Random album reviews

KidInTheDark666

What's yours is mine and what's mine is mine too
I just listened to it, and you were absolutely right! Portnoy really left on a high note. Is it just me, or does the "cannibal curator" part sound a bit like Metallica?
Yup, absolutely. I've seen people compare it to Metallica and Megadeth.
 

The Dissident

Ancient Mariner
Since we got some official news that there will be new music on the horizon.

Flick The Switch - AC/DC
Format: CD/Digital

The year is 1983, and AC/DC is looking to follow up their For Those About To Rock (We Salute You) album, continuing to ride on the waves of Back In Black and the previous album this time the band looks to go for a more raw sound like their earlier work. We will see if this was the case. Rising Power does sound more raw right from the start, a slower-mid tempo track, Brain sounds like he normally does with those phenomenal AC/DC backing vocals. I think the band is trying to recreate their latest album openers in Hells Bells and For Those About To Rock which where slower tracks with a killer energy. That formula isn't selling for this track, a nice solo featuring a rather low lead guitar mix with more focus on Malcolm than Angus throughout it. This House Is On Fire, has a bit more energy to it but this track is starting to looks like it will also be one that doesn't quite hit the mark. The chorus feels like the Kiss song Heaven's On Fire or at least it reminds me of it. Brian sounds okay throughout not his most stellar performance, I've always prefered Bon Scott to him anyways so that doesn't surprise me too much. Flick The Switch's title track is up next, and it has the most energy thus far on the album, the main riff has that AC/DC charm to it, and thus far it is easily the strongest and most catchy of the tracks, higher energy and honestly something I'm surprised hasn't been played live in years. Nervous Shakedown is the longest track of the album, it slows down a little bit, the chorus is call and answer in one sense of the saying. Another of the albums better tracks, I'm glad the band has gotten warmed up by this point. Good groove with a nice more raw sounding set of riffs from the Young Brothers. Landslide comes up next, has some quick riffing right at the start. It is a step down in quality of the track as a whole, the energy is there but it just doesn't click as strongly as the last two. More on par with Rising Power.

Guns For Hire kicks off the second half of the album with a bit of an extended solo from Angus the track has a bit of that AC/DC charm to it, not really a stellar track but there is a lot of charm to this track and it works. Brian has been wailing throughout this whole track, his vocal chords are definetly putting in some serious work on the album. Deep In The Hole slows down and with it drops the quality. Bedlam In Belgium is up next, it begins slow but picks up quickly, it is a pretty solid track throughout. Nice energy to it but not amazing as a track. Badlands has a very familliar opening riff, and I'm pretty sure this riff has been used on another AC/DC album or maybe it was Zeppelin regardless it is incredibly familliar and I haven't heard Badlands before. It is a pretty fun track. Brainsnake is an odd name but the track kicks off pretty decently. Driving and catchy a nice closer.

Rising Power - 3.5/5
This House Is On Fire - 3/5
Flick The Switch - 4.5/5
Nervous Shakedown - 4/5
Landslide - 3.5/5
Guns For Hire - 4/5
Deep In The Hole - 3/5
Bedlam In Belgium - 3.5/5
Badlands - 4/5
Brainsnake - 4/5

Adjusted 74%
Overall 74%
3 Stars


Probably the first album of this /5 system to look a lot worse when comparred to other albums I've done in the out of 10 system
 

Jer

My sins are many


Mekong Delta - Wanderer On The Edge Of Time (2010)

Mekong Delta is a progressive thrash band from Germany who made a bit of a splash back in 1988 with The Music Of Erich Zann, but went through a number of lineup changes, then a hiatus from 1997-2006, before finally settling into a mostly stable lineup for the past 10 years. My experience with the band is limited to this most recent 10 years, so I don’t profess to be a historian or an expert.

