carries your interest all the way through. 'Bloodtrails', the title track, through to the last track 'Stalinorgel' which is a brilliant ending. A couple of covers respectfully executed well and we have a great release. Should have got more credit than they did in such a thrash laden period for metal music.

For Week Ending:
24 June 2023


TheBigBlack


Iron Maiden Logo

The Final Frontier

Iron Maiden - The Final Frontier (2010)

[Heavy Metal]

U.K.

Rating - 3 Stars

Considering the number of years they had behind them Iron Maiden continued to prove they had more to offer when in 2010 they released 'The Final Frontier'. The three previous albums ('Brave New World', 'Dance Of Death, and 'A Matter Of Life And Death') set the benchmark incredibly high, and the band managed to keep the quality and consistency - but still add a whole bunch of new techniques to their arsenal. The lengthy 'Satellite 15.' opener builds tension with a moody sci-fi soundscape before the arena-chorused 'The Final Frontier' bursts out in typical IM opener style. Obvious singles 'El Dorado' and 'Coming Home' drive the album, and open up some space to allow a bit more room to stretch out and experiment on tracks like 'Isle Of Avalon' and 'The Man Who Would Be King'. Little did we know at the time that these longer tracks, where the band really spread their wings, would actually become the norm on future albums.


mindkiller8


The Strength, The Sounds, The Songs

Volbeat - The Strength, The Sounds, The Songs (2005)

[Metal]

Denmark

Rating - 4 Stars

Back in the heyday of TheBigBlack crew searching for something new to listen to, we discovered Volbeat. At a time where metal wasn't offering anything new, these young guns from Denmark hit our ears and instantly struck a chord (or two) with us. Lead singer Poulson at the time was marked as the 'Elvis of Metal'. He does have a unique voice and very much contributes to the overall sound of the album. Apart from that the music itself is hard to capture - kinda a Rock/Metal rockabilly that has you banging your head with a little jump in your step. The chainsaw guitar is very cutting in each song. This lifted the band to global acknowledgement and from here they have gone on to be a big band on large festivals in Europe.

For Week Ending:
17 June 2023


TheBigBlack


The Offspring Logo

Smash

The Offspring - Smash (1994)

[Punk Rock]

U.S.A.

Rating - 4 Stars

By the late-90s bands like Green Day and Blink-182 would help the new generation of pop-punk explode onto the charts and take the music to the masses, but in 1994 punk was still less than mainstream. With labels now looking for the next 'grunge', bands like Bad Religion and Pennywise were starting to cause a swell, and The Offspring were lucky enough that someone at Epitaph Records (founded by Bad Religion's guitarist) decided they were worth pushing. 'Smash' was an album made for the time, overflowing with angsty lyrics and crunchy guitars, but with just enough commercial appeal that every 15 year old got a copy on CD from their grandparents for their birthday that year. Songs like 'Nitro (Youth Energy)' and 'Genocide' exhibited old-school punk chops and credibility alongside the more modern sounding 'Come Out And Play (Keep 'm Separated)' and 'Gotta Get Away'. There was cross-over appeal also, with alternative and metal audiences hearing something in here that they could relate to. Although The Offspring have had a number of good albums over the years (ignoring the last couple), 'Smash' will likely always be seen as their greatest musical statement.


mindkiller8


Pantera Logo

Cowboys From Hell

Pantera - Cowboys From Hell (1990)

[Groove Metal]

U.S.A.

Rating - 4 Stars

Let's summarise quickly - A band nobody really cared about for the previous 4 releases. Change from a glam band into a heavy band. No record company wants to invest, except for 1. It's 1990 with a wave of other big band releases happening or due soon, and some-the-fuck-how these guys manage to open their shoulders and walk their way into the room and demand we better take a listen. And so we have Cowboys From Hell, a new version of the band that metalheads will come to love over the next decade. Dimebag showing us just what he is capable of executing with his guitar (there would be a better superlative but I can't think of one to describe Dimebag). He goes onto bigger and better magical efforts on future releases. This is just a taste. Vinny being the solid back-stop with his drumming. Rex solid with his bass. However for me, as much as this an arrival for the band, it is Phil on vocals bringing the aggression that had people scared to join the circle pit in the years to come. Imagine the riot 'Primal Concrete Sledge' would deliver to the pit. Then have everyone pull out their lighters for the start of 'Cemetery Gates'. This is a band for the fans. In the early 90's we had the short demise of Metal in general. We had the uplift of Grunge and Alternative and then we had Pantera. Enough said!

For Week Ending:
10 June 2023


TheBigBlack


The Stooges Logo

Raw Power

Iggy And The Stooges - Raw Power (1973)

[Punk]

U.S.A.

Rating - 3 Stars

Like him or not, no one can deny Iggy Pop is a legend of the music industry. This album is one of the reasons why. It was pretty much Iggy with a hired backing band at this point as the original Stooges had parted ways, and the man was out to make a statement. Raw Power is aggressive proto-punk with all the hallmarks of the style long before the Sex Pistols or even Ramones. The production is terrible (produced by David Bowie, who stated he was given a twenty-four track tape with everything recorded on only two of the tracks), the overblown mix red-lines its way through the 8 powerhouses, rarely giving the listener a moment to take a breath. 'Search And Destroy' opens, and is a letter of intent to the listener, warning them to stay low or be pummelled - and although the album immediately changes gears with the acoustic driven 'Gimme Danger', the aggressive mix still makes this a moment of nervous energy and explosive power. Side B opens with the title track, and it is every bit as brain shaking as side A. Everything about this album was ahead of its time, and it isn't hard to hear why so many list it as an influence - even if you will likely be deaf after only a couple of listens. One thing of note, if you do find the mix challenging - check out the remix made in 1997 (apparently from the actual multitrack masters). It does a good job of keeping the urgency of the music, whilst removing the treble heavy toxic noise of the original.


mindkiller8


The Art Of Rebellion

Suicidal Tendencies - The Art Of Rebellion (1992)

[Thrash Metal (Crossover)]

U.S.A.

