Random album reviews

Jer

My sins are many


Luca Turilli - The Infinite Wonders Of Creation (2006)

The final entry in Luca’s time-traveling solo trilogy returns from the future to the present, this time focusing on the beauty of nature. While Olaf Hayer returns as a supporting vocalist, he is superseded by Bridget Fogle as the female lead, who provides both operatic and standard vocals throughout the album, apparently representing Gaia (Mother Nature) herself.
  • Secrets Of Forgotten Ages - Bird calls, synth strings, and opera vocals build into a full choral fanfare with occasional respites. Good stuff, 7/10.
  • Mother Nature - Synths like raindrops break into a punchy riff. Bridget Fogle’s clearly enunciated vocals unfortunately lay bare the cheese and grammatical issues with the lyrics that weren’t as prevalent with Olaf’s delivery. The verse melody is catchy and the chorus is grand and supremely cheesy. Nice interlude and a brief but interesting solo. More nice chorus rounds before an abrupt ending. Good, but thick on the cheese. 7/10.
  • Angels Of The Winter Dawn - A plaintive flute intro is joined by electric guitar, harp, piano, and synth for an extended interlude. Olaf appears for the first time on a decent verse, then he and Bridget trade off vocals before breaking into a stellar duet chorus. The cheese factor is palpable as the verse returns. More awesome chorus, an intro interlude reprise, and another round of choruses finish things off. If the rest of the song had lived up to that chorus, this would have been something really special. As it stands, it’s still great overall. 8/10.
  • Altitudes - A choral intro leads into a solo operatic verse, then a pre-chorus that erupts through the clouds into a soaring, cheesy chorus. A nice operatic and choral interlude then becomes a sudden outro to the song. Good stuff, if a bit underdeveloped. 7/10.
  • The Miracle Of Life - Flowing water and animal calls are joined by male operatic vocals and plaintive synths before breaking into a driving synth and guitar groove. Olaf delivers a rote verse and a strong pre-chorus before breaking into a great duet chorus. The lyrics about dolphins and whales are super cheesy, but it’s musically successful. Sweet neoclassical synth solo, and Bridget takes off in the final chorus for some awesome vocal harmonies before a reprise of the plaintive synth intro. The cheese here is real, but there are some really tasty nachos underneath. 8/10.
  • Silver Moon - A melancholy piano and guitar intro leads into a soft and appealing verse. The chorus takes on a surprising Evanescence-like feel at first, eventually going fully operatic with choral accompaniment. The final chorus round deconstructs things with male choral tradeoffs before a soft denouement. Very good, a robust 7/10.
  • Cosmic Revelation - Raindrop synths are joined by spacier sounds reminiscent of Prophet Of The Last Eclipse. The verse plods with bad phrasing and cheesy lyrics, then the chorus takes a hard left turn into opera and grand choral singing. The interludes are nice, and the busy neoclassical guitar solo is pretty good, but kind of directionless. There are some nice ideas here, but they don’t come together well. 6/10.
  • Pyramids And Stargates - Swelling synth orchestration supports a middle eastern melody. Olaf returns for a punchy trade-off verse that cuts into a lackadaisical, meandering chorus that’s obsessed with the 1.68 ratio between the base and height of the pyramids. (WTF?) Subsequent choruses have a little more life to them, but these lyrics are cheesy as fuck. Cool neoclassical synth solo, though. I think the music salvages a 5/10 here.
  • Mystic And Divine - A melancholy piano intro leads into a strong trade-off verse and a great duet chorus. Cool piano interlude. The final chorus deconstructs the duet in a neat way, too. And hey, the lyrics are actually pretty good for a change! Great song, a robust 8/10.
  • The Infinite Wonders Of Creation - The album’s obligatory epic title track, though this one falls short of the 9-minute mark. Choirs and sparse synths eventually meander their way to a guitar and synth groove and an OK verse that’s echoed by a coed choir before breaking into an opera and choir chorus and a nice little guitar solo. The lyrics have fallen back into cheese again, unfortunately. A nice choral bridge with some cool crescendos stumbles its way to an uninspired end. Hmm. There were a few nice ideas in here, but the attempt to assemble them into a coherent song was a complete failure. 4/10.
Average: 6.7/10
Weighted: 6.4/10

After a promising start and an excellent middle chapter, Luca’s solo trilogy stumbles to a somewhat disappointing end. The first half of the album is good to great, but things come off the rails in the second half, ending with a failed train wreck of an epic that’s the weakest song in the entire trilogy.

The switch to predominantly female vocals is a mixed bag, with some sections working brilliantly (especially the duets) and others exposing the cheesy weakness of the lyrics. And after having such a strong presence on the previous albums, it’s weird to have Olaf Hayer shoved off into a supporting role.

All of that said, the high points of the record (“Angels Of The Winter Dawn”, “The Miracle Of Life”, and “Mystic And Divine”) are all great, and there’s enough other good material on here to justify the album’s existence. It’s just unfortunate that things had to end on a bit of a sour note.
 

The Dissident

Ancient Mariner

Born Again - Black Sabbath
Format: CD/Digital

Black Sabbath returns or should I say is Born Again by yet another of the former singers of Ritchie Blackmore this time it is Ian Gillan from Deep Purple whom takes the helm of the mighty british metal legends. Originally supposed to be under another name but being contractually obligated to release it as a Sabbath album, which seems to be a theme this decade. Regardless with a Deep Purple reunion on the horizon this album's lineup was short lived and became the last to feature some classic members for some time.

Trashed comes in heavy and hard hitting from all members right off the bat, and Gillan shows off his screaming skills on his introduction to the band. The bass and main riff sound like Neon Knights which isn't bad as the song itself feels different despite the similar sounds. The production isn't stellar in some spots but wow is this song high energy and a great merging of the two classic bands. Stonehenge an instrumental track is up next, a synth based track it is eerie and just serves as an introduction to Disturbing The Priest. A little too long of one for my liking but it works.

Disturbing The Priest opens with a haunting scream and some furious drum work, the songwriting one this track feels quite different from all the other eras of Sabbath that I've heard. It comes across as a story telling format, whereas Dio has a more legend has it style of writing there is an ebb and flow to the energy level of this track and it works quite well. I think the production is what holds this song back a little. Nice wails throughout. The Dark is a second eerie instrumental I don't get why Sabbath felt the need to do these little interludes on their albums. Like on some albums it is clearly to pad the runtime a little. Zero The Hero fades in, thunderous riffs dominate this track. The chorus has a rather easy to sing a long to style to it, so likely this would have gone over pretty well live. While the track is upbeat there is a distinct feeling of doom throughout. Another pretty good track.