Wanderer On The Edge Of Time is a bizarre, eclectic album anchored around 7 main songs (or “movements”) of different styles, punctuated by contemplative acoustic interludes and more chaotic electric instrumentals as the album whirls from one musical vignette to the next. These movements alternately touch on the sounds of Dream Theater, 70s Genesis, thrash, and more. All of them sound unique, and yet the album still manages to feel cohesive in spite of the stylistic chaos.
  • Intro - Concert Guitar - A haunting solo classical guitar piece sets the stage for the rest of the album. Beautiful, emotive melodies lull you into a sense of calm before the storm. Superb, 10/10.
  • Ouverture - The previous track swells into a suddenly crushing, mechanical riff accompanied by a frenetic lead, depicting the chaotic whirlwind of time travel. A roller coaster of ascending and descending sections eventually breaks into a calmer interlude that focuses on a few held notes, emerging into the next track. Great at what it sets out to do. 8/10.
  • A Certain Fool (Le Fou) // Movement 1 - A haunting acoustic opening is joined by the first vocals of the album. A staccato pre-chorus hints at some synths before returning to the verse. The next pre-chorus blossoms into some 70s Genesis vibes before a calmer chorus 1 and a darker chorus 2, leading into a dissonant synth fanfare outro. A very good track, probably does enough to round it up to an 8/10.
  • Interlude 1 - Group - A brief callback to “Ouverture” going through some new variations as we travel to another point in time. Still great, 8/10.
  • The 5th Element (La Bateleur) // Movement 2 - An odd-rhythm clean and electric opening reminiscent of Dream Theater builds into a hypnotic odd-rhythm verse and an ascending series of pre-choruses with vocals in a round before breaking into a big, challenging chorus. Another round of verse and pre-choruses breaks into a cool bridge and a frenetic interlude before returning to the pre-choruses and an awesome series of guitar solos. A reprise of the intro with more variations builds directly into the next track. Excellent stuff, 9/10.
  • Interlude 2 - Group - Another variation on part of “Ouverture” as we travel through time again. 8/10.
  • The Apocalypt - World In Shards (Le Maison Dieu) // Movement 3 - A crushing riff and challenging rhythms support a strong verse before breaking into a busy chorus 1. Another verse leads into a series of pre-choruses and a cacophonous interlude, and some more pre-choruses and interludes before breaking into a big chorus 2. A series of great solos on top of thrashy rhythms fold into a repeating chorus 3 that crescendos into a savage thrashy breakdown to end the song. Another challenging but excellent track, 9/10.
  • Interlude 3 - Concert Guitar - Another haunting classical guitar piece that goes through some permutations before a partial callback to the album’s intro track. Not quite as perfect as the intro, but still excellent. 9/10.
  • King With Broken Crown (Le Diable) // Movement 4 - A booming, mechanical bass and sitar rhythm with vocal accents gives way to a tense, building verse with hints of Megadeth’s “Five Magics” underneath. This builds into a solid chorus 1 before returning to the verse. This time the verse leads into an ascending pre-chorus that breaks into an odd-rhythm chorus 2 before returning to chorus 1. Another round of verse and pre-chorus leads into a series of chorus 2’s, gradually decaying as an outro. Another great song, a robust 8/10.
  • Intermezzo (Instrumental) // Movement 5 - Distant riffing builds into a busy groove before eventually falling back into a slower, funkier feel. This breaks into a busier, more dissonant section that leads into some frenetic soloing, then a more driving section with a clear melodic lead. Another round of all of the above leads seamlessly into the next track. Good stuff, 7/10.
  • Interlude 4 - Group - A descending intro breaks into another callback to “Ouverture” as we travel through time yet again before an abrupt ending. Still great, 8/10.
  • Affection (L’Amoureux) // Movement 6 - A melodic acoustic verse with electric accents builds and blossoms into a bright, immense chorus. Another round of verse and chorus suddenly breaks into the next track. A breathtaking interlude thinking back on love and loss before being ripped through time again. 9/10.
  • Interlude 5 - Group - Another permutation on parts of “Ouverture” to indicate more time travel. 8/10.
  • Mistaken Truth (Le Hérétique) // Movement 7 - A thrashy, odd-rhythm riff supports a driving verse, leading into a calmer pre-chorus 1 and an odd-rhythm chorus 1. Pre-chorus 1 leads into a new pre-chorus 2 and some distant soloing before returning to chorus 1. Another round of verse and pre-choruses leads into a more driving chorus 2. A thrashy interlude leads back to pre-chorus 1 and chorus 1, then both pre-choruses and chorus 2 again, before a cacophonous thrashy breakdown that leads into the final track. A challenging listen, but very good. Probably does enough to round it up to an 8/10.
  • Finale - Harmonized thrashing eventually works its way back around to variations on “Ouverture” again, summoning visions of Megadeth’s “Into The Lungs Of Hell” before decaying on a long distorted note and reprising the classical guitar intro as it fades away. An excellent wrap-up to an excellent album. 9/10.
Average: 8.4/10
Weighted: 8.4/10

This is one of those albums that really has to be consumed as a whole, rather than cherry-picking songs from it. Tracks cut and bleed into each other and make callbacks to earlier parts of the record, and the styles of the main “movements” are so varied that no one or two songs are truly representative.

Mekong Delta can be a challenging listen at times, with lots of odd rhythms that can make “catchiness” elusive, but the effort is definitely worth it. Their ability to lay down complex, grinding rhythms and successfully sew them into detailed, cohesive songs is unusual. I also like Martin LeMar’s vocals — he sounds like an idealized version of Blaze Bayley with little hints of Geoff Tate here and there. (He also gets the English pronunciation almost perfect, save for converting “th” sounds to “d” sounds as many Germans do.)

This is probably my favorite album of the 2010s, and that’s why I nominated it for the Greatest Metal Album Cup, where it will appear in the next league.
 

The Dissident

Ancient Mariner

Tales From Topographic Oceans - Yes
Format: Vinyl

Yes opens up their massive double album Tales From Topographic Oceans with The Revealing Science Of God (Dance Of The Dawn) with a vocal focus, Jon Anderson sounds great off the start and the band builds up slowly in the background. The band made a pretty big statement with this album, 4 twenty minute long tracks showing their commitment to their progressive direction, having only released their first side long track on their previous album Close To The Edge. Steve Howe delivers some stellar mellow guitar work on this track he isn’t the centerpiece for track, Chris Squire delivers on the bass, giving a great bass line throughout the track. Alan White has some stellar fills especially early on. The track feels epic but not the roaring mighty epic approach of say Stargazer but more of a mellow one similar to the bands Gates Of Delirium from their follow up album. A track which throughout is high quality, the general length is a bit much but there band does add in some nice shifts throughout it. I don’t think I will revisit the track often but it is top quality Yes. The component where Jon sings “And through the rhythm” gave me some Zeppelin vibes his vocals are amazing on this track. The upbeat instrumental component is brilliant and features some amazing Rick Wakeman keyboard work, this is probably the best moment of the song.

The Remembering (High The Memory) opens with a slow guitar lick from Steve Howe, the vocals are strong once again, although the track does take its time to really get going. The track like the previous one is primarily a mellow track, this one is a little too mellow feeling for me personally, the musicianship is great, vocals are strong but the length of the track mixed with the slower approach does cause it to drag on after a while. After a while it does pick up with a nice acoustic guitar section, it increases in tempo and the keyboards take more of a backseat for a little bit, this track has a fairly similar song structure to the previous one, it continues to pick up for a rather upbeat section, however unlike the previous track Jon sings over this stronger section.