Rating - 3 Stars

''Down my stomach. Here come Banana''. Track 3 opener. Take note of the razor guitar sound, before the bass line kicks in (credit to the great Rob Trujillo who plays bass on the album) and off the song goes. Now what you will notice is 'Cyco' Mike trying to sing a melody. A what?? I'm a huge fan of the likes of 1987 release 'Join The Army' - 'Possessed To Skate' being legendary and picked up by any self-respecting Red Bull skating promotion. But this release is very different. Is that a good thing? The response is mixed. It is often referenced as their 'experimental' record. However 5 records in (over 7 years, mind you) they've decided to make a change to the punk/metal fusion saturated songs and put together a mature set of songs that do still offer the punk side of them ('Capt'n Stupid', 'Which Way To Free'), but some very mature songs such as 'Monopoly On Sorrow' and 'I Hate You Better'. Funnily enough they quickly returned to their punk roots which I don't mind with 'Freedumb' in 1999 being a classic (for another review perhaps).

For Week Ending:
3 June 2023


TheBigBlack


Jimi Hendrix and The Jimi Hendrix Experience Logo

First Rays Of The New Rising Sun

Jimi Hendrix - First Rays Of The New Rising Sun (1997)

[Classic Rock]

U.K.

Rating - 5 Stars

Compiling an album posthumously will always be a tricky endeavour, as who knows what the artist's final vision may have been? A number of attempts have been made over the years to compile Jimi's final recordings into the album he was working toward. The first (and best known) was 'The Cry Of Love' in 1971, and although it is an amazing album in its own right, greed ensured it was not the double album that was planned, with key tracks held off for future releases. Another well-known version was the 'Voodoo Soup' album from 1995, but to most this came out feeling more like an interpretation or reimagining. To my ears. I think this is by far best possible representation, constructed from multiple hand written notes from the man himself. The sound quality is amazing, and the song writing is light-years beyond 'Electric Ladyland'. In the two years since the recording of that album there is no doubt from these recordings that Hendrix was now at his best in a studio - laying carefully constructed overdubs over overdubs. Songs like 'Night Bird Flying' reveal where his mind and soul were taking the music, sounding more like a guitar orchestra than one man with a Fender Stratocaster. There is rock a-plenty here with songs like 'Izabella' and ' Ezy Rider' grooving along, and some funk and soul also buried in the mix with songs like 'Freedom' and 'Earth Blues'. Although some feel the soul of the music is a little lacking here due to the studio gimmicky, the songs themselves - and the immense talent of the man - still can't be denied.


mindkiller8


Anthrax Logo

Persistence Of Time

Anthrax - Persistence Of Time (1990)

[Thrash Metal]

U.S.A.

Rating - 5 Stars

Charlie drum intro on the first track. Frankie kicking in with that bass. It's 'thick' once you bring in Scott and Dan before you have Joey introduce himself on point with the tempo. You only need to indulge in the first 30 seconds of the first song to realise that, within 2 years, they have matured immensely from the 'State Of Euphoria' era. This band means business and they take every opportunity, in just over an hour of music, to make this point. No 'Not Man' or any other comic suggestions. No kicking out the jams and SK8'er references or behaviour. These guys had something to say to the world in the early 90's and did a hell of a job doing so. Highlights for me are the lead track 'Time', 'In My World', 'Gridlock', 'H8 Red', 'One Man Stands'. The last 2 being at the end of the album which says a lot to the quality of the music on this record. This recording is easily in my all-time Top 5.

For Week Ending:
27 May 2023


TheBigBlack


Danzig Logo

Danzig

Danzig - Danzig (1988)

[Metal]

U.S.A.

Rating - 4 Stars

From the moment 'Twist Of Cain' starts to play my head starts to bob, and there is nothing on this album that stops it. Debut albums are an interesting beast. Bands aren't burdened with expectation of fans and record companies, and therefore they can just be whatever they want to be, and have fun along the way. Sure, Glenn Danzig already had the legacy of the Misfits and Samhain behind him (although they weren't really 'legendary' yet), but this was still like a whole new start for him - and it shows. The music isn't particularly up tempo, and it certainly isn't technical, but it moves along with a swagger that most bands would never ever get close to. Every word that drips from Glenn's mouth feels like it is sung with a mischievous smile, and on tracks like 'She Rides' and 'Am I Demon' he really opens up, and let's not forget to mention the greatest track in the Danzig repertoire - 'Mother'. I think the thing that constantly draws me back is that on the surface it all feels a bit. tongue in cheek, and yet you still feel some underlying menace. I bit like discovering your kind old next door neighbour is possibly a genocidal war criminal in hiding.


mindkiller8


Dire Straits Logo

Brothers In Arms

Dire Straits - Brothers In Arms (1985)

[Rock]

U.K.

Rating - 4 Stars

Indulge with me for a moment. Growing up in country S.A. in the 80's we had the privilege of two American journalists exposing to us the greater world at the time. Warner Wolf on sports and Casey Kasem on music. Casey's Top 40 was broadcast on the local AM channel on Saturday afternoons, where myself and the family would have the show loud on the radio in the backyard. I started to listen in 1985 when this guitar sound in Money For Nothing was simply mesmerising at the time. I bought the tape without knowing much more about them. As it turns out this single, which rewarded them with millions, is not the pick of the album. Don't expect this to be a rock album based on this single. It is very much a contemporary recording which you need to heavily invest in the lyrics sung. I think most would have heard Walk Of Life and So Far Away, however the songwriting maturity of the last half of the record is outstanding, including the last track Brothers In Arms, having a very poignant subject behind it.

