Archive for Review

Track-By-Track Review: DragonForce – Ultra Beatdown [2008]

Posted in DragonForce, Track-By-Track with tags , , on August 26, 2008 by gearsofrock

“Heroes Of Our Time” is the speedy opening track to Ultra Beatdown which could have easily fit on any DragonForce record to date. In fact, it sounds exactly like anything from Inhuman Rampage. If you loved the last record or the ending of Guitar Hero III, then you’ll love this tune as well. DragonForce still sounds like Journey on steroids, singing about eternity, star chasers, and colliding oceans. The guitar solo races at a ridiculously fast speed…or ludicrous speed to all you “Space Balls” buffs. 7/10

“The Fire Still Burns” begins with keyboards and vocals while the guitars enter at lightning speed. The song speaks of winter and fallen angels, and even a journey ever after. This band has kept to the formula that worked so well for them on the last record; if it ain’t broke then don’t fix anything. I am unsure how to express the different parts of the song in words; it’s just not worth trying. They play fast on record, real fast. 7/10

“Reasons To Live” does not have as great of a fast intro as the previous tracks but is still cool. One of the things that sets this band apart from other modern speed Metal bands is that the singer can actually sing, and that is something I really appreciate. DragonForce proves that a band can play fast and heavy without lacing death grunts throughout their songs. This tune has a really cool and twisted mid-section with a progressive feel; picture Dream Theater playing their instruments on a haunted old abandoned carousel. It is one of the best parts of the record. 7/10

“Heartbreak Armageddon” starts with a drum roll into keyboards and guitar. You think the song is going to be a ballad compared to the other tunes then, SMACK! all chaos ensues. I am unsure how the band can tell these songs apart because they are almost identical at this point. I guess this song would be the one with the mellow guitar break in the middle, or the one with the cool title. 7/10

“The Last Journey Home” also begins with a fast guitar intro and continues to go fast. There are some good sing-along “Woah-ohs” in this tune followed by a slower arpeggiated guitar part. The song stops 2:30 in for a refreshing lead guitar buildup. The riff towards the end reminds me of the main one in Ozzy Osbourne’s “Bark At The Moon” [Bark At The Moon]. 7/10

“A Flame For Freedom” is one of the best songs on the record. It stands out with its vocal harmonies, a pleasant piano part, and glorious guitars. I guess we can call this one “the ballad.” If you were to buy just one song from this album, this is the one. It also happens to be the shortest on the record at 5:20. 9/10

“Inside The Winter Storm” goes back to speed demon guitars and drums. It has a softer interlude with clean and acoustic guitars, then goes back to the insanity. There is a great chugging-along riff at the 4:20 mark. You can tell this band has a blast playing these songs. 7/10

“The Warrior Inside” closes Ultra Beatdown. It begins with a funky keyboard intro in the style of Andrew W.K., then the song administers rapid fire assaults of guitars and drums. It really is an ultra beatdown. This song contains the most entertaining keyboards on the album and is my second favorite track next to “A Flame For Freedom.” 8/10

Average Track Rating: 7.4/10

DragonForce is ZP Theart [Vocals], Herman Li [Guitars], Sam Totman [Guitars], Vadim Pruzhanov [Keyboards], Frederic Leclercq [Bass], and Dave Mackintosh [Drums].

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Review: Metallica “My Apocalypse” [2008]

Posted in Metallica with tags , , on August 26, 2008 by gearsofrock

Yesterday, Metallica generously uploaded another track from Death Magnetic to metallica.com. The song is titled “My Apocalypse” and is the third song from the upcoming release that we have been exposed to since August 8.

“My Apocalypse” has an …And Justice For All feel to it; the intro guitar riff and drums summon the evils heard in “Harvester of Sorrow.” The song is fully equipped with thrash guitars, fast drums, and ferocious vocals. There is also a start-stop tempo in the middle after the shredderiffic Kirk Hammett solo. James Hetfield’s voice sounds better than ever on this track, or at least the best since the Black Album. 8/10

So far, Metallica is batting 3 for 3 [“Cyanide,” “The Day That Never Comes,” “My Apocalypse”] leaving us fans really excited for the release of Death Magnetic on September 12.

On a side note, the band has been using the internet in a very appropriate manner to promote this record and have been showing more care than ever to their fans since the Napster debacle. Cheers!

Track-By-Track Review: Slipknot – All Hope Is Gone [2008]

Posted in Slipknot, Track-By-Track with tags , , on August 25, 2008 by gearsofrock

“.execute” is a short intro track to All Hope Is Gone that consists of mostly obnoxious noise that Slipknot probably uses as their stage entrance music. In my opinion, it is pointless to put these kinds of tracks on records. I prefer getting hit in the teeth with a solid opener. 3/10

“Gematria (The Killing Name)” begins with a fast and heavy guitar riff with the famous Slipknot drum pounding. The intro has a nice metal groove. Corey Taylor enters the tune and grunts stuff that can’t be made out with a normal pair of ears. The guitar solo is reminiscent of Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman of Slayer. After all, Slipknot is this generation’s Slayer; I prefer Slayer. 7/10

“Sulfur” has a slower, more breathable intro than “Gematria” until the drums thrash the tune out. Now, the song sounds like the last one except you can hear some of the words that Taylor is grunting. The chorus also has a melody which makes this one a radio-friendly track. The exotic guitar solo is backed with unique tom-tom work; “Like breathing in sulfur!” 8/10

“Psychosocial” has an intro guitar riff with pinch harmonics [Zakk Wylde style]. The verse contains more anger than the previous tune but you can still make out the words. The chorus also has some melody which could be a nice trend for this record. The verse makes me real angry which always scares me; why so serious? There are awesome guitar runs in the solo. Then, the tune has a “One” [Metallica – And Justice For All] feel with the guitar and snare drum start-stop cadence. 7/10

