Rekuiem—Time Will Tell (2006)

Rekuiem—Time Will Tell (2006)

Rekuiem—Time Will Tell (2006)

Details

Recorded at Outta Space Studio, Birmingham, England and Dragon’s Lair Studio, California. Mixed in Madhat Studio, Wolverhampton, England. Produced and engineered by Steve Slater and Karl Wilcox. Mixed by Mark Stewart with Steve Slater and Karl Wilcox. Released on Majestic Rock Records, 2006.

Encyclopaedia Metallum | Website (WARNING: auto-plays track!?)

Band

  • Paul Parry—Vocals
  • Steve Slater—Guitars (and keyboards on “Nightmare”)
  • Brian Tatler (Diamond Head)—Guitar solo on “Werewolf”
  • Gordon Denny—Bass
  • Karl Wilcox—Drums

Tracks

  1. Nightmare
  2. Wildfire
  3. Sinners
  4. Time will tell
  5. Werewolf
  6. Paranoid (Black Sabbath cover)
  7. Black death
  8. In your keeping
  9. Angel of sin
  10. Sacrificial wanderer

Review

First off, I’m just going to ignore the dodgy spelling of ‘requiem’—we’ll just agree to let that one go. They were originally spelt correctly, when the band formed in 1979 until they split in 1984.

Time Will Tell is the band’s first full length album and I’ll be honest I wasn’t entirely hopeful when I stuck it in my CD player. But, you know what, it’s not bad at all. I mean, it’s not brilliant, it’s not exactly original, but it’s not bad.

I was a bit dubious when I read on Encyclopaedia Metallum that they were categorised as ‘heavy metal’. That seemed a bit generic to me. But nope! That’s exactly what they are. There are discernible elements of a lot of classic metal bands in this album: Iron Maiden, Dio, Black Sabbath, Rainbow, Deep Purple, Diamond Head (of course), and even Swedish doomsters Candlemass.

The album opens with an organ, that actually put me in mind that this might end up sounding like a Morbid Angel album. But soon the keyboard pads out a strings chord and the guitars crunch in. It’s classic NWOBHM-style metal.

“Wildfire” (track 2) is another slow starter that builds into a Dio-style track.

“Sinners” (track 3) has yet another slow beginning, not really getting going until about 45 seconds. And then it’s more or less a pastiche on Rainbow’s “Stargazer”, at least for the verses. So much so that I found myself unconsciously singing along using the Rainbow lyrics: “High noon, oh I’d sell my soul for water / Nine years worth of breakin’ my back / There’s no sun in the shadow of the wizard / See how he glides, why he’s lighter than air.”

The title track “Time will tell” (track 4) reminds me of the ballads of 80s Christian rock band Triumph.

“Werewolf” (track 5) is probably the best track on the album. It unsurprisingly has a very Diamond Head feel to it, with Brian Tatler guesting on it.

Track six is a cover of Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” where the band have totally made it their own. Gone is the heavy-hitting simplicity in favour of something that sounds like it’s taken from Iron Maiden’s Somewhere In Time (1986) sessions. I appreciate what they’ve done but it doesn’t really do it for me.

“Black death” (track 7) has a very doom feel that initially reminded me of Candlemass’s Nightfall (1987) album before it morphs into something a lot more mid-era Sabbath.

There are a couple of fairly generic heavy metal stompers before the album closes with “Sacrificial warrior” (track 10) that begins as a ballad before throwing off that cloak and revealing itself as a Helloween-style power ballad.

Conclusion

It’s a decent album this. The musicianship is solid, the production is well balanced, the songwriting is well… classic. There’s just not enough that’s new or innovative. The album rests very much on the laurels of a lot of other bands.

If I was in need of something distinctly NWOBHM and didn’t have any Dio, Rainbow or Deep Purple to hand then I’d certainly put it on. If it came on again through random play then I’d certainly not switch it off. Whether I’d go seek it out or not is another question. I’m not entirely sure I would. If they were playing live locally then I’d probably go see them: I think they could be fun.

Sadly, though, that’s really not enough to recommend them very strongly.

