27 December 2014

Killers - Menace To Society

This album with the piece of shit cover (Look at it, just fucking look at it!!! Pink voodoo dolls are NOT metal!) is the second album by Killers, a project formed by the metal world equivalent of Paul Gascoigne, Paul Di'Anno. Both Paul's showed flashes of brilliance in their careers but are perhaps nowadays more well known for drink, drugs and spousal abuse. There is a rant about it in the first Killers blog which you can read by clicking here - and possibly scrolling either up or down once the tags take hold - so I'm not gonna go over that again. Instead, we're going to talk about the music as that's what we're here for. We can talk about the other stuff another time.

As mentioned, this is the second Killers album and marks a shift in style, The first one was a fun, if somewhat dated, romp where they seemed to have taken a leaf out of Judas Priest's book of metal. This album, however, is straight out of the "Groove Metal For Dummies" book. Particularly the chapter marked "Pantera". Now that may seem like a lazy comparison given that there was more to groove-metal than Pantera but the vocals on here indicate that Di'Anno really was trying to sound like Phil Anselmo. There are way too many 'Anselmo tics' on here for it to be mere coincidence. This album reeks of a conscious attempt to make what was (then) perceived to be a so-called modern metal record. Whilst it is commendable to move with the times, there is also the risk of looking like an embarrassing old fart who is trying to be 'down with the kids', something that was picked up by the journalists at the time. But anyhow, before I go off on a tangent, I'd best review this album.

Advance And Be Recognised - Why the fuck would anyone want to do that??? Dodgy title aside, this is a canny opener. Showcasing a big production that stays the right side of 'excessive', it manages to set the tone for some metal coming your way.

Die By The Gun - Starts off with a riff which is fantastic IMO but then it goes downhill. The verse structure sounds out of time and quite erratic. It's not a comfortable fit at all. The choruses are the fantastic riff from the intro but the change to that from the verse and back sounds very jarring. The slide into a fast midsection and solo sounds natural but the fact is, this would have been a great song if they'd just got a decent verse structure. Lyrics go on about how the printed media is a lie, Standard stuff, really. Did I mention this song has a fantastic riff?

Menace To Society - This is apparently what the judge equated Di'Anno to before deporting him from the USA (I found out why too - turns out when the police came out to arrest him for domestic violence, they found some charlie and an uzi and so added drugs and firearms offences to the charge list). Luckily, the song has a much better flow than the previous one but its drawbacks are the aforementioned Pantera tics which have now spread to the lyrics as one of the passages sounds like parts of "A New Level". Also, lyrics like "Fuck you, I do what I wanna do" don't help neither. This was 1994 which means that Paul should've known better by then. Unless he had his kid write them...Other than that, the music is great.

? (Seriously, that's what the song is called) is a slow number with distorted vocals and a hypnotic riff. It's possibly the most original thing on here thus far. Apart from the vocals.

Think Brutal - More Pantera tics. Guys, you're gonna be owing Phil Anselmo and the Darrell Estate plenty royalties at this rate...Fast verses give way to groove choruses. It's like "A New Level" has never been written. Another common theme I'm picking up on is that each song seems to be at least 90 seconds too long. No need for extended choruses towards the end.

Past Due - Thank fuck, we've got something that more resembles the type of metal Paul is famous for, normal heavy metal. Sure, it may be striding into power-ballad territory, especially with the clean arpeggioed (guitar lingo for playing a chord one string at a time or something) intro and verses which give way to a heavy choruses where the vocals soar like an eagle. A hint of "Remember Tomorrow" about it it's all good. Even though this is the most natural sounding song on the album, it's not my fave.

Faith Healer - Music is great, more in a traditional metal vein but the vocals are fucking awful on this. They're like a poor man's Bon Scott (And I don't mean Zetro from Exodus). If he'd not acted an idiot and just sang to his normal style, then maybe it would have been better.

We interrupt this Spotify ad break to show that band photos against brick walls are very metal.

Fuck yeah!

Chemical Imbalance - YES! This is more like it. Paul has reverted back to his normal vocal style, and it is a vast improvement. The music still crushes and grooves but the vocals are far better. This is possibly the best song on the album. It's certainly the one I listen to the most as it's in my playlist for the gym. Particularly the punchbag. There are also touches of normal metal in amongst the groove and it makes you wonder why they didn't just try and combine both old and new school metal instead of ripping off Pantera full stop? I think we all know why. Kerching £££$$$.

A Song For You - Back to the Bon Zetro impresson over what sounds like quite average traditional metal. Not really feeling this one despite the 'gang vocal back-ups'. Oh well...