Trashed - 9/10
Stonehenge/Disturbing The Priest - 8/10
The Dark/Zero The Hero - 8/10

Digital Bitch opens up the second half, the track comes in hard and fast from the start with Tony taking a solo right in the introduction, the swearing throughout probably doesn't help this track get any airplay because it honestly is a stellar rocker from the opening moment. It has the fury of Highway Star but with the sound of Black Sabbath I like it a lot although the language could be changed. Born Again is up next, a six and a half minute track, the track is moody right from the start, it seems that most the Sabbath singers get a track which is on the darker and moodier side, Ozzy had Black Sabbath, Glenn had Seventh Star, Tony had The Eternal Idol and Ronnie had Sign Of The Southern Cross. Like the other 4 examples this one is pretty darn amazing, of the longer tracks this one is easily the strongest and it is one of the stronger ones on the album as a whole.

Hot Line returns to the direct upbeat rocker approach, I see it was used for the live setting as one of first tracks of the night. It has some nice screams and while is a little cheesy lyrically the musicianship is incredible throughout the track. A tongue and cheek rocker, much more in line with Deep Purple but still a good track for Black Sabbath. Keep It Warm closes out the album, it slows down and Ian delivers a really strong vocal performance, once again a track that doesn't feel Black Sabbath especially lyrically. It is a nice album closer.

Digital Bitch - 10/10
Born Again - 9/10
Hot line - 9/10
Keep It Warm - 8.5/10

Adjusted 86%
Overall 88%
4 Stars


The Eternal Idol and Sabotage are in the mail. The remaining 3 Tony Martin era albums I have yet to find at reasonable prices.
 

KidInTheDark666

What's yours is mine and what's mine is mine too

Born Again - Black Sabbath
Format: CD/Digital

Black Sabbath returns or should I say is Born Again by yet another of the former singers of Ritchie Blackmore this time it is Ian Gillan from Deep Purple whom takes the helm of the mighty british metal legends. Originally supposed to be under another name but being contractually obligated to release it as a Sabbath album, which seems to be a theme this decade. Regardless with a Deep Purple reunion on the horizon this album's lineup was short lived and became the last to feature some classic members for some time.

Trashed comes in heavy and hard hitting from all members right off the bat, and Gillan shows off his screaming skills on his introduction to the band. The bass and main riff sound like Neon Knights which isn't bad as the song itself feels different despite the similar sounds. The production isn't stellar in some spots but wow is this song high energy and a great merging of the two classic bands. Stonehenge an instrumental track is up next, a synth based track it is eerie and just serves as an introduction to Disturbing The Priest. A little too long of one for my liking but it works.

Disturbing The Priest opens with a haunting scream and some furious drum work, the songwriting one this track feels quite different from all the other eras of Sabbath that I've heard. It comes across as a story telling format, whereas Dio has a more legend has it style of writing there is an ebb and flow to the energy level of this track and it works quite well. I think the production is what holds this song back a little. Nice wails throughout. The Dark is a second eerie instrumental I don't get why Sabbath felt the need to do these little interludes on their albums. Like on some albums it is clearly to pad the runtime a little. Zero The Hero fades in, thunderous riffs dominate this track. The chorus has a rather easy to sing a long to style to it, so likely this would have gone over pretty well live. While the track is upbeat there is a distinct feeling of doom throughout. Another pretty good track.

Trashed - 9/10
Stonehenge/Disturbing The Priest - 8/10
The Dark/Zero The Hero - 8/10

Digital Bitch opens up the second half, the track comes in hard and fast from the start with Tony taking a solo right in the introduction, the swearing throughout probably doesn't help this track get any airplay because it honestly is a stellar rocker from the opening moment. It has the fury of Highway Star but with the sound of Black Sabbath I like it a lot although the language could be changed. Born Again is up next, a six and a half minute track, the track is moody right from the start, it seems that most the Sabbath singers get a track which is on the darker and moodier side, Ozzy had Black Sabbath, Glenn had Seventh Star, Tony had The Eternal Idol and Ronnie had Sign Of The Southern Cross. Like the other 4 examples this one is pretty darn amazing, of the longer tracks this one is easily the strongest and it is one of the stronger ones on the album as a whole.

Hot Line returns to the direct upbeat rocker approach, I see it was used for the live setting as one of first tracks of the night. It has some nice screams and while is a little cheesy lyrically the musicianship is incredible throughout the track. A tongue and cheek rocker, much more in line with Deep Purple but still a good track for Black Sabbath. Keep It Warm closes out the album, it slows down and Ian delivers a really strong vocal performance, once again a track that doesn't feel Black Sabbath especially lyrically. It is a nice album closer.

Digital Bitch - 10/10
Born Again - 9/10
Hot line - 9/10
Keep It Warm - 8.5/10

Adjusted 86%
Overall 88%
4 Stars


The Eternal Idol and Sabotage are in the mail. The remaining 3 Tony Martin era albums I have yet to find at reasonable prices.
Born Again is criminally underrated. Ian Gillan's vocal performance is absolutely supernatural on that album.
 

The Dissident

Ancient Mariner

Counterparts - Rush
Format: CD/Digital

Rush's fifteenth album, having consistently put out an album at least every other year since their debut almost 20 years prior. Although this would be the final album to follow that blueprint of consistent releases, with the time between albums lengthening after this album.

Animate gets counted in the track opens with some drumwork before the band comes in soon afterwards. Geddy sings in a very spoken style. The tempo increases and the band delivers some nice vocal harmonies on the chorus. The track isn't the greatest choice for an opening track it doesn't have the speed or the hooks of an opener but it is a nice track overall. Neil's drum work is the highlight of the track, what an amazing drummer he was. Stick It Out has a rather dark and heavy opening riff Geddy continues the slower singing style for the opening verse, the song has a lighthearted set of lyrics but wow is the atmosphere darker from that main riff. I really like it. Cut To The Chase lightens up the tone a little for the start before another heavier riff comes in, I'm quite enjoying this approach it works well with Geddy's steadily aging vocals. Alex lets loose a really melodic solo which feels like it is spiralling upwards then back down again. The track has a bit of groove to it as well.

Nobody's Hero comes in acoustically, the track is about people whom have passed away, the first was a friend of Neil's whom died of AIDS-related causes. The chorus comes in more hard hitting, a dark ballad for people gone too soon. A phenomenal track from start to finish I can see myself listening to this track much more and as a result it growing on me more. Between Sun and Moon is introduced by a punchy bass line from Geddy the track has a lighter feel to it than the previous one and it is quite enjoyable throughout. Alien Shore is one of the first Rush song's I've heard of that actually is blatantly about sex in some parts, it then becomes a bit about race. Another rather good track. The Speed Of Love is a mid tempo track which is a little too slow when all is said and done, probably the weakest track thus far.

