Sunday, May 16, 2010

Static-X - Machine

A wall of death, surrounded in electronic circuitry as various fragmented visions of dance halls and killer machines with razor blades dancing around you head while you get to enjoy the show.

That is, essentially, why "Machine" by Static-X is a great album.

Released in 2001 in the height of the both the nu-metal movements as well as the industrial metal movements of the late-90's that demanded that the genre change, Static-X was lumped in with the former rather than the later because, in the end, they were just too metal for the industrial crowd at the time. Still riding high off the success of their last album, "Wisconsin Death Trip", Wayne Static continued on his journey of creating the ultimate "dance-metal" album, and on here we see him come close to that dream.

More like thrash anthems in a time where there seemed to be none and, to some, "not cool", songs like "Get to the Gone" and "Permanence" bring out the anger and range amidst a wall of sound similar at times to that used by Devin Townsend. Coming from me, that is the ultimate compliment, and these songs easily warrant it.

"This Is Not" is the biggest highlight on the album, and, yes, you can dance with to it easily in either a mosh pit or in a night club... although, to quote Motorhead, if you did "you might just break your neck to it!" The overall dance beat is adamant throughout the entire song, and the guitar riffs are just incredible! The amount of anger and aggression in it, mixed with some pop sensibility... its just amazing! Imagine Atari Teenage Riot... if they did more metal.

Even when the album tries to be a bit more commercial with tracks like "Black and White" and "Cold", the album works incredibly strong, although if you're like me, you can only chuckle as Wayne Static tries to "sing" on the later of the two songs.

"A Dios Alma Perdida" closes the album on a very smart note; a sort of cool-down song after kicking your ass for the rest of it, giving you a chance to soak everything in with the harsh industrial aspects mixed with a very light and airy keyboard at times, and the use once more of the "wall of sound" is very smart and well done.

Clocking in at a little more than 40 minutes, you are getting more than your money's worth on this album. This is Static-X at their peak, the single BEST Static-X album ever and the one most worthy of your time and effort.

This get's a stunning 9.2 out of 10!

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Lizzy Borden - Master of Disguise

To the layman, Lizzy Borden is the name of some murder that existed long ago, a name that holds nearly no real relevance at all. To most metal heads, Lizzy Borden holds the same reverence... only there was no actual murder.

To a select few, Lizzy Borden was a metal band that was formed in the 80's with a theme similar to W.A.S.P. and hair metal, but with a respect held for the likes of the Bulletboys and, dare I say it, Kix.

To you, they're basically the band that you need to check out.

In 1989, Lizzy Borden (both the band and the man) set out to release the greatest album of their careers, "Master of Disguise". A quasi-concept album, it takes a cue from the Phantom of the Oprah and throws in songs about love and lust. OK, not so much a departure, but more of an updated take. "Sins of the Flesh" and "Love is a Crime" take on both subjects, respectively, with a ton of verbose and fever.

But one of the most interesting aspects of this album isn't the hard-hitting tracks (which there are plenty of!), as it is the overall orchestration of the album and the arrangements. Lizzy Borden has always been able to write incredible hooks ("American Metal" from "Love you to Pieces" is a great example), and that ability mixed with moments of progressive and, I dare say, power metal, lends itself well to this album.

The only thing I've had qualms with in terms of Lizzy Borden is Lizzy himself. He has remarkable talent and ability, can crank out incredible songs... but the voice, from time to time, is just a little too much. It isn't too over-the-top, but it does seem to be a few notes off at times. Like singing a flat when a sharp would be better kind of stuff. Its the biggest thing that I think held them back in the 80's, and something that still hurts him to this day.

That being said, its rarely a problem on this album. Lizzy has a range that works well with the music here, and like I said, it is one of their best albums.

On a whole, I give it a 8 out of 10.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Halford - Resurrection

I have a working theory that Rob Halford needs Judas Priest less than Judas Priest needs Rob Halford.

