“Power Ballads Gold” by Various Artists

Artist: Various Artists
Title: “Power Ballands Gold”
Label: Universal Music
Release Date: 6/26/2005
Genre: Hard Rock
Rating: 8/10

No matter how heavy they were able to be, some of Rocks best performers had their most memorable tunes in the power ballad. These songs would inspire you or even bring a tear to your eye and they definitely gave you something to hold your loved one close during as you stared deep into one another’s eyes. There were bands who excelled at this format such as Poison, Warrant and Cinderella and this release has their notable ballads present but this CD also offers a couple of twists to the listener. I felt the choice of “Lady” by Styx was not so much the ballad as was “Babe”, and the inclusion of Bad Company’s “Feel Like Makin’ Love” isn’t a ballad whatsoever in my humble opinion. The prerequisite “Beth” by KISS is here but being so tired of the song after many years I would have preferred they chose “I Still Love You” or “Forever” (two of the bands best ballad numbers). Stryper has their “Honestly” given some play and many who knew rockers when the song was popular can admit to attending a Wedding or two where this was the couples first dance song. I did not understand the inclusion of Queensryche’s “Silent Lucidity” as that is not much the ballad in the sense of the whole album here but I was very happy to see contributions by bands like Saigon Kick “Love Is On The Way” and Kix “Don’t Close Your Eyes”.
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“Sounds of the Underground, Vol. 1: Live From the Starland Ballroom, Sayreville, NJ, July 2, 2005” by Various Artists

Artist: Various Artists
Title: “Sounds Of The Underground 2005”
Label: DRT Entertainment
Release Date: 6/20/2006
Genre: Heavy Metal
Rating: 7/10

How can one describe the “Sounds Of The Underground” tour of 2005 to those that did not witness it for themselves. To be honest, if it was in your means to attend and you didn’t you very simply missed out on one of the greatest alternatives to the Ozzfest tour. Your chance to see what you missed comes now as a result of this DVD entitled “Sounds Of The Underground: Live At The Starland Ballroom Pt. 1” coming at you courtesy of DRT Entertainment. This DVD brings you up close and personal to sixteen of the performances from the show at Sayreville’s notable venue and while it is not the full show it should serve as something to spark the interest in your future attendance. The film itself is a little different for while it shows you killer songs from Lamb Of God, Devildriver and Unearth you are also getting a fully enjoyable view into the backstage antics from this tour. The show this comes from was filmed on one of the hottest days the Summer of 2005 had to offer and stayed true to the Metal cause. The viewer is able to see just how much fun the guys in the bands were able to have and while sometimes this footage gets arduous to watch I did not find it to be the case here. The bonus features continues the amount of backstage footage and interviews and to be honest this all should have been a separate DVD while performances were focused on their own. A lot of the interview footage is done by the lead singers of both Lamb Of God and GWAR, both being very well-done and amusing showing that the bands were not taking this too seriously outside of their lethal performances. There are also some fun interactions with the fans. Musically the viewer will most likely remember the performance of Strapping Young Lad that also included some on the spot ventriloquism by lead singer Devon Townsend along with the very different styles of the band Clutch.
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“Return To Childhood” by Fish

Artist: Fish
Title: “Return To Childhood”
Label: Snapper Music
Release Date: 6/6/2006
Genre: Progressive Rock
Rating: 8/10