For Week Ending:
20 May 2023


TheBigBlack


Bob Dylan Logo

Blonde On Blonde

Bob Dylan - Blonde On Blonde (1966)

[Classic Rock]

U.S.A.

Rating - 4 Stars

In his own words, Blonde On Blonde is the 'thin wild mercury music' Dylan heard in his head in the mid-1960s. It is a proclaimed masterpiece by many music fans, and whilst it isn't my favourite album of his from the period, I can't deny the scope and depth. Dylan effortlessly switches between rock, folk, blues, ballads, and even Dixieland jazz on this eclectic double album - in fact the first double album ever released in popular music - and his third released in a year. Songs like the soppy 'Just Like A Woman' and the up-tempo 'I Want You' would be become radio standards of the 60s, but I don't think anything on this album reached the heights of his previous album opener 'Like A Rolling Stone'. 'Visions Of Johanna' does come close though, and 'Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again' is a great representation of his music from the period. All in all a great listen.


mindkiller8


Grinspoon Logo

Guide To Better Living

Grinspoon - Guide To Better Living (1997)

[Alternative Rock]

Australia

Rating - 4 Stars

Aussie alternative scene was now huge mid-90's. So much so that Government funded broadcaster JJJ put together the 'Unearthed' concept, where the 'weekend warriors'/'garage bands' had the opportunity to submit an original song with potential stardom awaiting. The very first one in 1995 saw Lismore locals Grinspoon win the competition. Some cash and a recording contract. The side note to this competition is arguably they were the best product of this competition over the years. A couple of E.P.'s later and we have Guide in 1997. Fist pumping, neck snapping, in your face not so much heavy rock. It's more than that. They get called post-grunge. Reality is it's 16 tracks in 42 minutes of thick/crunchy guitar, with some tasty solo's, heavy-handed drumming and then there is Phil's sometimes deranged singing style, covering all the important topics such as DCx3 (Dead Cat x 3) and of course Sickfest, that won them 'Unearthed'. In 1998 they signed to a record label in the States and off they went. Heck of a ride in under 4 years of existence. I think Kylie Minogue is still trying to make it in the States.

For Week Ending:
13 May 2023


TheBigBlack


The Beatles Logo

Live At The BBC

The Beatles - Live At The BBC (1994)

[Classic Rock]

U.K.

Rating - 5 Stars

It's hard to believe, but in the 1970s The Beatles were old tired news, and apart from a couple of blips on the radar in the form of average reissues and live albums, there wasn't much interest. By the 1980s however, with the advent of the compact disc, fans started asking when The Fab Four were going to be released on the format. This happened in 1987 (unfortunately to mixed results), and a slow revival began. EMI realised by the early 1990s that anything they didn't release on CD some bootlegger would, and the first thing to do was to stop the steady stream of BBC bootlegs by getting an official release out. For Beatles tragics (like myself), the double CD 'Live At The BBC' album was earth shattering. Not only did it give us over 60 unreleased tracks (in mostly top quality - mainly due to one woman who recorded close to every one of the hundreds of broadcasts on her home tape machine), but the majority of the songs were new songs never before released by the band. The reason for this was simple: with only a handful of their own songs released at the time (mainly 1962-1964), and sometimes doing two (or more) BBC shows a week, they had to revert back to covers of songs they played in their early days in Hamburg and the Cavern Club. Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Carl Perkins, The Everly Brothers, and Elvis Presley (amongst many others) get a work out, and the small interludes of conversations between the boys and the hosts transport the listener all the way back the 60's. An amazing piece of musical history.

For Week Ending:
6 May 2023


TheBigBlack


Public Image Ltd. (PiL) Logo

Public Image (First Issue)

Public Image Ltd. (PiL) - Public Image (First Issue) (1978)

[Post-Punk]

U.K.

Rating - 3 Stars

Going solo (or at least creating a new band identity for yourself) after being in a ground breaking genre-defining band is always going to be tough. People like Paul McCartney and Robert Plant realised this, and struggled to find a new norm amongst their established audience. Johnny Rotten knew that post Sex Pistols his fans wanted to see him become more Rotten than ever, which is why he did the opposite - he became himself. Re-emerging as John Lydon, he introduced the world to PiL, a post-punk art-rock anomaly, that many fans were left confused and alienated by. There are shades of his former band buried here, but more in attitude than style. There are acerbic buzzsaw guitars, but they create atmosphere rather that riffs, and the spoken word poetry of Religion was likely too much for most mohawked glue-sniffers in 1978. There are still some 'real' songs here, with tracks like Annalisa and Public Image pumping out rock greatness, but for the most part this is an album (and band) designed to make you think, rather than pogo.

For Week Ending:
29 April 2023


TheBigBlack


Hellripper Logo

Warlocks Grim & Withered Hags

Hellripper - Warlocks Grim & Withered Hags (2023)

[Speed Metal]

U.K.

Rating - 4 Stars

Speed metal with just a touch of black has been getting quite a following across Europe in the last few years. Hellripper is a one man unit out of Scotland that leans a little more on the black side than most, rasping away though these blazing songs like a demon on a motorcycle. The guitar tones are tasty, with a 80s feel (but a modern sounding production), and the whole album makes you want to throw your horns up in the air and shout the dark lord's name. There is plenty of vintage Slayer and Megadeth here, but it also drips with a dark swagger that only bands like Darkthrone can usually pull off. It isn't just old-school worship though as so many other more recent bands like Warbringer also come to mind. The solos shred and are reminiscent of the leads on faster Maiden, and if this doesn't get your metalhead ass out of the chair leaping around the room - nothing else will.


mindkiller8


Metallica Logo

Load

Metallica - Load (1996)

[Thrash Metal]

U.S.A.