Side 3, The Ancient (Giants Under The Sun) is the shortest side of the album, clocking in at over 18 minutes, it opens with some symbols, and then the keyboard and percussion launches off, this goes into an extended instrumental introduction mainly focused on these two instruments with some odd sounds being tossed in as well, it is a bit of a trip. Then the more mellow approach that the band has been using to start off tracks comes in, the track has some call backs to the origins of music, being chants this is quite the unique approach they are taking to the song. Unique, a trip and pretty darn solid throughout, just what I like from my Yes songs; The ending does take a heavier turn briefly.

Ritual (Nous Sommes du Soleil) closes out the album, it is the longest of the 4 tracks and the ones which most members of the band seem to be proudest of. A lengthy instrumental with some wordless vocals over it introduces the track. The track is another sprawling epic of sorts, Jon Anderson sounds amazing throughout the track and it shows off each band member in time. There are several strong building sections. Overall a really consistent album closing off a work of art.

The Revealing Science Of God (Dance Of The Dawn) – 4.5/5
The Remembering (High The Memory) – 4/5
The Ancient (Giants Under The Sun) – 4/5
Ritual (Nous Sommes du Soleil) – 4.5/5

Adjusted 85%
Overall 85%
4 Stars
 

Diesel 11

As you scream into the web of silence...
Glad you like that one. I really like the whole idea of the album and it’s got some cool vibes. Just comes across as boring to me though.
 

The Dissident

Ancient Mariner

The Revolution By Night - Blue Oyster Cult
Format: CD/Digital

Blue Oyster Cult’s ninth album The Revolution By Night kicks off with one of my favourite BOC songs Take Me Away a catchy mid-tempo rocker with some wicked screams, an infectious chorus, Eric Bloom sings incredibly well on this track. It has all the trademarks of a strong BOC track, nice chorus, good harmonies and a great Buck Dharma guitar solo. A brilliant track from start to finish and an excellent opener. Eyes On Fire begins with some piano a more reserved track once again with Eric on lead vocals, it isn’t as catchy as the previous track, it has some solid harmonies vocally, the chorus feels familiar and is pretty typical 80s sounding. The back half of the track has a bit of a heavier drum beat than the first. Shooting Shark is the first track to feature Buck on lead vocals, it is a 7 minute long track which opens with keyboard and bass filled introduction, it is the slowest track yet, ballad like with some nice harmonies in the background. The bass work from Joe Bouchard is probably the highlight of the track, consistent and keeping the mood going. It isn’t an amazing ballad, but the track has some decent moments. Veins is the final track on what would be the first side of the album, another Buck track it comes in with some sci fi sounding synths, and the vocal delivery falls into the same category, it is a higher tempo track than the previous one and it. The solo has a bit of shredding in it which was a very pleasant surprise and it is quite speedy, this really elevates the track, the song once again screams like an 80s track which is both good and bad.

Shadow of California opens the second half, it opens up with a spooky feel to it, Joe continues to lay down catchy bass lines, Eric takes over the lead vocals once again commanding this track and the next two, they reference The Symbol Remains whether their latest album is a callback to this specifically or not I’m not sure but it is a nice touch. Another solid track from the band, a squealing solo; This track also references this album’s title. Feel The Thunder comes up next, the album feels quite similar barring the opener which felt different. It tells a story throughout, using a fair bit of imagery with another nice solo from Buck. Haunting in places, this album feels like an appropriate album to listen to in October. The final Eric sung track is Let Go is an upbeat track which includes a chant of the bands acronym, it is a nice and easy upbeat track with a driving keyboard featured. Dragon Lady has Buck on lead vocals, it is the fastest track on the record thus far, coming in blazing with a quick and wicked guitar lick. Upbeat, hard rocking and a stellar track from start to finish. Joe Bouchard takes the lead on Light Years Of Love, the track slows down a bit becoming a ballad, Joe’s voice is pretty clear and clean sounding, BOC having so many vocalists is a really cool concept and the band pulls it off pretty well, although they did slowly reduce the number of different singers on their albums. The song itself is a nice closer, quite calm but still not your straightforward ballad, having some mystical feelings to it.

Take Me Away – 5/5
Eyes On Fire – 3.5/5
Shooting Shark – 3/5
Veins – 4/5
Shadow Of California – 3.5/5
Feel The Thunder – 4/5
Let Go – 4/5
Dragon Lady – 4.5/5
Light Years Of Love – 3.5/5

Adjusted 77%
Overall 78%
3 Stars
 

The Dissident

Ancient Mariner

Under Lock And Key – Dokken
Format: CD/Digital

Unchain The Night opens up Dokken’s third album, a synthy introduction with a bit of a choir in spots before it begins to pick up with George Lynch coming in with a crunchy riff, Don sounds pretty strong and clear on his opening lines, it has a charm to it and a stellar chorus. It is a radio friendly track with a nice heavier edge to it, this would have been a concert staple I’m sure. Brilliant composition. The Hunter was the albums lead single, it comes in with a quick drum intro and another crunchy riff, Don sings more softly at first, similar to Alone Again however he soon adds a fair bit of conviction another track which screams 80s radio rock, and an excellent choice of single. It is quite melodic vocally with a strong backing from the band. In My Dreams opens with the whole band singing the first chorus unaccompanied. The chorus itself is a sappy 80s power ballad template, the verses are better than it as a whole but the track serves its purpose, it is softer second single from the album, although it isn’t your typical ballad as a whole, it has a punch to it and is more mid-tempo than one would expect. Slippin’ Away is the next track, it slows down more and is the first true 80s formula ballad, Don sings smoothly throughout, while not as impressive as Alone Again the track is a strong ballad, sentimental, with a great emotional solo from Lynch, a nice easy chorus all in a nice and relatively short package. Closing out the first half is Lightnin’ Strikes Again, a track which they would later name an album after. It comes in the heaviest of any track thus far, a low thunder, rocking at a nice quick pace. It sounds like a very different band from the previous tracks, easily the best track of the album thus far. Killer track on a pretty great album thus far.