Three Words - Fuck Right Off? Ha, I kid! It's another one of those slow numbers which follows a similar structure to 'Past Due', arpeggioed clean verses and heavy choruses. So he's ripping himself off as opposed to Pantera! It's not as good as the previous song neither, even though it sounds like Paul and the rest of the band are trying their best.

Conscience - More traditional metal which is alright, but ultimately not likely to change anything.

City Of Fools - Taking their cue from Guns 'n' Roses song "My World" in the what-the-fucking-hell-was-that album closer, it features Di'Anno trying to 'rap' over some really basic music. It sounds like a Body Count song but that band were tongue in cheek. This seems deathly serious and that's worrying. And that "Hey, homes" shout at the beginning can fuck off as well.

So all in all, this is a mixed fucking bag of an album. On one hand it would make a good EP but on the other, some of it's content is far too much like a Pantera clone to take seriously. Yes, they were a big band in the 90's who no doubt influenced a lot of people but not all of them made this much of a conscious effort to sound like Pantera - not even Pissing Razors and they got called out on their Pantera-worship all the time! I guess it's also the last shred of decent output to feature Di'Anno before guest spots on Christmas Metal Albums and more Iron Maiden cash-ins. Maybe I'm too harsh, I dunno.

Personally, I think it's a canny album as I like this groove metal stuff but it's a wreck from a critical standpoint. Music is good, but not that good and the vocals are way off. Shame, as the first Killers album had a great vocal performance.

4/10 - Well it's alright, but still...

Top Track: Chemical Imbalance.

Chris J.

Yeah, this fucker is on iTunes.


25 December 2014

Machine Head - The More Things Change

This is Machine Head's second album and IMO, is a bit overlooked. No-one seems to mention this album as often as the others. "Burn My Eyes" is hailed as an awesome debut, and you'd be right. "The Burning Red" and "Supercharger" are generally looked on as nu-metal cash-ins (A bit unfair in the case of TBR - although Robb Flynn wearing a TRACKSUIT and having liberty spikes in the video to 'From This Day' didn't help...) and the other albums afterwards - "Through The Ashes Of Empires", "The Blackening", "Unto The Locust" and the new one, "Bloodstone & Diamonds", are generally regarded as a renaissance for the band, a wiping clean of the slate where they finally got their shit together, grew up and began crafiting songs which were monsterously heavy yet retained an excellent level of musicianship with well thought out and crafted songs. I reckon this album was the genesis of that sound and had they not got distracted by nu-metal, they would probably have made more of the same after this one.

This was the first album to feature former Sacred Reich drummer Dave McClain who took over from Chris Kontos (He ended up joining a band called Konkhra but the album he played on wasn't very good. Shame, as he's an excellent drummer). This was also the last album to feature guitarist Logan Mader who left/got kicked out and ended up joining Soulfly for about five minutes. I met Mr Mader once and he was an interesting character. Anyways, onto the music.

As mentioned before, this album marks a slight change in sound for the band. It's still a comination of thrash metal and groove-metal but if "Burn My Eyes" is a boxer who, at the start of the round, springs out of his corner and starts wailing on you straight away, "The More Things Change" is the boxer who ducks, bobs and jabs whilst waiting for an opening before landing the killer blow. Think of Rocky III and the final match where Rocky tires Clubber out before beating him. Kinda like that I guess.

Ten Ton Hammer - A fucking CRUSHING opener! When I first heard this, my heart sank as it seemed there was a trace of nu-metal creeping in with the one-finger-one-string riff that is the main part of the song. Mind, this was the mid-90's and that style was becoming popular even though that type of riff is older than Noah. The structure is thus - the verses are harmonics and the choruses are crushing riffs. The bridge is a ferocious ball of fury which helps the song nicely.

Take My Scars - The closest thing this album has to a potential hit single. Plenty swagger and balls, it gets a great pit going! The closest we get to the groove of the first album but with better dynamics and presentation.

Struck A Nerve - Very hardcore influenced. Almost Discharge-esque in a way (The digipack version of this album had them cover that very band's song 'The Possibility Of Lifes Destruction'). It motors on before a well measured breakdown into a mosh-part type riff. It's the kind of riff that is reminiscent of "Blind" by KoRn or even "Scapegoat" by Fear Factory. Great song. We're onto a winner here.

Down To None - Clean opening which turns heavy very quickly. The song itself switches between slow and mid-paced at the drop of a hat. It's done flawlessly too which would suggest a lot of practice went into it. Towards the end, things get very intense. The speed picks up and the song closes in a bundle of fury.

