My CD Reviews Thread

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Re: My CD Reviews Thread

Postby TageRyche » Tue Dec 31, 2019 9:19 am

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Re: My CD Reviews Thread

Postby TageRyche » Thu Jan 02, 2020 8:41 am

Beth Hart

War In My Mind

Provogue Records - 2019

http://www.bethhart.com

There are times when I listen to music that I can have a million things going on around me and I can focus on all of it at the same time. But that is just not the case when it comes time to listen to a new Beth Hart album. There is something so blazingly pure that I find in her music that when I open the plastic wrapping enclosing the album for that first spin of the CD, I block out all other distractions and just focus on what invariably ends up being a musical experience of the first order.

After listening to War In My Mind, all I can say is that this experience has once again repeated itself. Look, my fandom for Beth's music is one of the universe's worst kept secrets. But that only means I have to be more on my guard when writing about said music. I don't want to be biased in my writing, but instead provide an honest assessment of the songs she sings. But it is just one of life's lucky mysteries that my fandom and the high quality of her music always seems to coincide just perfectly.

The album opens with a rocking up-tempo "Bad Woman Blues". The bluesy swinging vibe from the music and Hart's singing of some powerfully killer lyrics get things off to a hugely energetic start.

Of course, despite the fact that I particularly enjoyed the song, that is just the appetizer. Between various up-tempo numbers comes a bevy of piano based/driven material that finds Beth Hart mining (on her own or with co-writers) an ever growing emotional minefield to bring out feelings in the listener that they might not really experience on a regular basis.

Songs like the title track are made more dramatic in their presentation because they are so keyed to playing off the piano Hart plays. There's a couple of brief upsweeps in the song's musical component but for the most part, it is a piano showcase. And the song is so much better for it.

Then you have songs like "Without Words In The Way" and "Sister Dear". They are also playing off the piano foundation first and foremost but Hart's vocals and the song lyrics help bring out more of that emotional depth. When a choir is added in on "Let It Grow", it gives another level of dramatic heft to the track especially when you write lines like "In every heart there's a seed with a promise of hope."

Of course, it isn't all just songs of searching and feeling. There's songs that are just the kind of release of bursts of fun and energy. The kind of jazzy swing of Hart's vocals on "Try A Little Harder" is a quick stepping ball of adrenalized grit.

You've got a heated atmosphere provided by the faster paced "Spanish Lullabies". I love the chorus in this one and the brief classical guitar solo makes for a nice twist in the musical mix. "Sugar Shack" has a sense of playfulness in the performance that gives the song a real sense of immediacy to it.

The best part of the album is in how the track listing is arranged to provide peaks and valleys in terms of song styles. You get roused by the rocking songs and you feel the same sense of contemplation with the more deliberately paced numbers. The song "Woman Down" conveys (at least to me) a sense of regret in the lyrics. I'll admit that I am not sure I can put my finger on why I was given to that feeling but it works for me. It also has one of the killer lyrics on the album with the line "pennies of pain become the rain". That one just struck me like a lightning bolt.

Hart's look at the good things in her life is given voice in "Thankful". The best thing is how her thoughts can serve as yours as you listen. As a counterpoint, the emotional devastation that is evoked by "I Need A Hero" kills you. I don't know how she does it but through lyrics and the performance she puts forth, Hart someone always manages to dredge up my ability to feel the same kind of emotions she's singing about in her music.

I should briefly mention that I bought the limited edition box set version of War In My Mind release. It provides two live bonus cuts from Hart's previous album Fire on the Floor, "Love Gangster" and the title track. They are fine but don't add or subtract to the regular track listing for War In My Mind. The box set includes a couple of Beth Hart-themed coasters, postcards and stickers.

To sum up what I thought of this latest amazing album from Beth Hart, I think back to the 1984 song by melodic rockers Survivor. In their song "It's The Singer, Not The Song", vocalist Jimi Jamison sang the line, "When there's magic in the music, it's the singer not the song".

If that is to be taken at face value, the expression doesn't quite go far enough. There's a weird kind of alchemy that happens when I listen to Beth's music as a whole, and it is once again demonstrated on War In My Mind. She is obviously adept at mining her own life experiences and turning them into works of art. But what makes this an even more powerful and passionate experience is that her work is capable of a transference from her to her fans. In my own personal experience, Beth's songs always seem to become my own in such a way that I've been trying to understand why they hit home with me so much for years. I never know what to expect on this music journey with Beth Hart. However, I know that I not only look forward to each new path she takes but feel that I'm on that same path alongside her.

War on My Mind is the latest outstanding musical expression from the brilliance of Beth Hart and it is the kind of music that transcends whatever stylistic boundaries you might set for yourself as a listener. Music as art...as the late baseball commentator Mel Allen used to say, "How about that?"

