Random album reviews

Brigantium

General of the Dark Army
Staff member
I'd have given the higher marks to Close To The Edge. Lovely fluid composition, and possibly second only to Awaken in my Yeschart.
 

The Dissident

Ancient Mariner

Difficult To Cure - Rainbow
Format: CD/Digital

Rainbow's fifth album and their debut of their third singer, the first album from the band in the 80s unveils Joe Lynn Turner. The band has taken a more commercial direction with their previous album and continues down this path. I Surrender kicks off the album, and drives home the previous fact. Joe sounds strong on this pop fueled track, Blackmore's trademark style is tonned down for this release as he isn't trying to be the guitar legend he has become know for from his Deep Purple and early Rainbow albums. Spotlight Kid comes in a bit more in the vein of rock, a punchy rocker which does a pretty solid job at getting the energy up, there are some moments where the vocals sound a little strained. However the tracks upbeat energy is really impressive and would have been a great live track. No Release, fades in with some keyboards and then Blackmore comes in with a prominent guitar tone. Roger Glover's bass work is strong, the track is one of the longest on the albums, and like the previous tracks there is an element of fun to these tracks, the full blown pop influence at the 3 and a half minute mark is a little much, it screams the band is trying to get into almost a dance floor... The rest of the track is enjoyable and good but that segment doesn't belong on a Rainbow album. The rest of the song has a bit of a Foreigner feel to it which I'm okay with. Magic is probably more in line with I Surrender sound wise comparrative to the two previous tracks, the track is quite good as a whole, it does what it sets out to do, it is a poppy and accessible rock based track. I just find it so hard to imagine that two albums previous we had Ronnie James Dio behind the vocals. Maybe Next Time is an instrumental piece which the German words prior roughly translate into, it is a pleasent instrumental, a little Soldier Of Fortune sounding.

Can't Happen Here opens up the second half of the album, it is built from the same cloth as Spotlight Kid it is a fast paced rocker, with massive pop sound infused into it, this is easily the strongest track thus far, it completely falls under the pop rock feeling that Ritchie is aiming for and the song wouldn't sound out of place in a best of the 80s lighter glam metal playlist/album. Freedom Fighter continues on this trend although to a less effective execution, it just falls a little short of having that perfect combination. Ritchie does let loose a pretty darn good solo on this track which shows he hasn't slowed down (although we know this as Perfect Strangers is still only a few years away). Middletown Tunnel Vision is the final non-instrumental track of the album. Midpaced this track doesn't have a ton of energy to it. Difficult To Cure closes out the album, an instrumental rendition of Beethoven's Ninth a rather upbeat and fun instrumental track in which Ritchie's guitar work basically sings throughout. A stellar and well done instrumental.

I Surrender - 4/5
Spotlight Kid - 4.5/5
No Release - 3/5
Magic - 4.5/5
Vielleicht Das Nächste Mal (Maybe Next Time) - 4/5
Can't Happen Here - 5/5
Freedom Fighter - 4/5
Midtown Tunnel Vision - 3/5
Difficult To Cure (Beethoven's Ninth) - 5/5

Adjusted 83%
Overall 82%
3.5 Stars
 

Midnight

The sun sets forever over Blackwater Park
Oh, this is excellent - I've been wanting to listen to Yes for a while now, but most of their songs never quite grip me. @The Dissident has a good point - Yes could have been a little bit heavier. They way their music is now, it's like cotton candy for the ears; far too sweet for my liking.

Also,
Released on my birthday
My birthday seems to be the day before yours!
 
Last edited:

Jer

My sins are many


Skyclad - The Answer Machine? (1997)