Marillion’s “Misplaced Childhood” is one of the most important albums ever to hit Progressive Rock as far as being commercially appealing. The lyrical poetry of singer Fish (Derek Dick) brought the music to life with its vivid and detailed storytelling. When Fish left the band Marillion became an entirely different entity while Fish continued to perform under his original and established model. His releases “Vigil In A Wilderness Of Mirrors” and “Internal Exile” showed that he would not lose his touch or style. Since his departure Fish has released eight albums while Marillion has done about the same yet despite their individuality it always boiled down to “Misplaced Childhood” as being one of the lynchpins in their mutual successes. Marillion today hardly leans of any “Fish-era” tunes while Fish himself always makes a good number of them part of his performance. As the principle writer of the material he has every right to this and should not be lambasted as “living off” his Marillion years. One could hardly accuse Roger Waters of Pink Floyd of this, so Fish deserves the same respects. Because of his touring and his frequent requests to do something to celebrate these years Fish gives us this live recording which is a double CD of musical treasures. Not only do we find Fish classics but we also have Marillion staples; the biggest part of the package is the full performance of “Misplaced Childhood”. Recorded in 2005 we find a more mature Fish holding court with his six-piece band and delivering the music with a newfound zeal and appreciation. Many feel that “Clutching At Straws” was the bands signature Fish epic, but I am among many who feel the glory rests in “Misplaced” being that particular release.
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“Live From Loreley” by Marillion

Artist: Marillion
Title: “Live From Loreley”
Label: EMI Music
Release Date: 9/14/2004
Genre: Progressive Rock
Rating: 8/10

Delivered as a follow-up to their “Recital Of The Script” DVD (which featured “Script For A Jester’s Tear” performed in its entirety) – Marillion gives their fans another out of print VHS on a better quality format. “Live At Loreley” finds the band a few years later in their career as they were supporting the release “Clutching At Straws”; this would be the bands fourth album and Fish’s last recording with them before he embarked on his solo career. Filmed at an outdoor festival type setting in front of some 18,000 fans we see a seasoned Marillion, confident in their music and in the eyes of their dedicated fans. The fourth album gives us a Marillion that had a huge following in Europe but sadly only marginal interest here in the States; an unfortunate truth considering the level of music they were doing. Despite the heavy amounts of Progressive goings on with their first two albums, the third and fourth really had unlimited potential on Rock radio of the day but somewhere along the line, the people in charge were just not paying attention. As a result, far too many people missed something that should have been a lot bigger than it actually was able to become. The great part about this DVD is one gets to see just how good Marillion was in concert during the “Fish years” as they are now referenced. The lineup of Fish, Mosely, Trewavas, Kelly and Rothery had something special going on and if you were listening to the Progressive goings on back then you would have been ahead of most people on this group. I have observed Marillion fans being among the most loyal of most music fans that I have ever met
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“The Art of Rebellion: Live” by Behemoth

Artist: Behemoth
Title: “Live Eschaton: The Art Of Rebellion”
Label: Music Video Distributors
Release Date: 6/18/2002
Genre: Death Metal
Rating: 7/10

If you are a follower of the goings on in the Death Metal genre then it is quite possible that you are already aware of the appeal and impact that the mighty Behemoth has had on it. The band is a touring machine that continually appeared as the support for such notable bands as King Diamond, Suffocation and most recently Morbid Angel. Those who attended any of the shows referenced know how powerful Behemoth is on stage and how they make the audience their own no matter who is headlining that night. This DVD filmed in 2000 in front of a studio audience in Krakow Poland is the perfect introduction for anyone who is choosing to brave the world of Behemoth, it is a journey worth taking if you like your Metal on the extreme side. The concert footage for me as a recent fan serves good as an origin point on the band for in 2005-2006 when I began to see them often it is a far more powerful presence and lineup than is depicted on the video. Front man Nergal is the mastermind of the group while Inferno provides levels of destruction that no drum kit should be subject too very often. Guitar is handled by Havoc and bass by Novy (the line up of 2006 finds Seth and the giant Orion on guitar and bass respectively). The ten performance pieces are good and you will recognize some songs from the recent shows if it has been your only exposure to the group. The spoken language is Polish as the band performs before a home audience masked in their signature corpse-paint. It is a crystal clear production and has a great sound but the audience seems a little bit dead. Perhaps it is because they were mesmerized or perhaps they were restricted from moving about, I only know the Behemoth show I attended found me fielding bodies from every direction I looked.
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Where Heavy Music & Pop Culture Collide

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