It’s Not Love, opens up the second half; Don sings calmly at first before picking it up a little bit once the opening lines are done. The track features a lot of backing vocals, with a great bass and synth line throughout. Not quite as great as the first half of the record but still a pretty darn solid. Jaded Heart, another ballad, although like In My Dreams the track has a fair bit of punch to it, although unlike the aforementioned track, the punch in this one is on the chorus and not the verse. Thus far this entire album has been good quality 80s rock, and naturally has been completely placed into my car playlist for driving. Don’t Lie To Me is another melodic rocker, the pace has been picked up a bit from the previous track. George Lynch puts in a nice strong solo here. Will The Sun Rise? Sounds very much like In My Dreams as a whole, the track has a super melodic chorus, the first verse is a bit weak but the rest of the song is pretty good. Till The Livin’ End closes it all out, it comes in fast and punchy, heavily focused on the drums from the start, probably the most in line with Lightnin’ Strikes Again although it isn’t done as effectively, I think this track actually suffers from having a bit less production on it than the rest of the tracks. It is an enjoyable and fast rocker but just falls short of the same quality of most of the album. It probably will grow on me quickly and this statement could be rendered moot.

Unchain The Night – 5/5
The Hunter – 5/5
In My Dreams – 4.5/5
Slippin’ Away – 4.5/5
Lightnin’ Strikes Again – 5/5
It’s Not Love – 4.5/5
Jaded Heart – 4/5
Don’t Lie To Me – 4.5/5
Will The Sun Rise? – 4/5
Till The Livin’ End – 3.5/5

Adjusted – 89%
Overall – 89%
4 Stars
 

Jer

My sins are many
Thus far this entire album has been good quality 80s rock, and naturally has been completely placed into my car playlist for driving.
Lulz because it’s true.

Under Lock And Key is hit and miss for me — Tooth And Nail and Back For The Attack are Dokken at their best, IMO.
 

The Dissident

Ancient Mariner
Lulz because it’s true.

Under Lock And Key is hit and miss for me — Tooth And Nail and Back For The Attack are Dokken at their best, IMO.
Tooth and Nail is great, Back For The Attack is on my list to get to, it is the last album I have from them so it likely will be sooner than later.
 
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The Dissident

Ancient Mariner

Resurrection - Halford
Format: CD/Digital

The year is 2000, Rob Halford returns once again fronting a new metal band having fronted two other bands since leaving Judas Priest 9 years prior. It opens with its title track Resurrection which slowly fades in, it has a bit of a revving feel to this fade in and the title is sung by Rob before letting loose a distorted scream, the high notes are present throughout the track. Rob is on fire. Guitar wise the track has a heavier and more raw feel to it than most Judas Priest tracks, however it does feel quite similar due to the brilliant vocals and not too different sound. While this isn't a Priest record, it did provide their fans with an alternative in the early 2000s while the band was fronted by Ripper Owens. The screams are never endng and a strong choice for the opening track. Made In Hell takes a more melodic approach to the introduction, Rob sings in his mid range on this track, the chorus feels like it should include the songs title in it although it does work. A nice crunchy rocker, it is a natural follow up and would have been quite the heavy track live. Rob sounds really strong, the drumming is consistent as is the bass work. There are song great guitar harmonies on the instrumental component. Locked And Loaded gets even crunchier sound wise, while Halford begins to sing slightly higher than he was on the previous track, a rather simple but catchy chorus is well fitting of this track, delivered with enough menace and right before the solo comes a short scream from the metal god. Night Falls lightens up and the guitar has a very interesting sound to it at the beginning, the band doesn't appear to be slowing down with this track as it comes in with a nice driving tempo. The midrange approach is fine, but there is some layering on some verse vocals which sounds a little off, but the chorus fixes this problem with some really strong and effective harmonies. Decent trade off if you ask me when this track remains of good high quality throughout barring those vocal choices.

Silent Screams, is the second song I had heard from this album, and the one that had me decide to purchase a copy, starting off slow the track is the sole track longer than 5 minutes on the album. Rob sings calmly and in a lower tone, the song is a story and not a happy one, the chorus picks up with the energy and it has some awesome screams, a slightly more upbeat track than Beyond The Realms Of Death with some screams similar to Victim Of Changes, a brilliant composition which I honestly could see on a Priest record especially a later one in their career. The dark epic has a great solo and then the bridge hits like a truck, instead of continuing on the dark ballad like approach it gets really heavy and Rob begins singing with a venomous tone backed by some speedy drumming and thunderous riffs. A brilliant composition. The One You Love To Hate features the mighty Bruce Dickinson, singing co-lead vocals a compact track, it signals very quickly that it will be a punchy rocker, Bruce sings quite rawly, and he sounds a bit more gritty than he does on Brave New World, the two singers sing together on the chorus having taken turns on the verses, it is amazing how similar the two sound on this track while still being incredibly identifiable as their own self. A metal heads dream come to life. Cyberworld continues the upbeat tempo, sounding more clean and refined than the previous track, it is one of the shortest tracks on the album clocking in at just over 3 minutes, sung midtempo, Rob really is a phenomenal mid range singer in addition to his amazing high notes, this solo section is quite interesting and has some really futuristic effects on it which suits the track really well, a great composition, the band has been tight thus far and this is continuing the string of brilliant tracks.

