“Voice Of Wilderness” by Korpiklaani

Artist: Korpiklaani
Title: “Voice Of Wilderness”
Label: Napalm Records
Release Date: 4/5/2005
Genre: Folk Metal
Rating: 8/10

Folk Metal was something entirely new to me and only recently had caught my attention when I heard the music of Finntroll. When a writing colleague suggested that I should also give a listen to Korpiklaani I decided to give it a sample. As I began to play “Voice Of Wilderness” I pretty much expected something like Finntroll or an exact replica of their style. However, I can inform you that this Finnish band handles this genre with a different and more accessible feel than Finntroll puts forward. Korpiklaani has more band members and as a result are able to give you a fuller and more authentic Folk sound. This is done by having full-time players who utilize more Folk oriented instruments like the accordion and flutes alongside various percussive devices. Can you recall the last time that you heard an accordion was a prevalent instrument in Heavy Metal music? There is a good chance you haven’t until now and I am very happy to report that the group uses all of these added pieces to a degree of success. At eight core members the band certainly has a full lineup which is made up of Jonne (vocals, guitar), Hittavainen (violin, jouhilkko, flutes), Matson (drums), Ali (percussion), Honka (guitars), Arto (bass), Cane (guitars), and Juho (accordion). This mass amount of players takes traditional Finnish Folk melodies and combines them with a great blend of Heavy Metal music. The efforts are nothing short of incredible and just go to show you how any different directions Metal music can be set in. Korpiklaani music makes you feel as though you are enjoying tales and ale with Friends at some outdoor celebration while the band jams in the background.
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“R30” by Rush

Artist: Rush
Title: “R30”
Label: Zoe Records
Release Date: 11/22/2005
Genre: Progressive Rock
Rating: 9/10

In celebration of their 30th Year Anniversary World Tour Rush has given us a comprehensive DVD to commemorate the occasion. As a long time fan of the music of Rush I was very happy to know that this was being released. It comes in two different versions with one being the Deluxe Edition that comes with a lot of cool things and a Standard Edition for those that simply want the basics. This review is of the Deluxe Edition and when you open a copy you will forget that a standard one even is available. The package comes with two DVD’s and the first is the entire 30th Anniversary Concert that was performed. They ever included the amusing segments that featured comedian Jerry Stiller. Rush has always been a band that in addition to their creativity made sure to showcase their sense of humor in stuff like this so it was nice to find that it was not edited out. If you were lucky enough to see this concert you have probably already stopped reading and placed an order for the DVD. If not, and you wished you had gone to the show this DVD should at least ease some amount of the pain you feel from not getting tickets. The concert portion is over 2 hours long and stands at about 27 songs with some being spread out in Medley’s. One such piece is the opening overture that covered the group’s earliest work and was done instrumentally on this tour. I enjoyed seeing this material presented in this new and different fashion and I think most of the Rush fans got a charge out of this. In addition to the 30th Year being celebrated the group was also featuring tracks from their latest album. Entitled “Feedback” this CD was all cover material that the group had enjoyed in their youth. It was very interesting to see the band perform both “Crossroads” and “The Seeker” I have to admit. The entire concert was a great experience and was different enough from their last DVD “Rush In Rio” for fans that feel buying two concert performances in a row is excessive. Despite their stellar level of musicianship I think most will agree that they are not the most visual band however this show was shot very well with a lot of incredible angles of everyone as they play. This is a great aspect when it comes to the always amazing drum solo executed by Neil Peart. The Deluxe DVD includes a 2 CD audio companion of this concert which allows you to take the band with you on those road trips and always have the concert at your disposal. The CD does not come in the standard edition.
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“Showtime” (DVD) by UFO

Artist: UFO
Title: Showtime
Label: SPV Records
Release Date: 11/8/2005
Genre: Hard Rock
Rating: 8/10