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Re: My CD Reviews Thread

Postby TageRyche » Sun Jan 05, 2020 6:06 am

Whitesnake

Flesh & Blood

Frontiers Music Srl - 2019

http://www.whitesnake.com

It's been a few years since I've paid REAL close attention to a new Whitesnake release. Not because I thought they'd put out a bad album or anything but I just didn't have an interest in re-recordings of Deep Purple songs (The Purple Album) or that Unzipped album the band did.

But I did love the Forevermore CD which came before those two releases. If memory serves, I had it as my favorite album the year it came out. With that in mind, I was really looking forward to checking out what Whitesnake had to offer with their first fully original album with Joel Hoekstra being part of the band AND writing songs in combination with singer David Coverdale and guitarist Reb Beach.

Things got off to a fiery start with the album opener "Good To See You Again". The energy that sizzles through the music gets you fully charged and rocking. Better yet, the lyrics perfectly encapsulate a kind of greeting to those listening to the album. It also stands to reason that it would be a great song with which to open up a concert with. I was slightly less impressed with the next track "Gonna Be Alright". I think that had to do mostly with the fact that Coverdale's vocals seemed oddly muted.

I know that I've seen other people talking in the past that his voice isn't the same as it used to be (who's would be after all this time, but I digress). I don't know if it was a production decision or what, but it does strike me funny when there's a seemingly concerted effort NOT to put his vocals more in the forefront of a song's mix.

Thankfully though, it seemed to be the only song on the extended deluxe edition of the album that suffered this issue. At least to my ears, the rest of the album sounded more like the Coverdale we are all used to hearing.

Particular evident of that is the song "Shut Up & Kiss Me". The blazingly paced rocker sees Coverdale front and center showcasing one of the better songs on the disc. It's got a great commercial vibe to it, the chorus giving the song a big lift.

For the most part, Whitesnake seems to rock the hell out on Flesh & Blood. The album's 13 standard tracks, plus the two bonus songs, only take an extended slow down on two songs and both of those are surprisingly good. "Heart of Stone" has a slightly darker sensibility to it. The song moves from slow to a midtempo style over the course of the track but it has such a killer mood to it. I liked the dramatic edginess to the vocals on this one.

The other slow song is definitely the "ballad" track on the disc. "After All" is what I can only describe as a stunningly beautiful song. It is mostly done with vocals and an acoustic guitar track played by Hoekstra. But the lyrics are that kind of purely heartfelt variety that might normally make my eyes roll. But such is not the case here. No, instead you have one of the better "love" songs you'll ever hear.

But with the softer side of things out of the way, the focus needs to shine back on the band's more rocking nature. Tracks like "Hey You (You Make Me Rock)", the title track and "Well I Never" are deliciously up-tempo numbers. I thought "Trouble Is Your Middle Name" went above and beyond and turns into another of the album highlights. I also enjoyed the rocking stomp of the 2nd of two bonus cuts, "If I Can't Have You".

On most of the band's albums, there always seems to be a song that finds the band aiming for that "epic" feel. The song that feels cinematic in scope. "Sands of Time" would serve that purpose for this release. It is appropriately fast paced and does indeed feel bigger somehow. The fact it is also a darn good tune helps as well. And then there's the blues boogie rocking feel of "Get Up". Wow! This is such a good walloping dose of rock and roll that if you were hearing this in a bar, you'd almost want to get up and dance (in a manly kind of rocking way of course).

So while it may have taken me a good long while to get around to listening to and reviewing this album, the high quality rock and roll provided by David Coverdale and his Whitesnake compatriots makes Flesh & Blood one of the better releases that came out in 2019. Now if only I could get to see them again.

(As a side note: The deluxe edition comes with a DVD that contains remixes of 3 songs plus a behind the scenes video feature.)

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Re: My CD Reviews Thread

Postby TageRyche » Mon Jan 06, 2020 5:11 am

Ray Alder

What The Water Wants

InsideOut Music - 2019

Fates Warning frontman Ray Alder steps out on his own for the first time on this "debut" solo album What The Water Wants. Of course, on his own UNDER his own name that is. He did have two albums with a side project called Engine in 1999 and 2002.

But as I said, this is his first album under his own name. It's an intriguing mix of songs that really capture some magic lyrically even if I wasn't totally sold on some of the songs as a whole. I've read where he didn't want the album to sound like Fates Warning, but I don't know if that's quite the mark he hit. It could be a failure of imagination on my part, but given that Ray's doing the singing and seven of the ten standard tracks on the album were co-written with Fates Warning touring guitarist Mike Abdow, I think comparisons to his main band are apt.

As I said, 7 tracks were co-written with Abdow and there's some good stuff to be heard from their collaboration. The album opens with "Lost", one of the more up-tempo tracks from the two musicians.

