V/A - AKOMPILATION - AKOM
Akompilation is both a nice play on words and Akom Productions' first release. The label hopes to begin releasing albums by individual bands soon and the 20 songs on this disc already provide some indication of which direction the label will take. The 19 Italian bands and one American band are mostly of the hardcore, mallcore, punk or crossover ilk. The possible exceptions are the grindcore of Muculords, the thrashing of Last Rites and the earnest death metal of Entity. Interesting also is Action Men's rendition of If You're Happy. The lyrics are worth waiting most of the CD for. Of note is how the bands all have a good sound despite being unsigned. The label is at www.akomprod.com should you feel inclined. - Ali "The Metallian"
BURMESE/FISTULA - Split CD - CRUCIAL BLAST
One has to admire a label that releases an album with as much chance of succeeding as George W's attack on Iraq. The CD explodes with Burmese (the band not the people) not so much as making noise, but funneling static into a distorted bass sound. Topping the whole melee with odd samples and grinding mega-migraine racket just seals the deal with fans of acts like Merzbow and gives Relapse a run for its money in the battle of off-center record labels. Burmese sounds like it was born and raised by a bunch of construction workers and is now narrating the experience to compact disc.
Next up is the puzzlingly-titled Fistula which is more of a doom/noise affair and features longer songs. The band is a crossover of doom, gloom, hardcore and thrash metal with a vocalist who has apparently mistaken the sound of pain under torture for singing. Amnesty International should double check the studio conditions just in case.
To say that Fistula is the more musical of the two bands would be wrong for it assumes that Burmese was musical to begin with - a description that should account for much of the CD's attraction. - Ali "The Metallian"
V/A - FENRIZ PRESENTS... THE BEST OF OLD-SCHOOL BLACK METAL - PEACEVILLE
What the background story behind this 16-track compilation is somewhat of a mystery at the moment. It might be a vain attempt at making money, a vain attempt at vanity or simply Fenriz's way of promoting the recent unveiling of his new vanity recording imprint. What is clear is that Fenriz knows old school black metal - even if his own band Darkthrone was initially a full-fledged death metal band - and will help correct some recent misconceptions on the scene regarding the definition of black metal. Oh, there is some fucking great music here too.
The album begins with a somewhat useless intro by Canada's Blasphemy called Winds Of The Black Godz before diving devil's horn first into songs like Satanic Lust by Sarcofago, Evil by Mercyful Fate, Warhead by Venom and Curse The Gods by Destruction. Let's not forget Tormentor's Elisabeth Bathory and Bathory's Dies Irae.
The compilation is a wonder because it reminds the scene of the originators of the black metal scene and that black metal is defined as any metal music that features lyrics which worship Satan (annoying late-comer references to 'black' or 'death' vocals aside). It is also a wonder because Fenriz has been able to get the rights to so many songs from so many disparate labels and publishing concerns for this disc to come together. Could the Sire himself have had a hand in arranging things? - Ali "The Metallian"
V/A - SCANDINAVIAN METAL ATTACK II - TYFON
Scandinavian Metal Attack II, the follow-up to Tyfon's surprisingly successful compilation LP of a year earlier, is similar to its predecessor in that the album features a suitably Nordic cover artwork, a mix of bands hailing from Sweden and Finland and several bands of whom nothing was ever heard again. There was one contrast as well. The material on part 2 could not measure up to the original even though the two samplers share a couple of bands.
The album begins with Oz's Third Warning. The song happened to be the title track to the band's 1984 album which meant the Finns were the sampler's best-known commodity. No wonder that the band would continue working with Tyfon, or its successor Black Mark Production, years later. Third Warning is vintage good times 80s' hard rock with varied vocals typical of the era. The band clearly has a singer with a personality, a Classically-oriented guitar melody and an Iron Maiden-inspired bassist.
Biscaya (who?) jump in next with a brand of hard rock that has a poppy disposition and is generally a cross between Yngwie Malmsteen and Deep Purple.
Bathory is up next, no surprise, since Quorthon is Tyfon owner Borje "Boss" Forsberg's son. The black metallers rip off of Destruction circa Infernal Overkill is a thrill to hear and regardless is dark, furious and Venomous.
Mentzer (what?) is obviously influenced by Saxon and its song Voodoo is reminiscent of the NWOBHM act's song Denim And Leather. Except this track doesn't go anywhere in particular - not even in any fashion direction.
Knock The Boss is Highscore's contribution to the sampler. The band's (presumably) female vocals are strong, the energy high and the song not particularly good. The band seemingly knows where its strengths lie and so the vocals dominate.
Next up is more raunchy rock from another self-aware band called Trash whose song mysteriously is entitled Bombay Mail. This is nothing to write home about.
Following Trash is the venerable Biscaya (say what?) with a weak sound, a weaker pop song, a fun guitar solo, an organ and many hints of Deep Purple.
Not about to let Bathory get all the black metal glory, Oz makes its second appearance next with an epic sounding vocalist who reminds you to Turn The Cross Upside Down. The sing-along is consequently rather comical.
Trash's Drop And Die follows and manages to be geographically confusing by containing elements from both Southern rock and more prominently Whitesnake. Hey, that is a great David Coverdale impression.
Bathory is up again next with a song that to this day sounds like a nuclear warhead gone berserk. War is a maelstrom of destruction with truly hellish vocals a la Cronos.
In comparison Highscore's, admittedly fine song, Power Of Drinks sounds pedestrian after Bathory. Nonetheless, the band's song is respectable if nothing else.
The album ends with Mentzer and the song Russian Roulette which obviously has nothing to do with the Accept album of the same name. The tune is deliberate and convincing.
