Random album reviews

The Dissident

Ancient Mariner

Seventh Star - Black Sabbath
Format: CD/Digital

Black Sabbath's twelfth album, their fourth singer, the third of which having previously worked for metal guitar god Ritchie Blackmore. Unlike the previous Deep Purple singer joining the Black Sabbath family this album featuring Glenn Hughes was originally supposed to be a solo album for Tony Iommi. However the powers that be made certain it became a Black Sabbath album. One of the bands shorter albums in length although looking over their discography the band doesn't have any truely long albums instead staying at relatively reasonable lengths which with the general quality of their work would leave fans wanting more music from the british metal gods.

In For The Kill opens with a furious drum beat introduction and very quickly Glenn comes in screaming up a storm, the man's vocals are just as strong as they were on his purple debut of Burn which is the only album I've heard him on ever. A short upbeat rocking introduction much like what the band had done on both of the Dio albums of the time. I haven't heard/acquired Born Again So I cannot comment on the comparrision to that albums opening. Tony lets loose an extended solo section and the track fits really well as the opening track. The song itself sounds a little more lighter than your typical Black Sabbath track, but it works and seeing as the intention was to not be a Sabbath album it makes sense that the sound is a little different. No Stranger To Love opens with keyboards from Geoff Nichols whom has become an official member at this point, and Black Sabbath performs a power ballad this is honestly far more of a shift than I was expecting. Eric Singer a future Kiss member sits behind the drum kit and he performs quite well on these first two tracks. Honestly I'm still taken aback by hearing a full blown power ballad from the band seeing as the last one that I recall in the bands timeline was Changes way back on Vol 4. Iommi performs soulfully.

Turn To Stone features another drum introduction, and the tempo is picked right back up as Iommi begins to shred away. Glenn returns to his more powerful wailing approach. The feeling this album is giving me thus far is a lot like 80s Rainbow, tracks which have potential to be really brutal and heavy, but the production and approach taken creates a more accessible experience and I think it would be quite helpful for the band as a whole in terms of keeping people interested at the time seeing as the band is on their 3rd singer in this decade alone. But by the same token, it feels like a pretty big departure compared to the Dio years, and the Ozzy era before them. Sphinx (The Guardian) is a keyboard introduction towards the albums Title track it is a little longer than necessary, but seeing as the album isn't even 35 minutes with it, I can see why they kept it in. Seventh Star has an epic feel to it when the proper track begins, everything comes together here for this mini-epic, the track takes a moodier approach. It doesn't live up to some of the bands later epics from Headless Cross or to the mighty Sign Of The Southern Cross nor Warpigs, but it is a strong track.

In For The Kill - 9/10
No Stranger To Love - 8/10
Turn To Stone - 8/10
Sphinx (The Guardian)/Seventh Star - 9/10

Danger Zone comes up next, it is introduced by Tony. The track features some really strong vocals from Glenn his tone is powerful even while he sings incredibly high. I believe I read somewhere that this period was the height of his drug use and well it isn't showing in his vocal performance another upbeat and punchier track, I think that Sabbath for the most part does a great job with their variety, but I do also believe they need more short accessible rockers on some of their albums. This album has the right balance thus far. Heart Like A Wheel fades in this track takes a slow burning epic feel, the longest track on the album. Tony takes a rather lenghty solo break on this track, the bass work thunders in conjunction with the drums this eventually ends and Glenn comes in to close out the track which leads to some bluesier guitar work from Tony as the track begins to close out.

Angry Heart is the one of the shortest tracks on the album, clocking in at just over 3 minutes this track feels incredibly epic, it really doesn't feel like the track is only 3 minutes it sounds like it should continue onwards to become a massive sprawling epic. However it has it all in a nice short package. The strongest track thus far. In Memory... closes out the album, segueing in from the previous track, it is the shortest song on the album, it feels like a continuation of the previous track, and it severes as a stronger ballad of sorts than the previous one on the album. A really nice way to close out the album.

I think the production and the lighter approach is what causes this album to be less talked about (aside from being a non-Ozzy and Dio album that is).

Danger Zone - 9/10
Heart Like A Wheel - 9/10
Angry Heart - 10/10
In Memory - 9/10

Adjusted 89%
Overall 89%
4 Stars
 

Jer

My sins are many


Luca Turilli - King Of The Nordic Twilight (1999)

Luca Turilli is probably best known as the primary guitarist and songwriter for the band Rhapsody (in a few different incarnations). He has a neoclassical approach to his songwriting and guitar playing, and usually operates in the power metal realm where he can go a little crazy with the guitars, synths, and vocal choirs. If you imagine Yngwie Malmsteen with more restraint and a much grander sense of songwriting, that gets you pretty close.