Double Agent has some distinct vocal approaches. It is a bit better than the previous track but the quality of these last two tracks has been lower than most of those which came before. Leave That Thing Alone is an instrumental piece a calm melodic guitar is featured throughout with Geddy and Neil laying down a groove overall with their respective instruments. It is okay. Cold Fire marks the second track of the album, talking about women. Wow never thought I'd hear two tracks about this subject on a Rush album. The track does step up the overall quality a bit from the last 3 tracks and it is quite enjoyable throughout. Geddy sounds strong vocally. Everyday Glory closes out the album a lighter sound on the introduction this feeling stays throughout, but there is a real dark set of lyrics on this track. It serves as a solid closer.

Animate - 7.5/10
Stick It Out - 8.5/10
Cut To The Chase - 8.5/10
Nobody's Hero - 9/10
Between Sun And Moon - 8/10
Alien Shore - 8.5/10
The Speed Of Love - 7/10
Double Agent - 7/10
Leave That Thing Alone - 7/10
Cold Fire - 8/10
Everyday Glory - 8/10

Adjusted 79%
Overall 79%
3 Stars
 

The Dissident

Ancient Mariner

Whoosh! - Deep Purple
Format: CD/Digital

Deep Purple have released their 21st studio album. The mythical figures having released music for more than 50 years. It opens up with a single called Throw My Bones. Despite the band having aged immensely since their 70s heyday, Ian Gillan still sounds pretty good, his vocals are very different but incredibly recognizable smooth and clean. The keyboard and guitar combo from the bands "new" members Don Airy and Steve Morse deliver some really good segues in this track, the bands classic rhythm section still being manned by Ian Paice and Roger Glover holds down the groove. The chorus is pretty darn strong, and Ian is clearly still doing quite well for a man in his 70s. Drop The Weapon opens with some drum and keyboard interplay, the verse is pretty strong and well delivered, the chorus is delivered in a bit of a funky way. The band have said this album is elclectic and this track is showing that quite well, there is a more prominent keyboard influence than guitar on this track. Roger delivers a phenomenal bass line throughout the back to back solos from the bands two leads. It isn't on par with the opener but the track is pretty fun. We're All The Same In The Dark lets Roger take the introduction, a band with members in the 70s releasing a song which on paper appears to be about the conquests of their youth, not the most perverted track that I've heard from older bands singing about the glory days. The band sounds quite similar to their previous album of InFinite, a well constructed track.

Nothing At All, is a track about growing older and the passing of time, there is a bit of blues present in Ian's vocals throughout this album, his clean approach is so very different from the wails he is known for. The album is very clearly not trying to recreate the speedy rockers of old. Instead they are providing some strong midtempo tracks, Don Airy shines on his keyboard on this track, performing a great melodic and quick solo for an extended length. No Need To Shout's introduction calls back to Perfect Strangers, the tempo has increased on this track, and it like the opening track of the album could be a decent concert opener should the band decide to not use Highway Star like they have been doing here and there lately. Everything comes together on this track, it would be a really fine track live! Step By Step opens with a haunting keyboard based introduction, when the vocals begin they are distant and continue the colder haunting approach. The track is one of the weaker ones, not unenjoyable but not really that interesting, the haunting feeling of it could have been used much better but it like Drop The Weapon are solid tracks. What The What comes in the fastest and the keyboard play makes me think of Paradise By The Dashboard Light a fun upbeat poppier track, with the second what clearly being in replacement of another more explitive word. The lesser quality track that preceded it really is put to shame by this high quality fun track from the brits. Deep Purple has found a way to release quality music late in their career which while being very much theirs, but also having a fresh feel to it.

The Long Way Round, comes in quicker instrumentally. While I acknowledge the band has slowed down due to their age it would have been cool for them to place a roaring rocker on the album, even if it wasn't one they would play live. But then again they probably are thinking of writing songs which all could be featured in the live set in some way or another. Another fun track. The outro of it shifts into a really melodic piece of music which is a pleasent way to close it off. The Power Of The Moon begins with the stroke of a bass string, a less distant haunted vocal approach is present on the first verse, with the chorus having a bit of a drone to it. Keyboard centered in the verses. Not too much to write about, the track is nice but not one that really grabs you in, although the solo component is pretty darn strong. Remission Possible is the first of two instrumentals which sandwitch the albums second single. Quite short this track clocks in at less than 2 minutes in length. It comes in with the sounds of the hammond organ, it seems like it is an introduction to a keyboard solo, and it ends with a mellow and subdued bit of keys, which fades into Man Alive

Man Alive
, opens very much like Time For Bedlam did on the bands previous work. The track slowly builds, just shy of being the longest track on the album is takes its time as the orchestral components of it increases before the band's guitar based players come in to acompany Airy thematically the track continues where Time For Bedlam left off, it is another track that could have been a decent concert opener, although it would be a good break in the middle of a set for Gillan based on the spoken word component following the first chorus, the track being the final with lyrics ends with the album's title Whoosh closes itself out by wrapping the themes together. ...And The Address closes off the album, this was the first track on the bands debut album, written by their former leads of Ritchie Blackmore and John Lord, the track should this be the final Purple album is a nice way to close the story of the band, ending the way they began. However I suspect the band might record another based on their interviews recently, assuming they all are able when this is all said and done. A pleasent instrumental which really has the feel of the two writers written all over it,

Throw My Bones - 8.5/10
Drop The Weapon - 7.5/10
We're All The Same In The Dark - 8/10
Nothing At All - 8.5/10
No Need To Shout - 9/10
Step By Step - 7.5/10
What The What - 9/10
The Long Way Round - 8/10
The Power Of The Moon - 7.5/10
Remission Possible - 8/10
Man Alive - 8/10
...And The Address - 8.5/10

Adjusted - 81%
Overall - 82%
3 Stars
 

The Dissident

Ancient Mariner

Transcendence - Crimson Glory
Format: CD/Digital

Crimson Glory's second album the lesser known progressive metal band kicks off with Lady Of Winter, a hook ladened opening introduces the track before Midnight comes in singing, his voice quite similar to Geoff Tate with a bit of Rob Halford thrown into it, the track is quite poppy sounding but also incredibly pure metal at the same time, it is a wonder this band wasn't bigger, especially with only 4 albums to their name this small discography would be a benefit for those interested in the sound. But I suspect they are overlooked due to this fact. A stellar opening track, with spiraling and screaming guitars. Red Sharks comes in strong once again capitalizing on the previous tracks momentum, the vocal approach on this track is far more vicious and the band speeds along behind it making for a much less commerical sounding track with a fury replacing the commerical sounds. Midnight unleashes a brilliant scream early on, the twin guitars harmonize quite well throughout. It isn't quite on par with the previous track for my personal listening. But it is another brilliant track. At the 3 and a half minute mark the track really takes a darker turn getting much heavier and the drum and bass work recieve a more prominent role. Painted Skies goes full blown acoustic or so it seems, the track shifts after the first minute into a more subdued electric ballad. The track has some nice vocal harmonies, but the vocals are what holds this track back for me, it just doesn't hit the emotional chord with me which the track is set up well to do but just falls short. The solo is stellar and the track remains high quality despite the nitpick. I'm sure it will grown on me in time.

