Title: “Live Evolution”
Label: Sanctuary Records
Release Date: 10/9/2001
Genre: Progressive Metal
Filmed at a comfortable sized theater in their hometown Seattle in 2001 this Queensryche DVD showcases the band not as aging rockers looking to cash in on a hits show but instead as mature and seasoned Elder Statesman of Progressive Metal. Queensryche has never failed to deliver to their fans a great live show and this DVD Film is a testament of that statement. The viewer can consider this a greatest hits show as looking over the set list; it is pretty much what it amounted to. Around this time, the group was on a tour that followed their appearance on a triple threat bill of Iron Maiden, themselves, and Rob Halford. That tour was in support of their ill-received CD “Q2K”. While I have long been a supporter of the bands efforts, this release was truly sub-par and perhaps one of the reasons was the fact that around the recording time for the record long time member Chris DeGarmo decided to leave. Replacing Chris on guitar chores for the DVD is Kelly Cray, a long time collaborator and friend of singer Geoff Tate.
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Title: “The Art Of Live”
Label: Sanctuary Records
Release Date: 6/8/2004
Genre: Progressive Metal
It is seldom that I am unimpressed with a DVD that gets released by Queensryche but that was the case when I began to watch the release “The Art Of Live”. Perhaps I was spoiled by the releases “Live Evolution” or “Operation: Livecrime” DVD releases or perhaps this was just so lacking that it did not do much more than disappoint. Queensryche is one of the most exciting of the Progressive Metal bands to have existed but this live DVD is so toned down and unlive in its overall sound that you might has well watch a filmed and scripted video. The movie is shot entirely in black and white and while it looks cool for a little while I would have preferred to see some color. The light show that the group uses during their performances is lost entirely as a result of this filming method. Sound wise it seems to have been channeled right out of the soundboard and there is very little audience reaction heard. It’s practically a whisper and for a recording of a live show you want a little more on that end when possible. The band sounds top notch in their musicianship as they normally do but this recording method makes them sound more canned than I would have preferred.
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Title: “Chapter V: Unbent, Unbowed, Unbroken”
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Release Date: 7/3/2005
Genre: Power Metal
The mighty Hammerfall are back and with a perfect follow-up to their live effort “One Crimson Night”. With “Chapter V: Unbent, Unbowed, Unbroken” the band has delivered a rock solid piece of Metal. Steeped in heroism and loaded with songs about Knights and honor you will surely find most of it to be true raise your fist in the air head-banging anthems. Starting off with the song “Secrets” you get the layout of the release and it sets the stage for the rest of the record. One aspect that impressed me was that it reminded me of the things I enjoyed about early Helloween when they first started. Hammerfall is one of those bands that are clearly influenced by Maiden and Priest in some overall styles, yet the manner in which they follow is clearly Manowar based. This comes across in tunes like “Hammer Of Justice” and “Fury Of The Wild”. I don’t draw the comparison based on the overall music quality for while both are interesting there are differences. Magnus Rosen is a killer Metal bassist but he does not do what Joey DeMaio does. Joacim Cans holds the front man position in the same sense of honor and glory that Eric Adams does even though their vocal styles are drastically different. So far this premise has worked very well for Hammerfall and shows that History can often repeat itself even when it comes to Metal music.
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Artist: Lake Of Tears
Title: “Black Brick Road”
Label: Noise Records
Release Date: 9/14/2004
Genre: Gothic Metal
On first listen to Lake Of Tears CD “Black Brick Road” I had a little difficulty narrowing the genre down to one solid definition. I decided to take a stab at labeling it Gothic Metal, but it falls more along as Rock and Roll with a dark and Gothic edge. I really liked the CD and for a band that I am just gaining some exposure to I have to tell readers that it’s really impressive. The CD is loaded with interesting riffs and song structures and there are changes all around the piece that make it fresh and not repetitive. This CD had been hiding in a pile of submissions that came in and was oddly overlooked. On finding it I realized it was remaining in my changer to be listened to over and over again. Eventually a better definition came to me and that is “Gothic Rock & Roll” as it holds the general flavor and textures of both these genres. “The Greymen” is a pumping opener that uses a great keyboard riff and just works. Tracks like “Sister Sinister” had an almost Iggy Pop/N.Y. Dolls feel to it. “Dystopia” was more a danceable tune and “The Organ” was a creepy and brooding tune that had an almost Pink Floyd guitar feel at times. I venture to guess that perhaps I was seeing the building of “Dark Glam” as a genre of Rock music. The four piece Swedish group is comprised of Johan Oudhuis (drums), Mikael Larsson (bass), Daniel Brennare (vocals/guitar) and Magnus Sahlgren (lead guitar). They deliver a very solid sound on this well-produced record.
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Title: “Live 1984 Stardust Ballroom”
Label: Music Video Distributors
Release Date: 10/25/2005
Genre: Punk Rock
Glen Danzig had left the Punk Rock force that was the Misfits and formed Samhain. This footage is taken from a Stardust Ballroom performance in 1984. It is one of those things that are more important historically than for quality’s sake. Filmed by Al Flipside (from the Hardcore/Punk magazine Flipside) it captures Danzig and his band mates at their Punk best. Samhain walked a little closer to the material that Glen would later do in Danzig than the Punk that was focused on in the Misfits. Punk in design yet leaning a little more to the Hard Rock and Metal scene that was beginning to form. There is no elaborate stage setting and this is strictly a concert video recording. The camera angles and sound are not that great but it is a cool piece of Danzig history that merits observation. This was the bands first L.A. Show so is very raw in nature. To my knowledge there is not a lot of other performance footage from this band available to the general public. Whether you recall loving or hating them they did have a fan base and many of them carried over to Danzig’s solo material. In 1984 this scene was still very strong and overall this documents it as best as the means allowed. The members of Samhain were Glen Danzig (vocals) and Eerie Von (bassist), Steve Zing (drums) and Damien (guitar) and it was probably one of the first bands to introduce a Gothic-edge to Punk music. I enjoyed seeing Damien playing an axe-guitar like the one Gene Simmons uses as a bass.
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