In the late 90s Luca decided that he wanted to do a solo trilogy of albums — one focused on the past, one focused on the future, and one focused on the present, in that order. King Of The Nordic Twilight is the first of these albums, focused on the past (albeit a silly fantasy version of the past).
  • To Magic Horizons - Male and female choirs and a synth orchestra set the stage with a pompous fanfare. The synth horns are pretty cheesy, but the rest of this works really well. 7/10.
  • Black Dragon - Guitar and harpsichord break through the end of the intro into a driving groove. Olaf Hayer’s vocals are in the style of many Yngwie singers — a little yodely, but strong. The verse is a little rote, but the pre-chorus is great. Love the pipe organ accents. The chorus is also pretty rote power metal stuff until it ends with a flourish. Great guitar/violin tradeoff solo and a nice female opera singer interlude. Great multi-part bridge. The verse and chorus have some weaknesses, but the rest of this is so good that I have to round it up to an 8/10.
  • Legend Of Steel - A nice harpsichord and flute intro breaks into a galloping riff. The verse is more laid back and a little rote, but the pre-chorus is melodious and uplifting. The chorus is cheesy but catchy. Cool staccato bridge, great guitar solo, nice violin solo, and then an awesome guitar/violin duet. A nice deconstruction of the chorus wraps things up. Much like the last track, any weaknesses in the verse and chorus are made up for by the rest of the music. Another round-up to 8/10.
  • Lord Of The Winter Snow - A frosty synth intro is joined by guitar and a female choir. Nice rhythmic change-ups. The cut-time verse is a bit rote and cheesy, but the pre-chorus is driving and uplifting, and the chorus starts with some nice riffing and ultimately soars. Some of the vocal riffing during the first interlude is a bit silly. A frenetic multi-part interlude follows, eventually rolling into a great harmonized section. As before, some weaknesses in the verse are overruled by the music in the end. Rounding up to 8/10.
  • Princess Aurora - Piano and synth greet an operatic female vocal. Unfortunately the singer has a pretty thick accent and the lyrics are incredibly cheesy. The melodic lines and musical accents are great, though. Those vocals are kind of a gut punch, so let’s say 6/10.
  • The Ancient Forest Of Elves - A catchy chorus kicks things off. Strong verse and pre-chorus with cool riffing. Nice violin and harpsichord interludes. Cheesy but great harpsichord and flute interlude, great guitar solo, cool violin and piano interlude. The bridge is a little rote. Super cheesy and pompous spoken word section. I want to rate this a notch higher, but listening to this song is like drowning in nacho dip, so let’s just say a robust 8/10.
  • Throne Of Ice - Frosty synths and a child choir greet male and female choirs and pipe organ. Guitars with synth string accents make an appearance before closing out with a circular structure. A short but great instrumental, 8/10.
  • Where Heroes Lie - An aggressive ascending synth riff with guitar accents breaks into another driving groove. A solid verse gives way to a soaring chorus. Strong guitar solo. Great vocal bridge with bass & harpsichord support. Great multi-part guitar interlude. Cool second bridge that folds back into the chorus with a soaring finish. Another one that rounds up to 8/10.
  • Warrior’s Pride - Flute and harpsichord support a verse with a nice melodic line, but bad phrasing and super cheesy lyrics. This cuts into a sedate, stately chorus that works well. A male choir joins the second chorus, and Olaf modulates the vocals up again for the third chorus, making for a nice crescendo, though the song ends pretty abruptly. Some meaningful weaknesses here, but also a lot of musical goodness. I think this merits rounding up to a 7/10.
  • Kings Of The Nordic Twilight - Piano and a solo female vocal introduce the album’s epic (almost) title track. Male and female choirs accompany some pretty sweet grooves. Extended interludes abound with callbacks to other songs in the album. Sweet acoustic guitar on the opening verses. The pre-choruses are a bit rote and cheesy, but the chorus is melodic and catchy. Another super cheesy spoken word section. Nice soaring bridge. The synth horns work much better in this song than elsewhere. Sweet harmonized guitar duet solo, nice violin and flute interlude. More multi-part interludes with choirs, including a great callback to the bridge to close things out. This song bites off a little more than it can chew, but it still has a lot of great stuff in it. Let’s say 7/10.
  • (Untitled Outro) - A few rounds of the “Princess Aurora“ vocalist singing a capella. She’s not singing in English this time, so her accent isn’t distracting. Nice melodic lines, but there isn’t much meat here. 6/10.
Average: 7.4/10
Weighted: 7.4/10

I never really cared for Rhapsody because I don’t like Fabio Lione’s vocals and there were elements of the songwriting that didn’t work for me — but in Luca Turilli’s solo work I found a vocalist that was much more to my taste, as well as a more consistent songwriting vision.