The Frontlines - Apparently, written whilst on the "Burn My Eyes" tour so it would have given a clue as to the direction the band were taking. Another song with shifting dynamics and tempos. As before, it's handled very well. Seems to be quite a frantic atmosphere behind this song. Robb Flynn's vocals are absolutely spot on here, and the rest of the album, come to think of it. It's also worth mentioning that the production on this album is spot-on too. Ending in a flurry of harmonics.

We interrupt this spotify ad-break to bring you an awesome Kerrang! cover featuring Robb Flynn:

Fuck yeah!!!

Spine - The kind of bass intro which rattles the fillings in your teeth before moving onto a slamtastic riff! One of those songs with not much happening in verses save for some guitar noise and drum patterns, but the choruses are moshtastic! Slow burner of an outro though. Quite effective.

"Bay Of Pigs" - Anti-police song which flies by at a hardcore pace with breakdowns in the chorus. It's fast, it's heavy and extremely pissed off at police who reckon they're a law unto themselves. Quite apt that it should still stand up today. given all the shit going down in St Louis right now...

Violate - Quite a harrowing song, really. Sung from the POV of a sexual abuse victim, it reveals a level of pain, anguish and fury that only someone in that situation would know. Very slow and brooding. Choruses are blazing fury. Speeds up towards the end.

Blistering - What sounds like a dentist drill soon changes to a creschendo of guitar noises before descending into heavy riff territory. A nice, headbanging riff. Plenty groove and swagger in the choruses.

Blood Of The Zodiac - A fine album closer. Weird guitar intro which then leads into a song which is a nice slow pace. Almost waltz-like, in a way. Not that I'd suggest waltzing to this lol. Quite an atmospheric song.

So, there you go. After this, they would go on to do "The Burning Red" which isn't as nu-metal as people make out, although it has smidgen of influence - a bit like "Roots". This album, however is excellent. For years, my favourite Machine Head album was "Burn My Eyes" due to the fact it tore your fucking head off. To me, it was the absolute crystalisation and perfection of groove metal. But...now I'm not so sure. I think it may be this album due to the fact that as mentioned, the band still retain their killer blows and grooves, but are building up to them instead of going flat out. I guess both albums are better than each other for different reasons. The only downside to this album is...the song "My Misery" (From the soundtrack to a movie called "Demon Knight: Tales From The Crypt) is a bonus track on the digipack instead of being a part of the album proper, but if that's the only thing I can bitch about, then we're all good. This album IMO is pretty much perfect.

10/10 - This is proof there is a God.

Top Track: The Frontlines.

Chris J.

Yup, it's on iTunes.


(I used to dress like Robb Flynn in this video...)

24 December 2014

Killers - Murder One

Much has been said about former Iron Maiden vocalist Paul Di'Anno. and not all of it has been kind. Mind, if his autobiography "The Beast" is anything to go by, then it's not much of a surprise. Tales of drink abuse, drug abuse, spouse abuse, band member abuse, innocent bystander abuse and pretty much a fuck-ton of other things ending in "abuse" are in abundance. After the book was published, stories of "dole abuse" and a stay in one of Her Majesties Hotels followed. It seems that since leaving/being kicked out of Maiden, Paul hasn't really fulfilled whatever potential he showed on those early records. Make no mistake, "Iron Maiden" and "Killers" (the album) are fucking blinding. Truth is, Maiden were going in a direction he'd not have been able to follow. The style on the first two records was that of blinding 70's-style rock with a dash of punk thrown in. No way in Hell would he have been able to sing on the new stuff. This seems to have developed a chip on his shoulder the size of a gorilla as there have been a few solo albums where there are more Maiden songs from his time in the band than original material. This is another bone of contention - if he sold his royalties to the Iron Maiden songs he'd written and performed on, why bother going back to them at every opportunity? I guess it must be a way of keeping people interested and also a way to get any 'performance fees' but the money from that cannot amount to much, surely? Even his autobiography is called "The Beast" so it's giving the impression that it's cashing in on the Maiden connections but using an album he never played on. And the name of this band is pretty self-explanatory. Of course, it could all be a coincidence. Oh, and he's banned from America due to some shit he got up to. Possibly beating a woman up, I can't remember.

Killers (Not to be confused with The Killers) were formed in 1990 and rumour has it, the band were signed after a record label showcase where they allegedly played Iron Maiden songs! Whatever works, I suppose. Anyhow, I've jabbered on about shit for too long, let's listen to some music. Btw, info on this album is scarce due to wiki not having an updated page so please bear with me...