Scandinavian Metal Attack II is a snapshot of the Scandinavian metal scene of the time. Like any other compilation it features bands which made it and others which vanished and not always per any rational formula. - Ali "The Metallian"
V/A - SCANDINAVIAN METAL ATTACK - TYFON
Scandinavian Metal Attack is an appropriately-named album with a cover artwork, featuring Thor himself, to match. The compilation features the bands Trash, Oz, Bathory, Zero Nine and Spitfire and some stimulating material.
Oz is first to go and comes out swinging with Fire In The Brain. This is some great hard rocking stuff from the band and not too atypical of its contemporaries. The listener won't be disappointed. A terrific rhythm and a naughty guitar solo complete an action-packed arrangement.
Trash's Watch Out exudes a rolling good time with a trippy drum rhythm and a AC/DC-ish guitar solo.
Bathory wouldn't have been featured were mastermind Ace/Quorthon's father not the owner of the Tyfon label. The song Sacrifice copies Motörhead albeit with Cronos on vocals - rough and ready. This is especially remarkable when one recalls how Quorthon took over the vocals mere weeks before this recording session.
Spitfire - a Swedish band with Finnish names - is up next with the song Eyes Of Storm. This is the album's coup de grace. The track swoops down with power and passion because it is a heavy song with both dangerous riffing and emotional appeal. The singer screams his guts out while the backing vocals screech in terror. The catchy melody speaks to metal hearts everywhere. Whatever happened to this band? Unfortunately, Spitfire' other song here Crazy Living doesn't quite match up to this entry.
Next comes more Trash and a song called No More Rock Tonight. It has a Ramone-like chorus, but is oddly protesting "no more rock..."
Zero Nine is metal, but has a melody reminiscent of the likes of Clash. The vocalist is easy to understand and dominates his colleagues.
Oz's Search Lights has an interesting intro and one would wish the band would throw a search light on what that is all about. There is a cool sliding guitar sound effect. The track is heavy and probably the best here after Spitfire's offering.
Bathory closes the album with The Return Of The Darkness And Evil a.k.a. The Return Of Motörhead and Venom. Oh joy! - Ali "The Metallian"
V/A - DOOM CAPITAL: MARYLAND | DC HEAVY ROCK UNDERGROUND - CRUCIAL BLAST
"It brought upon me endless wonder/Yet spoke of some unknown doom" - Solitude Aeturnus, 1991.
With Doom Capital: Maryland | DC Heavy Rock Underground the nice folks at Crucial Blast have in hand a compilation with a purpose. The CD is designed to not only deliver a variety of doom metal to men and women, but also to bring the density of bands playing the style around the US capital - which includes the Virginias in addition to MD and DC by the way - into focus. Most fans already knew that many good doom acts hail from the region, but so many? The compilation features well-known acts like Clutch, Internal Void and Unorthodox plus relative newcomers like War Injun and Leviathan A.D. Regardless of stature, the participants pretty much stay the doomed course and present one Sabbath-soaked torrent after the other.
Individual reviews is hardly required in this case, but a couple of special mentions may be appropriate. Earthride's pseudo-Motorhead sound is cool, The Hidden Hand's bassist astonishing and Unorthodox's organic crush is most respectable.
The album features a mini-biography on each band as well as a article on the history of doom metal in the area. You're damned if you buy it and damned if you don't. - Ali "The Metallian"
V/A - VOICES FROM THE ARCTIC CIRCLE - ARCTIC
Nice play on words there, Arctic Music! This compilation from Arctic Music is unexpectedly good. The fifteen black, death and thrash metal bands have few duds. There aren't any bands with piano, flute, accordion or an impregnated girlfriend belching in the background. Reminding one of the Fuck You We're From Denmark samplers that Diehard used to release once upon a time, the bands draw a line in the heaviness sand, although given the variety the listener will not find a moment trite.
Standouts have to be Shadowbuilder's Silver & Black, Exmortem's Killstorms, Throneaeon's Oblivion, Lord Belial's Purify Sweden and In Battle's Pioneers Of A Dead Future. Although the list of good tracks does not end there. The only weak track here is probably Nominion's White Death. One can't be sure what the song title refers to, but the atrocious vocals, laughable drum sound and a lack of a song structure loses its comic value very quickly. Disregarding Nominion, and trivia like what a Dutch band is doing on a compilation called Voices From The Arctic Circle, this CD is a winner and one which is sure to spawn a couple of acts destined to be much bigger soon. - Ali "The Metallian"
ROCK & ROLL WAR STORIES by GORDON G.G. GEBERT and LYNN RAMAGE - PITBULL PUBLISHING
Rock & Roll War Stories is the new book of fan, musician, gadfly, author and critic Gordon Gebert, and a co-author and is comprised of different, and seemingly unrelated unless one takes the eccentricity of rock musicians as a theme, real-life stories and episodes of different music personalities - as narrated by the authors and other collaborators. The authors have ample experience in the world of rock and roll, as do the other contributors who turn out to be musicians, groupies or music industry types.
One cannot even be sure if half the stories in the book are legitimate - GG swears to all of them of course - but even at fifty-percent GG and co-writers have been on a hell of a ride - and so will the reader. The book is laugh-out-loud funny, insightful and voyeuristically entertaining. In fact, it is an unbridled (rock 'n roll) riot. Tales and sordid chronicles of musicians come thick and fast shattering myth and ego without mercy. It is always good to laugh at the expense of the music business and the over-inflated ego of rock stars and this book is just the tool to help in the endeavour. It is just too bad that certain narrations are anonymous. That is made up for in the appendix which features direct quotations from different industry types. One is sillier and funnier than the other.
