Random album reviews

The Dissident

Ancient Mariner

Master Of The Moon - Dio
Format: CD/Digital

Dio's final studio album well the bands that is for the singer the second to last. It kicks off with a short and direct rocker called One More For The Road it has the typical Dio sound right off the start and would have been a good opener. Ronnie sounds strong at the ripe age of 60 years old on this higher energy track, the guitars are down tuned and crunchy, the track itself is puncy and catchy throughout. Not the energy level of We Rock, or Stand Up and Shout but still good and quick. Master Of The Moon begins moody and and the track slows down quite a bit, and frankly the track isn't that amazing. It is solid at best. Ronnie sings well but the track doesn't hook you nor does it offer anything particularily great. The End Of The World slowly fades in before becoming a mid tempo track Ronnie's age is showing in his delivery on this track, he sounds strained in some places that being said it is a better track than the previous one, but not the quality one would expect from the man who wrote the likes of Don't Talk To Strangers and Bible Black oh well I'm sure somebody enjoys this song quite a bit. Shivers increases in tempo slightly, a good foot stomping beat from the start of the track, Ronnie still sounds aged but stronger than the previous track. I think the chorus isn't quite as good as the verses, if the tempo increased instead of decreased during it I believe it would be more impactful. Craig delivers a good solo here and the track as a whole is a step up from the previous two and more in line with what I had expected. The ending of the track feels different from the majority of the track it could have been an interesting way to extend the track further. The Man Who Would Be King opens with piano and the track appears to be a ballad from the first impressions, the track does shift to a heavier sound shortly but it remains slow, and I find on the slower tracks in Ronnie's later career he isn't quite as powerful sounding despite his pipes holding up incredibly well at 60, this track shows the cracks. Craig delivers another well done solo. The Eyes is the longest track on the album clocking in at six and a half minutes, this track has a Sabbath feel to it, it is dark and moody, but not the most amazing epic track ever. Living The Lie is a crunchy rocker which picks the pace up nicely from the past two slower tracks. Tracks like this are what I expected from the album, hard rocking and with some crunch to them, with Ronnie delivering stellar midranged vocals throughout. A much needed boost in energy with a strong outro solo. Slowing down once again I Am takes a more bombastic approach to the midtempo style from previous tracks, the third track to my knowledge in his discography where he uses the I AM approach during the a component of the track and like the previous two songs he does a stellar job with the chorus. One of the better tracks thus far on the album. Death By Love is the only song on the album to feature a writing credit from a former band member, like the last few tracks this is on the stronger side of the album, clearly the band had some pretty solid ideas and some not so much. Album closer In Dreams comes in like those before it, mid tempo, not much to say here it is a decent track there are several tracks which are much worse on the album, but there are a couple which are better. A solid album but not one of Dio's greats

One More For The Road - 8.5/10
Master Of The Moon -6.5/10
The End Of The World -7/10
Shivers - 8/10
The Man Who Would Be King -7.5/10
The Eyes -7/10
Living The Lie - 8/10
I Am - 8.5/10
Death By Love -8/10
In Dreams -8/10

Adjusted - 77%
Overall 77%
3 Stars
 

The Dissident

Ancient Mariner

Dog & Butterfly - Heart
Format: Vinyl

Heart's fourth album, the two spirited Dog & Butterfly opens with the "Dog" side, this album has its contents divided by their more rocking tracks for the album on it with the lighter ones appearing on the "Butterfly" side. Cook With Fire kicks off the rocking side, having been overdubbed in the studio with some crowd noise and an introduction, the band begins with a drum based introduction which is unlike most Heart tracks which normally focus on the Wilson sisters, as usual Ann's voice is amazing, the guitar work on these 70s Heart albums is really well done, and holy cow care those screams amazing, frankly the only downside of the track is that it has the studio crowd overdubs which make up for the song not having the greatest intro hook, but the entire band delivers a strong performance throughout a thunderous opening track. High Time is up next, fading in from the previous track as the crowd noise fades away, another upbeat track, the acoustic and electric guitars work very well together and is really shown to be effective in the 3 guitar line up of the band. Hijinx is up next slowing down further while keeping the upbeat nature of the side going, the track itself isn't that great but it shows off Ann and Nancy's harmonies in some spots and the great voice of the former. Side Dog closes off with one of the bands staple tracks Straight On this track takes all the best parts of the two previous tracks and brings them together into a killer midtempo track. Yes it doesn't have the speed of ferocity of Barracuda or Kick It Out it isn't as majestic as Crazy On You but it instead fits somewhere inbetween with a bit of funk and soul put into it.