Impaler - Opens with a womans scream and a thundering tom-tom attack before launching into...the kind of thing that Judas Priest would have considered a b-side. My guess is that one ear had been on 'Painkiller' as that album made Priest a credible force again, therefore they were trying to capture some of that magic here. It nearly works. Paul's voice is in fine form, all soaring vocals and the musicianship is tight. A fast, heavy song as well, only problem is it sounds a bit too close to Judas Priest. Especially as it also appears to be about some kind of being with either messianic or murderous properties - or both, something Priest liked to write about. Mind, at least they never tried to rip off anything from "Turbo"...

The Beast Arises - That's what she said! Seriously, this is one of those songs that has "stadium anthem" in mind, the audience all headbanging or fistbanging in unison. Sounds like typical fare for that sort of thing. Not bad, not great.

Children Of The Revolution - A cover of the T Rex classic (And song which nearly got them into trouble as some twat thought it had Communist leanings...) and...it's pretty fucking good! More 'metal' than the original with some great guitar solos.

S&M - "You've reached New York's most dominant mistresses and their slaves". Sure we have, love. Mind, I have to admit - this is a fucking brilliant song. Some fantastic guitarwork, especially for the chorus and the vocals are great too. Just goes to show if he'd kept his focus and not let the drink and drugs get in the way, and had he found a decent band from the off, Di'Anno might have managed to carve a niche somewhere instead of becoming the Paul Gascoigne of metal. Shame, really.

Takin' No Prisoners - Back to some stadium fare. Clean guitar verses that lead into pre-chorus and chorus of electric heaviness with vocals that are trying their best to get some kind of anthem going, it doesn't quite hit the mark. But it gives it a go. It brings it home that in a sense, this is a most unusual album - it's roots are very clearly in 80's stadium metal given the members involved in this project yet it came out in 1992, a year in which rock/metal was pretty much changed by the grunge/alternative explosion. Also, it was a time when groove-metal (sort of an infusion of thrash and mid-tempo rhythms) was catching on so this type of traditional metal - for want of a better way of putting it - was unusual at this time.

Marshall Lokjaw - Another Judas Priest b-side, In fact, this song reminds me of "Freewheel Burning" and "Exciter". Now while there is nothing wrong with a bit of Priest worship, it does seem a shame and a waste of potential. Don't get me wrong, it's a canny song but it sounds like someone else.

Protector - Nah, not keen on this one. Some guitar riffs that sound quite like Maiden but overall it's not that good a song. Next...

Dream Keeper - This is a bit better. Moving into power ballad territory, we get to wave our lighters in the air. Very haunting outro that shows it's 80's roots. Again, it's another example as to how with the right backing, Di'Anno could've had a great career instead being known for the misdemeanours...

Awakening - A stomper of sorts, it's ok...but I've heard better. Not really much to type about other than it's played well and nothing to fault.

Remember Tomorrow - Another cover. This time an Iron Maiden cover - although to be fair, Di'Anno wrote this one and it's one of the corkers off the first album. Near-identical to the original, it benefits from having a better production job due to the then-modern equipment in the studio. It's good but as mentioned, is pretty much identical to the original.

So, there you go. I know I've missed out Battlezone, Di'Anno previous band before these but from what I've heard, I'm not missing much. This is a good album but the fact that a good portion of the material sounds like another band - not just Iron Maiden - let's it down slightly. The fact that the material in question is good manages to rescue a few points. The band would go on to do a second album - and boy, did things get messy for that one...

6/10 - Now I see where you're going, but not quite there.

Top Track: S&M.

Chris J.

Yeah, it's on iTunes.


Spotify (Deluxe version).

Godflesh - A World Lit Only By Fire

Godflesh are back with perhaps the best comeback since Lazarus. Never afraid to stretch themselves or push the boundaries, they return with a great album which although not as good as "Pure", is at least better than "Hymns".

One of my fave bands of all time, Godflesh came to the public consciousness with their debut EP, the self-titled 'Godflesh'. A polar opposite from Justin Broaderick's work in Napalm Death (He played on the first twelve songs on "Scum"), it was slow and brutal. Proof that heavy music doesn't have to be all fast. The mix was very lo-fi and it seemed like the bass (provided by G.C Green) was drowning out the drum machine rhythms and guitars - themselves more like discordant noise than anything resembling chords or riffs. Later releases would somewhat tinker with their sound and they would keep us entertained up until their eventual split in 2001. This was a particular downer because I, your humble narrator, was to see them supporting Fear Factory alongside Raging Speedhorn (who also dropped out) in Newcastle. In the end, Fear Factory (Who rate Godflesh as one of their biggest influences and even 'borrowed' a couple of things from them...) were supported by Janus Stark and fucking Sugarcoma, a band who are the prime example of overhype. When a shit Britney Spears cover gets a better reception than your own material, it's time to call it a day. Mind, Godflesh turned up for one song but it wasn't enough to rate their performance. Oh well. Anyhow, onto the music...