The escapades of the glorified groupies are simultaneously comical and vulgar. The chapters are titillating not only because of the detailed publicization of the personalities' idiosyncrasies and priorities, but one also wonders whether the narrators realize how pathetic and self-demeaning it all is to them. Not deterred by any forthcoming accusations of commercialism or lewdness, the author has placed racy photographs of half-clad tramps in military uniform throughout the book. It might be the perfect pretext for Rock & Roll War Stories II for the author has now assured himself communication from rock musicians!
Elsewhere, and admittedly the book was not after the literate target market to begin with, the work suffers from poor English. There are one too many spelling and grammatical mistakes present. 'Formally' substitutes for 'formerly,' one has to read 'they're' when coming across 'their' and the old stand-by 'your' is constantly substituted for 'you're.' What do they teach in schools in America? Nothing serious, which would be a good maxim for this book.
No matter, Rock & Roll War Stories if funny, candid and a good antidote for a case of the blues. - Ali "The Metallian"
V/A - DISTURBING SUMMER 2003 - DISPLEASED
This is a 19-song sampler from Displeased Records and its sub-label From Beyond Productions. The opener features the aggressive sounds of Killaman. Pistol Whipped is a good start to any record. Enthral follows with Charge Of The I which at over six minutes long features varied tempos and moods that sometimes sounds much like a technical song but rawer in production. Phobia's Wounds Through Punishment and Internal Suffering's Reborn In Victory are brutal blasting songs, the latter being much more convincing in its delivery. Officium Triste provides atmospheric/melodic sounds in the form of an unreleased live version of The Pathway. Manegram's Fimbultrollet is a somewhat heavier take on some of the folkish releases out there. Circle Of Dead Children's Salt Rock Eyes growls and screams its way for just under two minutes. Perished plays its version of the fast riffing black metal with an acoustic interlude or two thrown in the 6:19 long song. The rather oddly named Ninnghizhidda provide enough K&F to make The Awakening a forgettable song. Mental Horror's Rising From Chaos provides a good 'breather' from the former song, albeit with a poor production, with over 5 minutes of growls and blasts. Unlord do their part in making sure the listener stays awake.
The From Beyond portion of this compilation features the growling sounds of Absolute Defiance and Sepsism, the thrashy sounds of Barbatos, and a song from the not so legendary Master. Eat My Fuk's Destroy The Factory is much more punk rockish than anything else on this compilation. Siksakubur provides a rather traditional sounding form of Death Metal, CSSO's Diversion of Former Customary Trite Composition on the other hand is a strange song. One is reminded of Cathedral, Kyuss, Butthole Surfers, and White Zombie and that all in one song. Czech Republic's Maniac Butcher end the compilation on a better note than the band that came before them, a live death/black offering called Bidna Smrt Neslavna. Sheila Wes Det
V/A - DEFENDERS OF METAL VOLUME 1 - THE SEDUCTION - MIB
MIBMusic's compilation of eighteen bands from seven countries is an attempt to present modern bands playing traditional heavy metal. The label should be commended for that. Not coincidentally, the sampler kicks off with the label's own Jesters Moon which, truth be told, is probably the best entry here. The band's mixture of Candlemass' music and Sanctuary's vocals is only dampened by the annoying keyboards towards the end. Never mind, for that band's song Forbidden, as well as successful entries from the likes of Stairway (UK), Sabatan (Spain) and America's Babylon make for a noteworthy CD. Also noteworthy are Moonlight Agony which has contributed an instrumental, Metharia's Italian lyrics, Madog which rips off Freedom Call flawlessly, Dr. Mastermind aka Matt McCourt who must be Axl's alter ego if his new take on Guns 'n Roses is anything to go by and finally the crap that is Mercury Rain and Element. The last two idiotic entries not withstanding, Defenders is a good source for discovering new HM talent. The compilers have omitted contact or biographical information, but have somehow compensated by featuring great metallic artwork with the disc. - Ali "The Metallian"
SOUND OF THE BEAST - THE COMPLETE HEADBANGING HISTORY OF HEAVY METAL by IAN CHRISTE - HARPER COLLINS
Sound Of The Beast is an impressive book. Wisely aligning itself, title-wise, with the quintessential heavy metal album of all time, Iron Maiden's Number Of The Beast, Ian Christe's take on thirty-odd years of metal high art accomplishes a lot.
Sound Of The Beast successfully covers the basics and many of the sub-genres of metal. It incorporates literate, yet fluid, writing with a plethora of facts, trivia and lists to make for a compelling read for metal fans old and new. Simultaneously, Christe tackles - albeit superficially given space considerations - the musical movement from several tangents. In this manner, he introduces both a diversion to the purely chronological take on the music and injects something of a discourse into the book. As with most claims, the author's assertion of a 'completeness' to his book is false, but that is par for the course, one supposes. After all, and realistically, no one body of work will ever completely cover 30-plus years of musical and cultural history.
Having said that, the book does stumble more than it needs to. The inordinate amount of space granted Metallica only serves to demonstrate the author's devotion to this band. Otherwise if ever there was a band which had betrayed the ideals of the book's subject-matter, that band would be the aforementioned California metallers-gone-corporate minion. Sound Of... also has its share of mistakes (Metallica fact on page 88, calling AC/DC NWOBHM, etc.), irrelevant features (discussion on non-metal music like punk, mallcore, etc.) and obligatory self-referencing conflict-of-interest (mentioning past and current employers of the author without disclosure).