Lyrically speaking, the songs "Crown of Thorns" (see the video link below) and "What The Water Wanted" are great examples of Alder really putting out some great ideas.

On "Crown of Thorns", the chorus gets kind of deep with "The wind in the air, it sings a song / I know where my heart lived all along / I know it's safe from tempest storms / And no one can take my crown of thorns". Meanwhile, I thought the verse "Forget the rain, deny the storm / What the water wants is more / It's dying just to fail / But if that's everything / You'd rather have nothing at all" sounded not just poetic but in some kind of way like a philosophical phrasing.

I should also mention the song "The Road". Much like a lot of the material from the Alder/Abdow collaboration, it is real slow moving for the most part. But the lyrics set forth kind of a powerful story of one saying goodbye to their life and being okay with the passage. It was moving in its way. There's an acoustic version of the song included on this release as a bonus track.

The remaining three songs come from a pairing of Alder with Lords of Black guitarist Tony Hernando. I'd reviewed that band's most recent album and loved it, so seeing he was involved in the songwriting a bit had me keyed up for what his contribution would turn out to be.

As it turns out, the three songs were probably the heaviest fast paced tracks on the disc. The lyrics may be what qualifies in my mind as "esoteric", but with them couched inside of a fiery rocking soundtrack, the song "Some Days" was a huge hit with me. I also loved "Wait" and "A Beautiful Lie".

Given how vastly more technically involved the music is in the progressive metal genre, I may not always be the best one to review that aspect of the music. I know what I like and I know what doesn't seem to work for me. But there are times when the finished product is much easier to understand than all the individual parts of the process in getting to the final part.

What I do know for sure is that despite my wish that there'd been more of a rocking kind of nature to a few more tracks, Ray Alder's foray out into the world under his own name has produced a highly creative musical soundtrack with impressively thoughtful lyrics that fans of his work with Fates Warning will adore. They'll find that What The Water Wants is pretty much what they didn't know they were waiting for as well.

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Re: My CD Reviews Thread

Postby TageRyche » Mon Jan 06, 2020 8:14 am

My Top 10 CDs of 2019

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#10 - Steve Grimmett's Grim Reaper - At The Gates - I've been a fan of Steve Grimmett's voice since the 80's and this incarnation of the band has released two pretty damn good albums in the last few years.


#9 - Gary Hoey - Neon Highway Blues - What can I say, I just happen to love the blues rock music that Gary Hoey has been putting out on his last couple of albums. Factor in the great production work he does with Lita Ford and his annual Christmas music tours and I don't know why he isn't far bigger than he is. He certainly deserves to be.

#8 - Queensryche - The Verdict - It was a welcome surprise to see Queensryche put out an album that really felt like a Queensryche album in more than just name. Todd La Torre really felt more like he was singing as himself and not imitating Geoff Tate as much as on past releases. I got to see the band on tour for this album and it was a pretty darn good show as well.


#7 - Whitesnake - Flesh & Blood - This was one of the albums I was late in getting around to but it turns out it was worth the wait because despite being a pretty lengthy track listing, this was a fantastic album that got me back into the band after skipping over their recent non-original releases.

#6 - Crashdiet - Rust - I really only knew of this band because of one song from their past catalog but I really got into the majority of this album and it was just fun to listen to it again and again.


#5 - Dave Bickler - Darklight - This was a genuinely great album to listen to. The ex-Survivor singer put out a rock and roll album that had the best of both sides of the musical coin. Rockers that rocked and the ballads that were surefooted without being sappy.


#4 - Tora Tora - Bastards of Beale - This was definitely unexpected. While the band had a few minutes of glory back in the latter days of the 80's metal run, if you'd told me that they'd put out one of the best rock and roll albums in 2019, I probably would've told you that I thought you were nuts. But that's exactly what happened! And I got to see (and meet) the band on the tour for this album.


#3 - Helix - Old School - While I'd only really listened to the band's Wild In The Streets album before this one, I was overjoyed to find that this was an album in the same vein. It's a heck of an entertaining record and one that I wish would get more attention from rock and metal fans.

#2 - Mike Tramp - Stray From The Flock - When I submitted my year end list to KNAC.COM, this was my #1 album. And when it comes to just a strict rock and metal pick, it is definitely my pick. Only one other album beat it out and that's not a rock/metal release. Simply put, Mike Tramp may not be living on his White Lion glory days but his move into becoming an outstanding singer/songwriter has been fascinating to watch/hear and he's really seemed to put it all together with this album. Oh, and I got to see him live for this tour and meet him!

And my pick for the best album I listened to in 2019 is:

#1 - BETH HART - WAR IN MY MIND - Everything I want to say about just how great this album is can be read in My Classic Rock Bottom Review! There's just something about Beth Hart's music that always strikes a chord with me.