New Dark Ages - opening with feedback swells and a high-hat rhythm tap, it sounds like your atypical creepy opening before the guitars, bass and drums kick in. Discordant riffs are the order of the day. Justin's vocals barking out like a drill seargents orders, certainly creates an atmosphere or sorts. The first thing noticed is that it's quite a steady, reliable rhythm. Nice way to open the album.

Deadend - Taking a further step into Hell, this rumbles on at a slightly slower pace than the opener, nice riffs, sounds like Black Sabbath practising in a steel mill. Riffs more resembling riffs but one gets the impression the guitar is more like a torture device than a musical instrument for this song.

Shut Me Down - Punchy electronic opening makes way for a stomping industrial rhythm with an excellent riff over the top. It's by now worth noting that the guitar tunings appear to be lower than on previous records, by the sounds of things, the band are playing 8-string guitars as the tuning seems to be in the F# range (8-string guitars are tuned F#BEADGBe). I may be wrong but there is definately a lower tuning going on here. But it sounds fresh and exciting. Mind, Godflesh always were a band who utilised downtuning as a way to try and create something new instead of just for heaviness sake.

Life Giver Life Taker - Guitar intro is slightly phased before turning into a fast (?) song. And it's a reintroduction to one of the things Godflesh excelled at - clean vocals! Even though they're practically buried in the mix, you can tell they're clean. It's a technique that Fear Factory were accused of stealing from Godflesh but there is a slight difference imo. Fear Factory tried to sound melodic when doing clean vox, Godflesh to me sounded like a moan, which is what this song is doing, but in a good way.

Obeyed - Discordant after sounding like it was going to have structure. A glorious racket! A bit of structure inbetween verses and a refrain of crashing guitars that not only opens the song, but is repeated at various points throughout. It's stuff like this that reminds me why I got into this band in the first place. It was at a time where the only examples I'd heard of 'industrial' music sounded like bad techno.

Curse Us All threatens to just do that. Justin's vocals sounding like Hell. They're pretty much growled throughout but like the other songs on the album, they're buried in the mix. It's an old trick and one that works effectively. The main riff is a bit repetitive but it does it's job.

Carrion - Stabbing riff with a nice drum beat and ferocious vocals. Definately a ferocious song. Not really much else to say as - if I'm honest - it's not as good as what's preceded it. Reminds me of Black Sabbath in places.

Imperator - Back to crooning over a sinister few notes and a very crunchy guitar refrain, the whole thing is like some kind of nightmarish road-roller. The rhythms slowly creep up on you and the guitars stab about the place. Things ease up into a more mid-paced section midway through the song but then it all goes nuts again. Then it's over...

Towers Of Emptiness - Bass intro before everything else takes over. Vocals are as harsh as ever. Fuck knows what the lyrics about. Possibly about the state of man and paranoia in general. More discordant guitar in the middle. Nice.

Forgive Our Fathers - Noise intro where it's bass rattling and feedback before becoming noisy song. Kind of like the last road out of Hell. Which pretty much sums up this album, It hasn't always made for comfortable listening due to the band creating an atmosphere which reeks of internal strife and extreme paranoia. Like bumping into an old mate and going for a beer or six, it's been a great night with this album. In the great Godflesh canon, this album is worthy.

8.5 out of 10. Oh you have myattention, and maybe my money, time and heart.

Top Track: Life Giver Life Taker.

Chris J.

Spotify - The Spotify version of this album is fucked at the time of blogging so you'll have to listen to it the old fashioned way...it's available on iTunes though.

Buy on Amazon...

(There are no music videos for any songs off this album, so here is "Crush My Soul" instead)

21 December 2014


So this is Christmas, it is also just after our two year anniversary so we are now at the end of year polls! This has not just been voted for by the bloggers here, but by the general public as well! So this is true democracy, the only control here is that the albums that are eligible have to achieved at least 8 out of ten during the year.  If it is lower than that, it did not make the cut! This year has been a strange one vote wise (for me watching the votes come in at least).  Before it started, I expected one album to run away with it because of how I thought some people votes; without naming the artist, I can confirm it was not even in the top end of the blog; not saying that the album is poor record, just shows what happens when you get the public involved as well.  So, I truly thank everyone that bothered to vote, anyone that contacted and said yes, I want to do this and came through.  You guys are why this blog is here.  I also want to thank the bloggers this year, some of you guys have had a hard time and have not been able to do much, some of you have done above and beyond - all your work (no matter what size) is welcome.  Lastly, I want to say well done to every band and artist we have had the pleasure of reviewing.  It does not matter if we liked your record or not - without the musicians who make the music, this is a blog about nothing.  You people are the ones who make this spin, so I applaud you all!