Be that as it may, Christe has done as good, if not better, a job as any of his peers. The book is well-written and balances the need for information with the necessity to keep the pace congruous with the readers' need for dispatch.
All in all then, Sound Of The Beast is impressive - that is, once one gets past the biography's ludicrous notion that "Ian Christe is the recognized voice of heavy metal."
V/A - INTO THE BLIZZARD... CHAPTER II - SKYSCRAPER
Here is the second installment of the all-Canadian compilation of (mostly) metal bands. As far as compilations go it is a worthy CD given the number of listenable bands. Here follows a few words on each band: Blood Of Christ's contribution is called Covered In Mud and is standard death metal. Eidolon's Life In Agony is respectable heavy metal. Martyr's Virtual Emotions is weakened because it is a live recording. Quo Vadis is good, but their song has been played many times by other bands. Soul Of Darkness should have been called Clone Of Darkness. Their trendy keyboard-ridden (music's answer to acne) song is worth listening because the singer sounds like a chipmunk on acid. Spelldown plays authentic heavy metal, but the world would never miss their, er, singer. Water Depth is next and sound like Megadeth with a singer who can't sing. Imagine that! Aggression, who is back from the dead, serves up an authentic thrashing instrumental called Forgotten Skeleton that puts the younger bands to shame. Anonymus' Invisible Man tries hard to be Euro-power metal-meets-hardcore, but... hell it succeeds! I had fond memories of DBC, but they have now all been completely and utterly dashed due to a song called Third Coming. May it never happen. The singer gives new meaning to the term 'give it up already.' Next up is Devin Townsend with an instrumental which is chaotic and dreamy at the same time. The track is called Untitled Track. Disciples Of Power are just suckers for punishment. The description for Forgotten Tales notes them as fascinated by 'European Power Metal' and working for 'glory of metal.' Except they are not European, have zero power and are completely void of anything metallic. Show me the metal in their pop music drivel and I will show you an honest US president. Ghoulunatics is more like it. Sure the underlining riff is Pantera-inspired, but the power and the effective singer are convincing. Heaven's Cry disappeared for a while, but it is nice to hear their song Masterdom's Profit. Fans of melodic heavy metal will like these guys. Moonlyght are moonlighting on the metal scene and should give it up as fast as possible. Surely they can come up with better things to do with their money than invest in the band. How about purchasing some cheap Enron stock? My old friends Necrotic Mutation are up next with the song The Necrotic Mutation. It is brutal and the band deserved a better fate. Toronto's Reckon With One sounded good until the singer began whining. Even the backing vocals sound like someone is whimpering. It's pretty heavy and doomy nonetheless. Exiled to the back of the CD is the hardcore act The Vulgar Deli. It's pretty good, genuine punk rock music which coupled with the band's moniker closes the CD with a smile on the listener's face. Phew, this CD is packed at eighty minutes! - Ali "The Metallian"
V/A - CARNIVORE ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK - DARK STAR
Not being familiar with Carnivore made speculation about the music on the soundtrack difficult. After all studios and producers choose songs as befits the mood and story of their respective movies. Carnivore is a science fiction and horror film and judging by the music, people might well consider looking into this science fiction and horror movie. Of course there is the multimedia section of the disc, but let us focus on the music here. Hard rock fans will love this. Holland's Sacrifice is a beautifully rocking tune. L.A.'s Burning is an OK track, although nowhere near as classy as Dokken's Paris Is Burning in case anybody was wondering. Nitro's (remember them?) song Freight Train is literally sped up. The CD is spinning at 78 rpm! The enclosed biography supplies a moment of unintended hilarity with the line, '...singer Jim Gillette, who is currently married to Lita Ford.' Somehow it does not convey much confidence in the marriage's longevity. Perhaps Ford's mother had them put that in there, who knows? Fans will also find other bands like L.A. Guns and Cuttlass on the CD. As mentioned, this is a cool CD with enough going for to interest one in the movie as well.
V/A - REBIRTH OF THE HEAVY - THE MUSIC CARTEL
The Music Cartel? The Gambino's of heavy metal? Racketeering with the metal zines? And who is that on the cover? That's one cool lookin' dude. Half beast, half statue, half skeleton (yeah I know, he exceeds one hundred percent), he looks all metal all the time. May he be the enforcer who chews gum, kicks ass and reclaims metal? And this time we've got the Cartel's muscle working for us too. Get it?
Sixteen bands and sixteen songs and hardly one sucky suck. Imagine it. A sampler without bands that completely go out of their way to suuuuck. What's a poor MuchMusic programmer to do? What about an aging magazine publisher? This is not gonna do. Okay, okay, sure half of them are covering Black Sabbath. The other half sound more punk rock, but hey no rap. There are no rap, hip hop or mallcore kerrwank, I mean kerrap, er, I mean kerhack stuff goin' down here slick. Arm-wrestle for it. Yeah, more, come on, exert, blush, aaargghhh, yeah more metal bands here than the heavy rock punk types. Funny though, for there aren't any extended jams that last ten or so minutes. Too bad. It seems like bands like Los Natas and Stinking Lizaveta could really jam the acid rock stuff too. I mean they begin to, but the songs end. Then there is Ratos De Porao. Being Brazilian, the song had to begin with police sirens. And don't forget Antiseen: more 'fucks' per square inch of tape than has ever been attempted before. Is that a full inch tape they recorded on? Good compilation, good sampler, and the brute on the cover, well he is going to take you out man!