Slow Down continues the theme of hitting hard the verses are hard and heavy, with a more melodic chorus section. It isn't quite on par with the previous 3 tracks, but it is a damn good one, a nice change in pace and this guitar duo is putting in major work, the last minute and a half or so of the track is pretty stellar. Another strong track. Twist begins the albusm string of single word titled tracks, it has a descending riff opening, sung low and with a bit of a growl being held back behind the vocals, the chorus isn't great it is the weakest track thus far, it just seems like a stetched out idea that doesn't need to exist. The guitars do a good job in the chorus of being very in line with the vocal melody but the track is just decent. Temptation feels like it could show that the previous track is just a misstep, lets hope this reaction is the truth, while it doesn't bring the track back up to the level of the 5/5's it is clearly a jump back up to the consistent crunch and aggression from the opening chunk of tracks. The solo is melodic at first then it sounds like the guitars are trying to play the same notes together but with different levels of emphasis. Drive has the darkest sound of any song thus far, it has a bit of a fun beat to it, musically the track is pretty strong, lyrically it has some weaker spots. I think the track has a ton of potential and it uses a fair bit of it! Saviour closes it all out a short and punchy rocker which shows off Rob's vocal chords one last time before it ends. An incredibly consistent and pretty darn stellar debut from the mans self titled band. The way Saviour ends it feels like it needs to be followed by the sound of a needle hitting the end of a record.

Resurrection - 4.5/5
Made In Hell - 4/5
Locked And Loaded - 4/5
Night Falls - 4/5
Silent Screams - 5/5
The One You Love To Hate - 5/5
Cyberworld - 5/5
Slow Down - 4.5/5
Twist - 3/5
Temptation - 4/5
Drive - 4/5
Saviour - 4.5/5

Adjusted 86%
Overall 86%
4 Stars
 

The Dissident

Ancient Mariner

Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part I - Helloween
Format: CD/Digital

Helloween opens their second album with Initiation, a short piece of music which introduces the album, it is quite symphonic and has an epic feel to it as the album slowly as it segues into the next track I'm Alive is the first to feature new lead singer Michael Kiske, with speed and brilliant vocal performances this track takes no prisoners, an melodic but hard hitting instrumental section which has some furious drumming follows the second verse, this instrumental is bookened by solos from both the bands founder Kai Hansen. I feel there is a lot of Geoff Tate in Kiske's voice incredibly similar tones and operatic approach. A Little Time comes in a little slower, the drums have a lot of energy in the verse, this track is much more mellow than the previous, with a focus more on the melody than the shredding and it feels like it could have been a single but honestly it isn't what I was expecting from the second proper track of the album, it has a lot of more theatrical elements to it not unlike Queensryche's Operation:Mindcrime however it doesn't hit the ball out of the park. That being said, the chorus is catchy and the band does perform quite well it just isn't what I was expecting based on what I have heard from the band before. Twilight Of The Gods comes in speedy with some squeeling guitars. The Tateisms continue or was Tate doing Kiskeisms? regardless another good track which doesn't quite hit the collective mark, while being quite enjoyable, the instrumental section is phenomenal and this track has more growing potential than the previous one does for me, unrelenting speedy from the drum kit and brilliant soloing. A Tale That Wasn't Right, closes off the first half of the album, it begins slow with a lone melodic guitar and some piano, this continues as Kiske comes in on the lead vocals, this track is a full blown moody ballad, the vocal comparrisons don't stop, I like them but it just seems so incredibly similar. Comparrisons aside, the track is really one which uses the bands stellar vocal range to their advantage, the moody approach is also a nice change.

Future World opens up the second half, it was the albums lead single, it has a low crunch to the guitars and a focus on Kiske's vocals as this was the the first showing of him as the bands lead singer. It feels quite safe as a result of the aforementioned status, it is another good track, but the track isn't anything mindblowing. Now we get to the real bulk of the album, over one third of the length of the album has been dedicated to the monstrous epic Halloween, it opens with an ominous keyboard then a thundering riff, it is clearly going for that epic feel right off the start and it achieves it and more before launching into a furious riff and some well written lyrics and in theme vocal delivery, there is a sense of danger. What a brilliant chorus, the verses are stellar, instrumentally amazing, I won't deny there are some points where I feel it is a little too stretched, but as a whole the track itself is amazing and the whole package is worth those small foolish moments of doubt, the delivery of Halloween sounds quite similar to the bands name and I've caught myself singing the bands name instead of the actual wording. Follow The Sign closes out the album, it fades in with some nice guitar work and a haunting and calm vocal delivery it closes it all out nicely and clearly hints towards the second part.

Initiation/I'm Alive - 4.5/5
A Little Time - 4/5
Twilight Of The Gods - 4/5
A Tale That Wasn't Right - 4/5
Future World - 4/5
Halloween - 5/5
Follow The Sign - 4/5

Adjusted - 89%
Overall 84%
4 Stars
 

The Dissident

Ancient Mariner
Wanted to try something a little different in the formatting of the review... didn't exactly go as initially planned but I think this might be better.


Madman Across The Water - Elton John
Format: Vinyl

Elton John releases his fourth album Madman Across The Water, opening with one of the man’s biggest hits the ballad Tiny Dancer a tender and sweet ode to Bernie’s wife the bands seamstress. Levon another massive hit follows in suit; these two tracks are prime examples of the sheer brilliance of the Bernie and Elton’s song writing team skills, the phenomenal lyrics combined with amazing musicianship and composition, not to mention Elton’s great singing. Two back to back hits which show Elton on top of his game delivering some stellar pop classics. Razor Face has a nice slow groove to it, the track feels like it should be something to dance to. There is a nice fun feel to this track, which is more notable on this one than the previous two, it fades out as the band goes into a jam session. An acoustic guitar brings in the title track like the previous tracks this one isn’t upbeat by any means but instead it slows right down. This track keeps the groove from the previous, it is the first true example of Elton performing an artistic masterpiece on the album, his voice is a musical centerpiece and the stripped back composition is brilliant from the start.