Now, on to the top twenty albums as voted by the staff and readers of the blog!  Next to each album, we will quote part of each review (mainly because it has already been written).  Also, we will have a link to a track from each album.

20 - Swans - To Be Kind

When the dust has finally settled on this record, you can see why it has been getting the praise it so richly deserves.  This album made the top forty on both sides of the Atlantic, making it the highest charting release by the Swans in their career.  It goes to show that aggressive and thought provoking music still has a place in the world.  However I cannot give this a mark, how could I! I feel like I have been beaten to a bloody pulp again by this band, I did not expect anything less.  It is the best they have released since they have gotten back together and I hope that this is not the last we will hear from them.  It is a truly awe inspiring piece of work which will terrify weaker souls.  File under: try it if you dare.

Here is a video (well, image) for the song Oxygen.

19 - Benjamin Booker - Benjamin Booker

This album is a brilliant debut, full of promise and energy; yes there are a few songs which could just change titles and lyrics with the same results, but this is the man's first record and it sounds like he is just trying out the water and he is starting to get a grip on what he is capable of creating.  This man can make his guitar sing like an angel and shake it's ass like a money maker.  It is an almost perfect debut with minimum filler and if his album sounds this good, his live reputation will be well deserved.  I so wish that I saw this man live now, will have to remedy that next time, just to see if the live legend is the same as his album output.

Here is an offical video for Violent Shiver.

18 - Sunn 0))) + Scott Walker - Soused

The project is the stuff of nightmare - I mean that it is one of those projects that are designed to be harrowing, evil and tortured; it is also a rare project that mostly meets the expectations that were laid at its feet upon the revelation of its inception.  Such talents were always going to be cursed with the air of expectation, but that is to be put to the side when looking at this album.  It is still one of those albums which are currently receiving mainstream press where other avant-garde albums have been ignored.  It is a good record, well crafted and worth exploring; I just wish it was a bit more off the wall.

Here is the offical video for Brando.

17 - Within Temptation - Hydra

As a package on the whole, this is a very confident album from this act from the Lowlands. They've certainly consolidated their position as one of the finest symphonic metal bands and the several crossovers have I'm happy to report have added quite a lot of sparkle to an already heady offering in Hydra, named after a Greek Mythical creature known for growing its heads again whenever they were decapitated. Fortunately, this isn't an album that's ever destined for the chop, and even in the early stages of 2014 I see it as a firm contender for album of the year.

Here is the video for Paradise (What About Us?).

16 - The Bug - Angels & Devils

Wow.....I am truly impressed by this album.  The Bug can be added to the lists of artists that have truly terrified me from Ninja Records.  I have said this before, but what a dark record this is! The bass is so solid through this record that it can probably level buildings into dust.  The two halves of the record merge in completely and to be honest there is not a clear point where it starts to get heavier, but once it starts there was no prisoners to be took.  The amount of artists that I have heard for the first time this year is getting quite long, this one can be another that will be hard to ignore when it comes to the end of year polls; this is utterly break taking.

Here is an offical audio video of Fuck You with Warrior Queen.

15 - Mastodon - Once More 'Round The Sun

The band has completely turned around their original sound from when I last heard them.     This album is the polar opposite to 'Cracke The Skye'.  This is a band who has hit their groove in a devastating form; it is almost perfect with only one track not quite reaching that high tide mark that this album will undoubtedly become in the future.  If this is the best they ever release (or even their last one), they will have left a remarkable album.

Here is the offical video for High Road


14 - AC/DC - Rock Or Bust

This is the shortest AC/DC album by a few minutes, there is no wasted part of the album; no notes or riffs that is not required, there is no wasted space on the album.  Whilst the wheel is not reinvented, you would have to have a heart of stone not to raise a smile or horns to this album.  It is by no means the best album they have ever created; it is a really good record that does exactly what it says on the tin.  Rock or bust?  I think we all know the answer to that question.

Here is the video for Rock Or Bust

13 - Crowbar - Symmetry In Black

Overall, the main reason I like this so much is that I am a massive fan of this type of music.  It connects to me in a way that I find truly mesmerising, but I do see that it is a very closed record in terms of appeal, I know that sounds weird but sometimes that is just the way of things.  It is not a musical boundary cross-over record and it knows this.  A few of the tracks whilst they are really powerful do start to merge with other tracks on the album.  But it has took me a long while to make up my mind with this album and I have to say that it is a brilliant record that will have fan boys like me really pleased; but it does seem to be one only for the faithful.

