“Gold” (remaster) by KISS

Artist: KISS
Title: “Gold”
Label: Mercury/Universal
Release Date: 1/25/2005
Genre: Hard Rock
Rating: 8/10

When you look it up online there really seem to be a lot of KISS “Greatest Hits” albums to choose from. They start at “Double Platinum” and run until “Gold” and when tallied up there are nine such releases to choose from plus the career-encompassing boxed set. Included among this number are Mercury/Universal’s two different “Masters” collections and honestly those are more for the beginner or best served as gifts to those that are for some reason still clueless to the bands impact. With “Gold” however one is able to get a “cream of the crop” collection of the best material from self-titled “KISS” until their album “Killers” which is an import best-of that featured 4 new songs that many KISS fans have not had exposure to. Essentially more of an Anthology package the 40 songs presented here really do give both the KISS fan and the casual listener a great amount of music to enjoy. There are some differences between this and other hits releases by this one making sure that it not only features a handful of live recordings but also a track from each of the members solo releases. Overall this is a very well-rounded package and while it omits any music past the “Killers” album there really is a lot of music to sate ones appetite. “Gold” essentially becomes a worthy collection of music from the beginning in 1973 until 1982. Perhaps “More Gold” or “Gold 2” will see the light of day and give focus and attention to the fifteen albums that will come from the band.
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“KISS” (remaster) by KISS

Artist: KISS
Title: “KISS” (remaster)
Label: Mercury/Universal
Release Date: 7/17/1997
Genre: Hard Rock
Rating: 8/10

Originally released in 1973, this is the album that gave the world the one and only KISS. Formed by Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley after their brief stint as Wicked Lester, the pair from Queens recruited Ace Frehley and Peter Criss and set in motion events that would change the music world forever. As far as the songs on this album are concerned most of the tunes are revered. Many of the KISS mainstays come from this release such as “Strutter”, “Firehouse” and “Cold Gin” and their appeal in the concert world is continued today. The classic opener “Deuce” is also present and surprised me that it was not the first track on the album. Its drive and power surely set the stage for how KISS does things. Quirky favorites exist in “Kissin’ Time” and “Love Theme From KISS”, but over the years their appeal is mostly on the nostalgic side. Technically speaking, “100,000 Years” is one of the best songs on the album, as it brings a real live feel to the record while “Black Diamond” is truly the perfect closer. The track also features Peter Criss on vocals. His raspy tone is an interesting compliment to the styles of Gene and Paul. This is an album that is a must-have for anyone who has an interest in the beginnings of one of rock’s most influential groups. Recommended for the curious fan as well, since despite its release year, it still sounds fresh and exciting today.
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“Vermin” by Old Man’s Child

Artist: Old Man’s Child
Title: “Vermin”
Label: Century Media Records
Release Date: 10/18/2005
Genre: Melodic Black Metal
Rating: 8/10

Old Man’s Child has been around for a number of years and yet for some reason never seems to be in the limelight that is afforded some of their peers in Black Metal. It’s a surprising fact when one considers that Dimmu Borgir’s own Galder is the key force behind the group and brings to the table a brutal yet highly melodic piece of music. In the past, Old Man’s Child has had a number of talented people in its lineup but with “Vermin” the band only finds Galder doing vocals and all instruments, while Reno Killerich handles the drumming. I admit being unfamiliar with the sound of the band before this release and felt it had a lot of the styles demonstrated on Dimmu Borgir’s “Death Cult Armageddon”. The main difference between the two is that OMC leans more to the Melodic Metal end while DB maintains a steady growth in the area of Symphonic Metal. I have to say that Galder does a great job of the guttural growling necessary to be the vocalist in this group and can surely hold his own against that of Shagrath or Nergal (Behemoth).
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“Anatomy Of A Drum Solo” by Neil Peart (Rush)

Artist: Neil Peart
Title: “Anatomy Of A Drum Solo”
Label: Hudson Music
Release Date: 12/12/2005
Genre: Progressive Rock/Instructional
Rating: 9/10

When it comes to “The Professor”, I have said it before and will say it again: Neil Peart is a God on the drums! For years in the Progressive Rock giant that is Rush, he has done things that seem impossible on a regular basis. Those that hear his songs or have seen him perform live will agree that his talent is of a super human level. With impeccable timing and sense of style, he has often been imitated, yet never truly duplicated. Neil’s level of play has inspired drummers around the world for over 30 years since Rush began and he continues to do so to this very day. The other great aspect of Neil Peart is his ability to explain to you where he is coming from and while it surely takes years of practice, it shows you that all is achievable when one sets their mind to it. This DVD takes Neil’s area of expertise on the drum solo and examines what he does, how he came up with it, and what he feels makes the particular section of music so interesting. Broken into two separate DVD’s, I will showcase some of what awaits the viewer.
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“Stormblast MMV” by Dimmu Borgir

Artist: Dimmu Borgir
Title: “Stormblast” (re-recording)
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Release Date: 2/7/2006
Genre: Black Metal
Rating: 8/10

Across their catalog of recorded music, one album that has always received acclaim is “Stormblast”. It is considered to be one of the best Dimmu Borgir albums released and the album that began the journey into Symphonic Black Metal. The release originally came out in 1996 but suffered a limited production value which, as a listener, takes too much away from what is happening. As a result of this, lead singer Shagrath, along with guitarist Silenoz sat down and decided to recreate the entire album and not simply remaster it to get a better sounding original piece. Instead, the whole album was modified a little to make it closer to where the band was now and re-recorded. Such actions always come with two opinions, for one side will say “how dare they do this to such a masterpiece?” and there are others who might be more accepting and take this as a new piece of music. Twisted Sister tried this with “Still Hungry”, a re-do of the classic “Stay Hungry”, and this was not well-received by most. Looking at the larger whole, this is a brilliant production. By the addition of talent from current member Mustis (keyboards) and drumming by Hellhammer, the music of “Stormblast” now sits better along with “Death Cult Armageddon”. The album is still sung in Norwegian, but even I found myself able to keep up with the pace of the record. It’s cleaner, more interesting, and definitely a tad more technical than its predecessor. As a band, Dimmu Borgir has shown the levels that Black Metal can be taken to by adding the Symphonic element to the style. As a fan who did not have the original CD, I was interested in this release, especially when it was released that Hypocrisy’s Peter Tagtgren would be handling a lot of the production work. Tagtgren has proven his skill level with Dimmu before and surely knows how to deliver in the studio in this capacity. While many traditionalists might feel this takes away from the purity of Black Metal’s appeal for them, I feel that it instead guarantees their existence and dominance in the genre for many years to come. Bands like Opeth and Hypocrisy, while labeled Death Metal, at one point have progressed in such a manner that people who never took this music seriously are now enjoying it and buying records. In the end, that is what this is all about. Fans might have preferred a new studio album with new songs but that is still being worked on. The project that Shagrath and Silenoz took on allowed fellow member Galder to release his latest effort with Old Man’s Child (“Vermin” released on Century Media Records).
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