Folk metal pioneers Skyclad came together in 1990, including lyricist extraordinaire Martin Walkyier, formerly of Sabbat, and guitarist Steve Ramsey and bassist Graeme English, formerly of Satan / Pariah / Blind Fury. Their early sound was sort of punky thrash with violin, but it matured over time, and in 1996 with six studio albums already under their belt they did an experimental maxi-EP called Oui Avant-Garde A Chance where they majorly amped up the folk elements of their sound. This was received well enough at the time that they decided to do their next full-length studio album in the same lighter style that balanced the folk, punk, and metal elements more equally, and the result was The Answer Machine? in 1997.
  • A Clown Of Thorns - Swooning violin is buffeted by acoustic guitars and a hypnotic rhythm. A melancholy vocal crescendos as the next song kicks in. A short but excellent intro track, 9/10.
  • Building A Ruin - A drum fill breaks into an electric guitar and violin riff, giving way to a catchy, driving verse and pre-chorus. A piano and bass interlude rolls back into the verse and pre-chorus, then breaks into the chorus. Electric guitar, violin, and flute accompany a great bridge before returning to the pre-chorus and chorus to close out the song. Excellent song, great lyrics. 9/10.
  • Worn Out Sole To Heel - A rhythmically busy guitar and violin intro cuts into a punky verse 1 and a more sinister, melodic verse 2. The chorus isn’t particularly catchy, but the softer vocal bridge and violin solo are great. Let’s say a robust 7/10.
  • Single Phial - Plaintive arpeggios are joined by beautifully harmonized violins, eventually giving way to a melancholy acoustic verse. Electric guitar and violin join in for the pre-chorus, building nicely into the catchy chorus. Nice electric guitar and violin interludes, and a very tasteful guitar solo. Another excellent track, 9/10.
  • Helium - A bass and vocal intro and a distant scream break into an acoustic/electric guitar and violin groove. This cuts into an electric guitar driven verse that blossoms into a great catchy chorus with a bittersweet interlude afterward. Nice variant chorus in the middle. Yet another excellent song, 9/10.
  • The Thread Of Evermore - Middle eastern sounds and female singing break into a hypnotic rhythm and a catchy, melodic verse, pre-chorus, and choruses 1 and 2. The violin melody maintains the middle eastern feel throughout. Excellent hypnotic interlude. Interesting vocal harmonies. Another excellent track, 9/10.
  • Eirenarch - An electric guitar and violin intro breaks into an uptempo groove before dialing it back a bit for a violin-driven verse. Heaviness kicks in for the thrashy pre-chorus and a not particularly catchy chorus. A queasy electric guitar and violin tradeoff interlude leads into a pretty cool guitar and violin duet solo. Good song, but not great. 7/10.
  • Troublesometimes - A spoken word intro leads into a slow burn acoustic groove with male and female vocals and flute and violin breaks. Nice uptempo chorus with prominent electric guitar. Cool multi-part interlude with a flute solo. Nice extended outro. Another excellent track, 9/10.
  • Isle Of Jura - An almost surf rock opening breaks into a bright acoustic 5/4 groove and an appealing verse. The chorus isn’t quite as successful, but still good. Nice interlude and a great clean guitar solo. Great song, 8/10.
  • Fainting By Numbers - A heavy 6/8 groove breaks into a punky verse and a catchy pre-chorus. The chorus is a bit of a two-note dud, unfortunately. Great guitar solo. An endless steam of number-related puns fill out the lyrics. Flawed, but still good overall. 7/10.
  • My Naked I - A peppy acoustic guitar and piano verse steps up the heaviness for the pre-chorus and a busy, appealing chorus. A nice bass, piano, and vocal bridge breaks into a cool harmonized guitar solo. Another great track, 8/10.
  • Catherine At The Wheel - A haunting piano intro gives way to a pulsing arpeggiated verse groove and a more violin driven chorus with male and female vocals. Great acoustic guitar solo, nice violin solo later on. Creepy lyrics about an abused woman who kills male predators. Another great song, 8/10.
  • Dead Angels On Ice - A fiddle and electric guitar driven number that goes all in on hoedown folk metal. An extended instrumental intro fades into a rhythmic banjo-driven verse that trades off with fiddle and electric guitar. A simple chorus keeps going as the next verse plays out on top of it. Weird car sound effects for an outro. Strange track, but still good. 7/10.
Average: 8.2/10
Weighted: 8.2/10

All too often folk metal winds up being standard metal with a violin slapped on it, but to me The Answer Machine? was what I’d always hoped folk metal would sound like. Lush arrangements that let all of the instruments contribute, whether they’re acoustic or electric; nice dynamics with softer and heavier sections; different time signatures and song structures without getting too proggy. Also, even though Martin Walkyier is never going to win any singing contests, giving him the room to breathe and sing in his natural voice instead of always being in a thrashy scowl does wonders for the music and makes it easier to understand and appreciate the wonderful pun- and wit-filled lyrics.

Half of this album is flat-out excellent, and the third of it that’s merely good is what brings the overall rating down a bit. Still, this is such a unique and important album, and there are so many excellent tracks on it that I chose to nominate it for the Greatest Metal Album Cup, where it will appear in the next round.

Unfortunately, Skyclad abandoned this lighter musical direction after this album and returned to a more thrash-fueled sound, which was still good, but never quite reached these same heights again (though Folkémon, Martin’s swan song with the band from 2000, comes close).
 

MindRuler

Ancient Mariner
Oh, this is excellent - I've been wanting to listen to Yes for a while now, but most of their songs never quite grip me.
Could it be the sugar sweet voice of Jon Anderson?
Don´t get me wrong, he´s an excellent vocalist but sometimes his singing gets on my nerves.
 

Midnight

The sun sets forever over Blackwater Park
Could it be the sugar sweet voice of Jon Anderson?
That, and the 'ethereal' vibe that the whole band have; absolutely no grit whatsoever. Every time I listen to The Gates Of Delirium, I end up turning it off halfway through and playing Paschendale instead.

When talking about classic prog bands, I prefer King Crimson (and even Emerson, Lake and Palmer) to Yes. In terms of songs, Tarkus wipes the floor with most of Yes' epics.
 