In 2000, after nearly 3 years of work, Halford (the band) released their first album, "Resurrection". The result is an album that mixes classic heavy metal, hard rock, and outright speed and aggression in a way that bands like Shadows Fall and Lamb of God wouldn't get for another 5-7 years. the production on the album is simply top-notch, and lends incredibly well to the sound of this album.

All this, and it was only the year 2000.

Opening with the title track, "Resurrection" seems utmost fitting title. The song has some of the best lyrics ever:

Holy angel lift me from this burning hell
Resurrection make me whole
Son of Judas bring the saints to my revenge
Resurrection bring me home

Now THAT is awesome, especially in the context of the song. Everything you love about metal is here: Duel-guitar attacks, incredible solos, hard-hitting drums... the song is just perfect, the way it builds up and reaches a climax that actually leaves a long-standing impression on you. It's almost like Gothenberg-Metal in some ways.

"Made in Hell" is, by far, the best song ever written about heavy metal in general. Gone are chants of "metal never dies", replaced with the story of Rob Halford and, in fact, Black Sabbath's history. I mean, he describes working-class England like this: "Metal came from foundries where the midlands sound unfurled / The bullring was a lonely place of concrete towers and steel / The coal mines and the industries were all I had to fell."

Kick... Ass.

Now, for this review, I'm going off the track list off the remastered album, largely because one of the best songs on the album was only released in Japan at first and the new track listing is a little bit better.

There are a TON of thrashers on this album, and I could simply go on about each and every one of them. "Fetish" rips through the S&M scene rips with ease, and "Cyber World" explores the technical technology of today by taking the cue of a virus destroying the world at lightning speed. And "Hell's Last Savior" stars a demon screeching from Hell to try and save it from the Devil. These songs are truly epic and grandiose, and paint vivid landscapes.

The hard rock of "Locked and Loaded", "God Bringer of Death", and "Temptation" fit well with the album and are lyrically incredibly strong. It's a nice departure at times from the traditional metal assault, and the amount of intensity and strength behind each and every track is astounding!

One of the highlights on the album, and possibly one of the most important tracks, is "The One You Love to Hate", a duet between Rob Halford and Bruce Dickinson (no pun intended). It's an incredibly powerful song and its incredible listening to these two guys belt out a song at the same time.

For me, my favorite song, hands down, is "Hell's Last Savior". Seriously, this song just plain has it all!

In the end, there are some weak tracks on here, like "Twist", but they don't hurt the album as much as the length of the album. While "Fetish" is incredible, you start to look after our watch after that, and by the albums end you may be satisfied, but not as if they ended it a littler earlier.

That said, this is still one of the best metal albums of all time, and worth a listen!

I'm giving this a 8.5 out of 10. SO BUY THE DAMN THING!!!

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Megadeth - Endgame

Without a doubt, this was the single hardest album review for me to write.

I bought Megadeth's "Endgame" during the first month. For me, that's pretty rare; I actually tend to get it the day of the release. The main reason I held out was because of the lead-single off the album, "Headcrusher". I actually came close to just outright hating this song. To me, it was nothing more than Dave Mustaine doing some good guitar work, but destroying it with lyrics about getting your head crushed by some machine. It sounded a lot like the idea for "Thumb Hang" by Anvil for me.

On the first listen to the album, and by far the biggest flaw of the album, is the fact that you can virtually cherry-pick the riffs on this album from all of Dave's past work. Some "High Speed Dirt" mixed in with "Take No Prisoners", and a touch of "Mastermind"... basically a little bit off all of Megadeth's albums up to 1992. It was hard to get into these songs at first since I could basically play "name that riff".

That was then... this is now.

The best thing about this album is how quickly it actually grows on you. I wanted to start this review honestly, because as much as I love Dave for all he's done, I think it wouldn't be right to not acknowledge the flaws. But those flaws are actually minor in the end.

What you have is Megadeth not going back in time, but just releasing the album that was being built up since 2004's "The System has Failed" when Dave first came back to the world of metal. Every album since then has seen Dave and Co' step up their game and write fiercer and tougher songs. After 2007's masterpiece, "United Abominations", an album that rarely ever left my CD player OR my MP3 player, ANYTHING would fall in comparison to me on the first few listens.

