Core Discographies


New Albums Published Every Saturday

18 May 2024


TheBigBlack


Jimmy Page & Robert Plant Logo

Walking Into Clarksdale

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

[Rock]

U.K.

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

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).

Arist Information
Something For Kate are an Australian alternative rock band, which formed in 1994 with Paul Dempsey on lead vocals and guitar, and Clint Hyndman on drums. The band have received a total of 11 nominations for ARIA Music Awards.

11 May 2024


TheBigBlack


ZZ Top Logo

Eliminator

ZZ Top - Eliminator (1983)

[Rock]

U.S.A.

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.

Arist Information
ZZ Top is an American rock band formed in Houston, Texas, in 1969. The band developed a signature sound based on it's blues style and tight rhythm section. They are known for their live performances, sly and humorous lyrics, and the matching appearances of guitarist Billy Gibbons and bassist Dusty Hill, who wore sunglasses, hats and long beards. They have sold an estimated 50 million records worldwide. In 2015, Rolling Stone ranked Gibbons the 32nd-greatest guitarist of all time.

Release Information
'Eliminator' is the eighth studio album by ZZ Top. It is their most commercially successful release, with sales of 11 million and diamond certification in the U.S.


mindkiller8


The Angels Logo

Beyond Salvation

The Angels - Beyond Salvation (1990)

[Rock]

Australia

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.

Arist Information
The Angels are an Australian rock band that formed in 1974 in Adelaide, Australia as The Keystone Angels.

4 May 2024


TheBigBlack


Pearl Jam Logo

Dark Matter

Pearl Jam - Dark Matter (2024)

[Grunge Rock]

U.S.A.

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.

Arist Information
Pearl Jam is an American rock band formed in Seattle, Washington, in 1990. Formed after the demise of guitarist Stone Gossard and bassist Jeff Ament's previous bands, Green River and Mother Love Bone, they broke into the mainstream with their debut album, 'Ten', in 1991. One of the key bands in the grunge movement of the early 1990s, Pearl Jam's members often shunned popular music industry practices such as making music videos or participating in interviews. The band had also sued Ticketmaster, claiming it had monopolized the concert-ticket market. Pearl Jam had sold more than 85 million albums worldwide, including nearly 32 million albums in the United States, making them one of the best-selling bands of all time. Pearl Jam was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017 in its first year of eligibility.

Release Information
'Dark Matter' is the twelfth studio album by Pearl Jam.

27 April 2024


TheBigBlack


My Dying Bride Logo

A Mortal Binding

My Dying Bride - A Mortal Binding (2024)

[Doom Metal]

U.K.

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.

Arist Information
My Dying Bride are an English doom metal band formed in Bradford. Along with Anathema and Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride were a forerunner of the death doom metal and gothic metal genres during the early 1990s. These bands comprise 'The Peaceville Three' as all were signed to Peaceville Records at the time.

Release Information
'A Mortal Binding' is the fifteenth studio album by My Dying Bride.


mindkiller8


Ammonia Logo

Mint 400

Ammonia - Mint 400 (1995)

[Alternative Rock]

Australia

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.

Arist Information
Ammonia was an alternative rock band from Perth, Western Australia which made a name for itself in the 1990s, producing a mixture of grunge and guitar pop (a sound they described as "pop-metal"). The group began in 1992, initially considering the name "Glorious Noise Earthquake", but selected Ammonia for its simplicity after stumbling across the word in a science textbook.

Release Information
'Mint 400' is the debut album by Ammonia. The album takes its title from an auto race described in Hunter S. Thompson's book 'Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas'. The album was produced by legendary American producer Kevin Shirley (Led Zeppelin, Iron Maiden, Slayer). Recorded in ten days at Festival Studios in Sydney, the recording captured the band's live sound, avoiding excessive overdubs and studio manipulation. Mint 400 was an immediate hit in Australia, debuting in the National Album charts at Number 15. The album went out of print in March 2002.

20 April 2024


TheBigBlack


Blind Melon

Blind Melon - Blind Melon (1992)

[Alternative Rock]

U.S.A.

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.

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.

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.

Arist Information
Creedence Clearwater Revival was an American rock band formed in El Cerrito, California. These members had played together since 1959, first as The Blue Velvets and later as The Golliwogs, before settling on Creedence Clearwater Revival in 1967. The band's most prolific and successful period between 1969 and 1971 produced fourteen consecutive Top 10 singles (many of which were double A-sides) and five consecutive Top 10 albums in the United States - two of which, 'Green River' (1969) and 'Cosmo's Factory' (1970), reached number one. The band performed at the 1969 Woodstock festival in Upstate New York, and was the first major act signed to appear there. CCR disbanded acrimoniously in late 1972 after four years of chart-topping success.

6 April 2024


TheBigBlack


Midnight Oil Logo

Blue Sky Mining

Midnight Oil - Blue Sky Mining (1990)

[Rock]

Australia

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.

Arist Information
Midnight Oil (often known as 'The Oils') are an Australian rock band formed in Sydney in 1972. They have sold over 20 million albums worldwide.


mindkiller8


Megadeth Logo

Countdown To Extinction

Megadeth - Countdown To Extinction (1992)

[Thrash Metal]

U.S.A.

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.

Arist Information
Megadeth is an American thrash metal band formed in Los Angeles in 1983 by vocalist/guitarist Dave Mustaine. Known for their technically complex guitar work and musicianship, Megadeth is one of the "big four" of American thrash metal along with Metallica, Anthrax, and Slayer, responsible for the genre's development and popularization. Their music features complex arrangements and fast rhythm sections, dual lead guitars, and lyrical themes of war, politics, religion, death, and personal relationships. In 1985, Megadeth released their debut album, 'Killing Is My Business... And Business Is Good!', on the independent record label Combat Records, to moderate success. It caught the attention of bigger labels, which led to Megadeth signing with Capitol Records. Their first major-label album, 'Peace Sells... But Who's Buying?', was released in 1986 and was a major hit with the underground metal scene. Band members' substance abuse issues and personal disputes had brought Megadeth negative publicity during the late 1980s. Nonetheless, the band went on to release a number of platinum-selling albums, including 'So Far, So Good... So What!' (1988), 'Rust In Peace' (1990), and 'Countdown To Extinction' (1992). Megadeth has undergone multiple lineup changes throughout its 41-year career, with Mustaine being the sole consistent member of the band. The band temporarily disbanded in 2002 when he suffered an arm injury and re-established in 2004 without longtime bassist David Ellefson, who had taken legal action against Mustaine. Ellefson settled out of court and rejoined the band in 2010, but was fired in 2021 amid allegations of sexual misconduct.

30 March 2024


TheBigBlack


Counting Hours Logo

The Wishing Tomb

Counting Hours - The Wishing Tomb (2024)

[Doom Metal]

Finland

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.

Arist Information
Counting Hours is a melodic doom metal band from Helsinki, Finland, founded in 2015. The debut album links their sound to acts such as Katatonia, Paradise Lost and October Tide and succeeds on evoking the lost feeling of the 90s dark and gothic music scene.

Release Information
'The Wishing Tomb' is the second album by Counting Hours.

23 March 2024


TheBigBlack


Pantera Logo

Cowboys From Hell

Pantera - Cowboys From Hell (1990)

[Groove Metal]

U.S.A.

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 knew listeners that at the time.

Arist Information
Pantera is an American heavy metal band from Arlington, Texas, formed in 1981 by the Abbott brothers (guitarist Dimebag Darrell and drummer Vinnie Paul). In addition to their development and popularization of the groove metal subgenre, Pantera is credited (along with others, such as Testament, Sepultura, and Machine Head) for being part of the second wave of thrash metal scene from the late 1980s to early-to-mid 1990s. Regarded as one of the most successful and influential bands in heavy metal history, Pantera has sold around 20 million records worldwide and has received four Grammy nominations.


mindkiller8


Limp Bizkit Logo

The Unquestionable Truth (Part 1)

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

[Nu Metal]

U.S.A.

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.

Arist Information
Limp Bizkit is an American nu metal band from Jacksonville, Florida. The band's music is marked by vocalist Fred Durst's angry vocal delivery and Borland's sonic experimentation. Guitarist Wes Borland's elaborate visual appearance, which includes face and body paint, masks, and uniforms, also plays a large role in Limp Bizkit's live shows. The band has been nominated for three Grammy Awards, sold 40 million records worldwide, and won several other awards.

16 March 2024


TheBigBlack


Judas Priest Logo

Invincible Shield

Judas Priest - Invincible Shield (2024)

[Heavy Metal]

U.K.

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.

Arist Information
Judas Priest are an English heavy metal band formed in 1969. Rob Halford's operatic vocal style and the twin guitar sound of K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton have been a major influence on many heavy metal bands. Judas Priest's image of leather, spikes, and other taboo articles of clothing was widely influential during the glam metal era of the 1980s. Despite an innovative and pioneering body of work in the latter half of the 1970s, the band struggled with indifferent record production and a lack of major commercial success until 1980, when the album 'British Steel' brought them notable mainstream attention. They have sold over 50 million albums and are frequently ranked as one of the greatest metal bands of all time.