The Dissident

Ancient Mariner
Oh, this is excellent - I've been wanting to listen to Yes for a while now, but most of their songs never quite grip me. @The Dissident has a good point - Yes could have been a little bit heavier. They way their music is now, it's like cotton candy for the ears; far too sweet for my liking.

I agree, as MindRuler said the vocals don't help the feeling of a lighter band, his vocals work for the band and when I'm in the mood for Yes I really enjoy their music as they write great songs, long but great. As stated the music isn't heavy, but that style wouldn't work with Anderson so I can see why they don't go that route.

Honestly I find this is an issue with me for most bands from the late 60s/early 70s, specifically The Who has never really done it for me, amazing songs just lacking that punch to them despite being one of the heavier bands on the rock scene. I think part of it was the production value back then as well.
 

Midnight

The sun sets forever over Blackwater Park
The Who has never really done it for me, amazing songs just lacking that punch to them
They're easily the most egregious example of this; they could have sounded like Led Zeppelin or Rainbow, and they'd have benefitted from it.
 

The Dissident

Ancient Mariner
They're easily the most egregious example of this; they could have sounded like Led Zeppelin or Rainbow, and they'd have benefitted from it.

Completely agree, if only Won't Get Fooled Again, or Love, Reign O'er Me was given that treatment, both those songs would ascend to unheard of levels of brilliance.
 

The Dissident

Ancient Mariner

The Eternal Idol - Black Sabbath
Format: CD/Digital

Black Sabbath releases their thirteenth album, the first featuring singer Tony Martin and the first in a string of albums in which the band doesn't swap singers every album. Following up the previous years Seventh Star this album comes in two versions one with Ray Gillen on vocals released years later as the deluxe edition and the original release with Tony, I might do the Ray version as well but that will be for another day.

The Shining opens up the album, the introduction continues with the keyboard infused sound from the previous album, and it is a pretty calm introduction, however this isn't to last as a wicked riff soon comes in from the riff lord Tony Iommi. Tony Martin does some stellar vocals early on, this track feels like it is a smart choice for album opener and also for concerts. Tony's vocals aren't quite as strong as he does on the bands follow up album Headless Cross at least on this track, the track does shift around a little bit having a bit of that epic feel to it without being a true epic. Ancient Warrior begins with a keyboard introduction, this track really takes hold of the epic feel from the start and builds upon it, a dark feeling with powerful soaring vocals, the bass and drum work adds to the darker feeling of the track it. A fair bit of religious symbolism is featured on this track and as the track progresses it gets stronger as a whole. It doesn't sound like Ozzy's era of Black Sabbath but it does feel connected to Ronnie's thematically sound wise. Hard Life To Love increases the tempo with a Mob Rules esc riff, punchy with a nice groove, it feels like this would have been the albums single based on the sound and tempo in comparrision to the previous two tracks. A great solo from Iommi segues right back into the great groove created by his stellar riff. Glory Ride closes out the first half of the record, this track comes in taking no prisoners and Tony really sounds like he is coming into his own vocally on this track, the first few tracks were good, but this is excellent.

Born To Lose keeps the energy up, however this more raw approach on Tony's vocals still doesn't quite click as well as the more polished approach on the follow up. A stellar solo and great instrumental work from the band keeps the track to the high quality that the band has set in the 80s, despite the band basically being ignored for the most part because it lacks Ozzy or Ronnie. Nightmare a track written for the third Nightmare On Elm Street movie comes in with some precussion then a thundering drum. A midpaced track which feels atmospheric despite not being a track one would traditionally feel is an atmospheric track. Theatrical due to the subject matter associated with the aforementioned film series. Ray Gillen is credited for the evil laugh and following it the track increases in tempo a bit. Scarlet Pimpernel is a short instrumental, it is a pleasent little piece, but it doesn't really offer too much to the album, it could have become a cool track had it been extended further as it feels like a long winded introduction. Lost Forever has no subtly on the introduction coming in fast and heavy, the track picks the energy right up and shows that Sabbath haven't lost touch with the fast and heavy approaches of songs like Neon Nights, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath and Paranoid. Tony well both of them, kill it on this track. A stellar speedy rocker and would have been another great addition to the live setting, another stellar track from the band. Eternal Idol closes out the album, a haunting title track much like the bands eponymous debut's title track, it is moody, haunting and the best display of Tony Martin's vocals on the album, his wails are amazing and Iommi lets loose on his axe delivering some soul crushing riffs. An excellent closer.