The album starts of with "Dialectic Chaos", an instrumental in the vein of "Into the Lungs of Hell", but with an action-movie feel to it. It feels like this song could be theme song of "24" or Die Hard! Not only that, but the way it blends so well into "This Day We Fight!" is simply BRILLIANT! For all 3 minutes and 27 seconds, you're rushed through a nightmarish landscape of a battlefield, left to destroy the enemy "for what you believe". The same man who sung about the evil of men "turning plowshares into words" now cries out that we will "no longer turn the other cheek like a coward!" *Sniff* Our little man has grown up!

For more political intrigue, you have the title track "Endgame", a slow-moving, eerie, and electric track, based on the movie by Alex Jones. For those of you who don't know who Alex Jones is, he's a conspiracy theorist who believes the US Government was behind 9/11 and that the NWO is real. "Endgame" deals with a dystopian situation where all the nightmares explored in the movie come true and you must have the mark of the beast to live, and without proper ID a "legal US citizen can go to jail." But that's just silly! Wait, what's that about Arizona demanding papers to prove... you... oh.

Some of the best thrashers in 20 years are on here as well! "1, 320" is about drag racing, while "Bite the Hand" thrashes around with the best of them!

And "Headcrusher"? I take back every bad thing I said about it. It is BRILLIANT. The more you listen to it, the better it gets. It's a lot like "Crush 'em" only... well... BRUTAL!!!!!! Hell, if you don't wind up beating the crap out of someone while listening to it, you most likely weren't paying attention to it!!!

The album closes with "The Right to Go Insane". The dual guitars open the song with a setting sun and a man simply on the edge thanks to the economy going to pure hell. "How will I fact the day tomorrow/ If I can't Make it through today?", pleads Dave as he deals with staggering bills and a job that makes life tougher.

This album is great. To me, a great album is a lot like a great wine: It gets better with age.

The main reason I resisted writing a review for so long is because the hype around an image can easily blur how good the actual album itself is or isn't. Too often do reviews come out about an album is first released and is just a ringing endorsement and very little else. The album has been able to hold up easily on its own, and I dare say that, yes, it is better than "United Abominations". For me, on first listen, it had to compete against that, and the fact that one of my main loves of the album and this band is the political bent of it. Despite being disillusioned at first, they proved me wrong and I'm glad they did.

Folks, get this album. I'm giving it a 9 out of 10!

Monday, May 03, 2010

Sacred Reich - The American Way

It is a crime against humanity that not many people know about this album.

Released in 1990, Sacred Reich released this album at the highest peak of heavy metal before Nirvana reshaped the world forever. Spending the 80's as basically a straight-out thrash metal band, the band grew their sound at the dawn of the new decade by throwing in influences from everything they could; metal, funk, punk, jazz, and even rap. The result? The most potent and lyrically relevant album the band had ever released.

"The American Way" is a potent look at America in a post-Regan world. The title track contains the lyrics, "Lady Liberty Rot's Away" and screaming about "The poor are left to help themselves". The song pounds away with a ton of groove and melody, yet is insanely fierce! Thrashers like "Love... Hate" and "I Don't Know" are as true to their thrash metal roots as possible!

But the amount of groove on this album dares to even rival Pantera at times. "Crimes Against Humanity" crawls without getting boring or repetitive, with the band coming at you like a jackhammer as it pounds some sense into you about the horrors going in the world around you.

The albums best moment comes in about half-way through it with the song "Who's to Blame". Dealing with the censorship movement of Tipper Gore and the PMRC, which resulted in the Parental Advisory sticker, as well as the two suicides that were blamed upon the songs of Ozzy Osbourne and Judas Priest, the song demands that parents understand that music isn't too blame, but that the problem may lie in themselves.

