Wednesday, December 13, 2006

666: The Number One Beast - A Tribute To Iron Maiden

666: The Number One Beast - A Tribute To Iron Maiden

Every once in a great while, some critic will review an album and decide upon themselves that a particular disc is not good, that it has no redeeming quality whatsoever and that the CD only takes up space on a shelf. I always thought it was a sad thing to see. And then I bought this album.

This is, without question, the most unnecessary album I’ve EVER heard!

It’s unmitigated crap! Honestly, what was the POINT in making this album?! You have a singer like Steve Overland who takes every single word and tries to make it into some half-assed opera production, accentuating every word as if it’s life or death. To make matters worst, the guitars are mediocre at best on his tracks, and then solos are pure crap.

Paul Di'anno is the only redeeming factor on Volume 1. He only tackles the material done during his stint with Maiden, and the re-recordings of “Wrathchild” and “Iron Maiden” are incredbile.

But the rest of the 2-Volume set (also sold separately, to double your pain and steal your cash) is pure, unmitigated shit! It plays less as a tribute to Iron Maiden and more as a cheap cash-grab attempt by artists in bands no one gave two-shits about in the 80's (save Paul) and calling it a “Tribute”! It is a simply horrid album! Honestly, it’s... it’s just the worst damn album I’ve heard in my entire life, and I’ve listened to “Soundtrack to Your Escape” by In Flames!

1 out of 10, ONLY because of those 2 tracks by Paul saved it.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Hirax - Not Dead Yet

Hirax - Not Dead Yet

There are 3 types of people who like Hirax: Their friends and family, “metal hipsters”, or people who simply say they like an artist just because no one else does, thus making that band “cool” and those who don’t like it “lame” and have “no taste in metal”.

But the final group are the poor, misguided idiots who, for some reason, like Hirax. These are most likely the same people who went through high school in the 80's always trying to be the “cool, metal kid”. They had the hair, the vest, the look... but they had the shittiest taste in metal! Hirax is the band the symbolizes all of that into one album of sheer, unrelenting shit.

I got this album for 2 reasons. The first was because I heard their name tossed around a lot in metal circles, and the second was because they had an album cover done by Pushead. And I have to say, that cover kicks all sorts of ass! Too bad the music it contains is anything BUT!

The main appeal of this band and album is that it was one of the earliest cross-over albums to exist, taking metal, punk, and hardcore together and making something. I would say “good”, but it isn’t. The best way I can put it is this: Imagine D.R.I.’s insane playing style mixed with the style of Joey-era Anthrax. The idea of putting soaring vocals over a D.R.I. song is enough to give some fans enough joy to live happily.

Essentially, that’s what this album is, but with one major flaw; The vocals are shit! No, no, that’s not it. It’s more like they don’t know how to place the vocals right with the music! Instead of getting what could have been an awesome record, your left with an album that is nothing more than a ball of shit. Imagine a ball of shit. Now imagine a really angry bug stuck in that ball, trying to get out. That’s the amount of an impact and frustration this album is to listen to.

Despite the horrible mess the vocals are, the rest of the band is actually in decent shape. The guitar work, especially on the later part of the disc (the EP) is incredibly well-done. It's just the vocals that destroy the album, and it's a sheer shame. That's the bug, and the vocals are the shit.

By the time they get to the “Hate, Fear and Power” disc, the album is pretty much dead. “The Plague” is the best track out of the entire disc, and the only one worth your time. Keep the cover and throw away the CD.

0.1 out of 10. Pure shit!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Strapping Young Lad – City

Strapping Young Lad – City

It is hard to think of an album more worthy of praise than this disc. Not only did Devin Townsend secure his final line-up for the band on this album, but he forever earned his reputation as the musical genius of metal. While other metal guitarists and artists are more than happy to list that their inspiration came from other metal acts, it's the like of Townsend that name the classical composers of the 1880's as his heroes.

City is a masterpiece in every since of the word. For those of you not familiar with what the word is supposed to mean, it's very simple; a Masterpiece, or Masterwork, is suppose to be the very embodiment of everything an artist has learned put into one piece. If one wanted to, Leonardo's “The Last Supper” could be considered just that thanks to his use of technique and as it was, in essence, everything he knew and learned and pioneered thanks to his genius.

In that same vein, City by Strapping Young Lad is just that; It is THE embodiment of everything that Devin Townsend is capable of.

If there was ever any album that could be called the very portrait of anger and rage, this is it. There is, and never again will be, something that could describe the very anger and rage that goes through the mind of a person in the history of music. Devin Townsend himself has bi-polar disorder. While others would say he “suffers” from it, it's quite the contrary; It has done nothing, in terms of his art, but to act as the single greatest driving force possible. I have known people who have that disorder; I, myself, suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder (A.D.D.). I may have Bi-Polar, too, which wouldn't be too surprising.

Without question, this is the most dangerous album ever recorded.

City opens with “Velvet Kevorkian”, the Deceleration of Independence according to Devin. It states in simple terms that he is sick and tired of it all and he wants more from life, his art, and his future. It's followed up by “All Hail the New Flesh”, the musical embodiment of the previous track. It is an insanely complex song that sounds like he is has actually recorded an anxiety attack with a metal band! It ends with a temper with pulsing drums and Devin screaming, “I want it all! I want it all! FUCK! FUCK! FUCK! FUCK!”; the very sound of anger itself, put on record!

“Oh My Fucking God” starts out as manic as you can get; Devin starts out with a relatively clam scream, leading into a non-stop verbal rant about modern society. This gives way later on to a fierce battle of guitars with Devin snarling like a man possessed, leading way to an intense drum blast that must have clocked close to the speed of sound! Soon, they are over-lapped with a chant of “la-la-la-la” over and over again, getting louder and louder and louder until it's enough to... yes, you have finally reached a point beyond anger and into insanity, greeted simply with yelling “Oh My Fucking God”.

“Detox” works just like that. You've been plunged into the world where you now have taken something, drugs, alcohol... something, anything to kill the pain and anger you were just feeling. The song leaves you feeling better than you came. You finally awaken half-way through this song wondering just how you got to the place you came to, feeling paranoid that your looking like an ass in some manner, only to return to the state you cam from. But your still thankful for the experience.

“Home Nucleonics” acts as the cry against all mankind; a “Fuck the world, I hope you all die” kind of sense. Your left feeling insanely angry, warning everyone not to get in your way. The song is essentially written from the perspective of a rouge robot in a future world. “AAA” is an intensely personal song about... well, we can only assume it was written from personal perspective, though I am not one to take 100% belief in it in this case.

“Underneath the Waves” returns you the intensely pissed off Devy that you met earlier. It is Devin screaming in frustration at how nothing is happening. “Tired of Waiting/Tired of Trying/Tired of Waiting/ For Fucking Nothing”, screams the chorus at the top of it's lungs! The guitars chug underneath, giving the cries even more presence.

“Spirituality” is the calmest of all and the perfect closer. It could possibly reveal that the entire album was written from the perspective of some robot, some experiment pondering it's existence, wondering if there is more to it's life than what it's seen. Something I think we can all relate to.

The album is incredibly powerful. Maybe that's why there's a diagram of a bomb on the front. It has the same power, the same intensity.

It deserves no less than a 10 out of 10.

Buy this album, damn it!