Rating - 4 Stars

It's the 90's and it's Hammer Time! It also begins an incredible decade in music history with the emergence of Grunge, Oz Alternative and Metallica, commented as 'making it big', with the Black album in 1991. It is however their mid-90's releases that are the topic of review. In particular 'Load'. I pick this one over 'ReLoad' as it again presents a different direction from the band. 'Justice' to 'Black' to 'Load'. They were not interested in the rinse/repeat from the Black album as successful as that was. 'Load' gave us another side in the Metallica Rubix cube. At almost 80 mins long (their longest), we have 14 tracks full of blues and country rock. You can imagine Het with a sprig of straw in his mouth singing most of these songs. In short it is another statement from the band that they won't be tagged as a heavy metal band and that they have the intestinal fortitude to write something left of centre for them and actually pull it off. Faves for me include 2x4, Until It Sleeps, Hero Of The Day, and Cure is devilish singing from Het that I love. Both albums are under-rated I think at a period in time where metal was being challenged for listening time by the Seattle scene for example.

For Week Ending:
22 April 2023


TheBigBlack


Metallica Logo

72 Seasons

Metallica - 72 Seasons (2023)

[Thrash Metal]

U.S.A.

Rating - 4 Stars

With band members all around 60 years old a band could be forgiven if they decided to start taking it easy. Metallica have many roads available to them when they create music these days, and it felt like they had settled into a nice comfy pattern of 'not too heavy, not too light' with Hardwired To Self-Destruct. Turns out they still have a surprise or two in them yet, as 72 Seasons is the heaviest and most unrelenting album they have ever created. This is a dark album, and as each song rolls by you appreciate the many layers of texture this band have become the masters of laying down. For the most part it is pedal-to-the-floor fast, with little room for air between the songs and riffs, leaving a feeling of suffocation or even claustrophobia that Metallica don't normal conjure. There isn't a ballad or even a clear guitar, but did we need one? Slayer or Exodus never looked back and wished they had written 'Nothing Else Matters', because sometimes you just want intensity when the subject matter calls for it. Standouts for me are '72 Seasons', 'Crown Of Barbed Wire', and 'Room Of Mirrors'. There are riffs everywhere, and the only low points here are a couple of repetitions too many on the slower songs. This will probably not be the album some people wanted or expected, including me - but now that it is in my ears I couldn't imagine anything else I'd want more from Metallica circa 2023.


mindkiller8


Silverchair Logo

Diorama

Silverchair - Diorama (2002)

[Alternative Rock]

Australia

Rating - 4 Stars

The fans who were there for Frogstomp, celebrated a tasty sophomore release in Freakshow, then progressed to Neon Ballroom where 'the kids aren't alright' (mostly Johns) started to build the nerves of a band that within 4 years was on the verge of self-destruction, we land 3 years later with Diorama. Now that is a fans view. The experts paid to review releases, saw it as a continuing step in maturity for the band. For some reason adding a trumpet or strings into what used to be a Grunge band is a sign of maturation. At the time, I invested a lot of time in listening to this wanting to know it. I appreciate fans will be put off by the first track. Following that, there are 4 songs that would fit in with Neon Ballroom. Others are a little more complex and not your standard menu item for a Silverchair release. If you do block that out however, they are songs to enjoy. However the writing is on the wall here and we know what happens from this point.

For Week Ending:
15 April 2023


TheBigBlack


Sixteen Stone

Bush - Sixteen Stone (1994)

[Post-Grunge Rock]

U.K.

Rating - 4 Stars

In 1994 Bush took a lot of unnecessary criticism for apparently being a Nirvana clone. To be fair, in 1994 - every band was Nirvana clone. With Sixteen Stone they took the angst of grunge and wrapped it up in a big ball of English optimism, and made a dirty distorted sound that was very much their own. Whereas Kurt Cobain was all about telling us how shit his world was, Gavin Rossdale wrote more positive lyrics, and their big hooky choruses left you feeling good about things. Songs like 'Everything Zen' and 'Little Things' had a alt-rock crunch, but they were still radio friendly enough to get plenty of airplay, and how could 'Glycerine' not become a classic ballad of the 90s (even though no one has any idea what it is about)?. It isn't a perfect album by any means, and there a couple of low spots ('Bomb' is a mess), but for the most part this is one of the best debuts of the post-grunge 90s. It's a shame Bush never made an album this good again.

For Week Ending:
8 April 2023


TheBigBlack


Tool Logo

Fear Inoculum

Tool - Fear Inoculum (2019)

[Alternative Rock]

U.S.A.

Rating - 4 Stars

Tool's 'Aenima' is still one of my favourite rock albums of all time, and each subsequent album released since has had moments that I have enjoyed, but ultimately I have been disappointed overall. They lacked the fire the first couple of albums did, instead replacing it with mood. 'Fear Inoculum' was the album that finally broke through for me. 13 years in the coming, this album is everything a grown up version of Tool is known for, but the moodiness and soundscapes are far beyond anything the band has done before. It is a slow burner, with all but one track between 10 and 15 minutes long, but every song slowly unfurls like the petals of a new flower, and the band finally does what it says on the packaging - it transcends and eclipses all previous albums with very little effort. It twists and turns, and you are brought along for the journey more as a witness than a listener. Will it ever be my favourite of theirs? Probably not. Do I think it is their best album? Possibly so.


mindkiller8


Kreator Logo

Terrible Certainty

Kreator - Terrible Certainty (1987)

[Thrash Metal]

Germany

Rating - 4 Stars

Let's provide some perspective here. At the time of releasing this record, band lead and vocalist Millie was 19. Ventor, long stay in the band as drummer was 20. Up to this point they had already released 2 albums! So excuse me if I spend a moment to say I am blown away with how influential this band already was in the Thrash Metal mid 80's movement, importantly a German influence on the genre, at such a young age. I absolutely love Millie's rough German tinged English vocals. His singing is captivating which contributes heavily to the sound of the record. Apart from Ventor lending vocals to Riot of Violence which is equally amusing with the German accent. There isn't much more to say apart from again re-iterating their age in producing such a mature album. The stage is set for fans at his point to indulge in their releases to come over the next 5 or so years, which are equally captivating.