Here is the offical audio video (still not understanding this kids) for Ageless Decay.

12 - The Haunted - Exit Wounds

When played live, the songs are guaranteed to whip up an awesome mosh-pit. Mind, one does have to question as to why they has released an album when there At The Gates album at the same time as this? I guess that any shortcomings found within this album will be rectified with ATG and vice-versa. I'll be keeping an open mind on that and will get back to you, but I'd not rule this album out yet.  So, there you go. This album is possibly the finest example of thrash in a long time. I'd recommend it any day of the week.

Here is the official video for Cutting Teeth

11 - Weezer - Everything Will Be Alright In The End

As a midlife crisis goes, this is not as glorious as Grinderman; to be fair it is almost a return to youthful way, but with a hint of estranged sadness.  It does take a while to get go and it also takes even longer to release its hidden charms, but with repeat listenings it does show its secrets.  Is it the best Weezer album?  Well, for me it is just part of a great vain of form that helped the band release 'Hurley', 'The Red Album' (which is my personal favourite) and 'Raditude'; but it is not quite up with those titles at this point.  It is very good and it has been given a lot of attention, but it strikes me as slightly unnerving that these guys are having a midlife crisis.  They were supposed to be the Peter Pan's of American alternative music!!!! (Warning - the last sentence may has sarcasm, for a brighter tomorrow - Ed).

Here is a live performance of The British Are Coming.

10 - Corrosion Of Conformity - IX

This is a simple formula that so many bands tend to get wrong, but not these guys – monster riffs, thumping bass, drums which sound both solid and loose and combine.  Considering that for a long while these guys were not existing, I just find it hard to comprehend why they are not bigger than they currently are.  Maybe it is because people think they know them for their previous efforts, I myself am guilty of making that assumption.  Now though, now I will be trying out as many of their albums that they have made as a three piece as possible.  A great sludge/punk/speed metal hybrid that just keeps on giving.

Here is the offical audio of The Hanged Men

9 - The Smashing Pumpkins - Monuments To An Elegy

Firstly, I feel I have to mention the length of the album; it is surprisingly short for a Smashing Pumpkins release.  At just over half an hour, it goes by in the blink of an eye.  Also, only one of the songs is over four minutes in length and it is quite frankly very refreshing to be honest.  There has been a couple of releases from these guys which would have been better with just a song or two kept for the b-sides, but this is by the by; this song is stripped down and on first listen is a very good record.  On the second, third and fourth listens, it just keeps on improving.  It is a brilliant album and shows that there is still a fire in the heart of Billy Corgan; if he carries out his threat to end the Pumpkins if this does not meet his commercial expectations is another thing, but this album is really good.  I fully expect that I wished I gave it a better mark in a few months time....

Here is a live performance of Being Beige.

8 - Mogwai - Rave Tapes

Back when rock was new, albums literally had two sides when they were released on vinyl and cassette tapes.  This album is a modern representation of that era; but in terms of frustration, it is also quite high on that measure as well.  I have to point out that this is by no means a bad or awful album; quite far from it, it is a beautiful release.  So why am I so down on it?  Well, it is due to the high standards which Mogwai have handed themselves since they first came onto the scene with Young Team.  They have constantly been carving a path which braver men fear to tread, which is a blessing and a curse at some points. It also makes me wonder if the band needed a little more time to record the album so soon after the 'Les Revenants' OST, maybe they needed a few more months with the tracks.  But that takes nothing away from the album itself, especially the last four tracks which are so special that they up the mark by a few points alone.  I have been listening to this album for over a month and I still find myself going backwards and forwards on how to mark it, but I think the best way to describe it as I said earlier - it is a grower and will take time to reveal its secrets.  Frustrating and beautiful in one lovely package of beautiful noise.

Here is a live performance of Master Card.

7 - Various Artists - Guardians Of The Galaxy: Awesome Mix Volume 1

Taken separately they’re an unusual bunch of songs, and definitely, with exception of Bowie and Marvin Gaye, not something I’d generally choose to listen too, but together, they’re just great, silly, sad, rocking, eccentric and sweet.

Here is a live perforamce of Hooked On A Feeling From The Blue Swede.

6 - Foo Fighters - Sonic Highways

I think we can safely say that this is probably the most interesting and relevant Foo Fighters record in an awful long time.  As an experiment recording in different cities, it is obvious that it has had an effect on the overall tone of the album and it makes for each song having its own distinct sound and quality.  With only two of the tracks being average (and in one case – “Subterranean”) bat crap crazy, I must admit that I have enjoyed this album a lot more than I was expecting.  It will probably not change the views of people who dislike the band, but overall I think it is their best album since the gigantic “The Colour & The Shape”.