Release Information
'Invincible Shield' is the nineteenth studio album by Judas Priest. It was produced by the band's touring guitarist Andy Sneap, who also produced 2018's 'Firepower'.


mindkiller8


Black Label Society Logo

The Blessed Hellride

Black Label Society - The Blessed Hellride (2003)

[Heavy Metal]

U.S.A.

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.

Arist Information
Black Label Society is an American heavy metal band formed in Los Angeles in 1998 by guitarist/singer Zakk Wylde.

9 March 2024


TheBigBlack


Live Logo

Throwing Copper

Live - Throwing Copper (1994)

[Alternative Rock]

U.S.A.

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.

1 March 2024


TheBigBlack


Bruce Dickinson Logo

The Mandrake Project

Bruce Dickinson - The Mandrake Project (2024)

[Heavy Metal]

U.K.

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.

Arist Information
Paul Bruce Dickinson (born 7 August 1958) is an English singer, best known as the lead vocalist of the heavy metal band Iron Maiden. Dickinson has performed in the band across two stints, from 1981 to 1993 and from 1999 to the present day. He is known for his wide-ranging operatic vocal style and energetic stage presence. Dickinson began his career in music fronting small pub bands in the 1970s while attending school in Sheffield and university in London. In 1979, he joined British new wave heavy metal band Samson, with whom he gained some popularity under the stage name "Bruce Bruce" and performed on two studio records. He left Samson in 1981 to join Iron Maiden, replacing Paul Di'Anno, and debuted on their 1982 album 'The Number of the Beast'. During his first tenure in the band, they issued a series of U.S. and U.K. platinum and gold albums in the 1980s and early 1990s.

Release Information
'The Mandrake Project' is the seventh studio album by Iron Maiden vocalist Bruce Dickinson. Nearly five years in production, this is Dickinson's first solo album in nineteen years since 2005's 'Tyranny of Souls', marking the longest gap between two studio albums in his solo career.


mindkiller8


Regurgitator Logo

Regurgitator

Regurgitator - Regurgitator (1994)

[Alternative Rock]

Australia

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.

Arist Information
Regurgitator are an Australian alternative rock band from Brisbane, Queensland, formed in late 1993 by Quan Yeomans on lead vocals, guitar and keyboards; Ben Ely on bass guitar, keyboards and vocals; and Martin Lee on drums. Their second album, 'Unit' was certified triple platinum and won five categories at the ARIA Music Awards of 1998.

Release Information
'Regurgitator' (also known as 'Hamburger') is the debut E.P. by Regurgitator. The E.P. peaked at number 45 on the ARIA singles chart.

24 February 2024


TheBigBlack


Iron Maiden Logo

Killers

Iron Maiden - Killers (1981)

[Heavy Metal]

U.K.

'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.

Arist Information
Iron Maiden are an English heavy metal band formed in East London in 1975 by bassist and primary songwriter Steve Harris. Although fluid in the early years of the band, the line-up for most of the band's history has consisted of Harris, lead vocalist Bruce Dickinson, guitarists Dave Murray, Adrian Smith and Janick Gers, and drummer Nicko McBrain. As pioneers of the new wave of British heavy metal movement, Iron Maiden released a series of UK and US Platinum and Gold albums, including 1980's debut album, 1981's 'Killers', and 1982's 'The Number Of The Beast'. In fact, 'The Number Of The Beast' is among the most popular heavy metal albums of all time, having sold almost 20 million copies worldwide and the band's first album with Bruce Dickinson, who replaced Paul Di'Anno as lead singer in 1981. The addition of Dickinson was a turning point in their career.

Release Information
'Killers' is the second studio album by Iron Maiden. The album was their first with guitarist Adrian Smith, and their last with vocalist Paul Di'Anno, who was fired after problems with his stage performances arose due to his alcohol and cocaine use.


mindkiller8


Chevelle Logo

Vena Sera

Chevelle - Vena Sera (2007)

[Alternative Rock]

U.S.A.

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.

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-

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.

Release Information
'The Crow (Music From The Original Motion Picture)' is the soundtrack to the superhero film 'The Crow' (1994). The album featured covers, including Nine Inch Nails, Pantera , and Rollins Band. The inclusion of songs written by The Cure and Joy Division are notable because the influences of both bands are present in the original comic book. Peaking at the top of the Billboard Top 200 Albums Chart, the album has sold 3.8 million copies in the United States, and has been certified 3? Platinum by RIAA.


mindkiller8


Red Hot Chili Peppers Logo

Californication

Red Hot Chili Peppers - Californication (1999)

[Alternative Rock]

U.S.A.

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.

Arist Information
Red Hot Chili Peppers are an American rock band formed in Los Angeles in 1982. Their music incorporates elements of alternative rock, funk, punk rock, hard rock, hip hop, and psychedelic rock. Their eclectic range has influenced genres such as funk metal, rap metal, rap rock, and nu metal. With over 120 million records sold worldwide, they are one of the top-selling bands of all time. They hold the records for most number-one singles (15), most cumulative weeks at number one (91) and most top-ten songs (28) on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart. They have won six Grammy Awards, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012, and in 2022 received a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame.

10 February 2024


TheBigBlack


Death Angel Logo

The Art Of Dying

Death Angel - The Art Of Dying (2004)

[Thrash Metal]

U.S.A.

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.

Arist Information
Death Angel is an American thrash metal band from Daly City, California, initially active from 1982 to 1991 and again since 2001. The band has gone through several line-up changes, leaving guitarist Rob Cavestany as the only constant member; he and vocalist Mark Osegueda (who joined the group in 1984) are the only members of Death Angel to appear on all of their studio albums. Death Angel is often referred to as one of the key bands in the Bay Area thrash metal movement of the 1980s, and secured opening slots at club venues that decade, including opening for their peers Megadeth, Metallica, Slayer, Exodus, Testament, Overkill, D.R.I., Mercyful Fate and Possessed. They are also often credited as one of the leaders of the second wave of thrash metal movement from the 1980s, and considered to be one of the "big eight" of the genre (along with Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax, Testament, Exodus and Overkill), as well as one of the so-called "Big Six of Bay Area thrash metal" (alongside Exodus, Testament, L??z Rockit, Forbidden and Vio-lence).


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.

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).

Arist Information
Faith No More is an American rock band from San Francisco, California, formed in 1979. Before September 1983, the band performed under the names Sharp Young Men and later Faith No Man. They officially announced its breakup on April 20, 1998. The band has since reunited, conducting The Second Coming Tour.

3 February 2024


TheBigBlack


Black Sabbath Logo

Heaven And Hell

Black Sabbath - Heaven And Hell (1980)

[Heavy Metal]

U.K.

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.

Arist Information
Black Sabbath were an English heavy rock band formed in 1968 by guitarist Tony Iommi, drummer Bill Ward, bassist Geezer Butler and vocalist Ozzy Osbourne. They are often cited as pioneers of heavy metal, as they distinguished themselves through occult themes with horror-inspired lyrics and down-tuned guitars. The defined the genre with their early albums. Following Osbourne's departure in 1979, the band underwent multiple line-up changes, with Iommi being the only constant member throughout their history. Black Sabbath have sold over 70 million records worldwide, making them one of the most commercially successful heavy metal bands.

Release Information
'Heaven And Hell' is the ninth studio album by Black Sabbath. It was the first album to feature vocalist Ronnie James Dio, who replaced original vocalist Ozzy Osbourne in 1979. The album was a commercial success, particularly in the United States, where it reached number 28 on the Billboard 200 chart and was certified platinum for one million sales. In the U.K. it sold well enough to be certified silver by the British Phonographic Industry in April 1982.


mindkiller8


Nailbomb Logo

Point Blank

Nailbomb - Point Blank (1994)

[Thrash Metal]

U.S.A.

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.

27 January 2024


TheBigBlack


Entombed Logo

Left Hand Path

Entombed - Left Hand Path (1990)

[Death Metal]

Sweden

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.

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.

Arist Information
Def Leppard are an English rock band formed in 1976. Since 1992, the band has consisted of Rick Savage (bass, backing vocals), Joe Elliott (lead vocals), Rick Allen (drums), Phil Collen (guitar, backing vocals), and Vivian Campbell (guitar, backing vocals). They established themselves as part of the new wave of British heavy metal (NWOBHM) of the early 1980s. Their greatest commercial success came between the early 1980s and early 1990s. As one of the world's best-selling music artists, Def Leppard have sold more than 100 million records worldwide, and have two albums with RIAA diamond certification, making them one of only five rock bands with two original studio albums selling more than 10 million copies in the U.S.

Release Information
'Hysteria' is the fourth album by Def Leppard. The title of the album was conceived by drummer Rick Allen, referring to his 1984 car accident, the amputation of his arm, and the ensuing worldwide media coverage surrounding it. It is the last album to feature guitarist Steve Clark before his death in 1991, although songs co-written by him would appear on the band's next album, 'Adrenalize'. It is their best-selling album to date, selling over 20 million copies worldwide, including 12 million in the U.S., and spawning seven hit singles. The album charted at number one on both the Billboard 200 and the U.K. Albums Chart.

20 January 2024


TheBigBlack


Blackbraid Logo

Blackbraid II

Blackbraid - Blackbraid II (2023)

[Black Metal]

U.S.A.