And that, as they say, is that. I'm looking forward to seeing what 2020 has in store for me musically because I'm sure there's lots of good stuff coming my way. And I'll be eager to listen to it!
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Re: My CD Reviews Thread

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Re: My CD Reviews Thread

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Re: My CD Reviews Thread

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Re: My CD Reviews Thread

Postby TageRyche » Thu Nov 19, 2020 10:49 am

Armored Saint

Punching The Sky

Metal Blade Records - 2020

After being one of what I'm sure is only a handful of people who found the last Armored Saint album Win Hands Down (You can read that review HERE!) mildly disappointing, I still found myself completely energized when the impending release of Punching The Sky was announced.

The first song released in advance of the official album sale date was "End Of The Attention Span", which was quickly followed by "Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants". These songs certainly whetted the appetite that much more.

So much so that I ordered the special edition version of the album direct from Metal Blade Records. So not only did I get the full album, but I got the version with the 3 extra tracks and a bonus DVD featuring the full set Armored Saint did at the 2018 Rock Hard festival. Add in a T-shirt with the album art on it and how could I not get this package considering how I feel about the band, right?

But I was a tiny bit worried that I might not like what I'd hear based on my mediocre reaction to Win Hands Down. At first listen, I feared I was right. There were some songs that didn't capture my imagination outright. But that's why you give an album more than one listen before writing a review. To combat simple stupidity on the part of the reviewer.

The album opens with the first two songs the band put out ahead of the album, but in reverse order. So the first thing the listener hears is "Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants". And as it stands right now, not only is this my favorite song on the album, but it is my favorite song of 2020!

The opening use of the uileann pipes (provided by Patrick D'Arcy) give the song an immediate sense of the epic! The song starts out slow and then rises to a fast attack kind of pacing. And between the immense musical soundtrack and the drop dead awesome nature of singer John Bush's performance, this just got me all fired up. The song has a killer chorus that became instantly memorable:

"As I grow older I lift this boulder

With strength I chip it away

Standing on the shoulders of giants

Punching the sky every day

As life gets colder, flames they smolder

Climb so I can survey

Standing on the shoulders of giants

Punching the sky everyday"

And that is just the first song on the album!

With "End of the Attention Span", the band provides a commentary on the state of things today. Doing it such a way to not let what they are talking about overwhelm the song itself helps give an extra bit of life to the track. The song starts out a tiny bit slow but that quickly changes and the Saint roars onward...to the song "Bubble". This one moved fast to be sure, but felt like there was a little bit of restraint to the start of the song. It has a real killer feel to it overall.

As I mentioned, I had a little trouble with some songs at first. For whatever reason, I seemed to have missed something before going back and really digging into each of the songs that didn't seem to have the same kind of fire.

One of those songs was "My Jurisdiction". My notes just said "Eh" at first. But as I got into the song I found that first impressions can definitely be wrong. The song grew on me a lot.

"Lone Wolf" was another track that for reasons passing understanding didn't appeal to me at first. And I'm just going to admit to a complete failure on my part here. I say this because the song has a hypnotic appeal to it. It rocks pretty hard but also seduces you into wrapping yourself up into the performance. Normally a title like "Lone Wolf" would be enough to draw me in with the images of solitude it conjures up, but what I found was having to put in some extra work to discover what makes a song so appealing so richly enhances the appreciation I now have for it.

Of course, you have songs that hit you between the eyes from the start, just blowing you away as you realize just how good they are even as you hear them the first time. The way drummer Gonzo Sandoval powers the song "Do Wrong To None" with just a heavy rat-a-tat-tat delivery behind the kit helps give the song a pure hard-charging metallic vibe. The guitar solo was pretty intense as well.

Not generally given to messing around looking for a direction, the band raises that particular art form up a notch on "Missile To Gun". Highly aggressive musically and fueled by an astoundingly brutal (in a good way) vocal performance from Bush, this is another one of the highlights of Punching The Sky. Meanwhile, "Fly In The Ointment" tends to move a bit more deliberately but still packs plenty of heavy punches for you.

Before I talk about the closing tracks of the main album, I should mention that the three bonus tracks are pretty invigorating too. Both "For The Sake Of Heaviness" and "Underdogs" are from the band's performance at the 2019 Bang Your Head festival in Germany. Fittingly, both are incredible crunching performances. And given my personal love of the Raising Fear album, hearing "Underdogs" in a live setting gave me a real sense of elation. The final track included as a bonus cut also comes from the Raising Fear album. The song "Isolation" is a pretty intense song it its original form but when you are stuck at home because of worldwide events, this raw performance billed as being "live from isolation" makes the song hit home a bit more.