V/A - LOUD MUSIC FOR LOUD PEOPLE - MUSIC FOR NATIONS/KOCH
This sampler showcases Music For Nations' current roster of metal and alternative acts and as a bonus features a video from the label's new hopefuls SugarComa. Metal fans might be interested in previously unreleased Opeth songs Patterns In The Ivy 2 and When Drapery Falls (Radio Edit); otherwise there is an advance Spiritual Beggars song and a live version of Entombed's Chief Rebel Angel. On the other hand the CD features several rock/alternative acts, namely SugarComa (who sound formulated and sterile beyond belief) , Anathema, Inme and Pablo, and as such might be of less value to metal fans. As always, it's up to the listener.
V/A - SCREAMS FROM ITALY VOL.II - DAWN OF SADNESS
Well after enjoying the first edition of this sampler the follow-up was a few years in the coming. As the name makes clear the CD is meant to represent the Italian scene and features black, death, heavy metal and atmospheric bands. The songs are mostly demo quality (in sound of course) and each band featured gets a photograph and a history section. The names probably mean little to most, but here are several names anyway: Vladimir, Arkana, Iblis, In Sorrow and Hatred. My favourite track is probably Voyage Into Nothing by In Sorrow; you will have your own. More information from www.dawnofsadness.com.
V/A - NEOBLAST COMPILATION 2 QUEBEC INVASION - NEOBLAST
As most observers know, samplers are little more than wastes of time and money and rarely manage to feature an adequate number of worthy bands. Consequently customers avoid compilations and record companies get rid of the CDs by making deals with the participating bands. The current compilation is not much different. Truth be told, the bands here constitute an above-average bunch and the sound is good for the most part. Bands featured represent most metal sub-genres and almost half the twenty represented songs are billed as exclusives to this compilation. Two surprises are noteworthy: one is Unhuman who does the best Macabre impression ever. Macabre being one of the crappiest bands the scene has ever produced, it is surprising to see anyone with half a brain interested in cloning them! The other surprise is Spasme whose vocalist now fronts Cryptopsy. Their song Near Death Experience is just that. Not because of its speed or heaviness, but rather because half the song is plagued by a female moaner no doubt getting laid by one of the band members. Female opera singers in metal? Right, and I am going to show you something nutritious at McDonald's.
V/A - VICTORY STYLE 5 - VICTORY
The fifth in the biannual Victory samplers is here and the hardcore
again showcases its roster via 23 songs, twelve of which are billed as
"unreleased" or "rare." One can always find out which band is a label's
priority by looking at the labels' compilations. Atreyu kicks off this
sampler in heavy fashion and is pure hardcore. But Victory has every
within the genre of course - from Minutemen-style bands to the angered
speedy hardcore acts and the sampler goes out of its way to intermix
styles. Yeah, the hardcore scene isn't immune to commercialism and a
of the bands make complete jokes of themselves with stupid cover
but by and large the sampler is respectable. This one is offered to the
stores at very low prices so watch that sticker.
V/A - METAL REIGNS SUPREME - MAJESTIC UNION
Regular readers know how samplers are shunned here at Metallian Towers.
selection is usually dictated by band availability not quality and, as
fact of life, most bands are predictably weak. Norway¹s Maelstrom kick
things off and are nothing to write home about. France¹s Horresco
has winning musicians but the hoarse singer is irritating at the end;
guitar work though. Osh has a song called Music Sweet Music! Berserk
it up with a sharp guitar sound. Vastator plays good HM with a
voice. Unholy Archangel is a chaotic and buzz saw black metal outfit
makes for a fine mess. Bad Influence is a more up-tempo and commercial
rocking affair that does show potential. Then there is Teutonic which
successful HM entry - good stuff here. Greece¹s Royal Quest (keep
boys) is yet another of those Euro-bands that has discovered the $9.99
keyboards grandpapa handed them for their sixth birthday. They plays
fuzz-classical music to no end. So it goes, a couple of good bands; a
of worse bands on this compilation featuring 14 bands/songs
every metal genre.
V/A - POWER OF METAL SYMPHONIES OF STEEL - NOISE
To be frank I was originally not going to review this disc. Noise's habit of cashing in unashamedly over the years through re-releases, 2-in-1's, remastered CDs, remixed CDs and yes a million samplers is annoying. The cash grab is obvious and one wonders whether the label will ever get over its glory days of Kreator and Running Wild? Having expressed the above, the sampler actually serves a purpose. The choice of songs here is conducive and helpful for a newer fan who wants to look into the heavy/speed/thrash metal world. With representation from Helloween (Future World), Running Wild (Black Hand Inn and Under Jolly Roger), Kreator (Pleasure To Kill) and others this would be the compilation to pick up if one is about to investigate this particular scene. Personally I am glad to finally hear Running Wild's Black Hand Inn - good song too! - Ali "The Metallian"
V/A - HARD MUSIC FOR A HARD SUMMER - VICTORY/KOCH
Here is a little sampler featuring three bands with two songs each from Victory. A guess would be that the sampler is merely promotional and not for sale. The decision to review, in spite of that fact, came because the serfs report from beyond the moat that my vassals are not familiar with the featured bands and the review can serve as an introduction of sorts. Minus is very much the product of the new and more commercial sounds available everywhere via bands like Incubus and Deftones. There is little to separate Minus from a major label band and who knows how far the band can go. Thumb is the groovercore band reviewed elsewhere. These Germans have a penchant for writing not so unfamiliar music that draws from everything from hip hop to Tool - not good. Darkest Hour is frankly a surprise. They sound like a hardcore band who has heard the tune of the gods (metal) which as the label-provided quotation very accurately points out has become influenced by At The Gates (An Epitaph) and Dismember (Treason In Trust). Who knew such bands exist on Victory! - Ali "The Metallian"