Here is the official video for Something For Nothing.

5 - Robert Plant - Lullaby... & The Ceaseless Roar

I will be honest I was not expecting very much from this record; it was the main reason I gave it to Mr Richardson to review as it seemed to be his type of thing.  I am actually really glad he did not do the review now as it has turned out to be a brilliant album.  This album does not feel like a last stand against the world, it does not feel like a fuck you to the people who want Led Zeppelin; it does not feel like someone who is trying something new to seem hip and with the in crowd.  It is an excellent example of an artist who is making the music he wants to do, not giving a damn about what the rest of the world want; yet he is hoping that people will still be interested enough to listen.  Whilst Mr Plant is not able to reach ever note he could in his youth, he is still a powerful and amazing singer.  He is also a clever man, he does not need to wheel out the hits from yesterday all the time and that is a great position to be in.  If this is his last stand (and after this record I really hope that it is not), then he is going out with the sort of album which anyone would be proud to have created.  

Here is a live performance of Little Maggie from Glastonbury.

4 - Queen - Live At The Rainbow '74

As a live documentary of a band at the height of their live powers, this is a really good release.  Three albums into their career, they were just about to start that roll which would have 'A Night At The Opera', 'A Day At The Races' and 'News Of The World' coming after 'Sheer Heart Attack'.  The confidence from shows like this would make those albums the classic releases.  Without spoiling the next part of this review, the show from early in the year also showed a lot of promise as well.  If you are going to get any version of this album, I would go for the deluxe addition to be honest.  However, he is the crux of the matter - is it better than 'Killer Queen' which was taken from the 'Jazz' period of the band's history?  For me, I would have to say....maybe.  I've not lived with 'Live At The Rainbow '74' long enough to make that decision right away.  I'll say this though; if initial impressions are anything to go by, it just might end up being THE Queen live album.

Here is a video of Keep Yourself Alive from those shows.

3 - Slipknot- 5:The Gray Chapter

So, in answer to the question of whether or not they’re any good without Gray and Jordison is a resounding yes. This is a fantastic album. It’s not an easy listen at times and it’s probably longer than it needs to be but it reeks of quality and is more than a worthy addition to their catalogue. There’s plenty of songs that would do well as (bleeped) singles but enough evil and riffage to keep the “sellouts!” crowd at bay. If you’re a slipknot fan then it’s definitely not going to disappoint and it’s one of my favourite albums of the year so far. 

Here is a video for The Negative One.

2 - Royal Blood - Royal Blood

I have been told good things about this band and the album is a very good album indeed.  There is a perfect storm forming around this band that will take them onto better things, this album is really good and just a shade over 30 minutes it is an incredible ball of noise from this two piece.  The fact that this noise is only coming out of two people is another source of amazement/amusement (delete as per you own personal leaning).  Now, whilst this album is really good that it is not the second coming that some people are saying that it is.  There are a few moments which don't quite work for me, but there is a lot that does work as well.  I have been advised by many people that have seen this band over the last few months that the racket that these two people can make live is amazing.  A very good debut album, they are well placed to take over the world, let’s see what they do after this.  Also, one of the few hyped bands which aren't a pile of bollocks as well.

Here is the official video for Figure It Out.

1 - Pixies - Indie Cindy

So onto the actual album itself, how has mixing the EPs up affected the actual music.  Well to be honest it actually works much better, it has more of a flow and is about the same as I had predicted in my head when I heard it would be the EPs thrown together.  It ebbs and flows with a great fluency and makes for a great album.  Now here is the bedrock of all people's thoughts - is it better or equal to their classic period?  To be honest, it is not better than the classic albums; however it is at least equal to 'Trompe Le Monde' and in someways it was always going to be a hard job for any release that has came after that twenty three year wait since their last work.  But if you look at it as an individual album then it is a very good record, will it mature into a classic?  Well it is a possibility that it might, but that is for future discussion.  For now, let's just enjoy the album for what it is - fun.

Here is the official video for Another Toe In The Ocean.

Well, there you have it!  As voted by you and the staff, the Pixies have got the album of the year!  Thank you all for voting, may your Christmas time (or Holidays, or whatever you celebrate) be pleasant and nice and from all of us here may we wish you a happy new year.  As a parting gift, here is a photo of a baby Groot in a pot (which can be ordered from Krafty Katz Lardz & Keepsakes - cleverly linked here!!!)

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