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!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Motley Crue - Music to Crash Your Car To Vol 1 & 2

Considering the vast, vast, vast majority of posts and reviews on this blog, it should come as somewhat of a surprise that I'm going to actually review not just Motley Crue, not just 1 box set, bout BOTH of them at the same time. The fact is, to paraphrase Zimmer's Hole, "While I was shouting at the devil, I was still in league with Satan!" I grew up listening to a lot of hair metal, and this was, get this, back in1998-2002! I'm not kidding you! While everyone around me was listening to rap, Britney Spears, boy bands, and my fellow metal heads were "enjoying" nu-metal groups like Korn and Slipknot, I said no to them all (Well, except Korn "Issues", which I still like) and instead was headbanging to comps of hair metal that included Twisted Sister, Winger, White Lion, and countless others. In essence, "While You were Rapping About Bling, I Was Getting Sleazy with The Crue!"

With that said, the context I got into Motley Crue is, most likely, 99% unlike how most people did. They either were into them when they started or got into now after the reunion. I was one of those rare people who got into during that horrible post-grunge/industrial era where they tried their Self Titled album (meh) and Generation Swine.

It's worth noting right from the start that, no, not EVERY Motley Crue album is here. The entire set is basically half cash grab/half honest attempt at pleasing old-school fans.

Vol 1 of this set (the entire thing, of course, being named after various members getting into various car crashes, including the one killing a member of Hanoi Rocks) is less of a buy then the second for this simple reason; If you already own the remastered versions of Motley Crue's "Too Fast For Love", "Shout At the Devil", "Theater of Pain", and "Girls, Girls, Girls", then just let this one go. The entire concept here was basically to re-release the entire discography at this point, complete with bonus tracks, and toss in one or two rare tracks. I got all my Crue albums in 1999, and I just want to say I didn't even realize they had re-released them at the time I got them. It wound up being about a month into it. Just kinda good timing, but it seems they re-re-released them again in 2002 or so with the tracks I didn't have.

If anything is worth it, and this is JUST for the ABSOLUTE die-hards, the original Leathur Records version of "Too Fast for Love" is on here. It really isn't that different than the one we all got to hear at first, but it's cool to have if you really care.

Vol 2, though, is the more interesting Volume of the set. Starting off with the "Dr. Feelgood" album (A personal favorite when I was younger; got it in 2000 when I was 16!), the second disc is various live tracks and remixes, some from Decade of Decadence. I had bought that cassette in 2003 (I'm not kidding) and hadn't heard it in a long time, so it was cool to have a shortened version of the CD. Tossing on a few rare and hard to find tracks, like their cover of "Anarchy in the U.K.", made this really cool. This volume even comes with a comic book that came out before they did Dr. Feelgood, and it's pretty cool.

Disc 3 is their attempt at a Self-Titled disc which, thanks to Metallica's "Black Album", has become an excuse for a band to release an album that is supposed to be more introspective than anything. Sadly, it fails miserably here. The entire album was basically "Hooligan's Holiday" played at various tempos and with different lyrics. While some may say it makes an album "solid", it doesn't always and in this case, it isn't one long piece of music broken into sections, it's 13 different songs that sound like shit. I loved "Hooligan's Holiday" and, who knows, maybe that's why I don't think it's a good disc. But it got boring and repetitive and didn't even sound like the guys from Los Angeles who wanted to have a good time anymore.

Now for Disc 4, you may be thinking, "OK, time for Generation Swine. Let's get to it!" Guess what? NOT HERE! Instead, we get the
Quarternary E.P. which, as the name suggests, makes no sense and once you hear it, you wish you didn't. Tommy Lee basically says "bye" with a track that could easily have been for his terrible "Methods of Mayhem" project, and the entire thing is just spit-takes of the Crue having fun. Toss in the god-awfully pointless remixes of "Hooligan's Holiday", and really, your pissed.

At this point, if your a dedicated Crue fan, or even someone who had all their albums and thought this would be a good buy, your pissed you just spent about $100 - $120 to buy both Volumes and got 90 - 99% of all the material already. And even what you didn't have didn't seem all that great.

But if your still new to the Crue, or just wanted to understand how and why this group sold so many albums, made history, and why their last album, "Saints of Los Angeles", is doing so well, this is why.

In closing, I think your better off buying the albums than buying these box sets. The individual albums have so much going for them and are a lot of fun (packaging and all), it's a better time than the leather box. When you get to Volume 2, though, that's a different story. Disc 2 is, to me, worth the price of admission, and getting the "Motley Crue" album may be worth it for anyone looking to see how the Crue re-branded itself after Vince Neil left.

Or, in other words:

Buying these albums separately new on (The first 5): $100
Buying these box sets together new: $120
Rediscovering your love of 80's Hair and Glam Metal: Priceless

I've given you all the info I can, it really is going to boil down to you in the end this time. Myself? I may sell my copies, at least the first Volume since I don't need it at all. But Volume 2 may stay a little longer....

5 out of 10. The first Volume is all killer, no filler, but if you already own them, let it go. The second is more filler, less killer, but more interesting if you ignored anything by the Crue in the 90's.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Judas Priest - Nostradamus

Well, let me start by saying that there are a few things that hamper a review for an album: Initial hype, time after the release, and the legacy of the band. When Led Zeppelin's first 2 albums came out, Rolling Stone magazine basically called them uninspired crap. Today, they're on every Top 50 albums lists you ever see. Why? It's not entirely because they were good albums. Instead, the impact, or even perceived impact, is what propelled them to be legendary albums.

That said, I think this album sucks.

I love Judas Priest, and I even got to meet them briefly before the album was released. I was excited about this album after the incredibly disappointing Angel of Retribution after I heard the title track for this disc. The idea was pure Spinal Tap; a 2 Disc set about Nostradamus. It was the craziest idea I had heard in a long time and I was excited to see how they would pull it off.

Well, the result is an overly-bloated album that doesn't work half the time. Half of the album consists of musical interludes that exist to advance the story along, but instead hold it back from being a good album. A fake string section adds to a more hokey feel to the album, and the disc suffers from it.

On the flip side, if it was streamlined to one disc, this would have been a great Priest album.

"Prophecy" "Revelations", "Persecution", "Exiled", and "Nostradamus" are some of the best tracks on this disc, venturing from everywhere in the metal spectrum from traditional metal to sheer thrash.

If, over the 2 years they worked on this, they went the extra mile, the tracks I consider "filler" would have been worth it. Cradle of Filth for it's 2003 album "Damnation and a Day" told the story of creation "From Genesis to Nemesis" over the course of 1 disc and with the accompany of a 40-piece Budapest Film Orchestra and 32-piece Budapest Film Choir. Had Judas Priest gone the extra mile and done something similar, hiring an orchestra and a choir to put the finishing touches on this album, this would have been at least more interesting and, maybe, not as bloated.

In the end, this is something I'll rarely recommend: Go to I-Tunes and just download a few tracks instead.

4.5 Stars out of 10.