“Dead Memories” begins with a thrash-ballad riff that reminds me of Slayer’s “Dead Skin Mask” [Seasons In The Abyss]. Pinch harmonics are in full effect on this track as well. This is the least thrashy song on the album so far. The short guitar solo has some melody and is shredderiffic at the same time. 8/10

“Vendetta” is very fast from the start and has a classic Pantera feel; still heavy but has a danceable groove. The hook has “Beautiful People” [Marilyn Manson – Antichrist Superstar] style “hey!” chants. This could easily be a future single. 8/10

“Butcher’s Hook” does not stand out on this record. It is a little too boring compared to the other tracks, even though I could picture this song on Slipknot’s self-titled album. How many times can a rock fan take a band screaming “piece of sh*t” in a song? 6/10

“Gehenna” has a slow intro like “Dead Memories” and a vocal style very similar to Marilyn Manson. This is the Corey Taylor that I prefer; non-hating and melodic. This song could also receive considerable airplay on rock radio. 8/10

“This Cold Black” is another tune with a fast intro and slide riffs that turn into a metal melee. It sounds very similar to many other Slipknot tracks. The bridge and chorus have a nice groove due to the drum work of Joey Jordison. The guitar solo shreds at 900 notes a second but doesn’t really go anywhere that special. 6/10

“Wherein Lies Continue” is a slow-grooved track about the world not changing and the need to save ourselves. The chorus has a great melody that Taylor sings. This is one of the better tracks on the record. 7/10

“Snuff” is a refreshing acoustic guitar and singing track that could easily fit on a Stone Sour record. This is the best song on the album. I recommend going to iTunes and buying this one now! 9/10

“All Hope Is Gone” is the heavy closer to All Hope Is Gone that reverts back to incoherent screaming; this track is a serious downer [see title of song]. I am now in a miserable mood from this song; I am going to pound on my punching bag for a while to get over this one. 6/10

Slipknot is Corey Taylor [vocals], Mick Thomson [guitar], Jim Root [guitar], Paul Gray [bass], Joey Jordison [drums], Shawn Crahan [percussion], Chris Fehn [percussion], Sid Wilson [turntables], and Craig Jones [samples].

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Review: Toadies – No Deliverance [2008]

Posted in Albums, Toadies with tags , , on August 20, 2008 by gearsofrock

By Peter O’Brien

They come from the water of the possum kingdom, near Tyler, TX. It is a place with Hell below and stars above, pressed against the sky, only accessible by a plane crash. They are THE TOADIES and they have finally resurfaced with a new album, No Deliverance, out now on Kirtland Records.

It’s been seven years since their last album, 2001’s Hell Below, Stars Above, which itself was a seven year follow up to their debut album, 1994’s Rubberneck. That time was not spent in vain. In 1997 the band wrote and recorded an album, Feeler, which their record label at the time [Interscope] rejected for release in 1998. In 2001, following the “Hell Below” tour, the band broke up only to reunite in 2005, this time without bassist Lisa Umbarger. During that time front man Todd Lewis began working with The Burden Brothers releasing two albums, Buried in Your Black Heart [2003] and Mercy [2006]. It wasn’t until a string of reunion shows and mini-tours in 2006 & 2007 that speculation of new Toadies material began to circulate the internet. The buzz paid off in the form of No Deliverance.

To listen to the album you would think it was recorded within a year or two of the bands previous endeavors. That is not to say that the music is dated, far from it. The Toadies have a very distinguished sound that seems to become more and more defined with not only each album but also each song on the album. Lyrically No Deliverance falls right into Lewis’ wonderland of broken-hearted observations. An element that when coupled with the high energy of their music presents a relatable song that is equally enjoyable, without being overly emotional.

Leading off the ten song collection is “So Long Lovely Eyes,” a high-energy number that is reminiscent of other Toadies classics such as “Mister Love” and “Plane Crash.” The title track, “No Deliverance,” is an example of the bands growth within their realm of musicianship. Its muddy sounding vocals accompany the low-key riff of the verse beautifully and peak perfectly with the music during the chorus.

It’s the songs that the band wrote together that really shine on this recording. Seven of the ten songs are credited solely to Lewis, but there are three mixed in the middle that are full band collaborations. The first of these songs, “I Am a Man of Stone,” begins with what sounds like a country western guitar lick that quickly gets lost in a punishing riff that drives the tone of the song. It’s one of those songs that paces itself lyrically, but does not lose the momentum musically. It is followed directly with “Song I Hate,” which starts off with an almost crying guitar riff that lays over the rhythm supremely. This song really showcases the bands ability to arrange music and structure a song that sounds so natural it could have been picked off a tree. The third collaboration is “Hell In High Water,” an up tempo number that will call you back again and again so your feet can keep tapping.

The album rounds out with a very bluesy tune, “Don’t Go My Way,” and “One More,” which echoes the story telling style of songwriting utilized in “Possum Kingdom” and “Tyler” from 1994’s Rubberneck.

Overall the album is very impressive and refreshing. To see a band transcend time and avoid the pitfalls of commercialism is inspiring. The Toadies are a true testament to the idealism and integrity of musicians and it’s great to see them sustain and flourish in the post-corporate record label world. No Deliverance really delivers – and not just musically.

B+

The Toadies are Vaden Todd Lewis [Lead Vocals & Guitar], Mark Reznicek [Drums], Clark Vogeler [Guitar], and Doni Blair [Bass].

Read more reviews by Peter O’Brien here

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