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'.

13 January 2024


TheBigBlack


The Cure Logo

Disintegration

The Cure - Disintegration (1989)

[Alternative Rock]

U.K.

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.

Arist Information
The Cure are an English alternative rock band formed in 1978 in Crawley, West Sussex. Several early singles placed the band at the forefront of the emerging post-punk and new wave movements that had sprung up in the United Kingdom. Beginning with their second album, the band adopted a new, increasingly dark and tormented style, which, together with vocalist Robert Smith's stage look, had a strong influence on the emerging genre of gothic rock as well as the subculture that eventually formed around the genre. The have sold over 30 million albums worldwide, and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in 2019.

Release Information
'Disintegration' is the eighth studio album by The Cure. The record marks a return to the introspective gothic rock style the band had established in the early 1980s. As he neared the age of 30, vocalist and guitarist Robert Smith had felt an increased pressure to follow up on the band's pop successes with a more enduring work. This, coupled with a distaste for the group's newfound popularity, caused Smith to lapse back into the use of hallucinogenic drugs, the effects of which had a strong influence on the production of the album. It became the band's highest charting album to that point, reaching number three in the United Kingdom and at number 12 in the United States.

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.

As the bass player of Deep Purple Roger Glover had certainly earnt his due 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 start of the show - as always. This would be the first time he received mainstream exposure.

16 December 2023


TheBigBlack


Motorhead Logo

Another Perfect Day

Motorhead - Another Perfect Day (1983)

[Hard Rock]

U.K.

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.

Arist Information
Motorhead were an English hard rock band formed in 1975 by bassist and lead vocalist Ian 'Lemmy' Kilmister, guitarist Larry Wallis and drummer Lucas Fox. Lemmy was also the primary songwriter and only constant member. The band are often considered a precursor to the new wave of British heavy metal (NWOBHM), which re-energised heavy metal in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Though several guitarists and drummers have played in Motorhead, most of their best-selling releases feature drummer Phil 'Philthy Animal' Taylor and guitarist 'Fast' Eddie Clarke. Lemmy died on 28 December 2015 from cardiac arrhythmia and congestive heart failure, after being diagnosed with prostate cancer. The day after his death, drummer Mikkey Dee and guitarist Phil Campbell both confirmed that Motorhead had disbanded.

Release Information
'Another Perfect Day' is the sixth studio album by Motorhead. It is the band's only studio album to feature lead guitarist Brian 'Robbo' Robertson, better known for his work with Thin Lizzy. Robertson was not a good fit for the band, and was gone within a few months of the album's release.

25 November 2023


TheBigBlack


Nirvana Logo

MTV Unplugged In New York

Nirvana - MTV Unplugged In New York (1994)

[Grunge Rock]

U.S.A.

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.

Arist Information
Nirvana was an American rock band formed in Aberdeen, Washington, in 1987. Founded by lead singer and guitarist Kurt Cobain and bassist Krist Novoselic, the band went through a succession of drummers, most notably Chad Channing, before recruiting Dave Grohl in 1990. Nirvana's success popularized alternative rock, and they were often referenced as the figurehead band of Generation X. Despite a short mainstream career spanning only three years, their music maintains a popular following and continues to influence modern rock culture. The band is one of the best-selling of all time, having sold more than 75 million records worldwide.


mindkiller8


Metallica Logo

Metallica

Metallica - Metallica (1991)

[Thrash Metal]

U.S.A.

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.

Arist Information
Metallica is an American heavy metal band formed in 1981 by vocalist and guitarist James Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich, and has been based in San Francisco for most of its career. The band's fast tempos, instrumentals and aggressive musicianship made them one of the founding "big four" bands of thrash metal, alongside Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer. Metallica's current lineup comprises founding members and primary songwriters Hetfield and Ulrich, longtime lead guitarist Kirk Hammett and bassist Robert Trujillo. Guitarist Dave Mustaine, who formed Megadeth after being fired from Metallica, and bassists Ron McGovney, Cliff Burton and Jason Newsted are former members of the band. The band first found commercial success with the release of its third album, 'Master Of Puppets' (1986), which is cited as the band's best work. The band's fifth album, 'Metallica' (1991), was a turning point for the band that saw them transition from their thrash roots - it appealed to a more mainstream audience, achieving substantial commercial success and selling more than 16 million copies in the United States to date, making it the best-selling album of the SoundScan era. After experimenting with different genres and directions in subsequent releases, Metallica returned to its thrash metal roots in 2008.

18 November 2023


TheBigBlack


Nirvana Logo

Bleach

Nirvana - Bleach (1989)

[Grunge Rock]

U.S.A.

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.

Arist Information
Nirvana was an American rock band formed in Aberdeen, Washington, in 1987. Founded by lead singer and guitarist Kurt Cobain and bassist Krist Novoselic, the band went through a succession of drummers, most notably Chad Channing, before recruiting Dave Grohl in 1990. Nirvana's success popularized alternative rock, and they were often referenced as the figurehead band of Generation X. Despite a short mainstream career spanning only three years, their music maintains a popular following and continues to influence modern rock culture. The band is one of the best-selling of all time, having sold more than 75 million records worldwide.


mindkiller8


AC/DC Logo

The Razors Edge

AC/DC - The Razors Edge (1990)

[Hard Rock]

Australia

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.

Arist Information
AC/DC are a British-Australian rock band formed in Sydney, Australia, in 1973. The band's line-up remained the same for 20 years until 2014, when Malcolm retired due to early-onset dementia, from which he died three years later. They were founded by brothers Malcolm Young on rhythm guitar and Angus Young on lead guitar. They are cited as a formative influence on the new wave of British heavy metal bands, such as Iron Maiden and Saxon.

11 November 2023


TheBigBlack


Paul McCartney (and Wings) Logo

Flaming Pie

Paul McCartney - Flaming Pie (1997)

[Classic Rock]

U.K.

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.

Arist Information
Sir James Paul McCartney [CH MBE] (born 18 June 1942) is an English singer, songwriter and musician who gained worldwide fame with The Beatles, for whom he played bass guitar and shared primary songwriting and lead vocal duties with John Lennon. One of the most successful composers and performers of all time, McCartney is known for his melodic approach to bass-playing, versatile and wide tenor vocal range, and musical eclecticism, exploring genres ranging from pre-rock and roll pop to classical, ballads, and electronica. His songwriting partnership with Lennon is the most successful in modern music history. McCartney has had sales of 25.5 million RIAA-certified units in the U.S. His honours include an appointment as a Member Of The Order Of The British Empire in 1965, and a knighthood in 1997 for services to music. As of 2020, he is one of the wealthiest musicians in the world, with an estimated fortune of ?800 million.

Release Information
'Flaming Pie' is the tenth solo studio album by Paul McCartney. His first studio album in over four years, it was mostly recorded after McCartney's involvement in the highly successful 'The Beatles Anthology' project. The album was recorded in several locations over two years, between 1995 and 1997, featuring two songs dating from 1992. It peaked at number two in both the U.K. and the U.S. and was certified gold. The album, which was well-received by critics, also reached the top 20 in many other countries. From its release up to mid-2007, the album sold over 1.5 million copies.


mindkiller8


10% Weird

The Meanies - 10% Weird (1994)

[Alternative Rock]

Australia

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?

4 November 2023


TheBigBlack


INXS Logo

The Years 1979-1997

INXS - The Years 1979-1997 (2002)

[Rock]

Australia

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.

Arist Information
INXS (a phonetic play on "in excess") were an Australian rock band, formed as the Farriss Brothers in 1977 in Sydney, New South Wales. For 20 years, they were fronted by Michael Hutchence, whose magnetic stage presence made him the focal point of the band. Initially known for their new wave/pop style, the band later developed a harder pub rock style that included funk and dance elements. After Hutchence's death on 22 November 1997, INXS made appearances with several guest singers, and toured and recorded with Jon Stevens (Noiseworks) as lead singer, beginning in 2000. In 2005, members of INXS participated in 'Rock Star: INXS', a reality television series that culminated in the selection of Canadian J.D. Fortune as their new lead singer. Irish singer-songwriter Ciaran Gribbin replaced Fortune as lead singer in 2011. During a concert on 11 November 2012, INXS stated that the performance would be their last, although they did not announce the band's permanent retirement. The band have won six Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) awards, including three for "Best Group" in 1987, 1989 and 1992; the band was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2001. INXS has sold over 50 million albums worldwide, making them one of Australia's highest selling music acts of all time.


mindkiller8


Faith No More Logo

The Real Thing

Faith No More - The Real Thing (1989)

[Alternative Rock]

U.S.A.

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!

Arist Information
Faith No More is an American rock band from San Francisco, California, formed in 1979. Before September 1983, the band performed under the names Sharp Young Men and later Faith No Man. They officially announced its breakup on April 20, 1998. The band has since reunited, conducting The Second Coming Tour.

28 October 2023


TheBigBlack


Alice In Chains Logo

Rainier Fog

Alice In Chains - Rainier Fog (2018)

[Grunge Rock]

U.S.A.

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.