Masque Of Red Death, picks the pace up once again and the vocals just feel more fitting on this track, the delivery is pretty similar but the upbeat backing makes the track all the more impactful. I will say that while Midnight is amazing vocally his style is not one which works for me super well in the album listening format, his wails do get grating, but then again a year and a half ago I said the same about Rob Halford. Masque is another really strong rocker. In Dark Places slows down once again, but this time the notes in which Midnight chooses to reach for are much lower, the track has an epic feel right from the start. Tons of atmospheric guitar work in the background and the solo is really distorted. Following the solo, the vocals begin to ascend once more. Where Dragons Rule comes in with a drum based intro, and the title promises some Dio esc lyrics, and it doesn't disapoint. Millitant drumming in places, the track is a nice fresh sounding track throughout. Lonely features some amazing opening vocals, mid ranged and unlike anything else on the album, even the epic In Dark Places doesn't have the this level of uniqueness. The band comes in and the track is elevated to another plane for a moment. Probably the strongest track since the opener, it is epic, crunchy in places and just all around a high quality track.

Burning Bridges once again begins acoustic, it slowly builds. This is the second longest track on the album and around the minute and a half mark it breaks into a very harmonized guitar segment which for some reason my brain is comparring to Head Games by Foreigner despite being much different from the song I'm actually listening to. Brilliant vocal and guitar harmonies throughout. Stellar high notes and brilliant composing throughout another standout track on a stellar album. Eternal World fades in, from some quick searching I have learned the and used this track to close out their live shows on the album's tour, and I believe their tour with current Queensryche singer Todd La Torre as well. An average length track, it picks up the pace a fair bit having followed two more mid tempo tracks, the emphasis is clearly on some good old fashion headbanging. Solid. Transcendence closes out the album of the same name, a 4 and a half minute track, it begins immediately after the previous track ends barely any space in between. The track is once again slower and really unique it is probably the moodiest track of the album, a pleasent ending to the album.

Lady Of Winter - 10/10
Red Sharks - 9.5/10
Painted Skies - 8.5/10
Masque Of Red Death - 9/10
In Dark Places - 9/10
Where Dragons Rule - 9/10
Lonely - 10/10
Burning Bridges - 10/10
Eternal World - 8.5/10
Transcendence - 8.5/10

Adjusted 92%
Overall 92%
4.5 Stars
 

The Dissident

Ancient Mariner
Time to finish a discography


Sap - Alice In Chains
Format: CD/Digital

The bands second EP, this one following their debut album, sandwiched inbetween it and their masterpiece of Dirt. Sap is a short 4 track EP with a hidden track called Love Song. Brother opens up the album, I believe the whole album is acoustic and this is the first track in the bands catalog to feature Jerry Cantrell on lead vocals, some humming accompanies the guitar based introduction, a dark and slightly distorted. The band comes in following the first verse and you can hear some guest singers in the background, one without a doubt is Ann Wilson of Heart. The track is undoubtably a dark track throughout, the backing vocals. It seems like a natural progression from Facelift. Got Me Wrong comes in calmly, Layne takes the lead vocal slot on this track and there are no guest vocalists on it, a moodier track than the previous one, the bands more classic harmonies are present here. The brief guitar solo is this track's highlight but the outro is pretty good.

Right Turn is a track featuring Mark Arm and Chris Cornell, on lead vocals, a somber track from start to finish, it isn't quite on the level of the two previous track. Am I Inside is the final track on the albums listing barring the hidden track, it has the darkest feeling from the start of the track however it does get a little bit more uplifting... in an Alice In Chains way. Once more the guest vocalists return for this track. It works quite well. Not my favourite track but it is one which could grow on me a fair bit, like the opener. Love Song closes it all out, the band has swapped instruments for this song, sung by the bands drummer Sean Kinney whom lends the songs piano sounds. It is incredibly weird. Sung/spoken through a megaphone this track is clearly the band just being silly.

Brother - 8.5/10
Got Me Wrong - 8/10
Right Turn - 7.5/10
Am I Inside - 8.5/10
Love Song - 7.5/10

Adjusted 81%
Overall 80%
3 Stars
 

The Dissident

Ancient Mariner

Snakes & Arrows - Rush
Format: CD/Digital

Rush follows up Vapor Trails with their penultimate album, Snakes & Arrows a decently long album, but seeing as I now own all the Rush albums I do need to finish off my discography run for them. The album is followed by a lengthy break in albums although the band didn't stop working in the 5 years between this and Clockwork Angels.

Far Cry wastes no time getting down to business, the track kicks off with Neil pounding his kit and soon Geddy and Alex are in the mix, creating a groove filled introduction. Geddy is really beginning to sound like he does on Clockwork Angels. A rather critical song of the peace loving generation, whom has risen up to be less peace and love than they preached in their youth. The track is catchy and a brilliant choice of opener. As per usual the lyrics are incredibly well thought out. The solo section isn't the most stellar, instead of a singlular solo it is more of a band jam section. Armor & Sword comes up next, this is the albums longest track, it references the albums title in its opening line. It speaks to the defence (Armor) becoming a weapon against you (Sword). I believe this track is criticising the staunch beliefs in something can become a double edged sword against you in the long run. I find the track quite effective and would have been a really cool live show track. Workin Them Angels, a more upbeat track which continues on the high quality run from the previous two tracks. It is a bit more of a wall of sound in some places than the previous songs.

The Larger Bowl (A Pantoum) comes up next, the opening verses are quite calm, with an acoustic guitar and Geddy singing softly, the track is quite stripped back. A catchy lyric and rhythm, this track is a nice shift in the sound of the band. I like it. Spindrift fades in from the outro of the previous track, it builds up and the opening reminds me a bit of Caravan but not nearly as powerful as the later made track, Geddy sings with conviction and the track has a building feeling to it. This is the albums 2nd single, it has its moments which are quite good but as a whole it isn't my favourite. The Main Monkey Business is the first of three isntrumentals on the album. An enjoyable track but not entirely my cup of tea without something to sing along to at any point in it...