The Shining - 4/5
Ancient Warrior - 4.5/5
Hard Life To Love - 4.5/5
Glory Ride - 5/5
Born To Lose - 4/5
Nightmare - 4/5
Scarlet Pimpernel - 3/5
Lost Forever - 5/5
Eternal Idol - 5/5

Adjusted 89%
Overall 87%
4 Stars
 

The_7th_one

Ancient Mariner


Skyclad - The Answer Machine? (1997)

Folk metal pioneers Skyclad came together in 1990, including lyricist extraordinaire Martin Walkyier, formerly of Sabbat, and guitarist Steve Ramsey and bassist Graeme English, formerly of Satan / Pariah / Blind Fury. Their early sound was sort of punky thrash with violin, but it matured over time, and in 1996 with six studio albums already under their belt they did an experimental maxi-EP called Oui Avant-Garde A Chance where they majorly amped up the folk elements of their sound. This was received well enough at the time that they decided to do their next full-length studio album in the same lighter style that balanced the folk, punk, and metal elements more equally, and the result was The Answer Machine? in 1997.
  • A Clown Of Thorns - Swooning violin is buffeted by acoustic guitars and a hypnotic rhythm. A melancholy vocal crescendos as the next song kicks in. A short but excellent intro track, 9/10.
  • Building A Ruin - A drum fill breaks into an electric guitar and violin riff, giving way to a catchy, driving verse and pre-chorus. A piano and bass interlude rolls back into the verse and pre-chorus, then breaks into the chorus. Electric guitar, violin, and flute accompany a great bridge before returning to the pre-chorus and chorus to close out the song. Excellent song, great lyrics. 9/10.
  • Worn Out Sole To Heel - A rhythmically busy guitar and violin intro cuts into a punky verse 1 and a more sinister, melodic verse 2. The chorus isn’t particularly catchy, but the softer vocal bridge and violin solo are great. Let’s say a robust 7/10.
  • Single Phial - Plaintive arpeggios are joined by beautifully harmonized violins, eventually giving way to a melancholy acoustic verse. Electric guitar and violin join in for the pre-chorus, building nicely into the catchy chorus. Nice electric guitar and violin interludes, and a very tasteful guitar solo. Another excellent track, 9/10.
  • Helium - A bass and vocal intro and a distant scream break into an acoustic/electric guitar and violin groove. This cuts into an electric guitar driven verse that blossoms into a great catchy chorus with a bittersweet interlude afterward. Nice variant chorus in the middle. Yet another excellent song, 9/10.
  • The Thread Of Evermore - Middle eastern sounds and female singing break into a hypnotic rhythm and a catchy, melodic verse, pre-chorus, and choruses 1 and 2. The violin melody maintains the middle eastern feel throughout. Excellent hypnotic interlude. Interesting vocal harmonies. Another excellent track, 9/10.
  • Eirenarch - An electric guitar and violin intro breaks into an uptempo groove before dialing it back a bit for a violin-driven verse. Heaviness kicks in for the thrashy pre-chorus and a not particularly catchy chorus. A queasy electric guitar and violin tradeoff interlude leads into a pretty cool guitar and violin duet solo. Good song, but not great. 7/10.
  • Troublesometimes - A spoken word intro leads into a slow burn acoustic groove with male and female vocals and flute and violin breaks. Nice uptempo chorus with prominent electric guitar. Cool multi-part interlude with a flute solo. Nice extended outro. Another excellent track, 9/10.
  • Isle Of Jura - An almost surf rock opening breaks into a bright acoustic 5/4 groove and an appealing verse. The chorus isn’t quite as successful, but still good. Nice interlude and a great clean guitar solo. Great song, 8/10.
  • Fainting By Numbers - A heavy 6/8 groove breaks into a punky verse and a catchy pre-chorus. The chorus is a bit of a two-note dud, unfortunately. Great guitar solo. An endless steam of number-related puns fill out the lyrics. Flawed, but still good overall. 7/10.
  • My Naked I - A peppy acoustic guitar and piano verse steps up the heaviness for the pre-chorus and a busy, appealing chorus. A nice bass, piano, and vocal bridge breaks into a cool harmonized guitar solo. Another great track, 8/10.
  • Catherine At The Wheel - A haunting piano intro gives way to a pulsing arpeggiated verse groove and a more violin driven chorus with male and female vocals. Great acoustic guitar solo, nice violin solo later on. Creepy lyrics about an abused woman who kills male predators. Another great song, 8/10.
  • Dead Angels On Ice - A fiddle and electric guitar driven number that goes all in on hoedown folk metal. An extended instrumental intro fades into a rhythmic banjo-driven verse that trades off with fiddle and electric guitar. A simple chorus keeps going as the next verse plays out on top of it. Weird car sound effects for an outro. Strange track, but still good. 7/10.
Average: 8.2/10
Weighted: 8.2/10

All too often folk metal winds up being standard metal with a violin slapped on it, but to me The Answer Machine? was what I’d always hoped folk metal would sound like. Lush arrangements that let all of the instruments contribute, whether they’re acoustic or electric; nice dynamics with softer and heavier sections; different time signatures and song structures without getting too proggy. Also, even though Martin Walkyier is never going to win any singing contests, giving him the room to breathe and sing in his natural voice instead of always being in a thrashy scowl does wonders for the music and makes it easier to understand and appreciate the wonderful pun- and wit-filled lyrics.