Review score: 65%

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Demon—Better the Devil You Know (2005)

Demon—Better the Devil You Know (2005)

Demon—Better the Devil You Know (2005)

Details

Recorded at the Abbey Studio, Leek, Staffordshire. Recording and mixing engineer: Ray Walmsley. Additional recording by Pete Coleman. Produced by Ray Walmsley. Executive producer, psychiatrist and manager: Mike Stone. Mixed by Ray Walmsley and Mike Stone.

Band

  • Dave Hill—Vocals
  • Ray Walmsley—Guitars
  • Karl Finney—Guitars
  • Andy Dale—Bass
  • Paul Farrington—Keyboards
  • Neil Ogden—Drums

Tracks

  1. Better the devil the know
  2. Dead of the night
  3. Standing on the edge
  4. Taking on the world
  5. Temptation
  6. Warriors
  7. Live again
  8. Obsession
  9. Change

Review

Another late review. For the last few weeks I’ve been moving three websites to a new web host and it’s kind of taken over my waking hours. I’ve found myself listening mostly to Mastodon (145 tracks in the last month) and Machine Head (66) and not making enough space for this album (only 34 tracks according to Last.fm). Excuses over. I’m listening to the album as I type.

With a name like “Demon” I expected the metal to be somewhat darker and blacker. It turns out that I’m about 35 years too late. According to Encyclopaedia Metallum “Demon started out as an occult-themed NWOBHM band, but changed style to progressive/hard rock after their first two albums.”

This album certainly falls fits into the hard rock genre more than anything else. It’s very melodic, at times reminding me of Swedish experimentallers Freak Kitchen, and even mid-80s Whitesnake.

The album opens well with title track “Better the devil you know”, although there’s a bit of the chorus that really niggles at me. It’s the “whoa-oh!” bit, and then the Bruce Dickinson-style laugh.

“Dead of the Night” begins with an acoustic guitar but quickly gets plugged in. This has a catchy chorus: “In the dead… of the night”.

“Standing on the edge of the world” has a very catchy melody. It’s the kind of track that you find yourself humming an hour after the album has finished.

“Taking on the world” has a bit of a pre-blues Gary Moore feel.

After that things get a bit same-y to be honest. “Temptation” feels like a filler track. “Warriors” is quite catchy even if the lyrics are stereotypical ‘real metal’.

“Live again” certainly has a bit of a NWOBHM chugging groove. There is more than one Whitesnake moment in that song.

“Obsession” is another track that I could easily overlook.

And the album ends with their longest track on the album “Change”. It begins with piano and some Thunder- or Rob Halford-like gruff but melodic vocals. It’s a pretty good track, to be honest. Possibly the best track on the album.

Conclusion

Despite only having been exposed to the album a little over the last couple of days parts of it have grown on me. The quality of the songwriting and playing cannot be denied.

Certainly if you love your hard rock very melodic then this is surely an album to please you.

Review score: 70%

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Halford—Metal God Essentials Vol.1

Halford—Metal God Essentials Vol.1 (2007)

Halford—Metal God Essentials Vol.1 (2007)

Details

Halford: Metal God Essentials Vol.1 (2007) features fifteen (15) of teh metal god’s most influential solo recordings, original demonstration recordings of Fight (1992) and Halford (1999) are featured alongside electrifying heavy metal tracks from the metal god’s recent releases.

Bands

Halford (tracks, 1–6, 9–12, 14, 15)

  • Rob Halford—Vocals
  • Mike Chiasciak—Guitar
  • Pat Lachman—Guitar
  • Roy Z—Guitar
  • Ray Riendeau—Bass
  • Bobby Jarzombek—Drums
  • Mike Davis—Drums (tracks 11, 12)

Fight (tracks 7, 8, 13)

  • Rob Halford—Vocals
  • Russ Parrish—Guitar
  • Brian Tilse—Guitar
  • Jay Jay—Bass
  • Scott Travis—Drums

Tracks

CD

All tracks by Halford, except where stated.