The Way The Wind Blows begins with a distant millitant drumbeat, the second longest track on the album, it has a good quick tempo to it, the track is well put together, for me Geddy's vocals are the weak point, they are layered with backing vocals throughout the track which distracts from the overall quality of the song. It is another well thought out lyric just has a bit of a downside with the layering. Hope is a short instrumental piece, barely over two minutes in length the track is an acoustic solo for Alex. Faithless comes in from the introduction of Hope, had the latter been shorter I could have seen it be added on as an introduction. The song has a feel of Ghost Rider to it, but with more of orchestral feeling inbetween the verses and on the chorus than the track from Vapor Trails, it has ballad tendencies on the chorus, it is a notable step up in quality from the last 3 tracks.

Bravest Face yet another track which shifts between some acoustic work and heavier work. There is a darker message in this track, talking about those less fortunate in addition to the effects of assuming that the surface is all that there is to be had from a person. The 3 chorus' repeat themselves a fair bit after the halfway point, it works but does get a little much towards the end. Good News First, comes in with a synth filled spacy intro which transitions into a direct and hard hitting, guitar and drum based sound. The chorus is phenomenal, full of emotion and conviction. Malignante Narcissism is a mostly instrumental track with a single line being sung by Geddy in the songs short 2 minute runtime. Brief and pleasent. We Hold On is the albums closing track, early on I can tell I will like this track quite abit, a catchy rocker which I'm surprised wasn't used as a single for the album.

Far Cry - 9/10
Armor & Sword - 9/10
Workin Them Angels - 8/10
The Larger Bowl (A Pantoum) - 8.5/10
Spindrift - 8/10
The Main Monkey Business - 7.5/10
The Way The Wind Blows - 7.5/10
Hope - 7.5/10
Faithless - 8.5/10
Bravest Face - 9/10
Good News First - 8.5/10
Malignant Narcissism - 8/10
We Hold On - 9/10

Adjusted 83%
Overall 83%
3.5 Stars


Quite the pleasent album, 5 more till I'm done the discography.

  • AC/DC - Blow Up Your Video
  • AC/DC - Ballbreaker
  • AC/DC - Stiff Upper Lip
  • Black Sabbath - Sabotage
  • Black Sabbath - The Eternal Idol
  • Bon Jovi - Crush
  • Bon Jovi - Bounce
  • Bon Jovi - Have A Nice Day
  • Bon Jovi - Lost Highway
  • Bon Jovi - The Circle
  • Bon Jovi - What About Now
  • Bon Jovi - Burning Bridges
  • Bon Jovi - This House Is Not For Sale
  • Deep Purple - Slaves & Masters
  • Deep Purple - The Battle Rages On
  • Deep Purple - Purpendicular
  • Dio - Angry Machines
  • Dio - Magica
  • Dokken - Breaking The Chain
  • Dokken - Under Lock And Key
  • Dokken - Back For The Attack
  • Dream Theater - The Astonishing
  • Dream Theater - Live At Luna Park
  • Dream Theater - Score [Listened but didn't do a review so this may just get dropped]
  • Heart - Bad Animals
  • Heart - Brigade
  • Heart - Desire Walks On
  • Heart - Beautiful Broken
  • Metallica - Load
  • Metallica - ReLoad
  • Metallica - Death Magnetic
  • Metallica - Hardwired To Self Destruct
  • Michael Schenker Group - Assault Attack
  • Queen - Made In Heaven
  • Rainbow - Difficult To Cure
  • Rainbow - Bent Out Of Shape
  • Rainbow - Stranger In Us All
  • Ratt - Invasion Of Your Privacy
  • Ratt - Dancing Undercover
  • Ratt - Reach For The Sky
  • Ratt - Detonator
  • The Rolling Stones - Exile On Main Street
  • The Rolling Stones - Goats Head Soup
  • The Rolling Stones - Emotional Rescue
  • Rush - Signals
  • Rush - Grace Under Pressure
  • Rush - Power Windows
  • Rush - Hold Your Fire
  • Rush - Test For Echo
  • Velvet Revolver -Libritad
  • W.A.S.P. - Double Live Assassins
  • Whitesnake - Good To Be Bad
  • The Who - WHO
There is probably more that I'm forgetting, and some of these which likely won't ever get reviewed.
 

The Dissident

Ancient Mariner

ReImagined - Halestorm
Format: Digital

Halestorm's second EP released this year, opens with a redone rendition of I Get Off, I like the introductions electronic feel, the stripped back approach of the track is cool but it does take away from the songs anthemic format. I think It's Not You would have been a stronger choice for a stripped back track. Lzzy sounds great on vocals and is the highlight of the track. A cool version, just not as great as the original. I Miss The Misery comes in distant and distorted before going full acoustic. This track doubles down on what I didn't think worked about the previous track, this track is meant to be a roaring rocker high energy and loud. Instead it just pulls back all the energy to become a stale bit of "take me back, I miss you" style of track. I will say the oh oh oh's are well done but not a great version. I Am The Fire is a track which I could see being well made acoustically. And the introduction of this track is showing me that this is more than likely the case, a soft vocal turns the empowering comeback anthem which tells the world to watch out into a track of self reflection and the realization that one can be the person shouting out the prementioned anthemic rendition. Probably the most natural rendition yet.

Break In comes up next, the original track is haunting and solo piano with Lzzy this rendition has a bit more of the band in it, in addition to Amy Lee singing alongside Lzzy. This rendition could easily have been the original with Amy added in, however instead it is its own unique feeling, the singing has a lot of raw emotions in it. A stellar rendition, although I prefer the original, it is perfect in its own way. The sole cover track on the EP, I Will Always Love You is done justice in this performance, beautiful vocally from start to finish this track is a prime example of how amazing of a singer Lzzy Hale is. Mz Hyde closes off the EP, it comes in with a pretty heavy bottom end, the most uptempo track on the EP, there is a feeling to stomp along, the chorus is sung with a plenty of layers creating a gang vocal approach. A decent rendition.

I Get Off - 8/10
I Miss The Misery - 6.5/10
I Am The Fire - 9/10
Break In - 10/10
I Will Always Love You - 10/10
Mz Hyde - 8/10

Adjusted 86%
Overall 85%
3.5 Stars
 

Jer

My sins are many


Yngwie Malmsteen - Marching Out (1985)