Half of this album is flat-out excellent, and the third of it that’s merely good is what brings the overall rating down a bit. Still, this is such a unique and important album, and there are so many excellent tracks on it that I chose to nominate it for the Greatest Metal Album Cup, where it will appear in the next round.

Unfortunately, Skyclad abandoned this lighter musical direction after this album and returned to a more thrash-fueled sound, which was still good, but never quite reached these same heights again (though Folkémon, Martin’s swan song with the band from 2000, comes close).
Hey Jer, did you listened Fish's Internal Exile album, if not, take a listen…I think you will enjoy it.
It's the second solo album by Fish (ex-Marillion's singer) It has gems songs like Internal Exile, Shadowplay, Credo. If you enjoyed Skyclad's folk…This album will like you. Cheers!
cover_2118151212017_r.jpg
 

The Dissident

Ancient Mariner

Stranger In Us All - Rainbow
Format: CD/Digital

Rainbow... Ritchie Blackmore's side project from the mighty Deep Purple, releases their eigthth and currently final album twelve years after their previous effort. Done following his final departure from the aforementioned rock and metal legends, and this would be his final album in the hard rock catagory having explored the folk rock arena with his wife in their collaboration Blackmore's Night ever since, although he has created a new Rainbow which he does small tours with in Europe each year. Selecting the bands fourth singer to be Doogie White whom would go onto work with other guitar legends following this.

Wolf To The Moon kicks it all off, the sound off the start is slightly heavier than the Joe Lynn Turner era of the band, Doogie has a vocal delivery style quite similar to that of Joe and he suits both a hard sound and a softer approach. The lyrics feel like a more modern approach to Ronnie's theatrical and olden days themes. Despite wanting to go to a more stripped approach with his music following this album Blackmore delivers a nice solo on this track which doesn't show obvious signs of slowling down. A solid opening track. Cold Hearted Woman comes in with a nice catchy opening although it does dip back towards the poppier approach, it sounds great and is a nice song structed, the tracks don't appear to have true chorus' and that style makes for fresh feeling throughout. A good follow up to the previous track. Hunting Humans begins with a synth/keyboard on low with the band fading in, this track is giving me a Get Down, Make Love by Queen vibe. An attempt at an atmospheric track however it doesn't really fit that vibe. It isn't bad it just isn't that strong. Stand And Fight picks up the pace a little bit and this feels like full blown pop rock from the start, it feels like a callback of sorts to more straightforwards pop rockers of the 70s and we know that Ritchie likes his pop music. It is a step back towards the higher quality tracks from the opening pair but isn't quite there. Ariel is a ballad of sorts, it comes in with a drum based introduction, musically it is a pretty good ballad however vocally the emotion isn't there it is well delivered otherwise but the lack of emotion causes the song to not be nearly as impactful as it could be.

Too Late For Tears brings the energy back up, featuring a pretty decent chorus this track is about the same quality of the previous two tracks with just a little bit more added to it. Black Masquerade has a fair bit of vocal layering it references to the albums title, and is a pretty decent faster track. The vocal layering weakens the power of Doogie's vocals for me. The future direction where Ritchie would go is shown on his solo with a very folk influenced segment taking place here, the keyboards are featured nicely. Silence comes in with a descending downbeat. The layered vocals continue here, an upbeat track with Ritchie soloing everywhere. Hall Of The Mountain King is the final new track of the album, thematically very much in line with Ronnie's approach for the band, there are even moments where I hear a bit of Ronnie in Doogie's approach, the riff on the chorus of this track is incredibly familliar but I can't name why I know it, I just know it is something not originally written by the band. Still I'm Sad longtime show closer and closer of the original album closes it all out, I think this was Ritchie's way of saying I'm done with rock n roll. Unlike the debut's version this rendition has vocals. Opening with a solo from Ritchie it soon becomes the upbeat rocker of old. Doogie gives his best performance of the album, and frankly so does the whole band. A blazing rocker with an epic feel to it from start to finish.

Wolf To The Moon - 4/5
Cold Hearted Woman - 4.5/5
Hunting Humans (Insatiable) - 2.5/5
Stand And Fight - 3.5/5
Ariel - 3.5/5
Too Late For Tears - 4/5
Black Masquerade - 4/5
Silence - 4/5
Hall Of The Mountain King - 4.5/5
Still I'm Sad - 5/5

Adjusted 79%
Overall 79%
3 Stars


Bent Out Of Shape will come at some point in the nearish future to wrap up this discography
 