Arist Information
Alice in Chains is an American rock band formed in Seattle, Washington, in 1987. Often associated with grunge music, the band's sound and style is deeply rooted in heavy metal music. The band is known for its distinctive vocal style, which often included the harmonized vocals between vocalist Layne Staley and guitarist Jerry Cantrell (and later Cantrell and Staley's replacement William DuVall), making Alice in Chains a two-vocal band. The band has sold more than 30 million records worldwide, and over 20 million records in the U.S. alone.


mindkiller8


Slipknot Logo

Vol. 3 (The Subliminal Verses)

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

[Nu Metal]

U.S.A.

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.

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.

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.

Arist Information
Bob Dylan (born Robert Allen Zimmerman, May 24, 1941) is an American singer-songwriter. Generally regarded as one of the greatest songwriters ever, Dylan has been a major figure in popular culture over his 60+ year career. He has sold more than 145 million records, making him one of the best-selling musicians ever. He has received numerous awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, ten Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe Award and an Academy Award. Dylan has been inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, Nashville Songwriters Hall Of Fame and the Songwriters Hall Of Fame. The Pulitzer Prize Board in 2008 awarded him a special citation for "his profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power." In 2016, Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition."


mindkiller8


V, Halmstad

Shining - V, Halmstad (2007)

[Black Metal]

Sweden

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.

14 October 2023


TheBigBlack


U2 Logo

Achtung Baby

U2 - Achtung Baby (1991)

[Rock]

U.K.

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.

Arist Information
U2 are an Irish rock band from Dublin, formed in 1976. Initially rooted in post-punk, U2's musical style has evolved throughout their career, yet has maintained an anthemic quality built on Bono's expressive vocals and the Edge's chiming, effects-based guitar sounds. Bono's lyrics, often embellished with spiritual imagery, focus on personal and sociopolitical themes. Popular for their live performances, the group have staged several elaborate tours over their career. U2 are one of the world's best-selling music artists, having sold an estimated 150-170 million records worldwide. They have won 22 Grammy Awards, more than any other band, and in 2005, they were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in their first year of eligibility. Rolling Stone ranked U2 at number 22 on its list of the "100 Greatest Artists Of All Time".

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.

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.

Arist Information
Alice in Chains is an American rock band formed in Seattle, Washington, in 1987. Often associated with grunge music, the band's sound and style is deeply rooted in heavy metal music. The band is known for its distinctive vocal style, which often included the harmonized vocals between vocalist Layne Staley and guitarist Jerry Cantrell (and later Cantrell and Staley's replacement William DuVall), making Alice in Chains a two-vocal band. The band has sold more than 30 million records worldwide, and over 20 million records in the U.S. alone.

23 September 2023


TheBigBlack


Devin Townsend Logo

Casualties Of Cool

Casualties Of Cool - Casualties Of Cool (2014)

[Progressive Metal]

Canada

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.

Arist Information
Devin Garrett Townsend (born May 5, 1972) is a Canadian singer, songwriter, musician, and record producer. He founded extreme metal band Strapping Young Lad and was its primary songwriter, vocalist, and guitarist from 1994 to 2007. He has also had an extensive solo career and has released 30+ albums across all of his projects.

16 September 2023


TheBigBlack


Burzum Logo

Burzum [Darkness]

Burzum - Burzum [Darkness] (1992)

[Black Metal]

Norway

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.

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 back playing stock music. Never thought I'd say that.

Arist Information
Metallica is an American heavy metal band formed in 1981 by vocalist and guitarist James Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich, and has been based in San Francisco for most of its career. The band's fast tempos, instrumentals and aggressive musicianship made them one of the founding "big four" bands of thrash metal, alongside Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer. Metallica's current lineup comprises founding members and primary songwriters Hetfield and Ulrich, longtime lead guitarist Kirk Hammett and bassist Robert Trujillo. Guitarist Dave Mustaine, who formed Megadeth after being fired from Metallica, and bassists Ron McGovney, Cliff Burton and Jason Newsted are former members of the band. The band first found commercial success with the release of its third album, 'Master Of Puppets' (1986), which is cited as the band's best work. The band's fifth album, 'Metallica' (1991), was a turning point for the band that saw them transition from their thrash roots - it appealed to a more mainstream audience, achieving substantial commercial success and selling more than 16 million copies in the United States to date, making it the best-selling album of the SoundScan era. After experimenting with different genres and directions in subsequent releases, Metallica returned to its thrash metal roots in 2008.

9 September 2023


TheBigBlack


Possessed Logo

Revelations Of Oblivion

Possessed - Revelations Of Oblivion (2019)

[Thrash Metal]

U.S.A.

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.

Arist Information
Possessed is an American thrash / death metal band, originally formed in 1983. Noted for their fast style of playing and Jeff Becerra's growled vocals, they are often called the first band in the death metal genre, and paved the way for the 1980s Bay Area thrash metal scene, along with Metallica, Exodus, Testament and Death Angel. The band is also notable for featuring future Primus member Larry LaLonde, who was the guitarist for Possessed from 1984 to 1987.

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

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.

Arist Information
D.A.D. is a Danish rock band formed in 1982. They were originally named Disneyland After Dark, but changed their name to avoid a lawsuit from The Walt Disney Company. The group made their international breakthrough in 1989 with the record 'No Fuel Left For The Pilgrims'.

Release Information
'No Fuel Left For The Pilgrims' is the third (and first international) album by band D.A.D. It was the band's most popular release, and in 2019 it was featured on Rolling Stone magazine's list of 'The 50 Greatest Hair Metal Albums Of All Time'.


mindkiller8


Alice In Chains Logo

MTV Unplugged

Alice In Chains - MTV Unplugged (1996)

[Grunge Rock]

U.S.A.

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!

Arist Information
Alice in Chains is an American rock band formed in Seattle, Washington, in 1987. Often associated with grunge music, the band's sound and style is deeply rooted in heavy metal music. The band is known for its distinctive vocal style, which often included the harmonized vocals between vocalist Layne Staley and guitarist Jerry Cantrell (and later Cantrell and Staley's replacement William DuVall), making Alice in Chains a two-vocal band. The band has sold more than 30 million records worldwide, and over 20 million records in the U.S. alone.

25 August 2023


TheBigBlack


Probot

Probot - Probot (2004)

[Metal]

U.S.A.

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.

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.

18 August 2023


TheBigBlack


Sepultura Logo

Beneath The Remains

Sepultura - Beneath The Remains (1989)

[Thrash Metal]

Brazil

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.

Arist Information
Sepultura (Portuguese for 'grave') was a Brazilian heavy metal band from Belo Horizonte formed in 1984 by brothers Max and Igor Cavalera. The band was a major force in the groove metal, thrash metal and death metal genres during the late 1980s and early 1990s, with their later experiments drawing influence from alternative metal, world music, nu metal, hardcore punk, and industrial metal. Sepultura has also been credited as one of the second wave of thrash metal acts from the late 1980s to early-to-mid-1990s. The band has had several lineup changes throughout its 40-year career, with Max and Igor Cavalera departing in 1996 and 2006, respectively. The band has sold over three million units in the United States and almost 20 million worldwide, gaining multiple gold and platinum records around the globe.

Release Information
'Beneath The Remains' is the third studio album by Sepultura. The album had improved production and songwriting compared to the band's previous albums. In time it would be acclaimed as a classic in the thrash metal genre.


mindkiller8


Soundgarden Logo

Badmotorfinger

Soundgarden - Badmotorfinger (1991)

[Grunge Rock]

U.S.A.

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.

Arist Information
Soundgarden was an American rock band formed in Seattle, Washington, in 1984. The band dissolved in 1997 and reformed in 2010. Following frontman Chris Cornell's death in 2017 and a year of uncertainty regarding the band's future, Thayil declared in October 2018 that Soundgarden had disbanded once again, though they did reunite in January 2019 for a one-off concert in tribute to Cornell.

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.

MDB 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.

Arist Information
My Dying Bride are an English doom metal band formed in Bradford. Along with Anathema and Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride were a forerunner of the death doom metal and gothic metal genres during the early 1990s. These bands comprise 'The Peaceville Three' as all were signed to Peaceville Records at the time.


mindkiller8


Sgt. Hetfield's Motorbreath Pub Band

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

[Comedy]

U.S.A.

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.

4 August 2023


TheBigBlack


Pearl Jam Logo

Vs.

Pearl Jam - Vs. (1993)

[Grunge Rock]

U.S.A.

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.

Arist Information
Pearl Jam is an American rock band formed in Seattle, Washington, in 1990. Formed after the demise of guitarist Stone Gossard and bassist Jeff Ament's previous bands, Green River and Mother Love Bone, they broke into the mainstream with their debut album, 'Ten', in 1991. One of the key bands in the grunge movement of the early 1990s, Pearl Jam's members often shunned popular music industry practices such as making music videos or participating in interviews. The band had also sued Ticketmaster, claiming it had monopolized the concert-ticket market. Pearl Jam had sold more than 85 million albums worldwide, including nearly 32 million albums in the United States, making them one of the best-selling bands of all time. Pearl Jam was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017 in its first year of eligibility.

