These album overviews were originally written for Metal Edge Magazine when I was a contributor to their “Hear Us Out” CD reviews section back in 2006-2007. With the magazine wrapping up publication a few months ago, I decided to add them to the context of our PiercingMetal presentation. I felt that by doing this I would not only be raising the horns in remembrance of the magazine but would also be able to showcase just how different writing for a major publication was when it all came down to it. Since “Hear Us Out” notations were usually “100” words in length, these posts will feature several reviews each until we run out of them. The freelance writing tenure at Metal Edge Magazine was discussed on THIS LINK so please check that out when done. Here are the reviews, so “Hear Us Out”.
Madina Lake: ”From Them, Through Us, To You” (Roadunner Records)
Madina Lake is quite the Rock band as they work the angles of melody with clever abandon and throw down tasty riffs to bring out some memorable tracks on their major label debut. They present emotion without an Emo stain and rock as hard as the big boys on tracks like “House Of Cards”. Catchy hooks and detailed lyrical storylines bring listeners one classy piece of music that was thought out for a change and should appeal to a wide audience. Big things await the listener in the region of fictional town Madina Lake, lets let the guys take us on a tour into their world.
Marion Raven: “Heads Will Roll” (Eleven Seven Music)
The way I see it, Marion Raven stands ready to capture the hearts of music fans everywhere. This Norwegian siren was part of the Pop sensation M2M long ago, who shares the song writing today with rockers such as Nikki Sixx. The title track proves that Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Her strong vocals and stunning look makes me confident that good things are waiting for her as she sings of strength and empowerment. Raven appears with Meat Loaf on the single “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now” and with this on her resume I am sure she is paving a solid path to success. Are you ready for the next big thing?
Masterplan: “MKIII” (Candlelight Records)
With no offense to singer Jorn Lande, I was pleased that Mike DeMeo (Riot) joinined the ranks of the incredible Power Metal act. Now we find new melodic Metal adventures are forged as great harmony hooks and bluesy influx along with throttling drumming by Mike Terrana. “Warriors Cry” stands tall as your intro to the new members and makes the band the perfect blend of old and new school styles. “Trust In You” works some great atmosphere in and shows that Power Metal has not yet found a stale idea based on the groups like this continually changing the way its done.
Mastodon: “Blood Mountain” (Warner Brothers Records)
Mastodon proved themselves as a band capable of breaking ground with “Leviathan”, an album that was as monstrous in sound as it was in name. With the epic release based on “Moby Dick”, the group took strong footing in a Metal scene that was blossoming after many years of being stagnant. The group’s move to Warner Bros. led to some to believe that the major signing would come at the sacrifice of some of the artistic integrity that made Mastodon special in the first place. They worried that a new recording would have them find a different Mastodon from what they experienced previously. The assumption would be correct as on “Blood Mountain” Mastodon brings to light just how much change one can offer the listener without sacrificing any of their impact, their musical prowess and overall delivery. “Blood Mountain” is a surprise right off the bat with wilder than ever drum patterns by Brann Dailor who is holding the riffs of Brent Hinds together as the other members pummel and reshape the style of the band. Dailor stands out in particular all over the record and makes the level of play demonstrated a thrill ride that is best experienced loud. Technically exciting, this is an album that pushes the limits of the genre by daring to become almost a Progressive/Experimental endeavor based on the amount of unique rhythms and styles that are delivered here. You will find this most prevalent in songs like “Capillarian Crest” and “Cycle Of Cysquatch” which are among the best offerings on the album as well. Don’t expect the sheer brutality that you found on “Leviathan” as its not here, but instead “Blood Mountain” offers the listener five times the musical exposition and shows that the group possesses advanced musical skills. The level of technical display shows advances in musical growth and I feel this will raise Mastodons level of appeal in the minds of fans of more Extreme Technical Metal. The use of Progressive elements will help raise the musical minds of listeners who love the Metal but as years go on might find themselves needing areas of change. Thanks to Mastodon and “Blood Mountain” we are once again shown how much can be done with the genre and how accepting the normal routine is so unacceptable. It’s exciting to be listening to Metal when bands like Mastodon are delivering it.
Meat Loaf: ”Bat Out Of Hell III: The Monster Is Loose” (Virgin Music)
For the closing chapter of his epic “Bat Out Of Hell” saga, Meat Loaf worked with long time songwriting partner Jim Steinman once again but to mix things up he also utilized the talents of Nikki Sixx and John 5. Such hard rockers make this a dramatic album full of catchy hooks and riffs and when you add in the lovely Marion Raven a hit was certain to be found on songs like “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now”. The impact of the debut still stands strong and the closest reminder is on “Blind As A Bat”, where he shows that the play continues. The duet with Raven works but I felt this song should have been the lead single. The question is does this come close to the original “Bat Out Of Hell” from 1977; no it doesn’t’ and that would be next to impossible for a release like that one be topped. There are sufficient theatrics to the music as one expects and many of the songs will have you singing aloud after only a couple of plays. Is this really the final chapter in the “BOOH” story? We will just have to wait and see.
Melechesh: “Emissaries” (The End Records)
Jerusalem 1993 saw the formation of Melechesh; founders of the Mesopotamian Metal genre. With their new release Emissaries the listener gets some intense Sumerian Black Metal Thrash with a deep Middle Eastern guitar style. When you add in the shrieking vocals of Ashmedi and the thunderous drums of Xul you are taken to a different world of Metal once again. Despite its style it’s not as over the top with the ethnic feels as to isolate listeners and there is enough traditional Black Metal vibe with a twist of mysticism to make the curious take to this and enjoy it.
Mendeed: ”This War Will Last Forever” (Nuclear Blast Records)
Refusing to sit idle while a genre rises the UK offers us Mendeed; a band that blends Melodic Metalcore and Thrash to give a satisfying and blistering release to fans that need their Metal exceeding speeds of the conventional stuff. There is a lot of great melody and guitar runs over machine gun drumming that make this perfect for the All That Remains crowd. Touches of Hardcore and some traditional feel for good measure made this a solid CD and shows the band still fresh on their fifth release. For Mendeed, its been a productive two years. Pay attention everyone.
Meshuggah: “Nothing” Remastered (Nuclear Blast Records)
You find little argument about Meshuggah being one of the true innovators in Metal and this remaster of 2002’s “Nothing” reminds you why this is the case. Loaded with technical guitar wizardry from Throndel that gets compounded by the thunderous drumming of Haake often leaves you mystified at how such a band could even exist. Add in Kidman’s growling presence that commands your attention – they show that they are ever-evolving, and ever proving that Metal’s tapestry is a continually weaved thing. A bonus live DVD is included with live footage to offer visual confirmation of their impact on the genre.
Mnemic: “Passenger” (Nuclear Blast Records)
Unsure of what “Future Fusion Metal” sounds like then you need look no further than Mnemic. The band returns from years of touring with “Passenger”; a crunching and brutal slab of Industrial twisted Metal that presents the talents of new vocalist Guilliame Bideau. The heaviness and technical display offers an apparent homage to the might of Meshuggah yet they don’t lose any of their own individuality. The release and power on its grooves should enable Mnemic to claw its way out of the underground scene and lead new legions of Metal acolytes forward into the future of the genre and its possibilities.
Additional chapters in this series of “Revisiting Metal Edge Magazine” will be posted across the span of a couple of weeks. Please stay tuned for the next batch of summaries and let us know what you thought of these items down in the comments section below.
Madina Lake: http://www.facebook.com/madinalake
Marion Raven: http://www.marionravn.no/
Meat Loaf: http://www.meatloaf.net