Album Review – Judas Priest “Redeemer of Souls” 2014

Posted in Album Reviews with tags , , , , , , on July 21, 2014 by Lightning Slim

JudasPriestRedeemerSouls  When you’ve been in the business as long as Judas Priest, you have an opportunity to reflect upon and work with your longest-standing musical influence: yourselves. And so it is that Redeemer of Souls looks back and well as forward, ending up sounding Judas-Priesty as all hell, and all the more enjoyable for it. The overall feel is the same as what we’ve come to expect post-Painkiller, but there are also bluesy bar-rock riffs on the record that would be at home on Point of Entry, Killing Machine or even British Steel. It’s self-homage without resorting to self-plagiarism (one notable exception is the title track, which is essentially a reboot of “Hell Patrol”).

New guy Richie Faulkner admirably fills the K.K. Downing-shaped hole in the wall, matching Glenn Tipton’s dignified grace and power on the trade-off solos. He’s also heavily involved in the songwriting, which may turn out to be a secret weapon for the band. Having grown up outside the Priest bubble, he’s been listening to the competition. To wit, there are Maidenish touches here and there, especially on “Sword of Damocles”, which is a straight-up Brave New World-era Iron Maiden song that JP appropriate with aplomb.

One elephant in the room: the time of the Rob Halford shriek would appear to be over. We all knew this day would come. Halford does access his falsetto, but it’s during quieter moments, and when he does rage out it’s carefully and gently cradled by the mix and quickly spirited away as if to say “Nothing to see here; move on”. Considering he still has one of the most dynamic ranges around, and his midrange is passionate and full of power, it would be churlish to ask for more.

Be at ease, metalheads. It’s twenty-freaking-fourteen, Mark Wilkinson has yet to tire of painting messianic figures aflame under violet skies, and Judas Priest have gone back to the well to draw forth an album which will be the envy of bands half their age. 8.5 out of 10

Best Bands Worst Songs the Turd

Posted in Lists with tags , , , , , on June 12, 2014 by Lightning Slim

In which Fear Factory cover a pop song (OK) and then write a pop song (Definitely Not OK).

Fear_Factory_-_Transgression When a band puts out two albums in a year, you know that one of two things is happening: either they are filled to the brim with creativity or there’s some kind of record label shenanigans happening. So when Fear Factory followed up the April 2004 release of well-received return-to-form record Archetype with the August 2005 underwhelm of Transgression, a collection of lesser songs, experiments and covers united by a regrettable use of the much-maligned plinky snare drum sound from St. Anger, well, most fans quickly made up their minds what was happening there.

It’s not a completely hateable record, despite obviously being recorded without a single band member in the same room at the same time. One of the bright spots is a faithful cover of U2’s “I Will Follow”, which has some pep to it. The other cover (Killing Joke’s “Millennium”) is a bit too on the nose and leaves me cold. But things really go off the rails when the band decides to get their inner U2 on using their own material, and that’s where “Supernova” comes in.

The song jingles its way into your ears like the radio-ready single from a mid-90’s Rush album, which as I type it looks like a grave insult to Rush. Burton Bell’s vocal is something which would have been better kept on one of  his folk-ambient side projects. Dig those crazy whisper-echoes! And let’s be clear about something; this track wasn’t hidden in a corner. It is the official single of a heavy metal album.

 

 

Don’t that just make you want to slap some cat ears on it and call it Hello Shitty?

Happily, FF have gone on to bigger and better things, so their legacy is safe for now. Imagine this was the last thing they ever did?

Questions? Kudos? Hate something off Digimortal more (and who would blame you?) Hit the comments below!

Album Review – Lacuna Coil “Broken Crown Halo” 2014

Posted in Album Reviews, Sevens to Nines with tags , , , , , on June 11, 2014 by Lightning Slim

broken_crown_halo  After the somewhat-misunderstood pop stylings of The Shallow Life and the near-perfect synthesis of that with their core competencies in Dark Adrenaline, Lacuna Coil wisely decide not to try to top themselves, and so take a trip down memory lane instead. Broken Crown Halo is a more direct descendant of earlier records like Comalies or Karmacode, containing all the elements for which the band is known; the duet vocals, the oddly-admirable tenacious loyalty to the nu-metal bass guitar sound, the lush instrumentation. They’ve been working hard to expand their core sound for years now, so I think a momentary retreat and regroup has no shame in it at all.

You pretty much know what you’re getting here. If you’re a fan of the band, rejoice. It’s not broken so it didn’t get fixed, and Cristina Scabbia’s Instagram account remains as fetching as ever. 7.5 out of 10

Best Bands Worst Songs Part Duh

Posted in Lists with tags , , , , , on June 6, 2014 by Lightning Slim

Last week I took on the project of Iron Maiden’s very worst, which got me some feedback about picking on poor Blaze Bayley, as if he were a defenseless child and not a grown-ass man of somewhat dubious singing ability. However, if we accept the premise that Blaze Maiden is a completely different animal from Bruce Dickinson’s version, that means I can take another kick at the can and give you some runner-ups. Here are two; one of Bruce’s worst vocal performances and the other a plain old stupid and unworthy song. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they’re both from Fear of the Dark, Maiden’s weakest Bruce effort unless you’re a South American fan who likes to gather in the thousands and sing along to the guitar parts.

First Runner-Up: Charlotte the Harlot must have been really good, because Steve Harris is writing songs about her 20 years later. Bad songs. I vacillated between this one and “Bring Your Daughter…To the Slaughter”, and then just flipped a coin.