Side: Dog
Cook With Fire - 9/10
High Time -8/10
Hijinx -7/10
Straight On - 9/10

When I saw Heart a few years ago Nancy made it very clear that a band called Heart meant that there was going to be a lot of songs sung about love and ballads are more naturally attuned to that type of song, so seeing the next four tracks are supposed to be stripped back makes some sense. Dog & Butterfly is an absolutely phenomenal ballad, tripped back and acoustic from start to finish with amazing vocal harmonies. It shows the two sisters performing with a very little accompanyment just singing an delivering the powerful emotions which they have become well known for, a fan favourite and it is clear why this is the case. The song is beautiful. Lighter Touch begins rather calm but quickly it is clear this track could erupt at any moment. A more dynamic rockier ballad, although it has the misfortune of following up the incredible title track, the emotions are well expressed but not to the same extent. It is a good track, one deserving of more recognition and of a better placement on a more traditonally sorted album. Nada One is the token Nancy sung track of the album, her second track on lead vocals thus far in the bands career, her vocals are naturally more mystical sounding than Ann's and they suit this stripped back track incredibly well, the track takes more folk influences and uses them to the bands advantage, it is another pleasent ballad in the bands massive catalog of ballads. The album closes off with an epic track, Mistral Wind clocking in close to 7 minutes in length the track. It opens with a slow building guitar introduction and Ann singing softly, the guitar presents a moody tone into the music, and the song slowly begins to gather an epic feeling about it as Ann continues to sing softly the band eventually erupts into a more bonefied epic sound and the tone of Ann's voice changes from soft to commadning with the bands increased involvement a great track from start to finish which I believe would be far more epic live.

Side: Butterfly
Dog & Butterfly - 10/10
Lighter Touch - 8/10
Nada One - 8/10
Mistral Wind -9/10

Adjusted 86%
Overall 85%
4 Stars
 

MindRuler

Educated Fool
Ghost – Prequelle
Loma Vista (2018) // total playing time = 50:47

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Never judge a book by its cover is an advice when picking up Ghost's Prequelle album. A glance at the bombastic yet very cool artwork (the limited edition even has a 3D-cover!) and some song titles are misleading and could be directing towards satanic black metal with icecold screamy vocals. But no, nothing like that all! What we get here is melodic metal with clean vocals brought you by Cardinal Copia (Tobias Forge for his friends) and his nameless Ghouls. An atmospheric intro with nursery rhyme flows into Rats, a song that reminds me of Ozzy's Ultimate Sin album. Catchy chorus, vey good solo. Next comes Faith, a song which I almost could imagine Metallica covering it. "A fecal trail across the land!" Juicy solo too. See The Light begins slowly with piano but when the chorus arrives, the song breaks open. The first of the 2 instrumental tracks on Prequelle is Miasma. Spiced with proggy elements like tasteful keyboardlines, this song has many layers and even a saxophone solo at the end! Pleasant surprise and certainly one of my favorites of the album. And then it happens: Danse Macabre! When you hear this song for the first time, you want to hear it again, and again...and again. If you want the definition of an earworm, a song that gets stuck into your head for days, don't look any further. Danse Macabre has an extremely catchy chorus and a great guitar solo. I also love the playing on words: I wanna bewitch you in the moonlight. It's ballad time with Pro Memoria. At the end we hear a church choir which reminded me of the one used in the Pet Shop Boys classic hit single It's A Sin.
This was certainly not a coincidence since this song appears as a bonus track. More about that later. The highlight of the album comes next: Witch Image! This song has everything I love about this band: great melodies. The second instrumental Helvetesfönster (window of hell in Swedish) features some melodies from Pro Memoria and the acoustic guitars make me think of Blind Guardian. Ghost has the power to create a unique atmosphere. The album closer Life Eternal is a ballad, again. But if Ghost makes ballads like this, I don’t mind. The special edition has 2 bonustracks: the allready mentioned It’s A Sin (originally by Pet Shop Boys) is a metalized version of the pop hit classic. Gamma Ray made a cover version in the past but that sounded more like a metal parody to me. Ghost did a better job by making the song almost like one of their own. The other bonustrack is an inspiring version of Avalanche, originally performed by Leonard Cohen. Prequelle isn’t a very heavy album but it doesn’t have to be heavy to be really good.