As for the last three songs on the album's main section, I felt like kind of a heel for not being initially drawn to "Unfair". This is the song I'm most glad to have gone back and really listened to. The song has a dedication to it and if I hadn't listened again, it would've felt like I was being welcomed into someone's home and then took a leak on their rug. Instead, upon further reflection, the very slow and spare manner in which the song starts off ends up bringing the song home a lot more than I first thought. Stylistically, the song grows to a more aggressive tone towards the end of the track and becomes far more of a dramatic performance that I would've missed out on had I not taken more of a listen in the first place.

Meanwhile, you gotta love the fast pace of "Bark, No Bite" and "Never You Fret". The former sounds a bit smoother in the main lyrical passages but there's a definitive growling edge to the song during its chorus. On "Never You Fret", the vibrantly aggressive feel to the music and yet another high class but hard-edged vocal performance brought things to an explosive head and pushed the album over the top for me.

Yes, it may have required a little bit of extra work on my part to appreciate every song on the album. But that's what makes the experience of an Armored Saint album so rewarding in the end. John Bush, Gonzo Sandoval, bassist Joey Vera (who produced the album) and so much in the way of incredible guitar playing from Jeff Duncan and Phil Sandoval just seem to have the intrinsic ability to provide one incredible work of metal music after another. This album, as it turns out, is rather brilliant in both conception and execution. May Armored Saint be Punching The Sky for many more years to come!


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Postby TageRyche » Tue Feb 09, 2021 4:57 am

Accept

Too Mean To Die

Nuclear Blast Records - 2021

http://www.acceptworldwide.com

I've been a huge fan of the albums that Accept has released after adding singer Mark Tornillo to the lineup. They've mostly ended up as either my favorite or 2nd favorite releases the year the albums were put out.

So when Accept announced the Too Mean To Die album, it immediately went on my buy list. But I have to say that I wasn't all that enthused about the song they put out to hype up the album before it's official release date.

"The Undertaker" song has nothing to do with the pro wrestler of the same name but the name is so ingrained with that guy that I couldn't help but feel this song was some sort of attempt at providing a metal anthem for the character to come out to (had he still been performing that is). This notion wasn't helped by what I thought was a cheesy video for the song. I have a slightly improved opinion of the song after listening to it without the video. The song is in a mid-tempo groove for the most part though the chorus does feature a heavier sound. But while I did think the song ended up being better than my first impression, it still nags at me a bit.

The idea of a rejected theme song also came into play a bit on the album's opening song "Zombie Apocalypse". The music is incredible. It's truly effective but I just found the lyrical content screaming to me that this was a theme song idea rejected for the TV show The Walking Dead.

But after those reservations, I was pleased to find myself enjoying the rest of the album immensely.

The title track has this fast paced edge to both the music and the lyrics. Tornillo's vocal performance on this track is perfectly suited to those lyrics.

That should be much of a surprise since Tornillo and guitarist Wolf Hoffman are responsible for writing most of the songs on the album. They are assisted by bassist Martin Motnik on four songs and longtime co-writer Deaffy is credited with co-writing credits on six songs.

A good chunk of the album sees the band focusing their lyrical content on the ills of the world as they see them. The hard-driving attack of "No One's Master" takes the media to task in the song while "How Do We Sleep" blasts through the speakers addressing the current state of the world as a whole. For me, however, the best take on the topical content of the lyrics is the song "Overnight Sensation". The soundtrack is still pretty heavy but feels a bit more reserved at the same time. But there's no holding back as Tornillo's vocals cut the notion of being "Internet famous" to shreds. The song is timely and just a bit funny as it really strikes to the truth of being a celebrity while doing absolutely nothing of consequence.

Given Hoffman's predilection for classical music, I shouldn't be surprised at the inclusion of the instrumental "Samson And Delilah", a metallic version of the Camille Saint-Saens / Antonin Dvorak piece. But what did surprise me was that I quite enjoyed this version Hoffman arranged. He also threw in a little bit of classical flourish on the song "Symphony Of Pain". The song is another burst of electrifying metal fury but that little flourish helped give the song a bit more of and edge to it.

"The Best Is Yet To Come" is kind of another "message" song and much like "The Undertaker", I really didn't take to it much on the first listen. It starts out kind of like a mellow ballad. It gets heavier for the chorus. I did appreciate the sentiment but felt the song just didn't quite work for me. But on future spins of the album as I prepared the review, I found that the song does actually grown on you a bit more than I would've thought.

And as much as I did enjoy the songs were Accept took a stance on something, I also enjoyed the more balls-out aggressive songs where the message may not have been as much in the forefront. The songs "Sucks To Be You" and "Not My Problem" are prime examples of this. Each song just hits you between the eyes (and ears), leaving a mark that you'll gladly bear proudly each time you give the album another spin.