There is some cheese here for sure, and a roteness to some of the lyrical delivery that’s combined with bad phrasing and grammar at times, but there are also many opportunities for the vocals to shine, and the music is consistently great. The incorporation of classical instrument and folk sounds, male and female choirs, and a nuanced approach to songwriting create some surprising and exciting moments that keep me coming back to this album.

For the follow-up, Luca takes us to a silly sci-fi future and updates his sonic palette to match...
 

MindRuler

Ancient Mariner
Marillion – Script For A Jester's Tear
EMI (1983) // total playing time = 46:47

jester.jpg

What a debut! Only 6 songs on this album but oh boy we're in for a treat allready. The title track alone is worth the price of the album.
We get a few keyboard and guitar solo's and Kelly and Rothery really shine on this first song. But let's not forget Fish! Fish is not only a singer. He's more of a poet. His lyrics are like a world of their own but fit the music perfectly. Marillion are often compared to early Genesis and there is indeed a similar vibe but I think Marillion is more charismatic. He Knows You Know is the shortest song but not a filler of any kind! The Web has one of the most beautiful keyboard solo's and Garden Party is the most uplifting song of the album. In Chelsea Monday, another favorite of the album, it's bass player Pete Trewavas who steals the show. His bassline is heavenly, accompanied with brilliant guitar hooks of Rothery. In the intro of Forgotten Sons we hear a part of Market Square Heroes, the debut single of Marillion. A very strong song to end this classy debut with again a brilliant keyboard riff of Kelly. In the middle of the song we get a quiet part and Fish who reads his lyrics almost on an Anne Clark kinda way. The song ends with a very touchy Rothery guitar solo. Script For A Jester's Tear is a brilliant album, not Marillion's best album though but for a debut this is as good as it gets. The artwork of Mark Wilkinson (Maiden fans might know him from the Out Of The Silent Planet single) is top notch as well.

Script For A Jester's Tear - 10/10
He Knows You Know - 8,5/10
The Web - 9/10
Garden Party - 8,5/10
Chelsea Monday - 9/10
Forgotten Sons - 9/10

Total = 90%
 
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The_7th_one

Ancient Mariner
It's a phenomenal debut album from a truly fantastic band all with an amazing musical skills, and it can feel the vibe of their concerts at the Marquee one year before. I's not a metal band and they weren't include as a NWOBHM band but the band born in 81-82 and they attracted a lot of heavy metal fans because these metal fans could hear Rush, Jethro Tull, Genesis, Thin Lizzy…they were very open in music tastes at that time and Sounds Magazine, Kerrang and Metal Hammer made reviews of their concerts and their albums. The charismatic figure is Fish -the singer- compared with Peter Gabriel in the style of singing and performing with the painted faces and all the costumes. The company -emi, the same as Maiden- thought that it was a great idea to use illustrated covers as Maiden did at the moment with albums and singles. I have to say that before the album all these songs were played live along with their first single Marquet square heroes that it's a kind of hymn, three boats down from a candy, charting the single and the epic Grendel.
At that time you can see metalheads with their denim jackets sharing patches of Marillion along Maiden, Motorhead, Ozzy, Rush.

To me it's a five stars album ★★★★★

Note:Mark Wilkinson has worked with Maiden since 1992 to The Book of souls
 

MindRuler

Ancient Mariner
Marillion – Fugazi
EMI (1984) // total playing time = 45:58

fugazi.jpg

The second Marillion album and the first with drummer Ian Mosley begins with the highlight haunting Assassing.
Punch & Judy is the shortest song of Fugazi, not one of my favorites but not a bad song at all.
Now Jigsaw is from a different level! The keyboard melody sounds almost like a lullaby and the lyrics are among Fish best.
The high quality continues in Emerald Lies. I especially like the faster middle section.
She Chameleon begins with an organ sound, this is definitely one of my least favorite songs of the album.
Incubus features a juicy keyboard solo and some of my favorite Rothery solo's as well.
The closing Fugazi has dominant keyboard lines creating a doomy atmosphere in the middle of the song.
Fugazi isn't as strong as the debut and definitely my least favorite of the Fish era Marillion albums. Still a great album though.

Assassing - 10/10
Punch & Judy - 7,5/10
Jigsaw - 9/10
Emerald Lies - 8,5/10
She Chameleon - 7/10
Incubus - 8/10
Fugazi - 7,5/10

Total = 82%
 
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