Ashes - 8/10
Rats - 9/10
Faith - 8,5/10
See The Light - 8/10
Miasma - 9/10
Danse Macabre - 9,5/10
Pro Memoria - 8,5/10
Witch Image - 10/10
Helvetesfönster - 8/10
Life Eternal - 9/10
It's A Sin (Bonustrack) - 9/10
Avalanche (Bonustrack) - 8,5/10

Total = 87%
 

MindRuler

Educated Fool
Dream Theater – When Dream And Day Unite
MCA Records (1989) // total playing time = 51:32

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Dream Theaters debut album is one of highs and lows. Opener A Fortune In Lies falls in the first category with a great intro where all musicians can demonstrate their talent. The weakest link are Dominici's vocals. He isn't a bad singer, he's just not a singer for a band like Dream Theater. In the first 2 songs he gets away with it pretty good. But in a song like The Killing Hand there's a part where he's struggling to reach a high note and it just sounds awful. There are good songs like Status Seeker, Afterlife and the closing song A Matter Of Time where Kevin Moore truly shines in the intro (I miss Moore in DT) and offcourse the amazing instrumental The Ytse Jam! Light Fuse And Get Away is plain boring and has dissonant vocal lines. The Queensrÿche riff can't save the song either. The Ones Who Help To Set The Sun is a title Pink Floyd-worthy but unfortunately falls flat on its face. On When Dream And Day Unite you hear a band that's still searching for his own sound. The album is stuffed with good ideas, even great ideas. But some ideas didn't blend together yet.

A Fortune In Lies - 9/10
Status Seeker - 8,5/10
The Ytse Jam - 10/10
The Killing Hand - 7,5/10
Light Fuse And Get Away - 6/10
Afterlife - 8/10
The Ones Who Help To Set The Sun - 6/10
Only A Matter Of Time - 8/10

Total = 79%
 

The Dissident

Ancient Mariner
This was what album 364 would have been if I didn't acquire Images And Words on time...


Superunknown - Soundgarden
Format: CD/Digital

Seattle grunge rockers Soundgarden launch into their 4th studio album with Let Me Drown a very era appropriate introduction, the distortion is strong with this track, Cornell's amazing vocals are present here although the effects on them hinder them slightly at least to me. With a wicked scream on the back half the track is a good opening track which has a fair bit of energy while sounding very dark. My Wave's opening riff sounds like half of the riff to Natural Thing but those similarities drop off rather quickly, it has some punch to it and has an interesting but catchy approach to it throughout. One can't help but make Alice In Chains comparrisions and thus far I prefer AIC although they benefit from some of the best harmonies I've heard and frankly Chris Cornell doesn't need people to harmonize with he just doesn't need effects to distort his amazing vocals. Fell On Black Days comes in 3rd, and we get to hear Chris sing clearly, a track about depression and the sudden shift from happiness to the dark abyss. Dark and somber with a powerful and emotive performance from the gone too soon frontman. An amazing performance by all involved. Mailman comes in sounding the darkest of any song thus far on the album, the guitars have a heavy crunch to them the track is around the same pace as the previous track, slower with darkness swirling around it. This track takes the helplessness from the previous track and just jumps further down into the abyss. A brutal and dark track. The Title track picks the pace up and Chris begins to wail at the top of his lungs and the track is stellar from start to finish. Head Down comes in abruptly from the end of the previous track, stripped back at the start vocals are ethereal from the get go. The vocal approach adds an eerieness to the track, it could come accross as uplifting but instead it is haunting. Enter the first Soundgarden track I ever heard, Black Hole Sun, regretably I discovered Soundgarden with the passing of Chris Cornell. another ballad of sorts, incredibly accessible with some incredible vocals from Cornell, instrumentally the track is highly atmospheric and the keyboard work is amazing throughout. A perfect track. Spoonman takes a more upbeat approach another popular track from the band and the albums first single, the track is a rock oriented track but with a stripped back delivery. It is a good track but I don't love it. Limo Wreck begins the second half of the album the highlight of this track is the chorus where Chris shifts from a more airy vocal approach into some wicked cries. It is another gooder on a pretty darn consistent album. The Day I Tried To Live a track about stepping out of isolation/introversion and trying to interact with people outside of ones comfort zone, this is another track which features incredible vocals and powerful lyrics to pull it all together with dark sounding music backing it all. It is quite repetative but the track is pretty darn strong regardless. So much power. Kickstand is short and to the point, a brief rocker to pick the energy up, it reminds me a little of some punk tracks due to the direct nature, this track is easily the simplest track thus far on the album and with not much left it likely will be the simplest. I could see it being a show opener or a pick me up as it could just fit anywhere into the show. Fresh Tendrils is up next, slowing back down the track kicks off with a chorus of which the song has two distinct chorus', the track as a whole is quite enjoyable like the rest of the album. It has all the stuff that makes every other track on it good. 4th of July opens with the darkest riff of the album, this track doesn't work for me nearly as well as anything else here, the double layer of Cornell's vocals just are too different with the singer using two very different parts of his vocal range creating a massive contrast. Half is another short track, this one featuring bassist Ben Shepherd on lead vocals, it has a very unique sound to it and Ben's vocals are very different and weird sounding in comparrision to Cornell's powerhouse vocals. I'd say this is another mistep and on an album with 15 songs, it was possible to leave some stuff off. Like Suicide closes off the album, the longest track of the album, the track feels a little more stripped back, Chris is in his rightful place singing once again the slow track is haunting and sprawling, a vehicle for Cornell to display his vocal prowess, halfway through the track picks up in tempo a fair bit. It is a solid track, but it could be so much better.