Despite my misgivings on some of the songs, I think the Too Mean To Die album is still a quite strong offering from Accept. It's chock full of great riffs, a superb musical soundtrack, strong lyrical content and great vocals. I don't know that the band itself is "too mean" themselves, but I don't see Accept giving up the ghost any time soon if they keep turning out material like this.

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Re: My CD Reviews Thread

Postby TageRyche » Thu Feb 25, 2021 5:33 am

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Re: My CD Reviews Thread

Postby TageRyche » Sat Mar 20, 2021 10:48 am

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Re: My CD Reviews Thread

Postby TageRyche » Fri Mar 26, 2021 4:35 am

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Re: My CD Reviews Thread

Postby TageRyche » Tue Apr 13, 2021 7:57 am

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Re: My CD Reviews Thread

Postby TageRyche » Wed Apr 21, 2021 8:31 am

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Re: My CD Reviews Thread

Postby TageRyche » Thu Apr 29, 2021 8:36 am

This isn't a CD review.

I recently had the chance to interview the Greek metal band Illusory. They have their new album Crimson Wreath coming out on May 21st via Rockshots Records and I reviewed it as an utter masterpiece.

Then came the chance to do the interview. You can check it out via this KNAC.COM link.

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Re: My CD Reviews Thread

Postby TageRyche » Mon May 03, 2021 1:03 am

One of the other music message boards is going offline soon so I am copying over some of the reviews I wrote there. Generally, I'm keeping them in the spot here where I first posted the link. But a few had a couple of links in one post so I'm reposting a couple anew.

Lizzy Borden

My Midnight Things

Metal Blade Records - 2018

http://www.lizzyborden.com

After an 11 year hiatus between studio albums, Lizzy Borden (both the singer and the band) surprised the metal world when this new album was announced. As a fan of the Visual Lies and Master Of Disguise albums in particular and having written about Give 'Em The Axe and Menace To Society, it is safe to say that I'm a fan of the band. So when the album was announced, I was pretty stoked.

Those flames of fandom were stoked even higher when the lyric video for the title track was released because the "My Midnight Things" song is flat out amazing. It's not much of a surprising statement to say that Lizzy Borden is one of the prime purveyors of theatrical rock but with the title track opening the album, that sense of the theatrical and the sensational vocal take immediately meld into something that manages to take the listener by surprise with how good it sounds. And lyrically, the song is pretty strong. The entire album is pretty verbose lyrically, but on this song the lyrics seem to set up the entire premise or at least feel of the album. I particularly enjoyed the line "I want the flames / I want the fire / I want all that I desire / I want to live in the dream of my midnight things". The song is a breathless rocker and the two word phrase "midnight things" seems pretty key as it shows up in two other songs on the album, not including the reprise of "My Midnight Things". That version of the song features the track played as more of a ballad with just the spare instrumentation of the piano and keyboard accompanying Borden's vocal. I may not always like alternate versions of the same song but this one was so different that it really worked its magic on me. I know it will probably be forgotten in many a year's end lists but the "My Midnight Things" song is one of the best of 2018.

I don't know if I'm reading too much into the song "Obsessed With You" but when I listened to it, I thought the way the song was split between a slower, calmer feel in the main passages and then revved up during the chorus was a deliberate attempt to sonically illustrate the duality of an obsessive's mind...calm during certain moments but in the grip of that obsession's frenzy when the opportunity presents itself. Borden crooned during the slower portions of the song and then the more metallic attack. Unfortunately, it was the slower parts of the song that did nothing for me and the way the word "obsessed" was sung in the chorus just struck me as a horrid decision.

Of course then you have a song like "Long May They Haunt Us". The hard driving rocker weds the more melodic side of Borden's sound with the heavier metallic bent perfectly.

Going back to the strength of the lyrics on the album for a minute, the song "A Stranger To Love" not only features an aggressive tone running as an undercurrent throughout the song but just about kills lyrically too. The opening couplet of "We are shadows all of us / we are savage wanderlust" was strikingly noteworthy to my ears and things just keep getting better throughout the performance.

I wish I could say that about the entirety of the album, but the superbly titled "The Scar Across My Heart" finds the vocals so buried in the mix that you almost have to dig them out to hear what is being sung. It became such a distraction to me as to really wipe out my interest in the song. I had similar issues with "The Perfect Poison". The way the song started out left me pretty cold and despite the slower tempo being abandoned for a more fiery delivery later in the song, it wasn't enough to completely overcome my initial distaste. As for "Run Away With Me", there's no need to be overly wordy here...I just didn't care for the song.

However, the album does close out on a double shot of high quality rock and roll (broken up by that reprise of "My Midnight Things") with "We Belong To The Shadows", a lively shot of adrenaline that brings about the conclusion of the album. Before that you have one of the other standout tracks in "Our Love Is God". If you immediately think this is some sort of ballad, you'd be completely wrong. The viciously intense delivery is aggressive throughout and lyrically it grabs your ears with malice aforethought.