For Week Ending:
1 April 2023


TheBigBlack


Iron Maiden Logo

Senjutsu

Iron Maiden - Senjutsu (2021)

[Heavy Metal]

U.K.

Rating - 4 Stars

Iron Maiden have never been a band known for shock value. They stand solid like a British institution, unwavering and unchanging. Sure, they have had a couple of vocalist changes and sometimes we see an unexpected twist or two in their music, but for the most part - you always know what you are going to get. And therein lies both the strength and weakness of most late period Maiden albums. The predictability level is always quite high (there will be multiple epics, with the slow bass introduction, building to the soaring chorus), and on first listen I tend to feel disappointment that this all sounds a bit too familiar - yet something still draws me back for more. Once it all sinks in you see there are still some brilliant songs on display here. On disc 1 the title track opener broods and builds to a massive war epic, and 'Stratego' and 'Days Of Future Past' harken back to the 80s. 'The Writing On The Wall' has a western flavour, and 'The Time Machine' sounds like something from the 90s era. Disc 2 heads into more of the epic territory with only 4 songs, but there are some surprising moments hidden in there. Even at close to 50 the band still has the magic, but there is certainly some bloat that could be removed. Not every song needs to be an epic after all - but which ones would I possibly trim.?


mindkiller8


Say Uncle

Uncle Slam - Say Uncle (1988)

[Thrash Metal]

U.S.A.

Rating - 3 Stars

Think 1988. Think all the happenings and maturation of the Heavy Metal Scene at that stage - Iron Maiden, Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, Anthrax, Kreator etc. In addition, if you are not pinned to the ground with heavy metal, you were starting to experience the likes of Suicidal Tendencies which is more the modern punk scene. I mention ST as they formed half of the thrash band that became Uncle Slam. Now the title of their debut says it all in terms of North American slang, being a call to a contestant in a fight to submit. Well I wasn't ready to until I listened to all 35 minutes of this debut record. There is plenty of fast riffing, fast lyrics that are hard to decipher in parts and a bunch of songs that focus on topics that are questionable at best - 'Weirdo Man' and 'Ugly Dude' for example that lead off the record. All these years later, I still listen to this regularly when you're after something not so serious - just great thrash metal.

For Week Ending:
25 March 2023


TheBigBlack


Megadeth Logo

Killing Is My Business... And Business Is Good! (The Final Kill)

Megadeth - Killing Is My Business... And Business Is Good! (The Final Kill) (2018)

[Thrash Metal]

U.S.A.

Rating - 4 Stars

Dave Mustaine was on a mission with Megadeth's 1985 debut album - to crush Metallica. They were already two albums in at this point, and were already forging the way ahead for the burgeoning thrash metal scene, so he know he'd have to aim high. The original version of Killing Is My Business is arguably one of the better debuts from any of the thrash greats, and could have been up there with Metallica's album - but what it lacked was punch. We all know the stories of what the production money was spent on (so no need to recap that here) but clearly Megadave has never really felt at peace with the album, as The Final Kill is the second remix of it. 2002's attempt was not bad, and did bring out some highs that were otherwise buried, but The Final Kill really is the definitive version of the album. This isn't a new mix to reinvent anything, so there is nothing here that detracts from the original album - it is more like lifting the carboard box that was sitting over the speakers off. It is crisp and sharp, and the separation on every instrument is clean. The guitars have a bucket-load more punch, and instead of snapping like a piranha, they now bite like a shark. 35 years on, and this is the album we all knew was always in there somewhere. We are unfortunately stuck with a 're-recorded vocals' version of 'These Boots' due to legal reasons, and a bunch of average sounding live tracks from each song on the album give a bit more context to the songs - but are particularly necessary. Lastly, we get yet another remaster of the original 'Last Rites' demo from 1984, which serves a perfect ending to the album, and a perfect ending to this chapter of the band.

For Week Ending:
18 March 2023


TheBigBlack


Guns n' Roses Logo

Use Your Illusions [Super Deluxe Edition]

Guns n' Roses - Use Your Illusions [Super Deluxe Edition] (2022)

[Hard Rock]

U.S.A.

Rating - 5 Stars

1987's 'Appetite For Destruction' set the rock world on fire, and reminded as us that rock 'n' roll could still be dangerous, long after The Rolling Stones had been measured up for wheel chairs. It was a fierce, in your face musical assault - but if one (very small) complaint can be made, it would be the lack of variation. It must be one of the most famous rock albums in history - and yet doesn't contain the diversity of any ballads or acoustic moments. We now know that was by design, and a few months later they showed us another side with the 'GNR Lies' E.P., but it still in no way prepared us for the epic size of the 'Use Your Illusion' albums 3 years later. These albums didn't reinvent rock, but they certainly reinvented Guns n' Roses, allowing them the room to produce 2 albums worth (4 album in the old school vinyl days) of every variety of rock ever performed - and with a massive budget to allow them to stretch their wings in new and different ways. The hard hitting songs were still here, some of them written pre Appetite even, but alongside them were sprawly ballads bigger than anyone had ever attempted before. The 30th anniversary remaster is crisp and clear, but to honest - did the original need any tweaking? A new mix has been made of November Rain (introducing a real orchestra rather than synth), but that didn't mean anything to me - as it is the only song I never really cared for. There are two entire live concerts included, and they are a great listen. Axl is firing on all cylinders, and Duff and Slash play pretty loose (as they were probably quite drunk.). The shows still aren't the band in the absolute late 80s prime before the bloat of fame and insane mind of Axl had started to corrode them from within, but they still show the greatness of the band just before they came unstack and headed into autopilot. Is it a shame this was the last original material the classic line-up ever released, or was there no better way to drop the mic and walk away?