This masterpiece of metal closes with the song "31 Flavors", urging listeners to listen to more than just metal, but everything they possibly can so that they can see that there's more out there and, well, a whole variety out there.

"The American Way" easy stands as one of the best thrash metal albums of all time, and can easily stand as one of the best metal releases of all time.

On a whole, this thing gets a 9 out of 10!

If you can, get this album NOW.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Static-X - The Cult of Static

Never, in all my years of listening to music, has an album EVER made me hate a band that I love.

I've seen bands evolve and grow, and I've heard albums and songs that made me recoil in horror. Sometimes the proper warning can make even a bad album sound good. Case in point? Megadeth "Risk" is, in and of itself, not a bad album, just not a good album for Megadeth but for a pop-rock band. But sometimes an album will make you annoyed at a band, and the best example is In Flames "Soundtrack to Your Escape".

This time... this time I can honestly say I hate what Static-X has become, and Wayne Static is largely to blame.

While many panned 2003's "Shadow Zone", I wound up falling in love with the album. It was different than anything they had done up to that point, and in the end, it was a very interesting and eclectic mix of metal and dance, and to me was the ultimate "dance-metal" album that Wayne and company wanted to make. 2007's "Cannibal" was promising to me, mixing elements of the dance with a much heavier sound.

This album... Cult of Static is the result of a band that's been around in the mainstream for 12 years and has simply given up. This band has stopped caring. They released one of the best and most promising albums of their careers and instead of rising to the challenge and writing an album that meets the demands that were given, we instead get a shitty collection of half-assed metal songs that, LITERALLY, FOLLOW THE SAME SHITTY BEAT?!


Instead of creating 12 songs of varying speeds and tempos, mixing their style of industrial metal with everything, they instead got for a 45+ minute long drive of repetitive beats (was this a fucking drum machine?!) that NEVER CHANGES! IT! NEVER! FUCKING! CHANGES! That! More than anything, THAT kills this album!

On top of that, you happy sloppy songwriting, sloppy lyrics (even, or especially, for Static-X, depending on your viewpoint!), and most annoying of all, random guitar solos! Not ONE guitar solo seems to fit anywhere in any of the songs,!

And insult to injury? This has nothing to do with the album in and of itself. NOTHING.

Wayne Static has done every interview since the album with his porn star wife Tera Wray. Look, awesome, you married a porn star, and awesome, you can get in a threesome with another woman with her. That's great. So, in return, you write a shitty album, release it, and claim time-and-time again that its the best thing in the world?! I haven't seen Wayne Static do this many interviews for ANYTHING in my life! And it's ALWAYS with his fucking wife!

Wayne, man, I love ya! You are a hero of mine, and even though I've gotten hell for it, I've been a fan for years. This?! Taking a musical shit, selling it to me on a CD for $15, and then parading around with your pornstar wife and telling me its gold?! THIS?! THIS IS WHAT YOU GIVE THE FANS?!

No. This album is an abomination to all things Static-X. Most reviews I've seen have been FAR too kind. "This is just standard-issue Static-X to please the 'Cult of Static'". Well, I'm a Static-X fan, and I still am. This does not please me. It is shit. It is crap. Its one of the worst CD's I've ever heard in my life.

Wayne, stop with the wife for a while and decide if you want to keep the porn star wife or be a rockstar. After that album, I think you need to make a choice.

My rating? Dave Mustaine's solo is lost in "Lunatic" and save one song, this album is just hell. Fuck it. I'd rather listen to mentally retarded dogs fuck. I'd rather hear Stephen Hawking try to explain Quantum Physics using his own voice word-for-word in pain. Hell, I'd even rather listen to Kobra Starship, and they... no, I won't go there.

Fuck this album, and for the time being, fuck you, Wayne Static!

0! 0 out of 10 stars!

If you find this album, burn it with a lighter or toss it into a fireplace! Hell, if you get the chance, try skeet shooting one of them!

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Best Metal and Punk Albums of 2008!

The Best Metal and Punk Albums of 2008!