Release Information
'Vs.' (pronounced 'Versus') is the second studio album by Pearl Jam. It featured a rawer and more aggressive sound compared with the band's previous release, 'Ten' (1991). It was the band's first collaboration with the producer Brendan O'Brien and its first album with the drummer Dave Abbruzzese. Upon its release, the album sold 950,378 copies in its first five days on sale, which set the record for most copies of an album sold during its first week. It occupied the No. 1 spot on the Billboard 200 chart for five weeks, the longest duration for a Pearl Jam album. It has been certified 7? platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for sales of at least seven million copies in the United States.


mindkiller8


Pearl Jam Logo

Vs.

Pearl Jam - Vs. (1993)

[Grunge Rock]

U.S.A.

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.

Arist Information
Pearl Jam is an American rock band formed in Seattle, Washington, in 1990. Formed after the demise of guitarist Stone Gossard and bassist Jeff Ament's previous bands, Green River and Mother Love Bone, they broke into the mainstream with their debut album, 'Ten', in 1991. One of the key bands in the grunge movement of the early 1990s, Pearl Jam's members often shunned popular music industry practices such as making music videos or participating in interviews. The band had also sued Ticketmaster, claiming it had monopolized the concert-ticket market. Pearl Jam had sold more than 85 million albums worldwide, including nearly 32 million albums in the United States, making them one of the best-selling bands of all time. Pearl Jam was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017 in its first year of eligibility.

Release Information
'Vs.' (pronounced 'Versus') is the second studio album by Pearl Jam. It featured a rawer and more aggressive sound compared with the band's previous release, 'Ten' (1991). It was the band's first collaboration with the producer Brendan O'Brien and its first album with the drummer Dave Abbruzzese. Upon its release, the album sold 950,378 copies in its first five days on sale, which set the record for most copies of an album sold during its first week. It occupied the No. 1 spot on the Billboard 200 chart for five weeks, the longest duration for a Pearl Jam album. It has been certified 7? platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for sales of at least seven million copies in the United States.

29 July 2023


TheBigBlack


Oasis Logo

(What's The Story) Morning Glory?

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

[Rock]

U.K.

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.

22 July 2023


TheBigBlack


3rd Secret Logo

3rd Secret

3rd Secret - 3rd Secret (2022)

[Grunge Rock]

U.S.A.

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.

15 July 2023


TheBigBlack


Slayer Logo

World Painted Blood

Slayer - World Painted Blood (2009)

[Thrash Metal]

U.S.A.

'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.

Arist Information
Slayer was an American thrash metal band formed in 1981 by guitarists Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman, drummer Dave Lombardo and bassist/vocalist Tom Araya. Slayer's fast and aggressive musical style made them one of the "big four" bands of thrash metal, alongside Metallica, Megadeth, and Anthrax. Slayer's final lineup consisted of King, Araya, drummer Paul Bostaph and guitarist Gary Holt, who initially joined as a touring member in 2011 before joining the band permanently after Hanneman's death in 2013. Drummer Jon Dette was also a member of the band. Slayer sold over 5 million albums in the United States, and over 20 million worldwide.


mindkiller8


Tool Logo

Undertow

Tool - Undertow (1993)

[Alternative Rock]

U.S.A.

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"

8 July 2023


TheBigBlack


Rainbow Logo

Rainbow Rising

Rainbow - Rainbow Rising (1976)

[Classic Rock]

U.K.

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.

Arist Information
Rainbow (also known as 'Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow' or 'Blackmore's Rainbow') are a English rock band formed in London and Los Angeles in 1975 by guitarist Ritchie Blackmore. Established in the aftermath of Blackmore's first departure from Deep Purple, they originally featured four members of the band Elf, including their singer Ronnie James Dio, but after their self-titled debut album, Blackmore fired these members, except Dio, recruiting drummer Cozy Powell, bassist Jimmy Bain and keyboardist Tony Carey.


mindkiller8


Opeth Logo

Damnation

Opeth - Damnation (2003)

[Death Metal (Progressive)]

Sweden

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.

1 July 2023


TheBigBlack


Foo Fighters Logo

But Here We Are

Foo Fighters - But Here We Are (2023)

[Alternative Rock]

U.S.A.

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

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.

Arist Information
Sodom is a German thrash metal band from Gelsenkirchen, formed in 1981. Along with Kreator, Destruction and Tankard, Sodom has been referred to as one of the "Big Four" of Teutonic thrash metal. They also heavily influenced the German black metal scene. Sodom is one of the best-selling thrash metal acts of all time, having sold over two million records.

Release Information
'Better Off Dead' is the fourth studio album by Sodom.

24 June 2023


TheBigBlack


Iron Maiden Logo

The Final Frontier

Iron Maiden - The Final Frontier (2010)

[Heavy Metal]

U.K.

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.

Arist Information
Iron Maiden are an English heavy metal band formed in East London in 1975 by bassist and primary songwriter Steve Harris. Although fluid in the early years of the band, the line-up for most of the band's history has consisted of Harris, lead vocalist Bruce Dickinson, guitarists Dave Murray, Adrian Smith and Janick Gers, and drummer Nicko McBrain. As pioneers of the new wave of British heavy metal movement, Iron Maiden released a series of UK and US Platinum and Gold albums, including 1980's debut album, 1981's 'Killers', and 1982's 'The Number Of The Beast'. In fact, 'The Number Of The Beast' is among the most popular heavy metal albums of all time, having sold almost 20 million copies worldwide and the band's first album with Bruce Dickinson, who replaced Paul Di'Anno as lead singer in 1981. The addition of Dickinson was a turning point in their career.


mindkiller8


The Strength, The Sounds, The Songs

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

[Metal]

Denmark

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.

17 June 2023


TheBigBlack


The Offspring Logo

Smash

The Offspring - Smash (1994)

[Punk Rock]

U.S.A.

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.

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!

Arist Information
Pantera is an American heavy metal band from Arlington, Texas, formed in 1981 by the Abbott brothers (guitarist Dimebag Darrell and drummer Vinnie Paul). In addition to their development and popularization of the groove metal subgenre, Pantera is credited (along with others, such as Testament, Sepultura, and Machine Head) for being part of the second wave of thrash metal scene from the late 1980s to early-to-mid 1990s. Regarded as one of the most successful and influential bands in heavy metal history, Pantera has sold around 20 million records worldwide and has received four Grammy nominations.

10 June 2023


TheBigBlack


The Stooges Logo

Raw Power

Iggy And The Stooges - Raw Power (1973)

[Punk]

U.S.A.

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.

''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).

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.

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.

Arist Information
James Marshall 'Jimi' Hendrix (born Johnny Allen Hendrix; November 27, 1942 - September 18, 1970) was an American guitarist, songwriter and singer. Although his mainstream career spanned only four years, he is widely regarded as the greatest and one of the most influential electric guitarists in the history of popular music, and one of the most celebrated musicians of the 20th century. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame describes him as "arguably the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music."


mindkiller8


Anthrax Logo

Persistence Of Time

Anthrax - Persistence Of Time (1990)

[Thrash Metal]

U.S.A.

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.

Arist Information
Anthrax is an American thrash metal band from New York City, formed in 1981 by rhythm guitarist Scott Ian and bassist Dan Lilker. The group is considered one of the leaders of the thrash metal scene from the 1980s and is part of the "Big Four" of the genre, along with Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer. They were also one of the first thrash metal bands (along with Overkill and Nuclear Assault) to emerge from the American East Coast. Anthrax's lineup has changed numerous times over their career, leaving guitarist Scott Ian as the only constant member of the band. The band has sold over 2.5 million records in the United States, with worldwide sales of over 10 million.

27 May 2023


TheBigBlack


Danzig Logo

Danzig

Danzig - Danzig (1988)

[Metal]

U.S.A.

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.

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.

20 May 2023


TheBigBlack


Bob Dylan Logo

Blonde On Blonde

Bob Dylan - Blonde On Blonde (1966)

[Classic Rock]

U.S.A.

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.

Arist Information
Bob Dylan (born Robert Allen Zimmerman, May 24, 1941) is an American singer-songwriter. Generally regarded as one of the greatest songwriters ever, Dylan has been a major figure in popular culture over his 60+ year career. He has sold more than 145 million records, making him one of the best-selling musicians ever. He has received numerous awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, ten Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe Award and an Academy Award. Dylan has been inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, Nashville Songwriters Hall Of Fame and the Songwriters Hall Of Fame. The Pulitzer Prize Board in 2008 awarded him a special citation for "his profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power." In 2016, Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition."


mindkiller8


Grinspoon Logo

Guide To Better Living

Grinspoon - Guide To Better Living (1997)

[Alternative Rock]

Australia

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.

Arist Information
Grinspoon are an Australian rock band from Lismore, New South Wales, formed in 1995 and fronted by Phil Jamieson on vocals and guitar with Pat Davern on guitar, Joe Hansen on bass guitar and Kristian Hopes on drums. In 1995, Grinspoon won the Triple J-sponsored Unearthed competition for Lismore, with their post-grunge song 'Sickfest'. The name Grinspoon was taken from Dr. Lester Grinspoon, an associate professor emeritus of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, who supported marijuana for medical use.