mindkiller8


Edge Of Sanity Logo

Crimson

Edge Of Sanity - Crimson (1996)

[Death Metal]

Sweden

Rating - 4 Stars

When is a song too long in length? Do you start to wain at Metallica's early year songs hitting 8 or 9 minutes? Likewise when Opeth who would hit the 14 minutes mark with some of their early masterpieces? How about one that clocks in around the 40 minute mark? One song! This effort by EOS continues to blow me away to this day with the journey it takes the listener on. The underlying story for the song where barren earth can no longer re-produce, is well told through the various stages of the song. Starting in an aggressive tone and dark vocals, the listener is sent through a journey of soft interludes, rising again to thumping death riffs, fast picking and soft melodies. The vocals following the way and in places we soft quiet vocals and even chanting, all before the music and singing returns to the starting tempo, loudness and brutality (rebellion against the Queen). I've never heard anything like this. Each time I listen it feels like I am listening to it for the first time. Each listen reveals something new.

For Week Ending:
11 March 2023


TheBigBlack


Opeth Logo

Deliverance & Damnation [Reissue]

Opeth - Deliverance & Damnation [Reissue] (2015)

[Death Metal (Progressive)]

Sweden

Rating - 5 Stars

If I asked you what is the most important piece of music in heavy music history, you are probably going to say the opening bars of Sepultura's 'Roots', or the solo in Black Sabbath's 'Heaven & Hell', or maybe even the moment the wall of guitars crash in at the start of Metallica's 'Battery' or when Tom Araya lets out his blood curdling scream on Slayer's 'Reign In Blood'. They are all good tries, but you are wrong on every count. The correct answer is (of course) the last four minutes of Opeth's 'Deliverance'. Every wonderful moment of those four minutes sums up everything early Opeth and these two albums were about. Both amazingly beautiful and damagingly heavy at the same time, and perfectly executed in syncopated progressive glory. It is debatable whether these albums needed to be remixed for this package (especially the lighter touches of Damnation), but Deliverance is certainly presented here with more punch and clarity, and packaging them as a singular album as originally intended is great. This is Opeth in their prime - able to switch from brutality to whimsey within moments, and Akerfeldt's voice is just sublime, whether singing or growling. The musicianship and song writing are exceptional as always, and it could be argued that they were never this heavy (or wonderful) ever again.

For Week Ending:
4 March 2023


TheBigBlack


Blackbraid Logo

Blackbraid I

Blackbraid - Blackbraid I (2022)

[Black Metal]

U.S.A.

Rating - 4 Stars

There isn't a broad range of things you can do within the context of traditional black metal, yet some musicians are still able to do something quite amazing with a style that has seemingly close guardrails. Blackbraid (actually just one man named Sgah'gahsowah) is a native American influenced black metal project that has taken the template to places fresh and new. Not only does it feature lush acoustic passages played with traditional native American instruments spread throughout the otherwise raw black metal chaos, but the lyrical themes follow historical events relative to the history of the native American people. Many modern black metal albums whisk by, not really enveloping the listener from start to finish, but instead grabbing attention with circular riffs amongst the over-produced wall of sound. This album on the other hand is one of the rare breed that captivates from start to finish.


mindkiller8


Powderfinger Logo

Double Allergic

Powderfinger - Double Allergic (1996)

[Alternative Rock]

Australia

Rating - 4 Stars

A band that exploded on the Aussie alt/rock scene mid 90's after the Grunge period had started to settle, Double Allergic is their Sophomore release after Parables. It had considerable radio play on Triple J and produced classics such as D.A.F, Pick You Up, Living Type. When new Oz rock was at its peak at this time (The Living End being the most notable), these guys stood above the pack with their clever song-writing, not to mention a hell of a front man with a voice you fall in love with. They went onto make some memorable releases, but this release is a genuine watermark in their career. They nailed it and come the spoils for another 5 releases over the next 13 years. The fact that in 2023 there are still calls for them to reunite speaks volumes about their legacy.

For Week Ending:
25 February 2023


TheBigBlack


Mortal Sin Logo

Mayhemic Destruction

Mortal Sin - Mayhemic Destruction (1986)

[Thrash Metal]

Australia

Rating - 4 Stars

As great of a time as it was in 1986 to be a fan of thrash metal, it always felt slightly untouchable. The titans of the genre like Metallica and Slayer were well established and were playing music that seemed otherworldly - because they were just so far from me geographically. Mortal Sin brought that feeling of isolation to a sudden halt when 'Mayhemic Destruction' started filtering through the underground. Sure, the production was pretty flat (apparently the album was recorded as a demo, but got released to save money) - but this was thrash that was as dark as Slayer and as well-crafted as Metallica, and it was right out of the land down under. Songs like Liar and Lebanon thundered along, the dull lifelessness of the drums actually propelling the songs further into darkness, and Blood Death Hatred and Into The Fire were as good as any U.S. or German act were putting out. And do I smell a whiff of early Death Metal in the title track?


mindkiller8


Anthrax Logo

Attack Of The Killer B's

Anthrax - Attack Of The Killer B's (1991)

[Thrash Metal]

U.S.A.