Shortly after Yngwie’s mostly instrumental debut album, the neoclassical shredder returned with a more vocal-heavy sophomore effort, once again featuring a very young Jeff Scott Soto (Sons Of Apollo, Talisman) on the mic.
  • Prelude - Atmospheric noise and guitar accents slowly build tension leading into the first real song. Just a quick minute-long intro, not much meat here. 6/10.
  • I’ll See The Light, Tonight - A fiery riff and a high-pitched scream break into a bright, driving verse and an anthemic chorus. A neat guitar and harpsichord interlude leads into a smoking multi-part solo. More chorus and verse rounds lead to a big rock ending. Great stuff, 8/10.
  • Don’t Let It End - A haunting acoustic intro is joined by some questionable falsetto singing from Soto. This soon shifts into a heavy, appealing verse and a somewhat calmer chorus. An intense guitar solo breaks into a nice harmonized bit and another chorus before a heavier deconstruction of the chorus closes things out. The singing is uneven and the lyrics are a bit cheesy, but the music does enough to hold onto a 7/10.
  • Disciples Of Hell - A frenetic classical acoustic intro breaks into a big, beefy riff. Soto delivers a dark, melodic verse and a whispered pre-chorus that leads into a slowly building chorus. Great multi-part solo, cool spoken word bridge. A little cheesy, but great. 8/10.
  • I Am A Viking - A gong and a busy midtempo riff lead into a marching melodic verse and a swaying, slow-burn chorus. Another great multi-part guitar solo. A simple outro gives way to a nice harmonized call-and-response guitar interlude. The lyrics get pretty cringey in places, but the music is great. 8/10.
  • Overture 1383 - A great neoclassical intro leads into a beautiful harmonized lead on a bed of acoustic guitar. This works its way through to a more fiery solo finish. Excellent instrumental, 9/10.
  • Anguish And Fear - A beefy ascending riff breaks into a driving verse and chorus. Excellent dueling guitar-and-synth solo. Another great track, 8/10.
  • On The Run Again - A nice riff & solo intro breaks into a big, beefy, sparse riff under an excellent verse and pre-chorus. Another smoking solo leads into a smooth, awesome vocal bridge before finally breaking into the chorus. Excellent song, 9/10.
  • Soldier Without Faith - An extended atmospheric intro breaks into a busy midtempo riff and some sweet soloing. Love the key shift going into the verse. Cracking anthemic chorus. Varied multi-stage solo with a nice twist at the end. Excellent stuff, 9/10.
  • Caught In The Middle - A plaintive descending riff breaks into a driving verse and chorus with a catchy vocal. A swooning harmonized interlude breaks into a fiery guitar solo followed by an equally fiery synth solo. The swooning interlude returns to herald a big rock ending. Another really great track, probably does enough to merit rounding up to a 9/10.
  • Marching Out - A piercing descending lead fades away into an acoustic groove with bluesy electric soloing that has feely bits and shreddy bits while slowly fading away. Basically a 3-minute jam session, but it works well. 7/10.
Average: 8.0/10
Weighted: 8.2/10

After a slightly uneven start this album finds its footing and steps on the gas through most of its runtime. Yngwie is on fire here, but he also shows an unusual amount of restraint compared to his later work — there’s a real emphasis on putting together coherent songs with strong, memorable vocal lines (albeit with cheesy lyrics at times), and Yngwie is willing to make room for Jeff Scott Soto’s vocals to shine (and occasionally disappoint). In fact, this is perhaps the only Yngwie album where it sounds like he’s part of an actual band, rather than being a solo guitarist with a few lackeys to back him up.

Yngwie’s neoclassical sound was so fresh and exciting at the time that people really sat up and took notice, and this album was a very strong set of songs with lots of memorable hooks. For that reason this continues to be my personal favorite Yngwie album, and one that I chose to nominate for the Greatest Metal Album Cup, where it will make its first appearance in the next league.
 

The Dissident

Ancient Mariner

Test For Echo - Rush
Format: CD/Digital

Rush's sixteenth album, oft considered among the worst of their discography is Test For Echo. The title track kicks off the album, Geddy sings calmly over a slowly building introduction, it has a cool feel to it, the track is on the harder side of the bands more recent work at the time of this release, it has a lot of potential but it just doesn't all come together as one cohesive piece. I'm not sure what is missing or what needs to be changed but something about the structure just doesn't fit. Driven is up second, coming in with another calmer introduction with Geddy singing over it. I'm starting to see the issues that people have, the songs just don't click, all three members have shown off their amazing talents throughout their careern but this album just isn't off to a strong start at all. Like the title track the song is average at best. Half The World has an upbeat start, it speaks to different viewpoints of people, it feels a little like Rush trying to make a peace anthem, but not as powerful as it could or should have been. The Colour Of Right feels like a track about people recognizing privilege, but it like the others doesn't hit the mark for me. I'm pretty disapointed thus far.

Time and Motion features the longest instrumental introduction of the album thus far, yea it doesn't have much more of a hook than the others. Totem has a poppier feel to it, the track keeps this feel throughout, and is the strongest track on the album thus far, speaking to different belief systems with indigenous peoples imagry, in addition to religious symbolism. Dog Years has a hard hitting introduction. Not too much to say, this album isn't great by any stretch of the imagination, the songs are okay and slightly enjoyable throughout but not really worth anyones while to listen to the album as a whole... unless doing a discography run. Virtually continues this trend, this track feels lighthearted throughout.

Resist also feels more upbeat, a track about resisting... ya don't say... not much to it. Limbo is an instrumental track, it has a bit of energy to it, but the album, is not good enough and already too long to have the 10th track be one of the more energetic ones after being pretty well lame in a sense for the most part. Carve Away The Stone closes out the album, not too much to say here, the album has run its course.

Test For Echo - 7.5/10
Driven - 7/10
Half The World - 7.5/10
The Colour Of Right - 7/10
Time and Motion - 7/10
Totem - 8/10
Dog Years - 7/10
Virtually - 6.5/10
Resist - 7/10
Limbo - 7.5/10
Carve Away The Stone - 7/10

Adjusted 72%
Overall 72%
2.5 Stars
 
I don't think of listened to more than 2 or 3 Test For Echo songs in the last TEN years.

I've always liked Carve Away the Stone - and oddly enough Colour of Right is a tune that I come back to.

So many songs sound like the band is just fiddling around, dialing things in so to speak.

Much more passion on the three late-career albums that followed
 
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Jer

My sins are many


Def Leppard - High ‘n’ Dry (1981)

