Title: “The Very Best Of KISS”
Release Date: 8/27/2002
Genre: Hard Rock
Despite this being yet another greatest hits compilation from KISS, I felt this one was pretty good as a whole. Focusing its content on the band’s makeup years, the release of “The Very Best Of KISS” gives you a 21 song spectrum of some anthems and soon to be classics. Most of the standards are present and that is because KISS is known for including a lot of the same songs on these releases. It’s hard to envision a hits package from the foursome with no “Detroit Rock City” or “Shout It Out Loud” (both present by the way). Some interesting aspects were the inclusion of only one solo album track: the Ace Frehley mega hit “New York Groove”. It’s pretty much the most well known track from all four of the solo albums. Unlike many other hits releases, this one does not include any new recordings. While the albums span the band’s history from their debut “KISS” until “Revenge”; nothing from “Asylum”, “Animalize”, “Crazy Nights”, or “Hot In The Shade” is present on this. An album like this is not much for KISS fans unless they want a solid compilation for the car or Ipod device. It is, however, perfect as a gift for someone who is looking into the band and might have some overall interest in their music. There’s enough present on this CD to give you a healthy sample of the best years in the band’s history. The short and catchy tunes are bound to make a fan even of the most casual listener. So get out that greasepaint and spread the word of KISS.
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Title: “Through Thick Fog Till Death”
Label: Southern Lord Music
Release Date: 2/22/2005
Genre: Black Metal
When I first received this CD, I expected a typical run of the mill blasting of Black Metal; but as I listened to the recording I found a few solid points that even I could enjoy as the non-discerning Black Metal fan. Urgehal is definitely a band that is trying to keep the Black Metal style as real and as pure as they can. There are sufficient references to the Dark Powers in their lyrical content and little modification of the blistering speed that is often required to maintain such a band. Their look is intense and perhaps a little too much so; even though Black Metal determines you must be imposing, one does not want to look ridiculous. Enzifer has more spikes coming out of him than Pinhead from the Hellraiser movies does, and I cannot imagine this is an easy look to deal with on the performance stage. Most of the album holds a steady yet solid direction and can be thought of as a heavier, more talented Mayhem. There are no keyboard flourishes that one finds in Dimmu Borgir, but some fans of the genre are no longer considering them much of a Black Metal band these days. I enjoyed a few tracks even though the lyrical matter escaped me. “Invasion” had a lot of Celtic Frost feel to it and songs like “Raise The Symbols Of Satan” rushed by like a Black Metal version of Poland’s Behemoth. It can’t hurt being referenced in a sense to those giants of Metal. The group is made up of Trondr Nefas (guitar/voice), Enzifer (guitar), Sregroth (bass) and Uruz (drums). Southern Lord has given fans of this genre a worthy addition to their collections and I feel those that partake in this end of the Metal spectrum will find it meets their approval. Proving their dedication to the audience, the album was issued with 4 bonus live tracks that were previously not issued. It’s Norwegian Black Metal at its blasphemous best with both sides of the coin being brought into their homes. The band also showcases levels of musical discipline not often associated with the style. They mix it up and change the tempos more than one will usually find. Lyrics and photos are included in the black and white booklet that runs 12 pages of evil for you to absorb. Each song, while on the short side, still gets to the point and assaults the senses like you expect Black Metal to do. While not exactly the level of Morbid Angel, at least it’s not Gorgoroth.