Release Information
'Guide To Better Living' is the debut studio album by Grinspoon. The album reached number 11 on the ARIA Albums Chart and spent 36 weeks on the national charts.

13 May 2023


TheBigBlack


The Beatles Logo

Live At The BBC

The Beatles - Live At The BBC (1994)

[Classic Rock]

U.K.

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.

Arist Information
The Beatles were an English rock band formed in Liverpool in 1960, comprising John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. They are regarded as the most influential band of all time and were integral to the development of 1960s counterculture and the recognition of popular music as an art form. Rooted in skiffle, beat, and 1950s rock 'n' roll, their sound incorporated elements of classical music and traditional pop in innovative ways. The band also explored music styles ranging from folk and Indian music to psychedelia and hard rock. They are the best-selling music act of all time, with estimated sales of 600 million units worldwide. They are the most successful act in the history of the U.S. Billboard charts, holding the record for most number-one albums on the U.K. Albums Chart (15), most number-one hits on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart (20), and most singles sold in the U.K. (21.9 million). The band received many accolades, including seven Grammy Awards, four Brit Awards, an Academy Award and fifteen Ivor Novello Awards. They were inducted into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1988, and each principal member was individually inducted between 1994 and 2015. In 2004 and 2011, the group topped Rolling Stone's lists of the greatest artists in history. Time magazine named them among the 20th century's 100 most important people.

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.

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.


mindkiller8


Red Hot Chili Peppers Logo

Blood Sugar Sex Magik

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

[Alternative Rock]

U.S.A.

Prior to this release, Peppers had been around since mid-80's producing 4 records that no-one ever really cared about. It was this release in 1991 that landed just at the right time when the rock scene was on the move. These guys are California natives (L.A.) and were very aware of what was happening just under a couple of thousand KM's to the north in Seattle. The mastermind producer Rick Rubin decided to finally take them on board, convinced the drug issues had mostly faded away. What was released in September 1991 is nothing short of a masterpiece from the band. I say that only because I am a fan of that rock/punk fusion mixed with a traditional rock ballad or two in the mix, which became chart toppers. On that there are some very mature songs like 'Under The Bridge' and 'Breaking The Girl'. You then have the classics such as 'Give It Away' and 'Suck My Kiss', to the bizarre 'Apache Rose Peacock' and 'Sir Psycho Sexy'. If I was to point to one song that will give you an overall view of this record, it is 'Funky Munks'. Take note of the change in pace and direction once the guitar solo kicks in. Over 17 tracks and 73 minutes of play time, there is a lot to enjoy over repeated listens. This release certainly escalated the band to the upper echelon of influencers in the budding music industry as it was in 1991.

Arist Information
Red Hot Chili Peppers are an American rock band formed in Los Angeles in 1982. Their music incorporates elements of alternative rock, funk, punk rock, hard rock, hip hop, and psychedelic rock. Their eclectic range has influenced genres such as funk metal, rap metal, rap rock, and nu metal. With over 120 million records sold worldwide, they are one of the top-selling bands of all time. They hold the records for most number-one singles (15), most cumulative weeks at number one (91) and most top-ten songs (28) on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart. They have won six Grammy Awards, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012, and in 2022 received a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame.

29 April 2023


TheBigBlack


Hellripper Logo

Warlocks Grim & Withered Hags

Hellripper - Warlocks Grim & Withered Hags (2023)

[Speed Metal]

U.K.

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.

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.

Arist Information
Metallica is an American heavy metal band formed in 1981 by vocalist and guitarist James Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich, and has been based in San Francisco for most of its career. The band's fast tempos, instrumentals and aggressive musicianship made them one of the founding "big four" bands of thrash metal, alongside Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer. Metallica's current lineup comprises founding members and primary songwriters Hetfield and Ulrich, longtime lead guitarist Kirk Hammett and bassist Robert Trujillo. Guitarist Dave Mustaine, who formed Megadeth after being fired from Metallica, and bassists Ron McGovney, Cliff Burton and Jason Newsted are former members of the band. The band first found commercial success with the release of its third album, 'Master Of Puppets' (1986), which is cited as the band's best work. The band's fifth album, 'Metallica' (1991), was a turning point for the band that saw them transition from their thrash roots - it appealed to a more mainstream audience, achieving substantial commercial success and selling more than 16 million copies in the United States to date, making it the best-selling album of the SoundScan era. After experimenting with different genres and directions in subsequent releases, Metallica returned to its thrash metal roots in 2008.

22 April 2023


TheBigBlack


Metallica Logo

72 Seasons

Metallica - 72 Seasons (2023)

[Thrash Metal]

U.S.A.

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.

Arist Information
Metallica is an American heavy metal band formed in 1981 by vocalist and guitarist James Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich, and has been based in San Francisco for most of its career. The band's fast tempos, instrumentals and aggressive musicianship made them one of the founding "big four" bands of thrash metal, alongside Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer. Metallica's current lineup comprises founding members and primary songwriters Hetfield and Ulrich, longtime lead guitarist Kirk Hammett and bassist Robert Trujillo. Guitarist Dave Mustaine, who formed Megadeth after being fired from Metallica, and bassists Ron McGovney, Cliff Burton and Jason Newsted are former members of the band. The band first found commercial success with the release of its third album, 'Master Of Puppets' (1986), which is cited as the band's best work. The band's fifth album, 'Metallica' (1991), was a turning point for the band that saw them transition from their thrash roots - it appealed to a more mainstream audience, achieving substantial commercial success and selling more than 16 million copies in the United States to date, making it the best-selling album of the SoundScan era. After experimenting with different genres and directions in subsequent releases, Metallica returned to its thrash metal roots in 2008.


mindkiller8


Silverchair Logo

Diorama

Silverchair - Diorama (2002)

[Alternative Rock]

Australia

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.

Arist Information
Silverchair was an Australian rock band, which formed in 1992 as Innocent Criminals in Newcastle, New South Wales, with Daniel Johns on vocals and guitars, Ben Gillies on drums, and Chris Joannou on bass guitar. The group got their big break in mid-1994 when they won a national demo competition conducted by the SBS TV show Nomad and ABC radio station Triple J. Their alternative rock sound evolved throughout their career, with differing styles on specific albums growing more ambitious over the years, from grunge on their first two albums to later works displaying orchestral and art rock influences. The songwriting and singing of Johns had evolved steadily while the band had developed an increased element of complexity. In May 2011, Silverchair announced an indefinite hiatus. Silverchair has sold over 10 million albums worldwide. Silverchair have won more ARIA Music Awards than any other artist in history, earning 21 wins from 49 nominations. They also received six APRA Awards, with Johns winning three songwriting awards in 2008. All five of their studio albums debuted at number one on the ARIA Albums Chart. Three singles reached the number-one slot on the related ARIA Singles Chart.

15 April 2023


TheBigBlack


Sixteen Stone

Bush - Sixteen Stone (1994)

[Post-Grunge Rock]

U.K.

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.

8 April 2023


TheBigBlack


Tool Logo

Fear Inoculum

Tool - Fear Inoculum (2019)

[Alternative Rock]

U.S.A.

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

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.

Arist Information
Kreator is a German thrash metal band from Essen, formed in 1982. Along with Destruction, Sodom and Tankard, they are credited as one of the "Big Four" of Teutonic thrash metal, responsible for developing and popularizing the German thrash metal scene as well as pioneering the then-burgeoning death metal and black metal genres during the mid-1980s. They have a large underground fanbase in the international thrash metal community, with their second studio album 'Pleasure To Kill' (1986) regarded as an influential album of the genre. Despite being an influential band, as well as one of the first European thrash metal acts to sign to a major label (signing to Epic Records in 1988), Kreator would not achieve mainstream popularity until later albums post 2010. Kreator has achieved worldwide sales of over two million units for combined sales of all their albums, making them one of the best-selling German thrash metal bands of all time.

Release Information
'Terrible Certainty' is the third album by Kreator. Although not as revered as the band's previous album 'Pleasure To Kill', it is still highly regarded as a classic album of the thrash genre.

1 April 2023


TheBigBlack


Iron Maiden Logo

Senjutsu

Iron Maiden - Senjutsu (2021)

[Heavy Metal]

U.K.

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.?

Arist Information
Iron Maiden are an English heavy metal band formed in East London in 1975 by bassist and primary songwriter Steve Harris. Although fluid in the early years of the band, the line-up for most of the band's history has consisted of Harris, lead vocalist Bruce Dickinson, guitarists Dave Murray, Adrian Smith and Janick Gers, and drummer Nicko McBrain. As pioneers of the new wave of British heavy metal movement, Iron Maiden released a series of UK and US Platinum and Gold albums, including 1980's debut album, 1981's 'Killers', and 1982's 'The Number Of The Beast'. In fact, 'The Number Of The Beast' is among the most popular heavy metal albums of all time, having sold almost 20 million copies worldwide and the band's first album with Bruce Dickinson, who replaced Paul Di'Anno as lead singer in 1981. The addition of Dickinson was a turning point in their career.

Release Information
'Senjutsu' (Japanese for 'tactics') is the seventeenth studio album by Iron Maiden. Their first album in six years, it was a critical and commercial success, praised for its ambitious epic scope.


mindkiller8


Say Uncle

Uncle Slam - Say Uncle (1988)

[Thrash Metal]

U.S.A.