 

Second Runner-Up: I’m surprised this is a Harris/Gers effort, as it sounds like it would fit comfortably on a Dickinson solo record like Balls to Picasso. I almost wish it was, because then it could be safely ignored with the rest of that crapstick.* Guys, I know you like football, and this is obliquely about football hooliganism, but guys, boring.

 

Note: I won’t be heckling anything from the Paul Di’anno records, for two reasons. A) I don’t consider juvenilia to be fair game. It’s way more fun to poke holes in folks who know better and B) Those two records are balls-out fun and full of life. Very little badness, if any.

Special Honourable Mention: The cover of Dance of Death. Go on, Google it. I’m not depicting it here because it gives me a feeling like I need to pee. Only instead of urine it’s hate.

 

 

*Balls To Picasso is essentially a 30-minute trailer for a movie you don’t want to see, before it finally and mercifully pays off in “Tears of the Dragon”, a great song by anyone’s standards. But what a wait!

Best Bands, Worst Songs

Posted in Lists with tags , , , , , on May 29, 2014 by Lightning Slim

Even titans of the genre write crappy songs sometimes. If a band is particularly prolific, they might write a bunch of them, which end up acting like a shit-cocoon around the beauties they hide. What I’d like to explore  here are some of the biggest, best and most well-regarded bands’ very worst efforts. Let’s start with my favourite band: Iron Maiden.

I bet you just started humming “Run to the Hills” or “The Trooper” in your head. You most certainly didn’t break into a rendition of impossibly-long shitpile “The Angel and the Gambler”.

Now I know you’re thinking this is low hanging fruit because it’s from the inter-Bruce period, with Blaze Bayley on vocals. But he’s not the worst thing about “The Angel and the Gambler”. Sure, his two albums were a low point in Maiden history, but I think he got some stuff right on occasion despite a certain amount of tone-deafness (a curious condition for someone hired to be the singer of the world’s biggest metal band, but hey whatever). Blaze does inject an epic, tragic feel to “Sign of the Cross”, some manic energy to “Man on the Edge” and even rocks out a bit on “Futureal”.

This is none of those songs.

Take a peek, but don’t hit play just yet:

Firstly, the time listed is not a mistake. And there is not an interview attached or a cinematic component. The song is ten minutes long. You think “Oh, OK, it’s a big epic song about a sci-fi novel or a famous battle. Maiden does that. No big deal”.

Nope. It’s about a gambler, and the angel who tries to save his soul by having an excruciatingly dull conversation with him. It’s kind of a bluesy, boogie-rock thing with super-obvious keyboards playing a single-note back rhythm (like “Die, Die My Darling” only not funny). And the chorus is one line repeated over and over again, which, in a song of this size, is a lot. I’d say Nicko was phoning in the drum performance, but with no fills whatsoever it’s hard to tell if it’s even him at all. Steve Harris played the keys on this; maybe he just played everything. The real tragedy of the Blaze albums isn’t Blaze, it’s that without the Smith-Dickinson songs to liven up the place, the Harris epics just give way to more Harris epics. It’s bloat.

And it’s not even metal bloat.

Now give the song a play, and feel free to post how long you made it through before switching it off in the comments below. Opinions? Brickbats? Hate “Dream of Mirrors” more? Put that down there too!

Lucky Beast Number 7

Posted in Roller Derby with tags , , , , on April 23, 2014 by Lightning Slim

This weekend, I travel to Montreal to attend the infamous Beast of the East Derby tournament. I’ve been to 5 of these things already, only missing the first one. It’s a fabulously fun time and a kind of unofficial kickoff to the roller derby season in central Canada.

My good friend (and newly published author)  The Derby Nerd has done some serious heavy lifting on previewing this thing should you wish to know more. Take a look here.

And for his Herculean distillation of the tournament’s entire history, try here.

Allons-y!

Deals & Steals: Call the Dealer

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 25, 2014 by Lightning Slim

snakes1

Now, the dealer in question might be to help with the pantload of stoner metal I just received. He might also deal in speed, sleaze, machinery or poisoned bibles by the looks of things. All prices $US.

High On Fire – Snakes For the Divine $5.59, Death Is This Communion $8.78, Blessed Black Wings $6.39, Surrounded By Thieves $6.39. I’m late to the party on these shirtless riffy wonders, so I pulled the trigger on the whole back catalogue. Awesome fun.

Destroy Destroy Destroy – Devour the Power $6.39. More side project silliness from the American core kids. I’m sure I’m meant to enjoy this Manowar parody stuff ironically, so, shhhhhhhh……

Lazarus A.D. – Onslaught $3.99. One of the finest young bands working in retrothrash today.

Scum of the Earth – Sleaze Freak $3.00. The Rob Zombie soundalikes actually made a second album. Not an original note on it, but kind of fun anyway.

KMFDM – XTORT $3.48. Because I’m a Chris Connelly fan. Also, this is a reissue that allows you to skip the stupid bonus track.

Anaal Nathrakh – Domine Non Es Dignus $6.99. Woah. Seriously nutty industrial black metal from the UK. Like Cradle mixed with old-school Earache Records.

Powerman 5000 – Transform $1.48. Can’t believe this radio-ready bit of nothing got released and Doomsday didn’t. Oh well, price was right.

And now for my new favourite thing:

index

Doomriders – Black Thunder $5.58 and Darkness Come Alive $6.39. This side project of Converge has a bit of everything good. At their best they sound like the entire back half of Iron Maiden’s Killers being performed by Danzig. If that description appeals to you, run don’t walk to see them.

doomriders-black_thunder

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