Let Me Drown -8/10
My Wave - 8.5/10
Fell On Black Days -9.5/10
Mailman -8.5/10
Superunknown - 10/10
Head Down -8/10
Blackhole Sun - 10/10
Spoonman - 7.5/10
Limo Wreck - 8.5/10
The Day I Tried To Live - 10/10
Kickstand -8.5/10
Fresh Tendrils - 8/10
4th of July - 6.5/10
Half -6.5/10
Like Suicide -7.5/10

Adjusted 84%
Overall 84%
3.5 Stars
 

MindRuler

Educated Fool
Alice Cooper - DaDa
Warner Bros. (1983) // total playing time = 42:20

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Alice Cooper made a few experimental albums in the 80’s. DaDa is such an experimental one and the last before Alice would return to hardrock on the Constrictor album in 1986. The artwork of Glen McKenzie is Salvador Dali inspired which isn’t a surprise because of Dali’s friendship with Alice. DaDa kicks of with…DaDa, an eerie kind of song that would be perfect for Halloween. Enough’s Enough can be classified as a classic Cooper rocker. The third song Former Lee Warmer is a pun (“formerly Warner”) towards the record company he was going to leave. It’s the best song of the album and one of my alltime favorite Alice songs that’s building up to a climax. It sends shivers down my spine everytime I listen to it. No Man’s Land has pretty funny lyrics: I got a job in Atlanta, in a mall playing Santa and is one of the happier sounding songs on DaDa. Dyslexia is the weirdest track but I like it very much, it's like Alice going on a New Wave trip. Eastern sounds introduce the next song: Scarlet And Sheba. Great guitar riffs and solo here and an amazingly beautiful bridge and catchy chorus. Definitely one of the highlights of this album! I Love America is Alice’s tribute to the U.S.A. but offcourse with alot of sarcasm and again very funny lyrics: I love my bar and I love my truck, I'd do most anything to make a buck, I love a waitress who loves to... flirt! Fresh Blood reminds me musically of Peter Gabriel with nicely placed guitar licks throughout the whole song. The final song Pass The Gun Around, with heavy John Lennon influences and one of the greatest guitar solo’s of any Cooper song, can be related to Alice’s alcohol addiction and is a great closer for the album. To make it even better, the baby from the first song returns at the ending of the record. DaDa isn’t one of his best albums but my personal favorite.

DaDa - 8/10
Enough's Enough - 8/10
Former Lee Warmer - 10/10
No Man's Land - 7,5/10
Dyslexia - 8,5/10
Scarlet And Sheba - 9,5/10
I Love America - 8/10
Fresh Blood - 7,5/10
Pass The Gun Around - 9/10

Total = 84%
 
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MindRuler

Educated Fool
Kreator - Endorama
Drakkar Records (1999) // total playing time= 50:07