  1. Resurrection
  2. Made in hell
  3. Screaming in the dark
  4. Golgotha
  5. Silent screams (1999 demo)
  6. Crystal
  7. Into the pit (Fight)
  8. Nailed to the gun (Fight)
  9. Slow down
  10. Locked and loaded
  11. Forgotten generation
  12. Drop out
  13. War of words (Fight)
  14. Sun
  15. Trail of tears
  16. Hypocracy US mix

DVD

  1. Resurrection: behind the scenes
  2. Live insurrection: behind the scenes
  3. Made in hell
  4. Betrayal
  5. In the morning
  6. Silent screams
  7. Never satisfied
  8. Forgotten generation

Review

I was obviously aware of Rob Halford from his work with Judas Priest, but until a few years ago I hadn’t really listened to much Judas Priest — except for British Steel (1980) at my mate’s house when I was a teenager, and the occasional track on the Radio One Rock Show with Tommy Vance or Planet Rock — or any of Halford’s solo material, either as Fight or Halford.

A few years ago, I wandered into Fopp record store in St Andrews (sadly no longer there. The record store, I mean, not St Andrews!) one lunchtime and there were a couple of Halford CDs on sale for a ridiculously cheap price: Resurrection (2000) and Crucible (2002)—which I reviewed back in January.

I hurried back to my office, gave them a listen and was pleasantly surprised: I loved them!

This CD/DVD package with its stereotypical ‘metal god’ cover and name is a compilation of tracks from the two albums I have plus K5 – The War of Words Demos (2007) by Fight. Nothing from his industrial metal band featuring John 5, however: 2wo. The DVD contains a couple of short behind the scenes home-movies plus single videos and live footage.

The whole thing is as you would expect: screaming guitars, screaming vocals, crushing riffs, melodic and sensitive ballads in a way that only heavy metal bands can create, and plenty of leather and pointy chrome studs!

What more is there to say? It’s Rob Halford! It’s real metal!

Conclusion

As I already own most of the songs on this compilation I can’t see myself pulling this CD out too often, but I certainly recommend it as a great introduction to Halford’s solo work.

The lingering question I have about Metal God Essentials volume one, however, is… will there be a volume two?

Review score: 95%

Video

Big Elf—Money Machine (2000)

Big Elf—Money Machine (2010)

Big Elf—Money Machine (2000, re-released in 2010)

Details

Produced by Bigelf. Recorded at Room 222, Hollywood, August 1997. Engineered by Ian Lehrfeld and james Bennett. Mixed by Kevin Wilson and Damon Fox at Mad Hatter. Mastered by David Schultz and Digiprep. All songs written by Fox / Butler-Jones (except the covers!).

Originally released on Record Heaven label, Sweden in May 2000. Re-released on Powerage Records, August 2010.

www.bigelf.com

Band

  • Damon Fox – lead vocals, keyboards, guitar (1991-present)
  • A.H.M. Butler-Jones – lead vocals, guitar, piano (1992-2001) RIP
  • Steve “Froth” Frothingham – drums (1995-2010)

Tracks

  1. Money machine
  2. Sellout
  3. Neuropsychopathic eye
  4. Side effects
  5. (Another) nervous breakdown
  6. Mindbender
  7. Ironheel
  8. Death walks behind you
  9. The bitter end
  10. Bad reputation (bonus)
  11. Sellout (live)
  12. Neuropsychopathic eye (live)
  13. Money machine (live)
  14. Sweet leaf (live)

Live tracks recorded at Sodra Teatern, Stockholm, Sweden on 13 December 2000.

Review

As I said in my review for this album’s successor, Hex (2003), this is one of the few bands featured in this project that I’ve seen live: they joined Opeth and Dream Theater on the Progressive Nation 2009 tour. I really enjoyed their honest mix of prog, rock, psychedelia and laid-back stoner metal. Five years later and former-Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy is sitting behind their drumkit as a session musician.

Their debut album kicks off with the title track “Money machine”. It opens with a choppy, 4/4 on the beat riff: guitars and organ. “It is so hard to get a break from the money machine,” confesses mad hatter Damon Fox, a full three years before the album was actually released. Right from the start this album feels like a small victory. That they’ve hung on for 14 years and released four albums and three EPs shows that they have have staying power.

I’d forgotten what I’d written in my previous review as I was sketching out this review. I made a note that the album reminded me of Sergeant Pepper-era Beatles mixed with early Black Sabbath. I wouldn’t be surprised if this recorded was recorded analogue rather than digital. It has a very 60s/70s feel to it.

Track two, “Sellout” has an Abbey Road Beatles vibe. Next up, “Neuropsychopathic eye” has a Clutch-style riff. “Side effects” is another Black Sabbath-meets-The Beatles fusion with a chorus that wouldn’t sound out of place in a Dodgy song.

