“Greatest Hits: Back To The Start” by Megadeth

Artist: Megadeth
Title: “Greatest Hits: Back To The Start”
Label: Capitol Records
Release Date: 6/28/2005
Genre: Heavy Metal
Rating: 8/10

Dave Mustaine has finally given the Legions of Megadeth followers the single most requested CD of all. A compilation of the bands greatest pieces all in one easy place to find them. There is no questioning the genius of Mustaine when it comes to putting together a great metal song, and he has many of them which make this piece a welcome addition to the catalog. Before this arrived the closest example of this we would have would be with the live CD/DVD “Rude Awakening” and the 2000 released “Capitol Punishment”. While the older hits piece was good and shares similar numbers from the new package, the live piece in particular had an amazing selection and was almost as good as a career compilation. It served as a better example until now. However, it with “Back To The Start” we have more tracks included and a little cleaner production than its predecessor. For me this was a plus since it included almost all of the Megadeth tracks that I have enjoyed over the years. Dave made sure to have a great amount of material on this piece and with 17 tracks you cannot go wrong. This CD is even perfect tailgate party music. There is nothing better than kicking back some beers with your Friends at a show, and cranking up the Megadeth (that is provided you are legal drinking age of course).
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“Babylon Rockets” by Gemini Five

Artist: Gemini 5
Title: “Babylon Rockets”
Label: Cleopatra Records
Release Date: 6/21/2005
Genre: Hard Rock
Rating: 7.5

On Gemini Five’s CD package they are listed as something that fans of the Backyard Babies or Hanoi Rocks would enjoy, but I don’t agree with that at all. This is by no means a detraction from the fine rock and roll that they deliver on the CD as the band clearly has some hooks and there is a lot of fun stuff happening in the music. Yet while enjoyable I have to say there is a level of difference between them and the references. Would fans of Babies and Hanoi like them? Most likely yes but only as something new to try. The second tune of the CD “TwentyFourSeven” really should have been the opening track, as the hook caught me more than I thought it would. From there they caught me off guard by doing a rocking cover of the dance pop hit “You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)”. This track by Dead Or Alive was totally unexpected to find on a Pop Metal/Hard Rock CD and really was done to some positive effect.
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“Ashes To Ashes” by David Shankle Group

Artist: David Shankle Group
Title: “Ashes to Ashes”
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Release Date: 3/2004
Genre: Power Metal
Rating: 8/10

David Shankle, former Manowar guitar wizard has returned with a group under his own name. Their debut effort entitled “Ashes to Ashes” is a great piece indeed. As a fan of Manowar I can honestly tell you that while this band holds some similar themes it is by no means a clone of Manowar music. The DSG has more in common with that of Iron Maiden or Queensryche for that matter. I felt this is good since it allows the band its own identity seperate from that of Manowar. In my humble opinion it allowed Dave’s work in Manowar to remain special and his new DSG material has a chance to rise to success on it’s own.
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“Reckoning Night” by Sonata Arctica

Artist: Sonata Arctica
Title: “Reckoning Night”
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Release Date: 11/2004
Genre: Power Metal
Rating: 7.5/10

Sonata Arctica is one of those Finnish bands that have been causing quite the stir in the metal scene. When one thinks of the best performers of Power Metal, they are among the first to come up in the same sentence as Nightwish and EdGuy. Now distributed in the USA by Nuclear Blast, they have returned with the CD “Reckoning Night”. For this release I admit that I expected a little more. I had found their previous release “Winterheart’s Guild” to be a work of metal genius. It is very good, but does not seem to possess the intensity that I found on the other release. The 10 tracks I found go between very heavy and fast to your almost sing along-able type of track. Sonata often has the variety in their CD’s. The lineup is Tony Kakko (vocals), Jani Liimatainen (guitars), Tommy Portimo (drums), Marko Paasikoski (bass), and Henrik Klingenberg (keyboards). Fans of the technical side will enjoy how the members of Sonata play off of one another during the songs.
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“7 Weeks Live In America” by Stryper

Artist: Stryper
Title: “7 Weeks: Live In America, 2003”
Label: Fifty Three Five Records
Release Date: 5/18/2004
Genre: Heavy Metal
Rating: 7.8/10

Late last year Christian Rockers Stryper reunited for a small tour of the States. It was the first time in twelve years as a band that they had done this. I was able to catch one of these shows when they hit New York City. As a matter of fact, there is a review of this show elsewhere on the Metal Circus site (check Conciertos). This CD entitled “7 Weeks: Live in America 2003” is a souvenir to the fans of Stryper music to mark this tour happening. I enjoyed seeing the band reunite because of their positive message in a time where the world is full of so much less than that. So as a result, I also enjoyed the aspect of having the performances represented on a CD to keep in my music collection.
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