Archive for Roadrunner United

Album Review – Machine Head “Unto the Locust” 2011

Posted in Album Reviews, Sevens to Nines with tags , , , , , , , on October 27, 2011 by Lightning Slim

  It’s fitting that Unto the Locust contains a spot-on cover of Judas Priest’s “The Sentinel”, because this album serves as Machine Head’s version of Defenders of the Faith. Just as The Blackening emulated the trajectory of Screaming for Vengeance, this new album helps complete the duo. Both Priest and Machine Head had taken some knocks for a softer experimental period, and in response produced comeback records seething with primal fury. The follow-ups to those back-to-form records, while lacking the element of pouncing ambush, still fit into the same groove while exuding confidence, polish and a take-charge, stadium-sized attitude. Blackened Vengeance screams “Take that!”, while Defender of the Locust growls “Watch this.”   

I’ve always been leery of albums containing only long songs, as they can be demanding for the listener and provide no easily grasped Point of Entry*. Rob Flynn and company lay this concern to rest, just as they did on The Blackening. They are not only capable of putting together a 60-second hook that draws the listener into each track, they can chain together seven of those hooks per song and only afterward do you realize that you’ve been fed one epic track in delicious bite-sized pieces. 

Machine Head are in the songwriting sweet spot of their career; Unto the Locust is a reward for the faithful and a reason for the curious to take note. Be sure to grab the deluxe version containing the aforementioned “Sentinel” cover as well as a chilling version of “Witch Hunt” that traces a direct line from Rush to Killing Joke. Flynn is at last producing material commensurate with his standing as a leader in the American metal community. 8 out of 10

 

*See what I did there?

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Classic Album Review – Annihilator “Alice in Hell” 1989

Posted in Album Reviews, Sevens to Nines with tags , , , , , , , on February 16, 2011 by Lightning Slim

  It would have been very interesting for the metal world had Jeff Waters accepted Dave Mustaine’s invitation to join Megadeth on any of the three occasions it was on offer over the years; his blistering guitar skills would have been right at home inside the speedy ‘Deth machine and likely inspired even more envious youths in the basements and garages of the world. The barrier is that Waters has never been one to subordinate his creative vision to anybody, and even now isn’t about to join anyone else’s band. He has always gone his own way, and for better or worse this has helped make Annihilator a well-kept secret for over 20 years. Back in ’89, however, his self-recorded debut Alice in Hell tuned a lot of heads, those of Roadrunner Records and Mustaine included.
 
Things begin with “Crystal Ann”, a bright, instrumental opener that is strong enough to stand on its own and doesn’t sound tacked-on, which is something of a lost art nowadays. Ann’s playtime is cut short by the arrival of main event “Alison Hell”, a sprawling, complicated Mercyful Fate-flavoured behemoth of terror. Actually, King Diamond would sound right at home on any of this material. Alas, what we get instead is Randy Rampage, who is terrible   unique gives it his all on vocals, eventually winning us over with his dedication to the cause,  if not the strength of his pipes. The other tracks are a bit more compact, but no less ferocious. “Burns Like a Buzzsaw Blade” contains more than its fair share of narm, but as previously discussed,  the attempt to write a sexy thrash number was a strange preoccupation of the genre’s early years (I blame WASP).
 
Eighties hangover notwithstanding, it’s all a beautiful, complex, over-the-top time capsule that certainly belongs in your library. Bargain hunters take note: Alice in Hell is available in a “Two From the Vault” configuration packaged with Never, Neverland, an album which is actually superior to its predecessor in every way except the one that counts: the ability to inspire nostalgia. The enthusiasm of the all-star crew tackling “Alison” at the Roadrunner United anniversary concert shows us just how fondly this record is remembered: as the first surprise salvo in Jeff Waters’ one-man war with the world. 8 out of 10

Deals and Steals: Juggling Genres

Posted in Deals & Steals with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 21, 2010 by Lightning Slim

  This shipment from Second Spin is all over the place. Those fine folks missed two of my selections (Eluveitie and Suicidal!) due to an online inventory problem, and actually went to the trouble of emailing me an apology and a coupon. Not bad! Here we go, prices in Cashitos Americanos with nada shipping :

VNV Nation – Of Faith, Power and Glory $8.99. Electronica masterminds continuing down the path of pop.