Indian Sunset however puts the entire first half to shame, this track is the true masterpiece of the album, with a stripped back start leads into a sprawling story of a young indigenous man in America, mostly percussion and piano based with small elements throughout of other members of the band. It is a story well told, as Elton sings the song comes to life, in his own words “a three act movie” is told throughout the track. It is a prime example of everything Elton is known for, amazing singing and musicianship. Holiday Inn comes in with a focus on the guitar, it is a poppier track which is to be expected, Rotten Peaches sounds like a mix of Holiday Inn and Levon, the latter more from the musical perspective, another solid track. All The Nasties opens with just Elton and his piano, singing softly, he is soon joined by a choir, the most stripped back track as a whole it is a really calm track with a powerful feel to it throughout, the addition of the choir is great and the whole track has a gospel feel to it. Goodbye closes out the album, an incredibly short piano ballad, it is quite pleasant and well composed.

Summary:
As a whole the album is a work of art, songs like Tiny Dancer and Levon are radio staples for a reason, catchy accessible tracks which have found their place in pop cultures. More progressive or art rock themed tracks like Madman Across The Water and the brilliant Indian Sunset are hidden gems which contend for being the strongest performances on the album. The centerpiece throughout is Elton’s voice a brilliant composer he crafts amazing tracks and this album is no exception. One nitpick would be that the album could do with a more upbeat track possible replacing Razor Face or even one of the middle tracks on side 2.

Side A:
Tiny Dancer – 5/5
Levon – 5/5
Razor Face – 3/5
Madman Across The Water – 5/5

Side B:
Indian Sunset – 5/5
Holiday Inn – 4/4
Rotten Peaches – 4/4
All the Nasties – 4.5/5
Goodbye – 4.5/5

Adjusted 90%
Overall 89%
4 Stars
 

The Dissident

Ancient Mariner

The Ferrymen - The Ferrymen
Format: CD/Digital

The Ferryman another supergroup from Frontiers Records kicks off their debut album with End Of The Road, a track which begins with a calm building with some female vocals in the background and a piano opening, before the drums kick in and the band sets off into high gear, current Rainbow singer Ronnie Romeo leads the band his vocals recognizable and powerful, he has a bit of a scream in his tone, the guitar tone throughout is good, the drums sound a little drum machine like in places but thankfully that isn’t throughout the entire track. Keyboards are featured on the second tracks introduction, thus far both tracks have a mellower introduction before launching into hard rocking, this next one is the bands eponymous track. Ronnie’s approach is very commanding, he has a knack for delivering the vocals in a way that draws you in then he delivers a stellar chorus, however his natural rasp can get a little much in places and feel a bit screamy in places. Fool You All comes in fast wasting no time with a drawn out introduction, this track has a fun feel to it on the verses, but the screamy approach is present throughout, the songs title is drawn out and the chorus is quite different as a result becoming much more accessible. Still Standing Up takes the introduction approach then it follows the suit of the other tracks, this one has a mellow midsection unlike the previous ones. It ends with a nice scream from Ronnie.

Cry Wolf, slows down taking a mid-paced approach, the chorus is overproduced and the vocals lose the impact that could be quite strong here. The verses are pretty good, and the instrumentation has been top notch so far. Another enjoyable track although a little less impressive due to the vocals. One Heart is the albums longest track, and it is a ballad, the first true ballad of the album, it comes in acoustically and slows right down, the track conveys the emotions intended quite well, it sounds like a 80s ballad with a bit of a heavier edge to it, and it does the job quite well. It breaks up the hard rocking quite well. The Darkest Hour has a Holy Diver sounding riff, signalling a return to hard rocking, but the vocals are cleaner here than before, that or the previous track helped reduce the grating from the rasp fueled vocals; An anthemic rocker through and through. How The Story Ends continues on this trend, not quite as strong as the previous track but still along the same vein, the approach is more accessible here than the first half of the album. Enter Your Dream fades in but then gets straight onto rocking, I could see Dio singing this song, and the themes are right up his alley, the tempo is midpaced and it lends itself to the storytelling approach of the track.

Eyes On The Sky begins the albums wrap up, it is driving but suffers a little from song placement and sounding pretty generic compared to the rest of the album almost formulaic at this point with the other tracks. Not bad but we have heard a lot of this type of track. Eternal Night begins with some piano work and begins to build orchestrally it stays slower throughout and feels like it should have been the album closer thematically it just sounds like the end of a record. Welcome To My Show is the actual album closer, and the name itself just screams opener based on a very quick first impression, it comes in roaring and definitely sounds like it would be an album kick off track, it is a solid closer but seems a little bit out of place.

Summary:
First off that cover art is amazing, quite a consistent album from start to finish it rocks, has some great anthem like tracks mixed in and a nice ballad. Ronnie’s singing does get grating when you heard it for an hour straight but he is quite talented and does a good job. One Heart is a highlight and I quite liked the opening set of tracks. Darkest Hour is another highlight, with its anthemic feel. I think this album would have benefitted from a slightly shorter runtime instead of 12 tracks clocking in at 57:27, it would have been much stronger a punch as a say an 8 or 9 track album clocking in closer to the 40 minute mark and Eternal Night should be the album closer.