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If you ask a Kreator fan to name a bad album of his favorite band, chances are Endorama will be the one. I truly don't understand why it's such a maligned album. Sure, it doesn't sound anything like Plesaure To Kill or Extreme Aggressions but bands evolve and change. Endorama was a great risk for Mille Petrozza but to me he succeed in making a terrific album. It's definitely better than its predecessor Outcast, and to some point I even like it more than their classics from the past. Many songs have a Cryptic Writings-era Megadeth vibe. Opener Golden Age and Chosen Few for instance are good examples of this approach. Mille's voice is also more goth rock style on this record. The title track has a tasty opening riff and killer vocals from Mille and guest singer Tilo Wolff from Lacrimosa. The intro of Everlasting Flame is a nice mixture of Paradise Lost and the allready mentioned softer side of Megadeth. One of my favorite choruses of the album you'll find on Passage To Babylon. After the short piano intro Entry, diehard Kreator fans will be thrilled with Soul Eraser, the only thrash metal song on Endorama. Willing Spirit is very gothic metal inspired. I'm sure many forum members will recognize the intro riff of Pandemonium since it has alot of similarities to one of Fear Of The Dark. Closing track Tyranny also has some nice riffing and a cool bass line during the verses. Is Endorama thrash? Nope. Is Endorama a good album? Hell yes!

Golden Age - 9/10
Endorama - 10/10
Shadowland - 8,5/10
Chosen Few - 9/10
Everlasting Flame - 8,5/10
Passage To Babylon - 8,5/10
Future Ring - 7,5/10
Entry - 8/10
Soul Eraser - 7,5/10
Willing Spirit - 8/10
Pandemonium - 9/10
Tyranny - 8,5/10

Total = 85%
 
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MindRuler

Educated Fool
Alice In Chains - Dirt
Columbia (1992) // total playing time = 57:37

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Alice In Chains second album is the Holy Grail of the 90's. The quality of all songs is extremely high! And no, that's not a childish pun about Layne's drug abuse. Offcourse the lyrics give it away that he's struggling with life in a selfdestructive way but every song on Dirt is pure gold.
Where do I start? The almost Black Sabbathish feeling in some songs? The extremely addictive choruses? The great vocal harmonies between Layne and Jerry? The blistering bass sound of Mike Starr? (it was the man's last album with AIC) the amazing riffs Jerry Cantrell produces? The drums? I really don't know. They say a picture is worth a 1000 words. Let me put it this way: listening to Dirt is worth more than a 1000 word review. This is a masterpiece!

Them Bones - 10/10
Dam That River - 9/10
Rain When I Die - 9/10
Sickman - 8/10
Rooster - 10/10
Junkhead - 9,5/10
Dirt - 10/10
God Smack - 8/10
Hate To Feel - 9/10
Angry Chair - 9/10
Down In A Hole - 10/10
Would? - 10/10

Total = 93%
 

MindRuler

Educated Fool
Rush - Hemispheres
Mercury (1978) // total playing time = 36:08

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The 6th studio album of Rush and the last one of the seventies kicks of with the second Book of Cygnus X-1. A prog masterpiece of 18 minutes in 6 parts. The idea behind this song is some kind of scifi story with elements of Greek mythology and can be seen on the artwork: the battle between heart (the dancer) and mind (the gentleman) Some melody lines allready appeared on Cygnus X-1 Book I which can be found on the previous record A Farewell To Kings. I find the second Book far superior to the first to be honest. The second song Circumstances is a hidden gem in the career of Rush. You never see this song mentioned as a fan favorite but I always liked it very much. Especially the slower part with haunting keyboard melodies. Pure magic! A nicely played acoustic intro and Geddy's bass line burst out into the next song and one of Rush classics. Wonderful lyrics about trees who fight about sunlight for their leafs. Peart was amazing in the use of metaphors. The soft middle section of this song features great bass work and a great solo. This is Rush at its best! And we still have 1 song left... La Villa Strangiato starts with a Spanish intro and then it slowly begins to build toward a climax. If there is a heaven and God gave me the chance to listen to only 2 minutes of music I'd choose 3:39 until 5:39. This particular part is the reason why I fell in love with Rush! Hemispheres comes close to perfection.

Cygnus X-1 Book II - Hemispheres - 9,5/10
Circumstances - 9/10
The Trees - 10/10
La Villa Strangiato - 10/10

Total = 96%
 
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The Dissident

Ancient Mariner
@The Dissident and other reviewers: What do you think about a Review Challenge?
You have to review an album you really despise (finally some low ratings! :devil2: ) and then I'll post mine.
Seeing as all my reviews are to get me to listen to the albums I own but haven't heard in full I will likely stick to that. Plus I don't use streaming services aside from youtube.
 

Jer

Limp Pimp
What do you think about a Review Challenge?
You have to review an album you really despise (finally some low ratings! :devil2: ) and then I'll post mine.
A couple that I’ve already posted in one form or another:
...though I could probably stand to do Bruce Dickinson’s Tattooed Millionaire as well, which wouldn’t fare too well overall.
 
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