V/A - BORN IN FIRE VOL.4 - HAMMERHEART
While a free sampler CD available through Netherland's Hammerheart Records, this collection of metal from the mother label, The Plague and Unveiling the Wicked subsidiaries is a very strong representation of the label's ever-growing wares and a good feel for the current state of the anti-commercial underground. Proving once again how tastes differ, the sampler begins with what is (for me) the worst band showcased. Dead Silent Slumber are a very silly keyboard-oriented band which could have some potential were it not for the obvious defiled sound of theirs. Rebaelliun, on the other hand, is a very strong choice for Morbid Angel fans and come inspired with a strong vocalist. Aeternus' offering seems toned down as first, but picks up quickly to the band's usual standards - under-rated. Nile has a fake drum sound, but their effect is soon forgotten by two older bands which show the younger ones how it really should be done: Necrophagia and Dead Head! Elsewhere I can not get enough of Vomitory's honest-to-devil death metal and Trelldom hit hard with the barbarian on the mike. Tulus is another instantly forgettable flop, but bands like Diabolic and Broken Hope (who have penned one of their strongest tunes to date) quickly nullify that memory. The sampler sees an end with Old Funeral (with their old compositions which rule but I had owned on 10 year old vinyl) and the slower but nonetheless very heavy Bathory-like dirge of Octinomos. Write Hammerheart and beg for this sampler - some of the very best stuff the underground has to offer. Is Hammerheart Europe's answer to Necropolis? - Ali "The Metallian"
V/A - HEAVY METAL 2000 - RESTLESS/BMG
Nineteen years following the original tale of science fiction, sex and Rock & Roll, the powers in the industry have resolved a host of issues and followed up with a sequel - this time one animated story. While I have not yet seen the movie (and it is not clear yet how one will in Canada as Starz channel in the USA has exclusive rights), the nostalgia and the fact that I own the original attracts me naturally to this disc. The music is hardly metal or even hard rock (what with KMFDM, Monster Magnet, Coal Chamber, etc appearing) and is hence a poor relative to the original's Black Sabbaths and Blue Oyster Cults; yet the aura of sex and violence and exciting imagery is all seemingly here. There are apparently four versions of this disc kicking around, yet they all feature cool graphics and web-linked code. - Ali "The Metallian"
V/A - RAZORBACK: A HOG WILD TALE OF TERROR - RAZORBACK
While most samplers are little more than waste of space, one usually finds one or two worthy bands on one every once in a while. This sampler earns its keep by track number one. Just as I was recovering from the recent release of the third full length of Sweden's talented grinders Deranged, on I put this sampler and out comes Consume, Excrete, Dwell from Deranged! These guys hit so hard that I swear I am writing this from the hospital or sanitarium. I can't tell which. As if that weren't enough, the CD features no less than 25 tracks of pure death/grind with enough fire power to dislodge the US Army from its base. Aside from Deranged who out Cannibal Corpse, Cannibal Corpse some bands of note are Engorged with their depraved sound and dual vocals, the grinding speed-o-rama of Impaled (with the very cool title From Here to Colostomy) and the true death metal dose delivered by Murder Corporation. While Last Days of Humanity are a mess of distortion and have an awful pots'n panish drum sound (only matched by the crappy sound of Bloody Gore), Reinfection get a nod for the truly deep vocals, Scrape for the malevolent creation of their sound, Skourge for their amusing thrashier sound and Vastion for the sheer face-ripping brutality which is delivered with very intense shrieks by their man up front. All in all then, an above average compilation which single handedly matches everything labels like Relapse or Roadrunner have released in the last five years in the heaviness department. - Ali "The Metallian"
V/A - TRUE KINGS OF NORWAY - SPIKEFARM
There are really two ways of looking at this compilation of Norwegian black metal featuring early singles from Ancient, Arcturus, Dimmu Borgir, Emperor and Immortal. Firstly, this gathering of rare, early outings can be seen as a money-grab; where most bands have since changed tact, sound and members and bear little resemblance to the tracks contained here. On the other hand, with labels like Putrefaction and Necromantic Gallery, etc being little but foot notes in the history of metal, the chances of running into these ditties is rare at best and with the added bonus of a, very well-researched, Norwegian black metal family tree enclosed, this CD might well be worth the money. Aside from the wife-swapping map of Norwegian black metal, also enclosed is original covers, older photos and a black Norwegian cover in case there was any doubt what this disc deals with. The family tree might not be all-inclusive and contain a few omission, but the chance to recall songs like Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism (Immortal) and Lord of the Storms (wimps Emperor) is reason enough for the purchase as far as this reviewer is concerned. Thanks to Spikefarm for doing something different. - Ali "The Metallian"
V/A - A COLLECTION OF DARKNESS - EUPHONIOUS
Samplers are by definition a record company's way of introducing and subsequently hooking us to its roster. The idea is that if we, the fans, are exposed to a dozen bands, then chances are that we will like one or two of the acts long enough to run to the corner record store and make a purchase or two. So here comes Euphonious' foray into the match making business in the form of the unimaginatively-titled CD A Collection Of Darkness. Now knowing that most bands on the scene today are simply of a lower calibre than has been the case in the years past and that any sampler will probably be a reflection of its contemporary scene, it is no surprise that one won't find himself going gaga over most of these tunes. The chunk of the fault has to lie with the label though for signing weak bands which have little or no future. Ironically, the sampler begins with Withering Surface, a Danish Cradle Of Filth-meets-Ceremonial Oath band which judging by its new track might actually have a good album coming out soon (entitled The