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Title: “Operation: LIVE Crime
Label: EMI Records
Release Date: 9/25/2001
Genre: Progressive Metal
Released as a companion to the video bearing the same name Queensryche gives the listener the CD version of “Operation: LIVE Crime”. Simply put, this is an amazing recording of the full “Operation: Mindcrime” album by the band in their prime from a concert performed in 1991. Originally released when CD was a new medium it came as a boxed-set format with a VHS of the concert and a full color illustrated booklet. It was also released as a cassette tape (anyone remember those?). The VHS is what is featured on the DVD and while I would have liked to see the two released in the same package again, this serves the need for those fans that might only want audio and those that only want video. Music fans everywhere seem to know this recordings original album and that’s what makes this a must have for the Queensryche section of your music collection. The Mindcrime album broke ground for Progressive Metal and showcased the massive talents of Queensryche not only as musicians but as storytellers capable of delivering Heavy Metal’s version of “The Wall”. The two albums are similar in their epic and detailed story and listening to the live version from beginning to end is clearly the way that this album was meant to be enjoyed. In 1991 Queensryche was very on-top of their game and still running the original full lineup of Tate, DeGarmo, Jackson, Rockenfield and Wilton. Not a note seems to be missed and the production just makes you reach for that volume knob to edge it ever higher. I found myself doing this especially when my favorite numbers came on in the performance and in particular “I Don’t Believe In Love” and “the Needle Lies”. Pamela Moore from the original album makes an appearance during “Suite Sister Mary” and if you don’t own the DVD yet, you must grab it for this song is more powerful visually than I thought possible in the audio. Overall the piece is excellent and the CD also includes two bonus unreleased tracks with “The Lady Wore Black” and “Roads To Madness”.
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Title: “I” & “Dog Days”
Label: Southern Lord
Release Date: 9/21/2004
Genre: Doom Metal
As I listened to Goatsnake, I was convinced that if Black Sabbath started today that they would be considered a Stoner/Doom Metal band instead of the Fathers Of Heavy Metal that they became. Goatsnake is so influenced by the Sabbath sound that you almost feel as though you are listening to rough demos of the band or unreleased tracks. Solid from top to bottom, this album takes two of the band’s long out of print releases and gives them to you in one handy CD. The guitars buzz and drone along with a steady pulse, while the drums thud like you are in the studio listening to them perform. The members of the band include Greg Rogers (drums), Guy Pinnas (bass), Pete Stahl (vocals/harp), and Greg Anderson (guitars). Anderson is also the founder of Southern Lord records and a member of Sunn 0))). The music of Goatsnake is more traditional than that of his other band, and far less experimental. Stoner/Doom Metal is rising in popularity and it’s interesting to see in a time when Progressive nature seems to be taking control more and more. Back-to-basics traditionalism is more the way of Stoner Metal, and in this capacity Goatsnake surely delivers. I had no real favorites offhand but enjoyed the full flow of the album itself. There is a certain head-banging in each of the tunes across the span of the record. The lyrics are included for you to enjoy on a 4 page foldout, but I have to admit I found it difficult to read based on the black and gold color scheme. This is a great CD for those that love the simple groove and heavy drone of Sabbath-styled riffing and lyrical content. Get trampled by the Goatsnake.
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Artist: Molly Hatchet
Title: “Live In Hamburg”
Label: SPV Records
Release Date: 2/21/2006
Genre: Southern Rock
Legendary Southern Rockers Molly Hatchet give their fans a CD/DVD Combination with “Live In Hamburg”, a concert recorded at Hamburg Harley Days in Germany. The Hatchet has been a continual presence in the genre for over 25 years but unlike their peers in Lynryd Skynrd and The Allman Brothers, had held a little heavier format to their style of music. Southern feel of course but more Hard Rock than one would expect them to be. The lineup of the group in 2005 finds only Dave Hlubek from the originals as over the course of their history most of the lineup had moved on. Today the group is made up of Bobby Ingram ( guitars), Phil McCormack (vocals), Dave Hlubek (guitar), John Galvin (keyboards), Jimbo Manion (guitar) Tim Lindsey (bass) and Shawn Beamer (drums) who despite the changes have kept the signature sound the same. McCormack is a great replacement for original singer Danny Jo Brown as he sounds exactly like him. Sadly the music world lost Brown in early 2005. I feel the keeping true to the sound has kept the audience attending and supporting the music more than ever which does proud the original founders of the name. This concert DVD is chock full of the bands classic numbers as well as newer tunes from their recent release SPV Records release “Warriors Of The Rainbow Bridge”. The CD was home to a couple of great new tracks such as “Son Of The South” and the moving song for Ingram’s departed Wife “The Rainbow Bridge”.
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