And so the album continues: a twisted amalgamation of psychedelic progressive, pop rock and sneering metal riffs on a bed of Hammond and Mellotron organs. I can see why Mike Portnoy wanted to get involved: this music suits his style of drumming.

Conclusion

I’ve not found a lot of time to listen to this album this week, unfortunately. I listened to it twice through in my car and that really didn’t do it justice. It put me off listening to it at home or in the office, which is a shame because it’s a really solid album.

This album has something of a melancholy feel to it in places (“The bitter end”), it’s thoughtful in others, and the rest of the time it rocks out with the best of them. It was no mistake that Dream Theater chose them for support in 2009.

As a footnote, I was sad to learn that vocalist, guitarist, pianist Butler-Jones fell into a diabetic coma in the summer of 2001, a year after the release of this album, and died. May he rest in peace.

Review score: 80%

Video

Bigelf—Hex (2003)

Bigelf—Hex (2003)

Bigelf—Hex (2003)

Details

Produced by Damon Fox. Recorded at The End, Lund. Engineered by Ian Lehrfeld and Carl Grandberg. Additional recording at Varispeed, Lund. Mixed by Ian Lehrfeld and Kevin Wilson at Radiostar Studios, Weed. Additional engineering: Rich Veltrop. Mastered by David Schultz at Digiprep, Los Angeles.

Band

  • Damon Fox: Vocals, organ, mellostron, synthesizers, piano, guitar
  • Ace Mark: Lead and rythmn guitars, slide guitar
  • Duffy Snowhill: Bass
  • Froth: Drums and gong

Tracks

  1. Madhatter
  2. Bats In The Belfry II
  3. Pain Killers
  4. Disappear
  5. Rock & Roll Contract
  6. Sunshine Suicide
  7. Falling Bombs
  8. Black Moth
  9. Carry The Load
  10. Burning Bridges
  11. Bats In The Belfry I
  12. $
  13. Psyclone
  14. Brown-Eyed Girl
  15. Why_
  16. Bats In The Belfry III

Review

Of the 195 CDs in this project I have only seen three of the artists live in concert: Kreator, Motörhead and, remarkably, Bigelf. I saw them on the Prognation 09 tour with Opeth and Dream Theater.

Their live set was a good, old fashioned rock show. It felt like I had been transported back to the 60s or 70s, the stage dominated by two enormous Hammond-style organs and jammed in between them their own mad hatter Damon Fox: all hair and top hat.

If you’ve ever wondered what you would get if you mixed in equal parts the sounds of The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Clutch, and Orange Goblin then wonder no longer. The answer is Bigelf.

The album kicks off with “Madhatter” which has a sludgy, stoner-sounding riff in the Orange Goblin/Clutch ballpark but which morphs into a trippy early-Floyd chorus before returning to the opening riff.

“Bats In the Belfry II” reminds me of The Beatles Abbey Road or Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band era in its orchestration and vocal treatment. It has a psychedelic 60s feel to it.

“Disappear” opens with a smooth bass riff around which a very simple organ line winds itself. It sounds like a Faith No More b-side. But it’s brilliant. The melody gets into your head and more than once I’ve found myself humming it to myself hours after listening to the album.

The same for “Rock & Roll Contract”. I’ve found myself walking down the street singing lines from that song out loud. Unusual given that the song opens with a solo piano that leads into a very Beatles-sounding melody.

The opening riff to “Black Moth” clearly draws more than a little inspiration from Led Zeppelin’s “Dazed and Confused” before heading in its own direction as a ponderous song  with a rolling guitar riff that must be so fun to play.

And that’s the thing about this album. It’s tremendous fun to listen to. It’s an effortless listen. It draws on so many classic rock influences that it immediately sounds familiar, it immediately sounds contemporary (how can it be ten years old?!), it immediately sounds like a classic album in its own right. But it never makes the mistake of sounding like a cliché or a pastiche.

Conclusion

I was a bit nervous about listening to this album because I’d enjoyed their live set so much, I didn’t want lose some of that magic. I needn’t have feared. This is a brilliant album. It is varied, it’s interesting, and there is something for everyone. It’s prog, it’s doom, it’s classic rock, it’s heavy metal, it’s psychedelic, it’s stoner, it’s sludge. It’s Bigelf and I love this album.