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.

Arist Information
Uncle Slam was an American crossover thrash band from Los Angeles, California, formed in 1987. They were influenced by punk rock bands of the 1980s like Suicidal Tendencies (which featured some of the members of Uncle Slam and precursor The Brood), D.R.I., Corrosion Of Conformity, Black Flag and Circle Jerks, as well as heavy metal bands like Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Slayer and Motorhead. Many of their songs are about politics, rebel themes, death, pain and violence.

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.

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.

Arist Information
Megadeth is an American thrash metal band formed in Los Angeles in 1983 by vocalist/guitarist Dave Mustaine. Known for their technically complex guitar work and musicianship, Megadeth is one of the "big four" of American thrash metal along with Metallica, Anthrax, and Slayer, responsible for the genre's development and popularization. Their music features complex arrangements and fast rhythm sections, dual lead guitars, and lyrical themes of war, politics, religion, death, and personal relationships. In 1985, Megadeth released their debut album, 'Killing Is My Business... And Business Is Good!', on the independent record label Combat Records, to moderate success. It caught the attention of bigger labels, which led to Megadeth signing with Capitol Records. Their first major-label album, 'Peace Sells... But Who's Buying?', was released in 1986 and was a major hit with the underground metal scene. Band members' substance abuse issues and personal disputes had brought Megadeth negative publicity during the late 1980s. Nonetheless, the band went on to release a number of platinum-selling albums, including 'So Far, So Good... So What!' (1988), 'Rust In Peace' (1990), and 'Countdown To Extinction' (1992). Megadeth has undergone multiple lineup changes throughout its 41-year career, with Mustaine being the sole consistent member of the band. The band temporarily disbanded in 2002 when he suffered an arm injury and re-established in 2004 without longtime bassist David Ellefson, who had taken legal action against Mustaine. Ellefson settled out of court and rejoined the band in 2010, but was fired in 2021 amid allegations of sexual misconduct.

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.

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?

Arist Information
Guns n' Roses is an American hard rock band from Los Angeles, California, formed in March 1985 when local bands Hollywood Rose and L.A. Guns merged. With their stylistic mix of punk rock, blues rock and heavy metal, the band helped move mainstream rock away from the glam metal era of the mid-late 1980s. In their early years, the band's hedonism and rebelliousness drew comparisons to the early Rolling Stones and earned them the nickname "the most dangerous band in the world". Significant controversy followed the band due to late show starts and riots (notably the 1991 Riverport riot), lyrics perceived as problematic, Rose's outspoken persona, several other member's drug and alcohol abuse issues, lawsuits, and public feuds with other artists. Several members of the band are considered some of the best in their fields with Rose considered one of the best vocalists, Slash as one of the best guitarists and McKagan as one of the best bassists by various publications. Guns n' Roses were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2012, and have sold more than 100 million records worldwide, including 45 million in the United States, making them one of the best-selling acts in history.


mindkiller8


Edge Of Sanity Logo

Crimson

Edge Of Sanity - Crimson (1996)

[Death Metal]

Sweden

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.

11 March 2023


TheBigBlack


Opeth Logo

Deliverance & Damnation [Reissue]

Opeth - Deliverance & Damnation [Reissue] (2015)

[Death Metal (Progressive)]

Sweden

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.


mindkiller8


Opeth Logo

Damnation

Opeth - Damnation (2003)

[Death Metal (Progressive)]

Sweden

The fans were told there would be 2 successive releases in a short space of time. One in the vein we all expected from their most recent release of Blackwater Park (in my mind their Mt Everest - their peak), with a second album less than 6 months later which would show a different side. Understanding the band and where they are now 20 years later, this was the start of the 'transition'. And oh what a way to commence that shift in their career. I can't understand why exactly, but for some reason, I was ready for what the change might present. As you will know Damnation detaches itself from the guitar laden darkness and death vocals we had known for almost 10 years prior, into an amazingly beautiful and peaceful soundscape that is the last thing you would expect from the band at was really after Blackwater, their high-point in popularity. Incredibly gutsy move. But Akerfeldt has never bowed to the fans and just does what he wants to do. I've become less of a fan over the years, but this record I still see as a significant highpoint in their career. Bold, mature, gentle, inventive.

4 March 2023


TheBigBlack


Blackbraid Logo

Blackbraid I

Blackbraid - Blackbraid I (2022)

[Black Metal]

U.S.A.

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

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.

Arist Information
Powderfinger were an Australian rock band formed in Brisbane in 1989. From 1992 until its break-up in 2010, the line-up consisted of vocalist Bernard Fanning, guitarists Darren Middleton and Ian Haug, bass guitarist John Collins and drummer Jon Coghill. The group's third studio album 'Internationalist' peaked at No. 1 on the ARIA Albums Chart in September 1998. They followed with four more number-one studio albums in a row. The band earned a total of eighteen ARIA Awards, making them the second-most awarded band behind Silverchair. Ten Powderfinger albums and DVDs certified multiple-platinum, with 'Odyssey Number Five' (their most successful album) achieving eightfold platinum certification for shipment of over 560,000 units.

Release Information
'Double Allergic' is the second studio album by Powderfinger. The album was the band's mainstream breakthrough. It has been certified platinum three times, with over 200,000 copies sold, and was also nominated for five ARIA awards, with singles from the album nominated for an additional four, however, it won none of the awards it was nominated for.

25 February 2023


TheBigBlack


Mortal Sin Logo

Mayhemic Destruction

Mortal Sin - Mayhemic Destruction (1986)

[Thrash Metal]

Australia

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?

Arist Information
Mortal Sin were an Australian thrash metal band that formed in 1985 and existed over three distinct periods until 2012. According to Australian musicologist, Ian McFarlane, they were one of "leading lights... [of] a small, but fervent underground thrash/speed metal scene."


mindkiller8


Anthrax Logo

Attack Of The Killer B's

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

[Thrash Metal]

U.S.A.

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!!!!

Arist Information
Anthrax is an American thrash metal band from New York City, formed in 1981 by rhythm guitarist Scott Ian and bassist Dan Lilker. The group is considered one of the leaders of the thrash metal scene from the 1980s and is part of the "Big Four" of the genre, along with Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer. They were also one of the first thrash metal bands (along with Overkill and Nuclear Assault) to emerge from the American East Coast. Anthrax's lineup has changed numerous times over their career, leaving guitarist Scott Ian as the only constant member of the band. The band has sold over 2.5 million records in the United States, with worldwide sales of over 10 million.

18 February 2023


TheBigBlack


Sodom Logo

In The Sign Of Evil

Sodom - In The Sign Of Evil (1985)

[Thrash Metal]

Germany

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.

Arist Information
Sodom is a German thrash metal band from Gelsenkirchen, formed in 1981. Along with Kreator, Destruction and Tankard, Sodom has been referred to as one of the "Big Four" of Teutonic thrash metal. They also heavily influenced the German black metal scene. Sodom is one of the best-selling thrash metal acts of all time, having sold over two million records.

Release Information
'In The Sign Of Evil' is the first E.P. and the debut release by Sodom. The record is considered part of the first wave of black metal. The tracks were re-recorded in 2007 and released as 'The Final Sign Of Evil'.


mindkiller8


Korn Logo

Untouchables

Korn - Untouchables (2002)

[Nu Metal]

U.S.A.

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.

Arist Information
Korn is an American nu metal band from Bakersfield, California, formed in 1993. The band is notable for pioneering the nu metal genre and bringing it into the mainstream. As of 2021, Korn had sold more than 40 million records worldwide. Twelve of the band's official releases have peaked in the top ten of the Billboard 200, eight of which have peaked in the top five. Seven official releases are certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA); two are certified double platinum; one is certified triple platinum; one is certified five times platinum; and two are certified Gold.

11 February 2023


TheBigBlack


Pantera Logo

Cowboys From Hell

Pantera - Cowboys From Hell (1990)

[Groove Metal]

U.S.A.

A change in decade often causes the collective 'us' to think about the future, and to start forgetting the past. Metal certainly did this in 1990, with many of the thrash titans of the 80s starting to look like dinosaurs to the new generation, and let's not even think about the stinking carcass glam rock had left for us to move to the cemetery. 'Cowboys From Hell' (both the album and the song), hit the metal world hard (kinda like a Primal Concrete Sledge). It was loud, in your face, and technical - but still really listenable - and sounded like nothing else before it. Smiling in photos, these four boys from Texas looked like fun fellas, unless you crossed them - then they would likely kill you. another angle metal had not seen before. We would of course find out later that it took Pantera four albums (now long forgotten) prior to this one to find and hone this unique sound and image, but that is largely irrelevant anyway. This album (and band) quickly became the poster child of the next generation of metal, and Cowboys From Hell still stands up today as a standout of the period, and a benchmark in guitar playing.