End Of The Road – 4.5/5
Ferryman – 4/5
Fool You All – 4/5
Still Standing Up – 4/5
Cry Wolf – 3/5
One Heart – 4.5/5
The Darkest Hour – 4.5/5
How The Story Ends – 4/5
Enter Your Dream – 4/5
Eyes On the Sky – 3/5
Eternal Night – 4.5/5
Welcome To My Show – 4/5

Adjusted – 80%
Overall – 80%
3 Stars
 

The Dissident

Ancient Mariner

Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part II - Helloween
Format: CD/Digital

Helloween returns following their monstrous second album with their third album the follow up to the previous album Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part II. Opening with the instrumental segue which begins with the sound of an eagle, then some millitant drumming slowly building up as the minute long introduction runs its course before a distinct shift leads into Eagle Fly Free, not the most impressive vocally on the verses with the chorus being the spotlight for Kiske's vocals, musically it is a driving and aggressive track, the drums a stellar upbeat track and a pretty darn strong opener for the album, it feels like a natural successor to the previous album, a wicked solo is featured here. I think this track will be a grower it just doesn't quite check all the boxes for me now vocally but instrumentally it is phenomenal. You Always Walk Alone has a melodic start, as Kiske comes in a gallop like feel appears and the track becomes a driving upbeat rocker, even more impressive instrumentally on the solo section than the previous track, this track has some maiden sounding moments throughout, a bit more theatrical and quite an enjoyable track. Rise And Fall opens with a drum solo and some slow evil laughter, it slows down a little bit and the band pulls back a bit overall this track has potential but in spots it sounds like the vocals are being stretched to reach the high notes. It is good just not great. Dr. Stein opens with a creeky door and the sounds of banging in the distance before the proper track comes in, it screams lead single, but also it screams excellent lead single, a catchy and fun track with some one thing that has been occuring throughout this album is excellent musicianship and this one is no exception, a catchy rocker, theatrical and effective throughout. We Got The Right slows down and begins ominously before going back into the Queensryche feelings like the previous album did in a few spots. Melodic vocally and more ballad like without going fully into that realm of music, another strong track.

March Of Time opens up the second half with a very similar sounding intro to the previous, well tone wise at least, before the track kicks into high gear and a driving thrashlike riff kicks in, the chorus is simple catchy and brilliant, great tempo and from early on it is clear this track is a well put together anthemic track, it could have been a single in all honesty. Kai wrote a brilliant piece here in addition to the follow up track. Melodic and powerful a great start to the second half. I Want Out the albums second single and rightfully so comes in quick and is a brilliant anthem especially in todays climate. A solid driving pace, some stellar uptempo and high vocals, another anthemic chorus which has earned its place in the bands setlist as the closer quite well. The backing vocals are amazing from Kai and Michael. The verses' mid range vocals add to the heights of the chorus quite effectively. Keeper Of The Seven Keys closes out the album, a thirteen minute epic track similar to the previous albums penultimate track it is the only track of such excessive length on the album. It however is a very different track than Halloween, opening slowly the track is clearly a story about to be told, and a story told it is. The chorus is quite a calm one but this track doesn't lose any of the epic feel that it has throughout its runtime.

Invitation/Eagle Fly Free - 4/5
You Always Walk Alone - 4.5/5
Rise and Fall - 3.5/5
Dr. Stein - 5/5
We Got The Right - 4/5
March Of Time - 5/5
I Want Out - 5/5
Keeper Of The Seven Keys - 5/5

Adjusted 92%
Overall 90%
4.5 Stars
 

The Dissident

Ancient Mariner


Heart – Bad Animals
Format: CD/Digital

Bad Animals is Heart’s ninth studio album and it features one of the bands most well known tracks Alone the massive power ballad. Much like the other 80s albums this album focuses on the pop-rock approach and commercially friendly sounds which helped the band survive in the changing climate of the 80s music scene, the first four tracks of the album are the bands singles, of which the first 3 feature 3 distinct different approaches, the opener Who Will You Run To is a pop rock track with a strong catchy chorus in which Ann shines, Alone is the aforementioned beast of a power ballad showing their soft side and There’s The Girl lets Nancy take the lead vocals on a track in a similar vein to Who Will You Run To but with more of a laid back feel to it on the chorus. This opening slew of singles is quite catchy and is top notch 80s Heart.

I Want You So Bad is the fourth and final single from the album it is another ballad, and unlike the previous 3 tracks it is not in line with the stronger 80s track theme, it has a bit of energy to it and Ann sings nicely but as a whole the track is just an okay ballad. The second cover of the album Wait For An Answer has a heavy drumbeat on the start and it feels like it will pick up but fails to do so and frankly the track isn’t that stellar either, it is slightly better than the previous one but not by much. Bad Animals comes in midpaced with a low crunchy riff which based on the previous side of tracks I didn’t expect to hear a smoldering and low riff like this on the album, it soon does shift into a synth driven section. Ann lets out some wails on the track here and there. You Ain’t So Tough goes back to the 4th and 5th tracks in terms of quality and style, it just okay. Strangers Of The Heart once again has Nancy on lead vocals, the verse seems promising, however the chorus is rather weak. Easy Target has an interesting acoustic riff the chorus is pretty decent and it seems the riff is the only interesting part of the track. RSVP closes out the album, it starts acoustic and does get a bit more backing to it as it goes on, it fits with the rest of the tracks on the album, okay but not good.