EDITORS NOTE: I wrote this originally for my other blog, Angry Young And Poor, and never posted it here for some odd reason.

1. Amon Amarth - Twilight of The Thundergod
Album of
the year. Period. Back in 2006, I bought "With Oden At Our Side" after hearing a lot of hype and I wasn't very impressed. Nevertheless, I decided to give them another go. and I'm glad I did! Twilight of the Thundergod is a viking/melodic death metal epic. The album is melodic and heavy, and becomes an epitome of what extreme and heavy music should be.

2. Cavalera Conspiracy - Inflikted
I didn't get a chance to buy this album until recently, but it was well worth the wait! The album sees, for the first time in 12 years, the Cavalera brothers are together again to give you an album that rocks where Chaos AD left off. Gone is the failed experimentation with an overt use of Brazilian tribal music and instead we get a return of a great combination of thrash, extreme metal, and the same Brazilian tribal music sound is there, this time is great moderation. A brilliant album by two incredible musicians.

3.Wednesday 12 - Skeletons
This album was sold only at Hot Topic and on his tour, as well as available for download only. This may discredit it in the eyes of many a cynical metal head, but they are missing out on something brilliant. Consider Wednesday 13 this generations Alice Cooper and, to a degree, Marilyn Manson. He uses horror-punk to create a more rock-and-roll combination that adds incredible hooks to an album that mixes personal skeletons with real ones. "Great American Massacre", "Not Another Teenage Anthem", "Scream Baby Scream", and "With Friends Like These" are the highlights on an incredible album that will make you think twice about the man and the band.

4. Metallica - Death Magnetic
There is one, and only one, reason why this album isn't #1 and didn't score higher: The production. The production on this album killed it. the fact that they decided to try in vain to make it "louder" inst
ead of sound "good" shows a lack of quality control on the part of the band. But the writing on this album still shines through, showing a level of toughness and refreshed sense of purpose that make it worthy of being a great album in the Metallica canon.

5. Meshuggah - Obzen
Meshuggah? Accessible? Could those two words be put into the same sentence and still make sense? Could they be combined and yet still make it a Top 10 album? YES! Meshuggah's latest album, Obzen, may be their most accessible piece yet, but the heaviness and brilliance is still there in leaps and spades. Tracks such as "Combustion" and "Bleed" are heavy yet catchy, even in a disjointed sort of way. The math-metallers strike again!

6. In Flames - A Sense of Purpose
This one is high on my list because the cover booklet for this album helped A LOT. The album is basically what it's called, "A Sense of Purpose". From the first note to the last, your put in a mysterious ride
that takes you all over the mind of Anders, lead singer of In Flames, and shows you the nightmarish world it is. The album is a journey, and to listen to it is pure bliss.

7. Motorhead - Motorizer
I'm convinced that if Lemmy wrote an album that was better than The Beatles "White Album", it would still
be rubber-stamped "Another classic Motorhead release that doesn't vary much from Lemmy's formula!" Oye. "Kiss of Death" was Lemmy's best album since Bastards, something I've said about all his albums since 2002's "Hammered", and this was the first time I actually stopped that. "Motorizer" doesn't try to be a metal release; instead, it's a hard rocker of an album with tracks such as "Runaround Man" and "Teach You How To Play the Blues". "Rock Out" is the lone single on here and, really, it's a damn good solid album that kicks ass. Better than 99% of the crap out there and if your put next to a Coldplay album, it'll melt it!

8. Hanzle Und Gretyl - 2012: Zwanzig Zwolf
If there was ever a band that I would consider "The greatest band you never heard of that's still around", Hanzle Und Gretyl is IT! Their combination of industrial and thrash metal is incredible, and Gretyl is none-other than a former member of The Cycle sluts From Hell, a little-known-group famous for "I Wish You Were a Beer". After releasing "Oktonfest" late last year, my hopes were high for this album; sadly, the two best songs on here are on that EP. Or are they? After some time, and as an album itself, thsi disc holds up pretty damn well! "Fukken Uber Death Party" will bring down the house, "Number 1 In Deutcschland" will say "Heil!" to the homeland, and "Heil Hizzle Mein Nizzle" is enough to make you laugh your lederhosen off!