Arist Information
Pantera is an American heavy metal band from Arlington, Texas, formed in 1981 by the Abbott brothers (guitarist Dimebag Darrell and drummer Vinnie Paul). In addition to their development and popularization of the groove metal subgenre, Pantera is credited (along with others, such as Testament, Sepultura, and Machine Head) for being part of the second wave of thrash metal scene from the late 1980s to early-to-mid 1990s. Regarded as one of the most successful and influential bands in heavy metal history, Pantera has sold around 20 million records worldwide and has received four Grammy nominations.


mindkiller8


Smashing Pumpkins Logo

Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness

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

[Alternative Rock]

U.S.A.

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.

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.

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.

Arist Information
Bob Dylan (born Robert Allen Zimmerman, May 24, 1941) is an American singer-songwriter. Generally regarded as one of the greatest songwriters ever, Dylan has been a major figure in popular culture over his 60+ year career. He has sold more than 145 million records, making him one of the best-selling musicians ever. He has received numerous awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, ten Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe Award and an Academy Award. Dylan has been inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, Nashville Songwriters Hall Of Fame and the Songwriters Hall Of Fame. The Pulitzer Prize Board in 2008 awarded him a special citation for "his profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power." In 2016, Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition."


mindkiller8


Metallica Logo

Metallica

Metallica - Metallica (1991)

[Thrash Metal]

U.S.A.

Ahh, 1991. The year I finished attending high-school, and time to grow up. Here I come real world. It can be argued that with this album, Metallica did the same thing. They grew up and introduced themselves to the real world on a record that divided the fans. Slower tempo, polished production, do they even swear anymore? Did someone say Top 40? You get the picture. It can't be denied that still today, over 30 years on, it is still their best-selling album. We learnt that Pappa Het can sing (Unforgiven, Nothing Else). We learnt that the band finally accepted Newsted as a member and gave him co-writing efforts on Misery. We learnt they still have that 18 year old attitude in small parts with Struggle. We learnt eventually that it was a master stroke to make this shift from your head-banging, long-haired, 7 plus minute songs, to a band that can still give you balls out heaviness in 4-5 minute songs (Sad But True) with lots of versatility and smarts. At the time, question was 'What next?' would they 'Fade To Black'? Would they 'Self-Destruct'? Or would they 'Load' up and get angry?

Arist Information
Metallica is an American heavy metal band formed in 1981 by vocalist and guitarist James Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich, and has been based in San Francisco for most of its career. The band's fast tempos, instrumentals and aggressive musicianship made them one of the founding "big four" bands of thrash metal, alongside Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer. Metallica's current lineup comprises founding members and primary songwriters Hetfield and Ulrich, longtime lead guitarist Kirk Hammett and bassist Robert Trujillo. Guitarist Dave Mustaine, who formed Megadeth after being fired from Metallica, and bassists Ron McGovney, Cliff Burton and Jason Newsted are former members of the band. The band first found commercial success with the release of its third album, 'Master Of Puppets' (1986), which is cited as the band's best work. The band's fifth album, 'Metallica' (1991), was a turning point for the band that saw them transition from their thrash roots - it appealed to a more mainstream audience, achieving substantial commercial success and selling more than 16 million copies in the United States to date, making it the best-selling album of the SoundScan era. After experimenting with different genres and directions in subsequent releases, Metallica returned to its thrash metal roots in 2008.

28 January 2023


TheBigBlack


Discharge Logo

Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing

Discharge - Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing (1982)

[Hardcore Punk]

U.K.

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.

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.

21 January 2023


TheBigBlack


Obituary Logo

Dying Of Everything

Obituary - Dying Of Everything (2023)

[Death Metal]

U.S.A.

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.

Arist Information
Obituary is an American death metal band formed in Tampa, Florida, in 1984. They were one of the fundamental acts in the development of death metal music, and are one of the most successful death metal bands of all time. Initially called Executioner, the band changed its name to Xecutioner in 1986 to avoid confusion with the thrash metal band Executioner from Boston, and then changed its name once again to Obituary in 1988. Their music is based around heavily groove-based riffs and drumming along with John Tardy's growling vocals, which create their own signature sound of death metal.


mindkiller8


Silverchair Logo

Diorama

Silverchair - Diorama (2002)

[Alternative Rock]

Australia

It was well known at this point in Silverchair's history that Daniel Johns was no longer interested in punching out classic songs that we all loved on Frogstomp and Freak Show. Neon Ballroom in 1999 started to give a hint on this. I actually loved this record for its diversity. When we get to Diorama, the next step away from being a hard rock band has been completed. I will point out that Johns is a brilliant song writer and that will always remain. He clearly shows he is the leader of the band at this point and has moved away from the 3-piece band that we knew when they were all teenagers. So, why am I reviewing this record? I actually am a fan, despite it being different. If you invest the time and ignore in part what they have released previously, it is a very considered and mature release that very much is focused on John's struggles/challenges of being a 'star' and the reclusive being he is. I admire him for finding the strength to put this album out. It's certainly not for everyone that is an early fan. If you forget that however, you will find a record that for the most part is enjoyable.

Arist Information
Silverchair was an Australian rock band, which formed in 1992 as Innocent Criminals in Newcastle, New South Wales, with Daniel Johns on vocals and guitars, Ben Gillies on drums, and Chris Joannou on bass guitar. The group got their big break in mid-1994 when they won a national demo competition conducted by the SBS TV show Nomad and ABC radio station Triple J. Their alternative rock sound evolved throughout their career, with differing styles on specific albums growing more ambitious over the years, from grunge on their first two albums to later works displaying orchestral and art rock influences. The songwriting and singing of Johns had evolved steadily while the band had developed an increased element of complexity. In May 2011, Silverchair announced an indefinite hiatus. Silverchair has sold over 10 million albums worldwide. Silverchair have won more ARIA Music Awards than any other artist in history, earning 21 wins from 49 nominations. They also received six APRA Awards, with Johns winning three songwriting awards in 2008. All five of their studio albums debuted at number one on the ARIA Albums Chart. Three singles reached the number-one slot on the related ARIA Singles Chart.

14 January 2023


TheBigBlack


Woe

An Abstract Illusion - Woe (2022)

[Death Metal (Progressive)]

Sweden

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.

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.

Arist Information
Megadeth is an American thrash metal band formed in Los Angeles in 1983 by vocalist/guitarist Dave Mustaine. Known for their technically complex guitar work and musicianship, Megadeth is one of the "big four" of American thrash metal along with Metallica, Anthrax, and Slayer, responsible for the genre's development and popularization. Their music features complex arrangements and fast rhythm sections, dual lead guitars, and lyrical themes of war, politics, religion, death, and personal relationships. In 1985, Megadeth released their debut album, 'Killing Is My Business... And Business Is Good!', on the independent record label Combat Records, to moderate success. It caught the attention of bigger labels, which led to Megadeth signing with Capitol Records. Their first major-label album, 'Peace Sells... But Who's Buying?', was released in 1986 and was a major hit with the underground metal scene. Band members' substance abuse issues and personal disputes had brought Megadeth negative publicity during the late 1980s. Nonetheless, the band went on to release a number of platinum-selling albums, including 'So Far, So Good... So What!' (1988), 'Rust In Peace' (1990), and 'Countdown To Extinction' (1992). Megadeth has undergone multiple lineup changes throughout its 41-year career, with Mustaine being the sole consistent member of the band. The band temporarily disbanded in 2002 when he suffered an arm injury and re-established in 2004 without longtime bassist David Ellefson, who had taken legal action against Mustaine. Ellefson settled out of court and rejoined the band in 2010, but was fired in 2021 amid allegations of sexual misconduct.

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.

Continuing on their winning streak from Dystopia, this is an amazing album from Megadeth. If 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.

Arist Information
Megadeth is an American thrash metal band formed in Los Angeles in 1983 by vocalist/guitarist Dave Mustaine. Known for their technically complex guitar work and musicianship, Megadeth is one of the "big four" of American thrash metal along with Metallica, Anthrax, and Slayer, responsible for the genre's development and popularization. Their music features complex arrangements and fast rhythm sections, dual lead guitars, and lyrical themes of war, politics, religion, death, and personal relationships. In 1985, Megadeth released their debut album, 'Killing Is My Business... And Business Is Good!', on the independent record label Combat Records, to moderate success. It caught the attention of bigger labels, which led to Megadeth signing with Capitol Records. Their first major-label album, 'Peace Sells... But Who's Buying?', was released in 1986 and was a major hit with the underground metal scene. Band members' substance abuse issues and personal disputes had brought Megadeth negative publicity during the late 1980s. Nonetheless, the band went on to release a number of platinum-selling albums, including 'So Far, So Good... So What!' (1988), 'Rust In Peace' (1990), and 'Countdown To Extinction' (1992). Megadeth has undergone multiple lineup changes throughout its 41-year career, with Mustaine being the sole consistent member of the band. The band temporarily disbanded in 2002 when he suffered an arm injury and re-established in 2004 without longtime bassist David Ellefson, who had taken legal action against Mustaine. Ellefson settled out of court and rejoined the band in 2010, but was fired in 2021 amid allegations of sexual misconduct.


mindkiller8


The Screaming Jets Logo

All For One

The Screaming Jets - All For One (1991)

[Rock]

Australia

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.

Arist Information
The Screaming Jets are an Australian hard rock band formed in Newcastle, Australia, in 1989. The band has three albums that peaked in the top five on the Australian ARIA Charts.

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