Rating - 4 Stars

One thing I really miss from the early times was E.P.'s/compilations from the early years of Anthrax. We had the Armed And Dangerous E.P. which I could write another review on. Then we had early 90's where the full length Persistence Of Time was released a year earlier. B's was released without any fanfare, but along with some offsprings from Persistence, it contained some darn brilliant covers from the likes of S.O.D., Public Enemy (with no other than Chuck D himself 'bringing the noise'), Kiss, Discharge and Trust. And a new track to not appear anywhere from the boys themselves in 'Starting Up A Posse' (can we call Scott a bona fied lead singer?). Anyway, in summary this release is a heck of a lot of fun, particularly the return to I'm The Man, with new lyrics 5 guys in shorts, who gives a shit YEEEEAAARR!!!!

For Week Ending:
18 February 2023


TheBigBlack


Sodom Logo

In The Sign Of Evil

Sodom - In The Sign Of Evil (1985)

[Thrash Metal]

Germany

Rating - 3 Stars

The influence on the second wave of black metal (mostly out of Norway) is often documented to include three bands in particular - early Venom, early Bathory, and the period of time when Hellhammer morphed themselves into Celtic Frost. One band that is often only mentioned as a side note is Sodom. Early recordings such as their demos and the 'In The Sign Of Evil' mini-album were hugely important to the development of the style, but possibly due to the band's later correlation with the big 4 of German thrash their unholy black metal beginnings are generally overlooked. Aggressive and dripping with evil, both in the lyrics and production, this a lo-fi masterpiece of early extreme metal, and the band never really returned to this style in later years once the thrash craze really took hold. The young musicians aren't the most advanced, with Witchhunter sounding like he could completely lose the drum beat at any moment, but Angelripper's voice already has that unique quality that would always set Sodom apart.


mindkiller8


Korn Logo

Untouchables

Korn - Untouchables (2002)

[Nu Metal]

U.S.A.

Rating - 4 Stars

Arguably the band that was responsible for the term 'Nu-Metal' in the mid to late 90's. Heavily down-tuned and singing about personal sufferings and some songs being outright childish, they divided the metal community with their early releases. When I bought 'Untouchables' on day one, I thought I was listening to a different band. The lead song Here To Stay' seems to be a very deliberate response to the metal community that, despite the haters, they aren't going anywhere. Four albums in they were ready to grow up and be more experimental, and perhaps more precise in their song structures. The soundscape is very much made all that better by Davis's equally soulful/hateful singing. You can't help but be captured by his emotion. I love their first four releases but I'd argue that this is their best effort, considering the steps they took. They turned around with another album just over 12 months later before things went pear shaped and the original line-up split. I do think future releases since 'Untouchables' in some way tie back to the song writing on this record.


mindkiller8


Smashing Pumpkins Logo

Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness

Smashing Pumpkins - Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness (1995)

[Alternative Rock]

U.S.A.

Rating - 4 Stars

How the hell 4 misfits from Illinois who had just broken through into mainstream grunge with Siamese Dream in 93, would two years later have the balls to put together a 28 song double album masterpiece is mind-blowing. And they did it with rave reviews. Billy (William) Corgan confirmed for many of us that he is a master (somewhat query) songwriter. I'll counter that comment for now with a very brief highlight on 'We Only Come Out At night' which is a quite horrible example of when Billy waning himself through a song, would send rats down a sewer hole. I'm being harsh in picking out one song out of the 28 that grates. The experience before and after should still keep a smile on your face. We have classics of 'Tonight, Tonight' Which includes all the orchestra loadings possible, down to 2 tracks later we have a dark, heavy song like 'Zero'. I could go on. I return to my first couple of sentences - we have seen a maturity of a band we were hoping to take that next step. I just wasn't expecting a masterpiece such as this at the time.

For Week Ending:
2 February 2023


TheBigBlack


Bob Dylan Logo

The Bootleg Series Vol. 17, Fragments (Time Out Mind Sessions 1996-1997) [Deluxe Edition]

Bob Dylan - The Bootleg Series Vol. 17, Fragments (Time Out Mind Sessions 1996-1997) [Deluxe Edition] (2023)

[Classic Rock]

U.S.A.

Rating - 3 Stars

1997's 'Time Out Of Mind' is often labelled as the great Dylan comeback album. With a number of years passed since his last (mediocre) albums of originals many fans had low expectations, but were pleasantly surprised when he unveiled the late career masterpiece. This Bootleg Series instalment focuses solely on the album (for its 25th anniversary), and has a few great surprises. A complete new remix of the original album removes the swampy and atmospheric production of Daniel Lanois that has divided critics and fans alike for over two decades, and in its place we get a fresh clean sounding version of the album revealing many highlights I'd otherwise missed in the murky mix. There are also three discs of demos and outtakes (although one whole disc is made up of tracks from previous Bootleg Series entries). My only complaint is the quality of the disc of live tracks from the era - Sounds good in principle, but the recordings are reasonably poor unfortunately.

For Week Ending:
28 January 2023


TheBigBlack


Discharge Logo

Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing

Discharge - Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing (1982)

[Hardcore Punk]

U.K.

Rating - 4 Stars

Books like the excellent 'Choosing Death - The Improbable History Of Death Metal & Grindcore' by Albert Mudrian remind us what a hugely influential album this was to thrash and death metal. It is raw and abrasive, and demands your attention in ways only hardcore can - but it is (unintentionally) bordering on bursting from the hardcore label into early speed metal. It is dripping with the typical D.I.Y. low-fi sound, and the barked lyrics are simplistic. In many ways the fast-paced riffs are also - but they are so well crafted that they grab you and don't let go until the 28 minute ride is over. Oddly the band went from hardcore punk to a glam metal style for their next album, so apart from a handful of E.P.s this is all we have of the original band. I'll note that many many metal bands have covered songs from this album, including Anthrax, Napalm Death, Machine Head, Metallica, Arch Enemy, Brutal Truth, Soulfly, Prong, and Neurosis. That lists speaks for itself in terms of influence.


mindkiller8


Fear Factory Logo

Aggression Continuum

Fear Factory - Aggression Continuum (2021)

[Metal (Industrial)]

U.S.A.