Given the style of the later albums that catapulted the band to multi-platinum success, it’s easy to forget that Def Leppard got their start as part of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal. Their second album, High ‘n’ Dry, is the peak of this rawer, hard-rocking early phase, and it features Pete Willis as the second guitar player, who would go on to play with Paul Di’anno and Janick Gers in Gogmagog.
  • Let It Go - A punchy midtempo riff leads into a calmer verse that slowly builds into a solid chorus. Joe Elliot’s voice is smooth on the calm parts and raw and biting on the heavier parts, and you can hear the beginnings of the Leppard vocal harmony style here. A succession of great vocal bridges and melodic interludes leads into a strong multi-part solo before building back to the chorus and a cool breakdown ending. Really good, probably delivers enough to round it up to an 8/10.
  • Another Hit And Run - Hard-hitting chords cut into a nice melodic lead before falling back into a melancholy but driving interlude. This breaks into a punchy midtempo verse riff, a catchy pre-chorus, and a simple but explosive chorus. Great multi-part solo, excellent softer bridge that winds down to almost nothing before exploding back into the chorus to wrap things up. This song is fucking fantastic, kicks my ass every time. 10/10.
  • High ‘n’ Dry - A bright riff supports a strong, sparse verse, leading into a decent pre-chorus and a catchy chorus. Solid solo. Good stuff, a robust 7/10.
  • Bringin’ On The Heartbreak - Plaintive guitars lead into a soft, arpeggiated verse with a great vocal. The pre-chorus builds nicely into a classic harmonized chorus. Pretty good solo. A smooth denouement that rolls right into the next track. Overall an excellent power ballad, a robust 9/10.
  • Switch 625 - A pulsing bass line with guitar accents builds into an appealing groove, joined by a memorable guitar lead that evolves as the groove continues to grow. This climaxes with some “ah-ahs” and a big rock ending that puts this instrumental to bed. Very good, almost great — probably makes enough of an impression to round it up to an 8/10.
  • You Got Me Runnin’ - A simple riff breaks into an upbeat groove and a sparse, punchy verse, leading into an appealing chorus vocal. Cool solo with vocal riffing. The lyrics are kind of dumb and Elliot sounds a bit weird in places, but this is still a solid rocker. 7/10.
  • Lady Strange - A catchy harmonized lead cuts into a sparse riff and another great melodic lead. An appealing verse vocal breaks into a memorable, melodious chorus. A driving guitar interlude erupts into an excellent solo. Great multi-part bridge, great outro. Excellent track, 9/10.
  • On Through The Night - A dark, driving verse trades off with a bright, catchy chorus. A smooth, melancholy bridge is followed by a galloping multi-part guitar interlude with a fiery solo in the middle. Quick drum outro. Another excellent song, 9/10.
  • Mirror, Mirror - A dark melodic lead breaks into a soft, melancholy verse that slowly builds into an excellent call-and-response chorus. This eventually breaks into an exotic guitar lead and a brief harmonized interlude before returning to the chorus. A brief pause, then the song explodes into a deconstructed chorus with guitar fills to bring things to a close. Another monster track, 10/10.
  • No No No - A sweet descending riff drives a decent verse that leads into a solid chorus. Great guitar solo. The outro of echoing “no”s is a little over the top. The vocal lines aren’t too memorable here, but the rest of the song is good. 7/10.
Average: 8.4/10
Weighted: 8.5/10

An excellent album with a lot of raw power and grit, as well as a surprising amount of finesse. This rougher, somewhat bluesier Def Leppard knows how to kick your ass while still burning a melodic line into your brain.

This album was a huge leap beyond the band’s debut record On Through The Night. (Confusingly, the song “On Through The Night” appears on High ‘n’ Dry instead.) Unfortunately Pete Willis left the band after this album, and the group turned in a poppier direction for the follow-ups Pyromania and Hysteria, so we never got to hear how this particular version of the band might have evolved over time.

While I still enjoy some of the later Leppard albums, this one remains my personal favorite, and I liked it enough to nominate it for the Greatest Metal Album Cup, where it will make its first appearance in the near future.
 

Jer

My sins are many


Powerwolf - Lupus Dei (2007)

Powerwolf is a German band that achieved notoriety with their later, sillier releases that veered more in the direction of power metal; but their second album Lupus Dei had more of a gothic traditional metal sound, incorporating the awesome vocals of Attila Dorn (a classically trained baritone who can move effortlessly between operatic and metal styles) with a melodic dual guitar attack and an ever-present pipe organ.
  • Lupus Daemonis - Howling wolves and synth orchestration herald a snarling Latin vocal introduction that builds directly into the next track. A great mood-setting intro. 8/10.
  • We Take It From The Living - A chorus preview breaks into a marching verse with a great vocal and nice guitar change-ups, and a cool “whoah-oh” pre-chorus before returning to the chorus. Evil spoken-word bridge. Great multi-part melodic solo that leads into a marching variant of the chorus and a rhythmic outro. Excellent song, 9/10.
  • Prayer In The Dark - Heavy chords and pipe organ open things up a little too similarly to the previous track, but this soon kicks into a piercing, driving riff that powers a stellar verse vocal. A great driving pre-chorus breaks into a less compelling chorus 1 before blossoming into an excellent anthemic chorus 2 that evolves further on the second round. Great vocal bridge that builds to a quick ending. Another excellent track, 9/10.
  • Saturday Satan - Blowing wind, pipe organ, and plucked clean guitar set the tone for a haunting vocal intro that erupts into an awesome melodic riff. A savage, driving verse breaks into a fantastic chorus followed by chants of “Satan! Satan!” A stellar melodic guitar interlude leads into a creepy vocal bridge that explodes back into that superb chorus. Fucking brilliant from start to finish. 10/10.
  • In Blood We Trust - A vocal-driven chorus preview breaks into a midtempo groove for a strong verse and tension-building pre-chorus before returning to the chorus, which gains more power in later rounds. A nice melodic guitar interlude leads into a few variations on the chorus with descending guitar fill tradeoffs to close things out. Great stuff, 8/10.
  • Behind The Leathermask - A booming chorus kicks things off, giving way to a driving riff that powers an excellent verse. This breaks into a fantastic melodic pre-chorus before returning to the more stately chorus. A booming drum-driven interlude leads into a great vocal bridge and a nice guitar interlude that cuts into an awesome harmonized solo before returning to the pre-chorus and chorus. A superb song with only the chorus not completely hitting it out of the park. A robust 9/10.
  • Vampires Don’t Die - Punchy guitars and drum fills cut into a driving verse and pre-chorus before breaking into a strong call-and-response chorus. Great neoclassical guitar interlude with vocal riffing. Nice modulation on the final round of choruses. Great song, 8/10.
  • When The Moon Shines Red - A sleazy lead gives way to a great pipe organ and vocal verse that breaks into a soaring midtempo chorus. An evil spoken word section rolls into a more driving version of the verse and back to the chorus. The tempo picks up for an excellent vocal bridge. Sweet multi-part solo. Another excellent track, 9/10.
  • Mother Mary Is A Bird Of Prey - An uptempo chorus riff gives way to a sparse, percussive verse that builds back to a catchy chorus. A nice palm muted bridge leads into a group vocal section and an awesome but all too short harmonized solo before closing out with the chorus. Great track, 8/10.
  • Tiger Of Sabrod - A piercing lead falls into a slow gallop for an appealing verse. The pre-chorus takes a brighter, marching turn before breaking into a catchy darker chorus. Sweet harmonized guitar interlude with nice “whoah-ohs”. The final choruses are joined by group chanting for a rousing finish. Yet another excellent song, 9/10.
  • Lupus Dei - Church bells and pipe organ support a calm Latin vocal introduction. The heaviness kicks in for the next round. A sweet guitar interlude with spoken word accents builds into a driving but not very melodic verse, then a staccato melodic chorus. A synth-driven Latin spoken word interlude follows, with werewolf howls and a gathering rainstorm closing out the album. This song’s a little self-indulgent and not as tight as the rest of the album, but it’s still quite good. 7/10.
Average: 8.5/10
Weighted: 8.6/10

This album absolutely slays through most of its runtime, and it’s probably my favorite record of the ‘00s. Attila Dorn’s vocals are incredible, the guitar work of Charles and Matthew Greywolf is consistently great, and I never realized how much metal music and pipe organ needed each other until I heard this album.