Nude Ballet). The following three bands can't collectively pack enough punch to even impress the old lady down the road. Saturnus might see themselves as early My Dying Bride incarnate when playing air keyboards at home, but on disc their sensitivity comes across as pretentious and trite. The vocals are deep enough, but this is one band that will have (nude?) ballerinas in its video - enough said. Vanity must have a professional manager. They have chosen a suitable monicker for their melodic/atmospheric uneventfulness. Gigandhi too are little more than some trendy wimp band, even if the singer can really 'agonise' and the bass sound does go places. Then come Exmortem which thank the metal god breathes some life (death?) back into this album. The band's song No Redemption combines the Slayer axe sound and production mixed with the growl-o-rama of Illdisposed. This is not for the faint-of-heart. Mid Winter Nights have some wild screams, but produce little more then neoclassical rock - which incidentally rhymes with yuck. Solherv and Grimoire are black metal acts with the former being the rawer of the two. Then comes the Stiff Miners who should be the next Rammstein. Yes, the band is a techno/industrial one that could go hit the charts if someone from Ministry would produce the album or if MTV would show the video. One can already see the sixteen-year old junkie teenager in the high school yard proclaiming his coolness by wearing Nike (now that's an individual!) and wearing a Stiff Miner' jacket over the Cradle Of Filth T-shirt. Regardless, the compilation goes on in pretty much the same vein with only Furious Trauma representing (thrash) metal. It is true that whatever your tastes, A Collection... will likely offer a band to suit it, but I am not sure what that says about Euphonious' profile or the chances of your picking up the disc. - Ali "The Metallian"
V/A - SMELLS LIKE TEAM SPIRIT II - DISPLEASED
I have recently been thinking of Displeased as an under-rated label which barely gets recognition on the scene. looking at the roster featured on the second of the Team Spirit compilations just adds to this feeling. The label harbours a number of accomplished bands with good sound. Pentacle kicks the CD off with its Destruction imitation music - an odd choice for opening act. Altar's vocals are still the same, but while one song begins a la Metallica, the music now settles for an Overkill style rumble. They have changed, but they are still heavy. God Dethroned showcases an evil shade of Carcass, while Eternal Solstice does little with its weak guitar sound. Unlord are run-of-the-mill black metal, although Black Bird has a great riff two minutes into the track. Whiplash and Infernal Majesty resurrect old glories and stand up surprisingly well to the ravages of time. The list is more extensive, but make no mistake the sampler is as good as any in introducing several underground metal bands to those seeking. - Ali "The Metallian"
V/A - EAT THE EVIDENCE - MORTAL COIL
Hot on the heels of the Immortal Suffering/Instatanity split-CD the New York label Mortal Coil throws at us this compilation of, mostly American, underground bands and as we will see one that features mostly the heavier end of things. The bands are mostly death metal and with one track each of the many names currently circulating the underground the disc shapes up to be a good way to gauge the current underground scene. To speak more specifically of some of the bands, Insatanity produces good music with a pure evil heart. The different rhythm and vocals help make their well-engineered track above average. Lividity, from Illinois, is unoriginal and the music is relegated to the background anyway. Splattered Cadaver is OK death metal, but the drummer sadly shreds the song to pieces. Komatose's song is so electronically garbled that it is amusing. Adnauseam nowadays sounds like it has absorbed a lot from Disembowelment. Where Evil Divine is this really wimpy band, Garden Of Shadows goes even further and thinks we have collectively forgotten how Phlebotomized exactly sounded like. On the other hand, Disfigured puts in a bit more energy into its offering and Possession mixes fast thrash metal with high-pitched vocals. There is so much to absorb on this disc and it is all for $10. - Ali "The Metallian"
V/A - THE ALLIANCE - EMPEROR MULTIMEDIA
Here is a new sampler put together by aspiring Canadian Derek McDonald, who intends to release music under the Emperor monicker. By knowing it is clear that barely anyone in the metal scene ever buys samplers/ compilations, so why would anyone bother releasing one anymore? The answer probably rests with the fact that such releases probably are paid in advance by the bands participating and/ or are a good means for the project manager to get his feet wet and get to know the ways of releasing music. As with any other comp out, this CD is a hit or miss affair (mostly miss), but still does offer a couple of worthy listens. The CD kicks off by South Africa's Demacretia's House of Death tune, a band who are strict Fear Factory wanna-bes - complete with a dance beat and a drum machine - which is utter rubbish. Canada's Undertow and USA's Double Cross are both good hard rock bands with the latter possessing a more boogieish guitar sound and a vocalist which sounds like Bon Joki. Both are OK for a good time though. the best band on show is Canada's Hanker who have been doing this now for years and who catch me off guard with the quality of their heavy metal. This band has come a long way and it is little surprise that the band is now signed. Anyone who believes quality heavy metal was only penned in the 1980's should hear You Won't Live Eternally. Raggedy Aneurysm are a cross between David Bowie and Marilyn Manson vocally, and in fact the latter is where they draw most of their inspiration from. With an entry called Hitch-hiking Teenage girls Are Going to Die, about the only thing interesting about these boys is their song title. The underground's Porno Coma are quite chaotic, and specialize in death/ grind, but have so much catchiness that are easily marketable. Brain Dead are truly the crappiest garbage I've heard in some time and even if I don't know what this is, I clearly know it has nothing to do with metal, heaviness, etc etc . All in all then a varied ten tracks here, and here's to Emperor going on to achieve bigger and better things, even though the label shows enough stupidity to sing the praises of DOS (and redundantly call it 'DOS Operating System' ie DOSOS - what do you expect from a bunch of dinosaurs?) in a world where the MAC OS is available to the masses! - Ali "The Metallian"