Prong – Scorpio Rising $4.99. Good price on a “lost” record. Review is already up!

Junkie XL – Radio JXL: A Broadcast from the Computer Hell Cabin $8.99. This is the Koch records version, which I’ve been looking for since I found out my Roadrunner version omits the Elvis remix on the disc pressing. Further inspection reveals other serious differences in tracklists. Stuck with keeping both!

Insane Clown Posse – Bang! Pow! Boom! $7.99. It’s fine. I’m an aficionado of pop culture. It’s not like I go to the Juggalo Gathering or anything. It’s fine.

Behemoth – Evangelion $8.99. Decent pricing on digipak with bonus DVD. Heavy as shit, too.

Deicide – Best of Deicide $7.99. Glen Benton’s contributions to Roadrunner United provoked some curiosity to hear more.

Ozzy Osbourne – Essential Ozzy Remastered $10.99. Nice selection of goodies when the mood strikes to remember when he was a working musician.

And the big enchilada of my unwittingly latin-flavoured batch of spiciness:

  Excessive Force – Conquer Your World $8.99. If you’re a KMFDM fan or someone who wished the recording of the early side-projects was better, rest assured the remasters coming out of Metropolis records are serious improvements with bonus tracks, better artwork and extensive liner notes.

Deals and Steals: Prepare for MTL!

Posted in Deals & Steals with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 19, 2010 by Lightning Slim

  As we prepare for Heavy MTL 2010, my friends and I have created a mixtape challenge to keep us occupied and entertained on the drive up to la belle province. Each of us must make a CD for all the others, using songs from the artists appearing at Heavy MTL. We also gave each other scatalogical challenging titles and obscure byzantine rules to follow (mine is that Dio is always allowed, Glassbane wants everything to “sound as Quebecois as possible”, whatever the hell that means).

Since I’m no download ninja and I have a serious used record addiction, I seized the opportunity to grab a bunch of obscure online finds to broaden my options and help me win this mix war. Here’s what just arrived:

Three Inches of Blood  – Advance and Vanquish $5.59. Three-Inch were a hoot at the last MTL, and are now back to destroy more orcs and metalheads alike. 

Shadows Fall – Seeking the Way: Greatest Hits $2.27. To my shame, I had no Shadows Fall in the house to work with. This gets me up to speed quickly – and look at that price!

In This Moment – Beautiful Tragedy and Dream $6.99 apiece. A nice change of pace from a band I didn’t know much about. Rides the Evanescence/Emilie Autumn/Lacuna Coil train; and after a few listens I’ll tell you which car they’re in.

This Moment – Finding a Voice in the Dark $1.07. Clicked on it by accident looking for the band above. The sound sample (gotta love Second Spin for that preview feature) revealed heaviness. I decided that for a buck, this decent hardcore record could hop the border for the chance to be resold, perhaps for three bucks.

And also some MTL-unrelated stuff:

Unleashed $3.77. Jet Li acts like a dog. And a little boy lost. And a badass. Ultimate date movie.

Scanner vs. Signs Ov Chaos $1.27. One of the smoothest operators in electronic music records with one of the strangest. If you know which is which and would like to share, please comment.

  Roadrunner United: The Concert $12.99. I’ve always been a huge fan of RR’s All-Star project. I think the meeting of the minds that took place was a great idea, so it’s only natural that I’d want the matching commemorative concert. Heavy MTL has the same kind of vibe to it – a metal summit to create new friends and new ideas about heavy music.

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