9. Deicide - Till Death Do Us Part
This is a bit of a departure for Glen Benton; Instead of writing a blackened deat
h metal album or a death black metal album or whatever, he instead.... did both? Well, what can I say, getting divorced can do things to a guys mind, and in response, Glen has released a fairly straight-forward death metal album that simply destroys and demolishes everything in it's way.

10. Zimmers Hole - While You Were Shouting At The Devil... We Were in League With Satan
When Strapping Young Lad dissolved last year, there was a collective sense of both anger and understanding as to why. Devin Townsend decided that that period of his life was over and decided to end the band on a high note. At the same time, the rest of the band weren't. Enter a band created in 1991, Zimmers Hole. The band was, and is, a sort of "joke-band"; in a sense, Dethklok from Metalocalypse before they existed. This self-awareness works; The title track rips and tears at the posers, "Devils Mouth", and "The Vowel Song" all help to seal the deal. Now, this was a last-minute addition to my list because I forgot it came out this year and it was a OK disc. At the same time, this is an album made, really, for metal heads. It's a sort of "in-joke", as it were, and it's worthy on being on a Top 10, if not Top 20.


Slipknot - All Hope is Gone
All hope is gone? Yes, for you. After releasing Volume 3 in 2006, showing that they could do more than their nu-metal shtick with the help of Rick Rubin, they went back to their roots to release a disappointing album.

Judas Preist - Nostradomous
Rob Halford: OK, we've got 2-discs worth of material here! What do you suppose we do with it? Release it all?
K.K. Downing: No, Rob, I say we only release the best stuff! Give the people the best Priest album ever!
Rob Halford:, let's release all of it. We can charge more for it.


Venom - Hell
Yes, I was disappointed by a Venom release. After "Metal Black" came out in 2006, I wanted to see what the bad boys from the UK could come up with as a follow-up. Sadly, we got a few good songs and a lot of "Meh".

Dragonforce - Ultra Beatdown
After kicking so much ass with "Inhumane Rampage" and taking the world by storm, can you blame me for expecting them to step up to the plate and dominating their next album? Can you? You can? Damn... I owe you a coke.

Bullet For My Valentine - Scream Aim Fire
These guys are incredibly talented and good. Being able to write death metal vocals for the masses while still writing catchy melodies isn't easy, and after hearing "Hand of Doom" and "The Poison", I wanted them to go far. While it's still a good album (The title track ia amazing, so is "Eye of the Storm") and borrows from the modern extrme metal movement, it fails when it does a song like "Forever and Always".

Not Reviewed:
Opeth - Watershed
Gojia - The Way of the Flesh
Testament - The Formation of Damnation
Guns N Roses - Chinese Democracy

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Will This Blog Return?! Maybe...

Well, I've gotten a lot of comments lately and even interest in reviving this idea, and I'm glad to see it!

So what happened? Well, life. I started this blog when I didn't have a full-time job and I was freelancing. I'm working full-time now and I don't have the time to write for this blog, draw, and have a life, so I doubt it will be daily, but it will be more frequent.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Metallica - Death Magnetic

Well, there's no way to review this without an intro, so here it is: I hate reviews that have little to nothing to do with the album itself and, instead, recants the history of a band you already know and love and have your opinions on. All you care about is the album, not what some nerd knows are cares about the band. But, really, it's METALLICA. Your stuck with me saying things like "Best in 20 years" and "Better than St. Anger". Or, in this case we're going to pretend the last 20 years never happened.

Death Magnetic is Metallica's latest album. Starting off with the incredible "That Was Just Your Life", a song that rips and tears like the last 20 years never happened! Kirk dominates the entire album, and really, other than that, there isn't much to say, the album does all the talking. You have band that had a mission: Go back to the days of Master of Puppets and ...And Justice For All and TRY to recapture the magic, try to find the drive that made Metalllica METALLICA!