The Dissident

Ancient Mariner

Assault Attack - The Michael Schenker Group
Format: CD/Digital

Assault Attack the sole Graham Bonnet lead album from MSG and the bands third studio effort. A consise 40 minute album comprised of 8 tracks, produced by Martin Birch this album has become a favourite in the Schenker catalog. It kicks off with the title track Assault Attack the combination of Graham's bombastic vocals in conjunction with the sheer talent of Michael create a fairly accessible but still hard rocking a melodic solo from the mad axeman showing off his less aggressive riffing side, the band as a whole is pretty darn strong. Rock You To The Ground is up next, with a strong rocking opening before slowing down into an AC/DC esc groove, the star early on is Bonnet the mans vocals are so powerful and commanding. There is a bit of an epic feel to this track, and the lengthy extended jam solo is a great component to this feeling. Dancer is one of my favourite Schenker tunes it is a sillier track, but it has this infectious energy to it that just makes ya want to move around and what a chorus, such a enjoyable track plus it still rocks quite well throughout. One of my favourites when I saw MSG live, and definetely an early highlight of the album. Samurai follows up shifting gears back to the heavy rock, a beautiful introduction segues into a stomp, a massive chorus with a pretty theatrical lyrics throughout, once again Graham is a formidable singer taking the spotlight in several spots and a nice balance to Michael throughout the track, another incredible track.

Desert Song opens the second half of the album, a much less bombastic opening from the previous tracks, however it does build up, the vocal approach from Bonnet is quite unique comparred to the earlier tracks, sung lower with hints of his comanding delivery sneaking out in some places. A mini epic, incredibly melodic and continuing the story telling theme from Samurai. A stellar composition. Broken Promises is the albums longest track, Graham sounds angry in this track, which fits the subject matter not quite on par with the last run of track but wow is this album damn consistent. Searching For Reason is the final non-instrumental track on the album, it is the albums shortest track, the chorus has a bit of layering on the vocals which doesn't quite work as well as it has earlier on the album, a bit of a step down from the last run more on par with the first two tracks. A pleasent rocker but nothing stellar. Ulcer closes out the record, a nice rocker with some furious drumming and great rhythmn work, Schenker puts out on this track.

Assault Attack - 4/5
Rock You To The Ground - 4/5
Dancer - 5/5
Samurai - 5/5
Desert Song - 5/5
Broken Promises - 4.5/5
Searching For Reason - 4/5
Ulcer - 4.5/5

Adjusted 91%
Overall 90%
4 Stars
 

The Dissident

Ancient Mariner

Sabotage - Black Sabbath
Format: CD/Digital

Black Sabbath's sixth album and the final Ozzy era that I need to review, it begins with Hole In The Sky which comes in pretty upbeat with a tempo similar to Immigrant Song the track is quite aggressive and Ozzy wails away throughout the track and he sounds amazing on it, from the very start the band is commanding and are on fire. One of the best track's I've heard from this era. Tony's rhythm work is amazing and there is an abrupt ending before going into an acoustic solo for Don't Start (Too Late) which is a nice segue. Symptom Of The Universe comes in darker than the opener and the thunder that comes with it. The vocal delivery is pretty clear that it is one of the inspirations for thrash metal in conjunction with the instrumental delivery. However what I can hear is the lengthy end notes at the end of lines which would become a trademark of some other english guy, this track definetely builds on the more progressive outings the band has been introducing once again into their track, lenthy with several passages. Another great track. Megalomania closes out the first half a nearly 10 minute track, it comes in ominous with a sense of danger, it quickly establishes itself as a haunting track with Ozzy being distorted quite abit early on, i'm not blown away by the track it is good but nothing I'd seek out regularily. Instrumentally the solos are pretty darn great I just find the song as a whole a little bloated.

The Thrill Of It All opens up the second half of the album and it kicks off with a brilliant Tony Iommi solo section, Ozzy sings high and powerfully, throughout the track, it just feels pretty fun in general. Great instrumentally and well delivered. Supertzar is another instrumental track, this time clocking in at just under 4 minutes, it is an odd piece of music and a brainchild of Tony using a chior throughout it could have been a decent intro before the band went on stage but isn't really needed on the album. It is a more commericially friendly track off the start, it has a good beat but it isn't a stellar performance, it is clear the band was trying to get some radio play and it is so different from the rest of the album it sticks out like a sore thumb. The Writ closes out the album, coming in with a bass centered introduction, another track written out of anger towards the bands management. A pretty darn strong closer.