When you check out the liner notes for the album, those last two songs are facing a marvelous bit of art design featuring yet another look for Lizzy Borden himself. The art design for the entire package is visually striking which again, given the prior track record for the Lizzy Borden band, isn't all that surprising. But it is nice to see that they can still bring that attention to their visual representation as well as their music.

I do wish there had been less in the way of material that I felt didn't quite rise to the challenge that the best of the cuts set the standard for but I'm sure that is just my own personal desires rather than an actual lack in overall quality from the band.

Borden wrote all the material for the album and he played most of the instruments (except for the drums by Joey Scott, who also co-produced the album with Borden), so there's no doubt that this is his album. Whether you think this would make it more of a solo album for him or take it as billed for the band, what you can't deny is that when the band hits the mark just right, My Midnight Things is another example of just how good (and universally underrappreciated) Lizzy Borden can be.


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Re: My CD Reviews Thread

Postby TageRyche » Mon May 03, 2021 1:06 am

The Dead Daisies

Burn It Down

Spitfire Music / SPV - 2018

http://www.thedeaddaisies.com

In the interest of expediency, let's get my somewhat minor negative reactions to the new Dead Daisies album Burn It Down out of the way right at the start. The slow moving "Set Me Free" and the very amped up cover of The Beatles song "Revolution" (the album's bonus track) did absolutely nothing for me.

With that over and done with, now we can focus on the other nine tracks on the disc. Given that I was so captivated with the band's previous album Make Some Noise (and getting to see their live set opening for Kiss), I was a bit worried that I would hold Burn It Down to some impossible to meet standard in order for me to sing its praises.

Thankfully, after a distracted first listen where I just couldn't seem to focus on the music like I would want to, I spun the album again. Suddenly, there I was surrounded by this wall of sound that takes the best of modern day hard rock and fuses it with the best sensibilities of everything that made 70's "classic rock" so great. And what a fantastic journey was to be had from that point forward.

The Dead Daisies have put out 4 studio albums, plus a live record in just about 5 years time. Such a prolific amount of material hasn't seemed to hurt the overall quality of the albums as a whole though.

On Burn It Down, the disc opens up with the song "Resurrected". Filled with the requisite fiery licks from guitarists Doug Aldrich and David Lowy, the song sets the tone for what's to come in a phenomenally explosive fashion. With new drummer Deen Castronovo (replacing Brian Tichy) and longtime bassist Marco Mendoza seemingly everywhere as the foundation of the band's sound and John Corabi's full throated gravelly expressive vocal performance, the song just kills it from start to finish.

While "Rise Up" continues in the same fast charging manner, there's also a slightly more controlled methodical stomp to the track at the same time. The bluesy slow burn during the main lyrical passages of the title track give way to a rocking kick in the face for the chorus. The back and forth between the two styles helps give a pretty intense vibe to the song.

I mentioned that the band had a solid grasp of that 70's classic rock sound and given how a lot of bands back then could make a track feel as if it was epic in scope, it should be no surprise that The Dead Daisies do that too. Though of a decidedly quicker nature in terms of the song's pacing "Judgement Day" has the same kind of epic feel you'd expect to find on a, dare I say it, Led Zeppelin release.

I mentioned The Beatles cover already, but the first of the two cover songs on the album was "Bitch" from The Rolling Stones. Once again, it is a far more "rocked up" sound in this version. I'm sure it would upset purists who love the original song but I have to say that this was a killer rendition. Since I know they like to play covers in their set, I would just love to hear this one live.

The distraction I felt when I first listened to the album still wasn't enough to make me not see the greatness of three tracks later in the album. From the start, "Can't Take It With You" and "Leave Me Alone" were just bell ringing tracks that caught my ear. The former is just an overall cool rocker while I thought the chorus to the latter track was eminently catchy.

And then there is "Dead And Gone".

The thing I like about The Dead Daisies is how they can be this down and dirty gritty rock and roll band but still manage to have some wonderful lyrical expressiveness. There are great turns of phrase on the title track, "Rise Up" and "Resurrected". But for my money, "Dead And Gone", is the singular centerpiece of the album. To me, this gut busting rocker was a clarion call. Everything about this track is so far and away great. Musically, the song is highly invigorating and the strong vocal performance/presence from Corabi on this track resonates like you wouldn't believe. And lyrically...just WOW! The lyrics to the song are one of just four that made it into the booklet for the album and I'm glad it did because even something as simple as "Let the devil be my witness / To everything I've done / Cause it ain't nobody's business / And I'm not the only one" managed to have a lasting effect on me as I heard it. When lyrics stick with you long after the song is done playing, that's a real good marker in my book.