The result is the only thing you can expect; FUCK YOU!

Metallica went into the studio a wounded band and came out screaming and tearing at anything in it's way! Yes, they went back to that time, but they're a different band now (and, yes, I felt cheesy and fucking lame for writing that.. I need a shower) and the old drive isn't there. But, fuck, that's life! You take your tools and make something great with it! And, damn it, that's what
we have here!

This is the culmination, the end result of mixing the epic levels of songwriting and endurance that they wanted with "...And Justice For All" and mixed it with the more melodic and to the point writing of "Metallica". It is dynamic, raw, but also polished and melodic at times.

"The Day That Never Comes" is, without a doubt, THE best song on this album and the best example of everything I've said. Combining the same senses we saw on "Load" and "Re-Load", but the second-half of the song is dominated by Kirk's incredible guitar solos and a return to, dare I say it, "Ride The Lighting"-style Metallica.

The band has come a long way this decade and, yes, the metal kings have returned.

The ONLY rants and problems have are as follows: "Cyanide", while good, just dies by the 3rd Chorus. The song ends at a really good point... and then goes on to the third chorus. Kills it, just kills it! Also, the production... Man, it's bad at times! "The Day That Never Comes" is almost hurt because the distortion on the entire album just saturates everything.

All and all... 9 out of 10.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Pantera - Cowboys From Hell

The year is 2002.

I'm in Atlantic City with my then-girlfriend (me 17, her 18) with her parents and a bunch of people from Kensington waiting to head back to Philadelphia after they had a day of gambling while me and her hung out on the beach and went to the mall and had a meal at Planet Hollywood. Earlier that day, I had bought a copy of the earliest Pantera album I could find, a 1991 disc called "Cowboys from Hell". It's March, and we're going to graduate from high school in 2 months and I've just spent the last 4 years learning what bands like Megadeth, Metallica, Anthrax, and now Slayer had to offer me. Now I'm ready to find out, finally, what all the fuss is over these guys from Texas.

Now, I've told you all of that so you know just how fresh this album was to me. In 2002, despite having this album out for 11 years, despite bands like Korn and Slipknot dominating the metal landscape, I rejected them all and was listening to what anyone else in 1991 would. And, lo and behold, my reaction must have been the same as anyone's 11 years earlier if they had a Walkman on them and bought that album and was waiting for a bus for 40 minutes.

I started to headbang. A lot. A WHOLE lot! I practically started a moshpit listening to this album the first two times!

While my soon-to-be ex was listening to Puddle of Mudd (which I made fun of her for, relentlessly), I was learning "The Art of Shredding" and learning of the beauty and majesy of the Cemetery Gates. The very second that opening guitar riff was scanned by that laser eye, transmitted into electrical currents, and beamed right into my god-damn brain, I knew this was THE greatest metal album I had ever heard! Megadeth's "Rust in Peace" beats this disc in terms of personal listens 2-to-1, but I think I listened to this album at least once a day for a month and then at least once a week.

The album is an undipsuited masterpiece, and really, a review of this album is pointless. It's like trying to explain why a cake tastes so damn sweet, or why a nice, wet pussy on a hot young blond is paradise.

But I'll give you a good idea why; This album fuses the hair-metal styling with the thrash metal and punk sensibilities of Megadeth, Metallica, and DRI. Toss in a heavy dose of Texas and New Orleans attitude and bam, Pantera! The most important tracks are the title track, "Primal Concrete Sledge", and "Cemetery Gates". The most underrated are "Shattered" and "The Art of Shredding".

Anyone who says Phil Anselmo can't sing has never heard this album. Anyone who wonders why Vinnie Paul is a hell of a drummer hasn't heard this album. Anyone who thinks Dimebag "squandered his gift" playing the guitar has never heard this album. Rex is one hell of a bassist, too!

This album is sheer metal perfection, up there with more legendary albums than I can name. Only complaint? It ain't longer!

10 out of 10! Buy it or get an ass kicking!