Yes, some of the lyrics are cheesy. Any band that sells itself as bible-thumping werewolves who drink the blood of sinners is going to contain some dairy product — but put yourself in the right mindset and the tone and delivery of this album is spot-on.

This is another album that I liked enough to nominate for the Greatest Metal Album Cup, where it will soon be going up against the Rainbow debut, so it will need all the help it can get. I think it’s a better metal album on the merits, but we’ll have to see if people can get past their “...but it’s Rainbow!” bias.
 

MindRuler

Ancient Mariner



This is another album that I liked enough to nominate for the Greatest Metal Album Cup, where it will soon be going up against the Rainbow debut, so it will need all the help it can get. I think it’s a better metal album on the merits, but we’ll have to see if people can get past their “...but it’s Rainbow!” bias.
Not so long ago I voted Crimson Glory over Rainbow. We´ll see if I´m throwing you a bone...
 
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The Dissident

Ancient Mariner

Babylon - W.A.S.P.
Format: CD/Digital

W.A.S.P.'s fourteenth studio recording, is Babylon continuing on the ever growing religious themes which began with the Neon God albums. Crazy is the opening track, it is high energy and Blackie sounds pretty good, with the previous album having a bit rockier vocals in some places, but he appears in fine form here, the track sounds like a very natural progression from the band who released The Crimson Idol nearly 20 years prior. The chorus has some wails and the verses are sung clean. Live To Die Another Day comes in with a decent riff and the first verse slows down a bit but there is a pick up following it, the track continues with the momentum of the first and it is pleasent but the song blends into a wall of sound in some places, nice solo section and Blackie continues to be in fine form throughout this track. Quite a strong outro helps it out as well. Babylon's Burning has a thundering drum intro and a galloping bottom end, the albums title track a well constructed hard rocking track, great vocals and each member of the band has a chance to shine throughout. Including a snippet from the book of revelation.

Burn is up next, the familliar Deep Purple riff launching into this aggressive cover, originally recorded for the bands previous album Dominator it was held off and placed on this album instead. Blackie takes on Coverdale and Hughes vocal components of this track and slays them. The wails on the chorus are amazing, the version is shorter than the original and fast paced as one would expect. Great cover. Into The Fire is a midpaced track with a pretty decent chorus, the track as a whole isn't quite on par with the last two or the opener but it isn't bad. Thunder Red doesn't even let the previous track fade out completely before coming in thundering... pun intended. The track is hard rocking and full of energy throughout as well as an increase in quality, a phenomenal solo section ensues.

Seas Of Fire, comes in slow but has a very atmospheric building sensation to it. This breaks and the track becomes a roaring midpaced hard rocker, the musicianship throughout this track is probably the best throughout the album thus far, the track is brilliant from start to finish. Godless Run is the last original track on the album, the track is a ballad, Blackie sounds strong and quite emotional on this track, the entire tone of this track makes me feel like this is Blackie's version of a confession for his lifestyle and writing back in the 80s and 90s. It is a well constructed track regardless of if that is the case. The chorus following the solo is the strongest which is typical for W.A.S.P. Promised Land a cover of Chuck Berry closes out the album, a short punchy rocker, it closes out the album nicely.

Crazy - 8.5/10
Live To Die Another Day - 8/10
Babylon's Burning - 9/10
Burn - 10/10
Into The Fire - 8/10
Thunder Red - 8.5/10
Seas Of Fire - 10/10
Godless Run - 9/10
Promised Land - 8.5/10

Adjusted 88%
Overall 88%
4 Stars
 

The Dissident

Ancient Mariner

Hold Your Fire - Rush
Format: CD/Digital

Hold Your Fire opens up with a church sounding choir as Force Ten begins the twelfth album from the Canadian progressive rock band Rush, the track has a nice feel to it from the start, Geddy is in top form vocally the track is poppy like their 80s outputs are known to be, however the conviction in Geddy's voice and the amazing musicianship from the band keep the track quite enjoyable and with a bit of an edge to it even without the actual sound being in the harder vein. A solid choice for the opening track. Time Stands Still is the albums lead single, the chorus features a guest female vocalist, she adds a nice element to the track but I don't know if it really makes that big of a difference as Alex usually has some nice backing vocals on tracks. Open Secrets begins with some nice basswork from Geddy while Neil accompanies him in the background. It continues the nice accessible feeling of the album, however it lacks that wow factor which this album has had missing thus far. Geddy sounds really good throughout, the production is good and clear. The solo is the highlight of this track.

Second Nature opens with a piano, the first verse and chorus don't grab me, but the bridge is great and it pulls me into the track, and the back half of the track while not amazing is a well written ballad. The outro of the track builds up quite abit as the band becomes much more involved as it comes to a close. Prime Mover increases the tempo back up a little, it is a rather philosophical track about human nature and life, Neil is an incredibly lyrsist and this track is a great example of this, he speaks to the true reason of departures and journeys, being that the act of arriving and leaving aren't the important part, the actual importance is the learning and experiences on the journey. Lock And Key, begins the second half of the album, it continues on the heavily keyboard influence of the previous tracks. It is a bit more upbeat than the previous tracks but this track remains solid. Mission opens with lyrics pertaining to the albums title, another slower track, this one falls back towards the ballad territory, this album has been consistently okay.

Turn The Page has a focus on Alex from the onset, and something about this track just feels like a bit of a step down from the rest thus far. Tai Shan continues on the less impactful track format, it is rather tranquil. High Water closes off the record, Neil introduces the track with some thunderous drumming, Neil spoke about how he was always comforted by being around water, this is something I really appreciate and connect with, the track is stronger than the last two and ends off the album on a higher note.

Force Ten - 8/10
Time Stands Still - 8/10
Open Secrets - 8/10
Second Nature - 8/10
Prime Mover - 8.5/10
Lock And Key - 8/10
Mission - 8/10
Turn The Page - 7.5/10
Tai Shan - 7.5/10
High Water - 8.5/10

Adjusted 80%
Overall 80%
3 Stars

3 more.
 
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