I'm sure there's lots of other flowery descriptive language I could use to further describe Burn It Down, but what it all boils down to is that this new album from The Dead Daisies is a smoking hot serving of the best of what hard rock and metal has to offer. You'd be remiss in your duties as a music fan to not check this out. 'Nuff Said.

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Re: My CD Reviews Thread

Postby TageRyche » Mon May 03, 2021 1:30 am

Ozzy Osbourne

Ordinary Man

Epic Records - 2020

http://www.ozzy.com

"The sun is black, the sky is red

And it feels like today is the end"

It's been ten years since the last Ozzy Osbourne solo album and given the above quote line from the song "Today Is The End" and the seemingly funereal vibe I got from a bunch of the song titles and lyrics, this album certainly feels like it is a farewell release. That isn't anything official of course, but given that the original plan was to see Ozzy off on a two year farewell concert tour, I don't think I'm just pulling this feeling out of my butt, either.

Of course, ill health and the worldwide pandemic conspired against the farewell trek from getting underway which leaves us to take that much more of a look at the Ordinary Man album itself.

I thought the album started off nicely with the hard-charging tempo of "Straight To Hell. It's initial burst of rock energy was perfectly cast to open the album.

But I was less enamored of the next two songs in the track listing. "All My Life" starts off a bit slow through the first verse and then increases its pace for the chorus. It's a pattern that repeats for the entirety of the song but the track itself just wasn't my cup of tea. I wasn't as completely down on "Goodbye" but the midtempo musical stomp was only really interesting when it exploded out into more of a rocker track musically in the middle of the song and then again towards the end.

The first song I had heard from the album came when I was listening to the car radio. The album's title track got some initial airplay because the song features Elton John teaming up with Ozzy on the vocals (he plays the piano on the track as well). I liked the contrast to both singer's voices and while the song feels like a musical eulogy, it is still rather noteworthy regardless.

Of course, try as I might there are songs that just really don't cut the mustard on this album. I was deeply disappointed overall in "Today Is The End" because the main lyrical passages were a bit weak. I say this because I did enjoy the way the chorus was delivered and the harder edge to the music in the solo pricked up my ears a bit. As for "Scary Little Green Men", the song just felt a little silly while it was slogging its way through the opening portion of the song. Admittedly the chorus was pretty intriguing for the delivery but again, it was only when the music got harder and faster that I really had much interest. I was thoroughly unmoved by "Holy For Tonight".

But there were a few tracks that really captured both my attention and imagination on Ordinary Man. I really dug the bluesy harmonica intro on "Eat Me". That intro led quickly into more of an aggressive tempo from that point forward. I'm not sure if I missed some underlying theme with the cannibalistic type lyrics but in general, the song was pretty entertaining.

Now, one of the reasons the album got so much attention upon the initial release was the inclusion of two songs featuring the artist Post Malone. I am NOT a fan. That said, I was pleasantly surprised/shocked that both tracks are actually pretty good. The "Take What You Want" song that was released first by Post Malone with Ozzy's vocals is included as a bonus track. I'd avoided listening to the song when it was released but hearing it hear my first thought was "Well, it's not terrible". It's not a song you'd really expect to hear Ozzy being a part of but keeping to honesty in my reviews, I liked it.

As for the second song with Post Malone, "It's A Raid" is a gloriously slipshod brain-busting burst of fiery rock and roll. The first two minutes of the song are incredibly fast and the vocals are delivered with an impassioned rat-a-tat-tat style. The song downshifts a bit for a full minute for a kind of swampy sound before blowing out the speakers until the song ends. It's simply a ball to listen to.

But in the end, my favorite track is "Under The Graveyard". It struck me as the song most like what I would expect to hear from Ozzy. I liked the mix of the slower and faster pacing styles. The song has an electric vibe to it and the lyrics draw you in as Ozzy delivers them fine fashion.

While there are a number of good tracks on Ordinary Man that I liked, I am still not completely sold on the album as a whole. One of the reasons is that there are so many special guests on the album, it feels more like Ozzy Osbourne is making a guest appearance on someone else's album.

You can look up the liner notes for yourself to see what tracks they co-wrote and/or played on but the album features Tom Morello, Slash, Chad Smith and Duff McKagan. And that doesn't include the previously mentioned Elton John and Post Malone. The album's producer Andrew Watt seemed to be all over the place as well. He didn't just produce but it seems like he co-wrote the songs, did vocals, keyboards and guitars as well as a host of other things. So I think it is a little understandable that this sometimes feels like Ozzy is a guest performer and not the other way around.

I looked around the Net and it seems that the album is getting a lot of positive reviews. Some I can understand because I did like a good portion of the album. But if Ordinary Man does turn out to be Ozzy's swan song recording, I just wish it felt more like a true Ozzy solo album put together by a full band instead of some singular collaborative project that just happens to feature Ozzy.


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