Rating - 4 Stars

My first decent listen to a FF record in 10 years. I'm a huge fan of their earlier work and haven't given them a fair listen for about 10 years. Considering this is the final record with Burt in charge of vocals, it deserves a good listen. I'll be honest in saying I have only given it a few listens. My first opinion is that it is very 'mechanical' with the music, which has been their footprint since the start, but song after song is not the norm. Timings, breakdowns etc. This is very much Dino though, so I shouldn't be surprised. Burt's clean voice is as it sounded 30 years ago, which I do like. I note they have added a keyboard into the mix, which is very evident in places. Not a fan of that. I'll keep listening, but not a classic in their catalogue. ILYOSBTYNS! Is all I can say, which won't come as a surprise.

For Week Ending:
21 January 2023


TheBigBlack


Obituary Logo

Dying Of Everything

Obituary - Dying Of Everything (2023)

[Death Metal]

U.S.A.

Rating - 4 Stars

How could I possibly not name this as my album of the week the same week it is released? As always, Obituary grinds out their death metal with sludgy determination as JT growls and gurgles his way through some of their best songs in years. The production is top notch and the songs are infectious as hell. This is the sort of album you throw at a 15 year old at an Whitechapel concert who thinks 'old guy bands should retire'. This will destroy any album by any band half their age.

For Week Ending:
14 January 2023


TheBigBlack


Woe

An Abstract Illusion - Woe (2022)

[Death Metal (Progressive)]

Sweden

Rating - 4 Stars

With 30+ years of history behind it death metal rarely offers anything new these days, but somehow An Abstract Illusion has given it a facelift. The album is full of brutal unrelenting machine-like drumming and guitar artistry alongside beautiful passages of orchestration, piano, and voice. The musicianship on offer is unmatched. For some this may be stretching the definition of death metal too far, the genre needs bands like this to push the style in new directions.


mindkiller8


Megadeth Logo

The Sick, The Dying. And The Dead!

Megadeth - The Sick, The Dying. And The Dead! (2022)

[Thrash Metal]

U.S.A.

Rating - 4 Stars

This edition looks at a new release from a band I have loved since a teenager. We have had our differences along the way with releases. Now is time to review their latest offering. I am still only a month and a dozen listens into this one. So it's not like I am reviewing Rust in any way, so here we are with my first impressions. Overall, the best release they have delivered for a long time, and I'm talking over 15 years ago. My main concern is Dave relies a lot on spoken word instead of his usual singing tone. For example in middle part of 'Life In Hell'. Mind you this is a killer guitar riff happening at the same time. A favourite track. 'Night Stalkers' with Ice-T's influence makes you stand up and listen, as always with Ice. Him returning the favour from Mustaine's involvement with last Bodycount release I expect. Oh and that bass line toward the end - I'm in love. Another great track. Some great guitar work follows in tracks such as 'Sacrifice' and 'Soldier On'. 'Psychopathy' is the only track I can see is a waste. Ticking in at just over a minute I don't see the point. It ain't no 'Dawn Patrol'. And a very close pass for 'Mission To Mars'. Dave, they are some lame lyrics right there. Likely the best track on the record is the last track 'We'll Be Back'. Damn this is fast and catchy. Love it. I can't say for sure but it is interesting that this release marks the longest they have had between records for a long time (6 years in fact). I would love the quality over quantity into the future Dave.

For Week Ending:
7 January 2023


TheBigBlack


Megadeth Logo

The Sick, The Dying. And The Dead!

Megadeth - The Sick, The Dying. And The Dead! (2022)

[Thrash Metal]

U.S.A.

Rating - 4 Stars

Continuing on their winning streak from Dystopia, this is an amazing album from Megadeth. It has plenty of old-school style thrashing (which is what we want, of course), and the production is perfect. Dave Mustaine's voice is in fine form (although the snarl of old seems to be all but a memory these days), and the solos from him and Kiko Loureiro are amazing. It isn't all smiles, as there are more than a couple of cringy-worthy lyrics (I'm looking at you in particular 'Mission To Mars'), but for the most part it is excellent, with tracks like 'Soldier On!' and 'Night Stalkers' smashing out the riffs. Album closer 'We'll Be Back' is one of the best Megadeth songs of the last 20 years, and Dave's way of making it clear they aren't going anywhere anytime soon.


mindkiller8


The Screaming Jets Logo

All For One

The Screaming Jets - All For One (1991)

[Rock]

Australia

Rating - 4 Stars

The first edition of Gravelling's provides a brief review on one of the most important debut records from an Aussie rock band that has become an institution in Australian rock history. I can't recall how I heard of the band when this record came out in 1991. Triple Y in Whyalla must have played some songs. That's the only way I would have heard the music before I went to the local record store and it had it there for sale. First track 'C'Mon' blew me away. 'Better' is the single that is still played on rotation today and for that reason it has become a song I don't like so much. If you have a close listen to the record, there are some gems in addition to those two tracks. 'Starting out' is a catchy track. 'Blue Sashes' buried in the second half of the record is a real call to arms, and I absolutely love this track. But is has to be 'Shine On' that is the true measure of how a ballsy pub rock band can put together a 'ballad' if you want to call it that (a slow song). It is catchy and a great song to sing. A great Aussie band that went onto smack out some more records that back up their first full-length.

 

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