V/A - THE KANADA COMPILATION - LIFESTYLE
This shall be a short and to-the-point review. There are six tracks on
this CD with Infernal Majesty (thrash metal), The Harpoons (funk punk)
and Custom (fusion) each contributing two. The CD is of course of
special interest to Infernal Majesty fans who have been awaiting new
tunes from the veteran act - unless the songs are renamed ones from the
demos! Not that the other two bands are bad. Each band is quite
accomplished in its own style and the only surprise is the collection
these different units on one CD. It is strange, but interesting. - Ali
VARIOUS ARTISTS - SONIC OBLITERATION VOL. 2 - UTOPIAN VISION/BLACK MARK
Utopian Vision Music's second compilation is a collection of songs by mostly unsigned acts from Canada with an emphasis on Ontario. Distributed by Black Mark, the CD which comes with minimal graphics and band information, has both its hits and misses. Inner Thought plays a song from the Perspectives album. Jaww is slow and pounding. Solus is similar to Epidemic. A band with the name Summertime Daisies plays death metal while a band called Sub-version comes over as simply normal. Krug waves the flag of heavy metal. Jane Doe is as icy as their name suggests. I hope these girls at least look good. Mundane is post-Sepultura and Tchort & The Family Mantis plays doom a la Cathedral. Porno fortunately does not include photos, while Soulstorm and Rolha end the compilation in the industrial/hip hop and ambient vein. A few known names and a few not, yet all the songs have a good sound. UVM, 8 Dalcourt Dr., Scarborough, M1E 3H1. - Ali "The Metallian"
V/A - OZZ FEST LIVE ! - OZZ
Ozz Fest Live! is the first release of California-based Ozz Records, the label founded by Ozzy Osbourne. Initial reports indicated that the label's first album was slated to be a collection of rare Black Sabbath material. That was apparently wrong information. Ozz Fest Live is instead a compilation culled from the bands which played at Ozz Fest last year. What one could not have guessed is how much Ozzy (or whoever auditioned these guys) likes hardcore. In fact, apart from Ozzy himself and Slayer, nearly all bands are either hardcore or HC-related.
Subsequently and unfortunately most of the bands featured are crap. Bands like Fear Factory, Neurosis and Coal Chamber are undeniably mundane and much ballyhooed - sorry for I am not so hip 'n down yo homey. Yet, the some patience is rewarded towards the end of the disc when Slayer puts in a crushing version of Angel Of Death that destroys the newer generation. Does this and Ozzy Osbourne’s live performance of Perry Mason warrant the purchase of the album? - Ali "The Metallian"
V/A - HARDBOILED - GPA
Much like an egg which leaves little suspense as to what is inside, the fact sheet to this sampler leaves little to the imagination. It calls the disc an "Innsbruck Underground Compilation". Hardboiled is the sequel to A God Damned City, another compilation dedicated to the representation of unsigned Austrian bands. Such a sampler is almost always welcome in Metallian Tower seeing that it features new and exciting bands from the metal scene which one might otherwise not have gotten the chance to hear. However, that's where the glitch lies. Regardless of the description supplied by the info sheet, most of the featured acts are not metal. In fact, for the most part Hardboiled features pop and punk bands vying for position - with the metal acts being reduced to strict minority situation. Commenting and reviewing all 24 bands engraved on the double CD might prove an exercise in redundancy, for the bands are dispersed across the musical map (Korova being the better-known metallers, The Agency representing quality power metal, Tinpan Alley's entry beginning as if it were a Scorpions’ classic from 1975, etc.). Still, it is note-worthy that most of these little-known acts are actually quite humorous and judging by the titles and scribbled comments are quite intelligent to boot. Also worth mentioning is that unlike most samplers of this nature, all 24 bands have good to excellent sound. If you would like to order this CD please send $18/26 DM (ppd.) to P.O. Box 53, A-6063 Rum Austria. - Ali "The Metallian"
V/A - OUT OF THE BOX VOLUME 1 - BLACK MARK
Not one meeting at the Listening Halls at Metallian Towers can come to pass without some record company putting its foot in its mouth. Winner of this month is Black Mark Production which beats out heavy competition to open its mouths long enough to change feet and put the other one in. Allow me to without further comment quote from the back of the compilation at hand "Black, Death, Doom, Gothic, Epic, Thrash or Speed, BLACK MARK rules them all." Are you sure you weren't ever a member of Morbid Angel?
Focusing strictly on the musical content, the CD features 12 unsigned acts from five countries each represented by a demo track, and the result is rather Impressive - especially compared to Black Mark's signed roster! Hey some of these bands are pretty heavy! Finland's Crimson Midwinter's tight guitars and rhythm changes are only ruined by the employment of a useless and filler synthesizer which manages to dampen the proceedings. The drum sound should have been lower too, but the sharp guitars and the vicious vocals make up for that. Theory In Practice crushes with a death rush charge that is augmented by fine soloing. They aren't that different from Gorguts. The Darksend's vocals are slightly buried, but they mix death metal with old Mystifier and get some good results. Hatred (from the state of UA?) is an average death metal unit which, while being energetic, needs to produce better rhythms than what it offers here. Cromlech is OK, as is Mental Crypt. The remainder of the bands, Eternal Sadness, Metamorphosis and Kraal are the refuse of the sampler with the latter embarrassingly cliché in its vocals and trendy existence. Don't let these deter you, there is some validity in this sampler out of all the ones floating around and being pretty sure that Black Mark's intention here is none other than conducting a good old marketing survey I suggest you cast your votes accordingly. - Ali "The Metallian"
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