Who Will You Run To – 4/5
Alone – 5/5
There’s The Girl – 4/5
I Want You So Bad – 2.5/5
Wait For An Answer – 3/5
Bad Animals – 4/5
You Ain’t So Tough – 3/5
Strangers Of The Heart – 3/5
Easy Target – 2.5/5
RSVP – 3/5

Adjusted 68%
Overall 68%
2 Stars
 

The Dissident

Ancient Mariner

Yes - Yes
Format: CD/Digital

Yes debuts onto the scene in the summer of 1969, the lineup looking slightly different than their more well known years, here they feature Jon Anderson, Chris Squire and Bill Bruford with guitarist Peter Banks and Tony Kaye taking on the keyboards. A slightly different focus in sound is to be expected from the prog pioneers. Beyond And Before comes in sounding welcoming and accessible but from the get go it is clear the band isn't your typical 60s rock band, yes there are the harmonies but the musicianship sounds like it is reaching for more. The approach is more pulled back than what the band would become, Jon sings more in harmonies with others than individually in his typical falsetto, an interesting opening track. I See You it has a poppy feel to it, and the band continues to push the limits of the commercial sounds of the time, the longest track of the album, and a cover of The Byrds which has an extra 4 minutes added to it, for extended jamming of course, much like Zeppelin earlier in the year the band has taken a known track and adapted it with their own sound, although to a much less commerically and culturally known extend on this track. It is rather pleasent throughout and it shows the seeds of what Yes would become. Yesterday And Today is a brief acoustic track, it is a nice ballad, in which Jon shines vocally with his incredibly soft vocals fitting the music perfectly. Looking Around picks up the energy a little as the first half of the album closes out, still remaining light by todays standards but it is a bit harder rocking than most 60s music I have heard. It has a groovy feel to it and there is plenty of nice licks from Peter throughout, him and Tony delivery on this track and this is probably the most typical Yes sounding track thus far, the extended keyboard solo really is quite fitting.

Harold Land opens with an extended keyboard based introduction, and the band slowly comes in, the story appears to be about a man named Harold Land it is here that the seeds previously shown really start to take roots into the bands sounds, a story told through song is probably the best way to describe this track, Jon sounds great throughout the track. Musically quite upbeat and fun sounding. Every Little Thing a cover of The Beatles is up next, once again the track is reimagined and extended adding a good 3 minutes to the runtime. It kicks off with some speedy drumming and guitar work, the verses are more stripped back but the connective tissue of the song remains quicker and featuring some strong and well performed musicianship. The band has really come into their own with the past 4 tracks. Sweetness was the bands single for the album, from what I can tell the band weren't all in agreement that this was the right choice. It opens up quite calm, and there are some moments where it is slightly more upbeat but it makes sense that they felt this wasn't representative of their sound. It is most similar to Yesterday And Today, although it isn't quite as strong as that track, super pleasent from start to finish, it feels very fitting of the era. Survival closes out the album, which gives vibes of Zeppelin and Aerosmith in different spots of the introduction. A good track to close with, pleasent and a good showing for the bands debut.

Beyond and Before - 3.5/5
I See You - 3.5/5
Yesterday And Today - 4.5/5
Looking Around - 4.5/5
Harold Land - 4/5
Every Little Thing - 4.5/5
Sweetness - 4/5
Survival - 3.5/5

Adjusted 78%
Overall 80%
3 Stars
 

MindRuler

Ancient Mariner


Heart – Bad Animals
Format: CD/Digital

Bad Animals is Heart’s ninth studio album and it features one of the bands most well known tracks Alone the massive power ballad. Much like the other 80s albums this album focuses on the pop-rock approach and commercially friendly sounds which helped the band survive in the changing climate of the 80s music scene, the first four tracks of the album are the bands singles, of which the first 3 feature 3 distinct different approaches, the opener Who Will You Run To is a pop rock track with a strong catchy chorus in which Ann shines, Alone is the aforementioned beast of a power ballad showing their soft side and There’s The Girl lets Nancy take the lead vocals on a track in a similar vein to Who Will You Run To but with more of a laid back feel to it on the chorus. This opening slew of singles is quite catchy and is top notch 80s Heart.

I Want You So Bad is the fourth and final single from the album it is another ballad, and unlike the previous 3 tracks it is not in line with the stronger 80s track theme, it has a bit of energy to it and Ann sings nicely but as a whole the track is just an okay ballad. The second cover of the album Wait For An Answer has a heavy drumbeat on the start and it feels like it will pick up but fails to do so and frankly the track isn’t that stellar either, it is slightly better than the previous one but not by much. Bad Animals comes in midpaced with a low crunchy riff which based on the previous side of tracks I didn’t expect to hear a smoldering and low riff like this on the album, it soon does shift into a synth driven section. Ann lets out some wails on the track here and there. You Ain’t So Tough goes back to the 4th and 5th tracks in terms of quality and style, it just okay. Strangers Of The Heart once again has Nancy on lead vocals, the verse seems promising, however the chorus is rather weak. Easy Target has an interesting acoustic riff the chorus is pretty decent and it seems the riff is the only interesting part of the track. RSVP closes out the album, it starts acoustic and does get a bit more backing to it as it goes on, it fits with the rest of the tracks on the album, okay but not good.

Who Will You Run To – 4/5
Alone – 5/5
There’s The Girl – 4/5
I Want You So Bad – 2.5/5
Wait For An Answer – 3/5
Bad Animals – 4/5
You Ain’t So Tough – 3/5
Strangers Of The Heart – 3/5
Easy Target – 2.5/5
RSVP – 3/5

Adjusted 68%
Overall 68%
2 Stars
Alone is one of the best powerballads of the 80´s...maybe even the best ever. What a song.
 

Midnight

The sun sets forever over Blackwater Park
Should I put my thoughts on the Megadeth albums in this thread or the band's thread? I won't be rating or ranking them.
 
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