The music of UFO has long been a reference point in many of the popular Hard Rock and Metal band histories and you read about this in interview after interview. This might be the case because the band is perhaps one of the best Hard Rock acts to have ever come around and the fact that they still perform today is a statement on its own. For many years legendary guitarist Michael Schenker was a part of the band but through it all the signature bluesy voice of Phil Mogg gave this band the consistency that it still holds strong to this day. After years of lineup changes the band now finds three core original members (Phil Mogg, Pete Way and Paul Raymond) and the addition of dynamic players to round out the lineup. On guitar is Vinnie Moore who is a legend in his own right and admits an inspiration from Schenker as do most guitarists. The drumming is adeptly handled by Jason Bonham, son of the one and only John Bonham. Many will state that this is the strongest lineup that the band has had since the days that Schenker a member. The double DVD Set brings you to the front row for a performance the band did in Wilhelmshaven Germany at the club “Pumpverk”. All around 2004 the group was supporting their SPV Records release “You Are Here”. There is a lot to enjoy on this straight live shoot and USA fans who got to see the band will appreciate the fact that they finally are able to see Pete Way perform. The reason for Pete’s absence in the States was due to some VISA problems and as a result he had to remain in England. In his place for those shows was bassist Barry Sparks who seemed to fit right in very well.
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“Dark Light” by HIM

Artist: H.I.M.
Title: “Dark Light”
Label: Sire Records
Release Date: 9/27/2005
Genre: Gothic/Melodic Metal
Rating: 7/10

Finland’s H.I.M. certainly seem to be making a dent in the American music world and this is no surprise when one considers the overall appeal and quality of some of their songs. Thanks to the efforts of MTV’s Bam Marguera the bands logo or “Heartagram” is no longer a mysterious image as he showcases it regularly on his program “Viva LaBam”. Though the band has been around for some ten years it was only recently that the American listener was able to purchase their music domestically and now with the release of “Dark Light” this growing audience got to experience a brand new album on its actual release date. The last two albums that surfaced early this year in “Love Metal” and “Deep Shadows and Brilliant Highlights” were already a couple of years old yet despite this fact the concert appearances of the group sold out very quickly. As I listened to “Dark Light” I found it continuing along in the same fashion as “Love Metal” with a strong influence of “Razorblade Romance” (two records which I enjoy very much). Lead singer Ville Vallo has found a formula that works and while labeled “Love” or Gothic Metal” the whole of H.I.M music leans more towards that which was influenced by Eighties New Wave such as Billy Idol, Depeche Mode or The Cure. The Gothic label was most likely due to their names acronym of “His Infernal Majesty” as it held a sense of darkness to it as do most things Goth. The band seldom uses the log version and very simply goes by H.I.M. these days. This fact combined with the subject matter of love and death that continually play in the same yard during their music makes you conclude that this might have been the root cause of the label. However the more you listen to the band the more you will find that is it pure and simple good Melodic Hard Rock.
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“Rock of Ages: Definitive Collection DVD” by Def Leppard

Artist: Def Leppard
Title: “Rock Of Ages: Definitive Collection DVD”
Label: Universal Records
Release Date: 11/15/2005
Genre: Hard Rock
Rating: 7/10

The moment that I began to watch this DVD I was brought back to my youth as I remembered nights with friends as we watched either “Friday Night Videos” or MTV. In my circle, “Friday Night Videos” was the way to go since not everyone had the famous music video channel back then. The videos of Def Leppard were staple rotations on this and similar programs and while not as unique as Duran Duran or ZZ Top’s offerings they still had an inherent coolness factor to them. I loved seeing this Heavy Rock band being a regular feature on these programs as they allowed us to see such things in an influential time for music. Time has caused me to lose memory of the other shows that did this for bands and there were a few of them trust me on that. During this time in Music History the use of videos really helped the genre and this was especially the case on Heavy Rock and Metal bands. These were groups that focused and held such a need for the visual end of things that there were always a few videos for each album that was released. Even new bands were assured of having some videos accompany their album and soon after they would make their way to the networks. This DVD comes to us as a companion release to their CD Anthology also entitled “Rock Of Ages”; this is a suitable title to name a hits piece after one of the group’s biggest songs. While this is not the entire collection of 39 existing video films that I believe the band has in their archives, this single DVD gives you an almost song for song version to enjoy visually after you have absorbed the double CD. Those that seek the other videos the group has can look up their “Historia/In The Round” or “Visualize: Video Archive” for those. The DVD comes with a booklet that has some brief liner notes as well as some great photos of the band members. There is also a dedication page to the late Steve Clark who passed away in 1991. The bonus features are simply the rehearsal of an upcoming track on their new CD and some band commentary. You are also able to setup your own play list of the DVD and that allows you to bypass that which you don’t like.
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