Hole In The Sky - 5/5
Don't Start (Too Late) - N/A
Symptom Of The Universe - 5/5
Megalomania - 3.5/5
The Thrill Of It All -5/5
Supertzar - 3.5/5
Am I Going Insane (Radio) - 3/5
The Writ - 4.5/5

Adjusted 85%
Overall 84%
3.5 Stars
 

The Dissident

Ancient Mariner

90125 - Yes
Format: CD/Digital

Yes' eleventh album, with what I would consider a truely awful album cover. The band's reunion album of sorts having broken up after their previous albums tour. The album kicks off with Owner Of A Lonely Heart, which opens up with a quite strong classic riff before it shifts away to the same riff but in a much more calm and poppy style. I would like to hear the track with that opening sound quality. An absolute classic track, Jon Anderson sounds quite good and his vocal is well suited for this pop oriented rock, the riff remains recognizable and super catchy with some strong bass work underneath it all. The song has what sounds like a studio break down in the middle of it and the track probably could have been an insanely catchy 3 minute track but it extends further with a distinct shift at the 3 minute mark following the solo. Hold On comes in with a powerful drumbeat then it backs off into a soulful solo, the vocals are quite short in delivery of individual words. The solos are the highlight of this track, vocals are approached in a rather chorus style approach however it just doesn't quite click together for me. The back half is a bit stronger than the first but it doesn't save the track. It Can Happen opens with a rather eastern feeling to it, one of the other band members takes on some of the vocals. It is a stronger track than the first and it clicks together quite well. Changes is one of my favourite Yes track's I've heard ths far, and actually was one of the tracks which got me interested in the band, opening with a xylophone introduction before becoming an amazing epic track, soothing and powerful vocals from Jon tell the tale of someone going through Changes. Stellar by all band members. It is a masterpiece.

Cinema was the name of the band originally as it reformed before Jon Anderson rejoined and they opted to use Yes as the bands name once more. It fades in, the track continues on the ligher feeling, this time with a big of a spacey feel added in. An instrumental track it could have been a nice concert introduction due to its short length or even an album opener. Leave It comes in with the whole gang helping on vocals, it sounds acepella for the first bit with the band slowly adding in instruments as they go on. I don't really know what to think of this track, it is definetely unique but I can't tell if I really like it or if it is just okay. It has some Queen feeling moments. I'll give it a 4. Our Song has a very keyboard centered opening, it continues the poppy feeling. It goes a little too poppy for my progressive rock mood, but clearly this isn't their most progressive album. City Of Love remains in the ligher vein but it just clicks a bit better than the previous track off the start, killer group vocals throughout with a heavy stomp from the drums and bass adds to the feeling of the track. Jon's vocals are so soft and ethereal throughout the album and here is no different. Phenomenal chorus vocals. Hearts closes out the album, the longest track on the album, it begins in a way which reminds me more of older Yes works slowly building with a bit of an epic feel to it, the track is a nice way to close out the album.

Owner Of A Lonely Heart - 4.5/5
Hold On - 3/5
It Can Happen - 4.5/4
Changes - 5/5
Cinema - 4/5
Leave It - 4/5
Our Song - 3.5/5
City Of Love - 4.5/5
Hearts - 4/5

Adjusted 83%
Overall 82%
3.5 Stars
 

The Dissident

Ancient Mariner

Unholy Terror - W.A.S.P.
Format: Digital

The year is 2001, W.A.S.P. are following up their rather lackluster Helldorado album, with their latest release Unholy Terror. This is the bands 9th album. Let It Roar comes in hard and fast, the band has increased the production value from their previous album, Blackie is in full wail mode and he is taking no prisoners on this track, a higher energy rocker to kick off the bands first 2000s era album an unrelenting assault which just is some good straightforwards metal from start to finish. Great energy and it shows the band hasn't lost its step despite a few missteps along the way. Hate To Love Me comes in with some keyboards however it doesn't waste much time before becoming another speedy heavy rocker, it isn't quite as impressive as the opener but darn it is still a good track, stellar guitar work from Chris Holmes whom shreds through his guitar. Locomotive Man takes an intro riff from The Great Misconceptions Of Me from the bands Crimson Idol album, which is a welcome call back and with the different production does sound pretty unique although having just heard the aforementioned song not too long before it screamed out. The guitars scream and the track is another incredible high quality track. This track is starting to show some of the religious lyrics from Blackie starting to sneak into the themes of the band. Unholy Terror is a short 2 minute track, which I believe runs into the follow up track, we will see if thats the case. It comes in quite calm, it is a building up track which feels like it could burst at any moment and it eventually does burst as Charisma begins having served as the first half of the track, I'm not sure why it wasn't put into a single track on the album, oh well I'll treat it as such. Charisma is the main component of the track anyways, it is a mid tempo stomping epic track which, Charisma would recieve a 5/5 however the slow building component of Unholy Terror doesn't quite need to be the way it is, so the track will get docked a bit for that.

Who Slayed Baby Jane? is up next, and it once again is fast and agressive from the very start. The chorus eats up most of the song and is incredibly repetative. The speed is appreciated and the overall enegry is pretty darn strong. Euphoria is a shorter piece and is instrumental, it shifts to a rather calm approach not really needed for the album but it is nice. Raven Heart is another shorter track however what it lacks in length it makes up for in speed on the introduction, it stylistically is similar to the other tracks, a roaring chorus with strong verses, a good tempo and a great performance by all. However like the rest of the album it isn't quite perfect. Evermore is the albums ballad, it is a rather distinct shift from the onslaught from the rest of the album, it has moments of passion but it feels a bit too produced on the vocals and lacks the emotional connection for the first little while, it does begin to get better but could have been so much better. Oh well it saves the band from having to consider it in leiu of their other ballads. It could grow on me we will see. Wasted White Boys is the final track of the album and it is the longest singular track on the album, this is where the weakness of W.A.S.P. rears its head, the wails are phenomenal however eventually they just become too much. This album isn't even that long but it does feel a little like overkill at this point, the speed and aggression is great, but at this point the album feels just a little too long for this approach. The track itself is strong and well done. The outro of the track is a massive solo from Chris Holmes and it is quite an impressive one at that, ending the album on a high note.