Review score: 95%

Video

Sabaton—Metalizer (2007)

Sabaton—Metalizer (2007)

Sabaton—Metalizer (2007)

Details

“This album was intended to be the debut album of the band Sabaton from Sweden. Unfortunate things altered these plans and even though the album was recorded as early as 2002 it has yet never seen the light. Five years later we are proud to finally present to you the first years of Sabaton., the debut album Metalizer and the earliest demos that made up the compilation know as Fist for Fight.” (Booklet notes)

All songs are recorded somewhere (many at Studio Abyss) between 2000 and 2002. Most music and lyrics by Brodén, with some help from the others.

Band

  • Joakim Brodén: Vocals and keyboards
  • Daniel Mullback: Drums, percussion, and backing vocals
  • Pär Sundström: Bass, and backing vocals
  • Oskar Montelius: Lead/rythmn guitar, and backing vocals
  • Rikard Sundén: Rhythm/lead guitar, and backing vocals
  • Daniel Mÿhr: Keyboards, and backing vocals

Tracks: Metalizer

  1. Hellrider
  2. Thundergods
  3. Metalizer
  4. Shadows
  5. Burn your crosses
  6. 7734
  7. Endless nights
  8. Hail to the king
  9. Thunderstorm
  10. Speeder
  11. Masters of the World
  12. Jawbreaker (bonus track)

Tracks: Fist for fight (demos)

  1. Introduction
  2. Hellrider
  3. Endless nights
  4. Metalizer
  5. Burn your crosses
  6. The hammer has fallen
  7. Hail to the king
  8. Shadows
  9. Thunderstorm
  10. Masters of the world
  11. Guten nacht
  12. Birds of war

Review

Sabaton are one of those bands that I’d heard of in passing but had never actually listened to. To give them the benefit of the doubt given this, their third release, was meant to be their début album; they may have improved since in the last five years. Taking this album at face value, however, I haven’t missed much in not hearing them before now.

Musically this album falls somewhere between Judas Priest (just consider the album cover!) and Helloween but with a very Scandinavian feel: melodic but gruff vocals, plenty of opportunity for backing vocal choruses, a prominent keyboard sound behind the guitars. This is clearly a band that’s read the manual on heavy metal. But the trouble is when they regurgitate it it’s never too far from a cliché.

Take the lyrics for the title track, “Metalizer’, for example:

We live for the magic in the sound,
distorted guitars are breaking ground
The drum pounding faster than my heart,
the vocals are screaming extreme art
The passion for metal drives us forth,
the best heavy metal comes from north
The powerful tunes, spectacular shows,
the audience screams in ecstasy

Metal, metal
Back with a vengeance
Metal, metal
All that I need is heavy metal
Metal
Screaming together
Metal, metal
Metal is all that I need

It’s like an entry from the Eurovision Song Contest! And I’m afraid that it doesn’t get much better than that. Clearly many of the songs are meant to sound dark and evil, with lyrics like “No use to pray, there’s no one listening / I will die anyway […] Creations of God? / No way!” or “Clouds are gathering in the darkness, lightning strikes the earth / Evil forces celebrate, Lucifer’s rebirth”, the calculator-tastic song title: “7734”. But to me the lyrics never really sound sincere, and the music doesn’t reinforce it, either. It’s all rather poppy and cheesy, to be honest.

And speaking of pop, does this sound like a metal classic to you, written to strike fear in the depths of your soul?

“Masters of the World”

We’re a small crowd left to rotten,
There’s not many hard souls left
As the pop is growing stronger
Will metal fade away?

Will we be broken?
Will we go down?

No! We’ll never fall we’re the masters of the world
Get up! let’s break those chains
And party all night long

As I’m tweaking with my radio
There’s disco everywhere
When i turn on my big TV
Is hip-hop what I plan to seek?

Have we been broken?
Did we go down?

Hmmm…?

Conclusion

This double album really didn’t do it for me, I’m sorry to say. I listened to much of the album in the my car en route to work; Last.fm reports that I listened to only five tracks while connected to the internet! I do get that some people will get it; I’m just not one of them.

I’ll need to check out their newer material to see how they developed, but until then I’ll have to give this a very poor review score of 35%.