“Who Knows? Live In Concert: 2000-2004” by Andrew W.K.

Artist: Andrew W.K.
Title: “Who Knows? Live In Concert: 2000-2004
Label: Music Video Distributors
Release Date: 2/7/2006
Genre: Hard Rock
Rating: 6/10

Andrew W.K. is the King Of Party Rock, yet another sub-genre created to serve the need of a niche audience and quite honestly given its simple and innocent formula he does this quite well. The DVD features concert performances shot over the period of 4 years and they are seamlessly placed together and give you the total effect of being at a concert for Andrew W.K. and his band. Those who have heard a few songs by the musician will agree that there is a certain similarity to a lot of the material and as a matter of fact his main numbers such as “Party Hard” and “She Is Beautiful” are almost identical. Yet as you watch the DVD this clearly does not seem to matter to the fans in attendance at these shows. The casual fan might find this uninteresting but his die hard folks might want this as a reminder of shows attended. Andrew seems very into the performance and he is quite energetic and with relatively simple choruses the whole audience sings along and even jumps on stage with him. There are points in the film where you can’t even see the band since there are so many people up there. There is also some bonus interview footage and excerpts that fans will enjoy and I admit that even with my limited level of appeal for this band that some of this DVD was fun to me.
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“The Best Of: 20 Years Of Rock” by Poison

Artist: Poison
Title: “The Best Of: 20 Years Of Rock”
Label: Capitol/EMI Music
Release Date: 4/6/2006
Genre: Glam Rock
Rating: 8/10

20 years ago Poison made the Metal heads cringe with their lipstick and hairspray filled brand of Rock and Roll. The dividing lines were officially drawn and it was Headbanger versus Poser from then on and with this CD the band celebrates their history with an 18 song hits package. The band was an instant MTV hit with their fun-filled videos and cartoon character antics. Lead singer Brett Michaels became the girls favorite but drummer Rikki Rocket also was someone who they favored. The guitar work of C.C. DeVille was fun and never overly technical while Bobby Dall held it together on bass. Looking back on it there was more fun and catchiness to these songs than I would have expected back when they first hit the scene. During their popularity peak, I was one of the Headbangers and not the bands biggest fan. However when one looks back on this brand of Rock and Roll you can’t help but find yourself remembering the choruses or videos from these songs as they play since they had been given so much radio and television presence.
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“Once Was Not” by Cryptopsy

Artist: Cryptopsy
Title: “Once Was Not”
Label: Century Media Records
Release Date: 10/18/2005
Genre: Death Metal
Rating: 7.5/10

The Black/Extreme Metal band Cryptopsy means business and with “Once Was Not” prove that by not only pushing the limits of what has been done before but also by bringing back Lord Worm on vocals. Extreme Metal defies an easy description as while the music is brutally fast there is also an accomplished level of technical expertise showcased that merits a lot of respect. Members Alex Auburn (guitar) and Eric Langlois (bass) are exceptional but the presence of drummer Flo Mounier makes sure that a lot of the music is borderline superhuman. Mounier does things on the drums that make one think the recording had been sped up two or three times in order to accomplish them. The lead in acoustic track will throw you off before the assault begins on “In The Kingdom Where Everything Dies, The Sky Is Mortal”. “Carrionshine” is a more straight ahead Metal track in terms of Slayer-esque guitar riffing, but under it all Mounier seems to defy gravity and human capabilities. His playing alone is sure to make aspiring drummers question their level of commitment and practice routines. “Keeping The Cadaver Dogs Busy” also was an interesting number but I still have problems figuring out the vocals when the singer growls everything. Lord Worm’s return still should gather a lot of interest in the band again since he is such a memorable character (he eats worms on stage as I am told…….)
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“For The Sake Of Revenge” by Sonata Arctica

Artist: Sonata Arctica
Title: “For The Sake Of Revenge” CD/DVD
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Release Date: 4/4/2006
Genre: Melodic Power Metal
Rating: 8/10

Are you still wondering what Sonata Arctica is all about? If this is the case then let me quickly bring you up to speed. Originating in Finland (gee what a surprise), the band that was formed in 1999 quickly became a fan favorite and were often paired with the Finnish juggernaut Nightwish. In 2003 they released “Winterheart’s Guild” a Melodic Power Metal heads dream album. The record was full of blistering riffs and rousing vocals and so good that it is considered some of their best material. When the band joined the ranks of Nuclear Blast Records and released “Reckoning Night” in 2004, the ground work began for the groups US invasion. Performances with legendary thrashers Overkill found the group surprised at their overall response for it seemed as while they were new to the United States shores, it would be in personnel only; their music had already arrived and the fans were waiting hungrily. Recorded in 2005 in Japan as the band continued to support “Reckoning Night”, this live CD with bonus DVD is your perfect chance to jump on board and find out what you have been missing so far. Yes, not only do you get a 15 song concert performance in audio but you have the full show that runs over an hour in length on the DVD. The film brings you 20 of the bands best songs and is a great treat for the fans for even if you don’t own “Reckoning Night” or “Winterheart’s Guild” you are not going to be lost. The group made sure to bring to life a number of songs from their back catalog during the show and this alone makes this product a must-have. Start to finish this is a great scope of material and allows you to press forward with the band in preparation for their new studio album which is being planned.
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“Acoustic Verses” by Green Carnation

Artist: Green Carnation
Title: “Acoustic Verses”
Label: The End Records
Release Date: 1/26/2006
Genre: Progressive Rock/Acoustic
Rating: 8.5/10

Fans that have followed Green Carnation over the 15 years of their existence can attest that the band while very interesting is something that is very difficult to describe to the uneducated listener. The band showcases their level of talent by consistently changing their musical styles which makes every album something fresh and unexpected to the listener. They change not because of industry standards or orders but because the mood strikes them and while this might drive a publicist crazy or a new fan, the people that follow them embrace each turn. Their last recording “The Quiet Offspring” was a mixture of Hard Rock and Progressive Melodies while the one before that was a one song album encompassing epic. The latest release entitled “The Acoustic Verses” shows an entirely different side of this fascinating band by using acoustic guitars, keyboards, drums and bass. There are also wonderful string arrangements all tied together by the great and passionate singing of Kjetil. The result is an excellent sounding record that brings to mind a very strong Pink Floyd vibe but there is a sense of darker angst and sadness in some of the lyrical content. The new compositions are deep in their mood and feeling and I felt that moments on the recording were very hypnotic. It continues to show just how talented this band is and while my first album might have been “The Quiet Offspring” I was very easily able to enjoy this one. T’Chort (guitar), Tommy (drums), Kenneth (piano), Bjorn (guitar), Stein (bass), Michael (guitar) and Kjetil (vocals) have done a stand up job on this recording and are to be commended for the levels of creativity demonstrated.
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