Let It Roar - 4.5/5
Hate To Love Me - 4/5
Locomotive Man - 4.5/5
Unholy Terror/Charisma - 4.5/5
Who Slayed Baby Jane? - 4/5
Euphoria -3.5/5
Raven Heart - 4.5/5
Evermore - 3.5/5
Wasted White Boys - 4.5/5

Adjusted 84%
Overall 83%
3.5 Stars
 

The Dissident

Ancient Mariner

Fragile - Yes
Format: CD/Digital

Fragile released in late 1971, is the second album from this year by the progressive rock band Yes. Following up their previous The Yes Album this album is the fourth album in the bands discography, featuring 3 tracks longer than 8 minutes, and 5 tracks below the 3 minute mark. Quite the mix of long and short tracks, Roundabout begins the album, opening with the keyboards into an acoustic guitar riff from Steve Howe the track, the albums lead single, and one of their most well known tracks, Jon Anderson sings nicely with a bit of a backing to it. Chris Squire's bass is quite impressive and a centerpiece throughout the track, it rumbles beneath the rest of the band while driving the pace in some sections. Like their side long epics this track has some very distinct sections, around the 5 minute mark it slows back to an acoustic guitar with some keyboards moving quietly but quickly in the background. It has a slow chorus then the band starts to come back in with more energy. No perfect but it is damn good. Cans and Brahmns is a reworking of Johannes Brahms 4th symphony, it wasn't supposed to be on the album but a track in which Rick Wakeman wrote wasn't allowed due to contractual reasons. As such we get a short piano piece. It serves as an interlude nothing more. We Have Heaven is up next another super short track, and thankfully so because the band repeats the same line for the entire song with their backing vocals and there is some different leads mixed in throughout. I think this was something else created to add in leiu of Wakeman's piece because it is a waste of time. Decent backing. South Side Of The Sky is the second of the tracks exceeding 8 minutes, a track about death, Squire's bass work is good once more. There is an instrumental break which shifts the focus to the keyboards, the track feels quite peaceful which I guess goes with the more positive look about death featured in the lyrics of the track. As the band comes in from the break there is a bit more urgency to the sound of track and this stays for the remainder of the track.

Five Per Cent For Nothing is a 35 second instrumental which was a bit of a shot at the management for taking 5% of their income just for existing. It is pleasent but not really needed. Long Distance Runaround is the only track longer than 3 minutes but shorter than 8. Opening with some keyboards the track soon brings in the rest of the band and Jon Anderson begins to sing about religious hypocrisy. It is a nice pleasent track which segues into the following track which is incredibly simple lyrically. The segues is well done and the tracks do feel like one singlular track almost a completely instrumental ending, it just repeats the subtitle 4 times as the song fades out. A good continuation. Mood For A Day is another instrumental track, it is a nice acoustic piece, although this album has had too few proper tracks on the album, those that are proper are really good. This is a good track but I'd have prefered another non-instrumental we don't need 3 complete instrumentals with another track which basically is one except for 8 words being sung. Heart Of A Sunrise closes out the album and it opens up quite aggressively for Yes the albums lenghtiest track taking up 30% of the runtime and at the time the bands longest track, it is clear the band is still finding their niche with the longer songs, although the albums follow up would only feature 3 songs, 2 of which were around the lenght of this track. Sprawling and epic the track spends the first third of its runtime as an instrumental piece before backing off and Jon Anderson joins in, singing softly and beautifully. An amazing epic in which everything clicks together perfectly.

Roundabout - 4.5/5
Cans And Brahms - 3/5
We Have Heaven - 2/5
South Side Of The Sky - 4.5/5

Five Per Cent For Nothing - 3/5
Long Distance Runaround - 4/5
The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus) - 4/5
Mood For A Day - 4/5
Heart Of The Sunrise - 5/5

Adjusted 87%
Overall 76%
4 Stars


Probably the most affected album by the shift based on the length of the tracks weighing in. Honestly Had this album been the following:
Side 1:
  1. Roundabout
  2. Mood For A Day
  3. South Side Of The Sky
Side 2:
  1. Long Distance Runaround/The Fish
  2. Heart Of The Sunrise
It would have been a phenomenal album. And if they wanted another track they could have added in their single version of America by Simon And Garfunkle.
 
Top