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D. Bamford (London)

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Keiko Matsui Live
Keiko Matsui Live
Offered by HANG LOOSE Records
Price: £8.90

5.0 out of 5 stars Great starting point for any new Keiko fans, 14 Nov. 2010
This review is from: Keiko Matsui Live (Audio CD)
Matsui Keiko is well known for blending smooth jazz, new age and world music genres together to form a rather theatrical and dramatic fusion. This live album is in some ways both a 'Best Of' and an improved master of her better work before the end of the 90s. The sound quality and production is excellent - kudos to both her husband Kazu (producer) and the mixing and engineering team because all parts sound clear, full and excellent.

In terms of melody, progressions, voicing and so on, Keiko doesn't break new ground, but in terms of arrangement, selection of instruments, and the 'feel' of the music she's manages to give her material an unique and enjoyable signature. This album brings that to the fore very nicely, with many of her more genre-defying pieces included. Pieces such as 'The Wind and the Wolf' are a long way from the smooth jazz template, instead remarkably infused with a theatrical feel very akin to the sort of sound found in the Cirque du Soleil music.

Keiko's band pull off the difficult combination of being both expressive and tight; the really cool rhythmic sensibilities of her music come through very well throughout. The improvisation sections are equally well played (although the guitar work across Matsui's discography has never really caught my imagination) and there are some really sweet leads at various points.

In short, this live album contains all of the delectable hooks (Bridge Over The Stars, Doll, Forever Forever) and dramatic flair (Kappa, Wind and the Wolf, Walls of the Cave) of Keiko's music in one superbly high quality recording. Great feel and energy; recommended to any fan of this sound.

Alive In Athens-The DVD [2006]
Alive In Athens-The DVD [2006]
Dvd ~ Iced Earth
Offered by Rapid-DVD
Price: £7.48

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Shaffer was exaggerating, 10 Mar. 2008
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Most Iced Earth fans have probably heard the warning promulgated from the IE camp about how poor this DVD was supposed to be. Although I was obviously a little sceptical about the label politics behind the announcement, I valued Shaffer's honesty and took heed of the advice. When I saw it available for a great price I thought that I cant go wrong, so I bought the thing!

Everybody knows about the incredible quality of AIA in audio cd format and it remains one of my favourite live gigs in metal. As such I will focus on the DVD itself.

Firstly, it is a really nice dvd visually. The artwork is classic Iced Earth and the manufacture quality is excellent. My slight gripe is that it is not in a standard size: it's a little short, wider and thinner than most DVDs which always looks a bit off when stacked in your collection. This is a minor gripe of course! The booklet and everything are neat but nothing spectacular (Kamelot eg. do spectacular booklets).

The video quality is questionable. It's not quite as bad as watching stuff on YouTube, but I would say that it is comparable with most scene DVD rips in its quality. Obviously its not a rip, but it does indicate that the equipment used to record the video wasnt the greatest. At times it looks very amateur, yet strangely, I feel that this almost added to the atmosphere. It felt like the old days of Iced Earth, and I found that quite pleasing!

The audio quality is in some areas better than the audio cd release (eg. Dante's Inferno end keyboard parts are more audible), but in others, the mastering is rather poor (I experienced the same problem as on of the other reviewers). The audio however is still of a sufficient quality.

All in all, this DVD is well worth the small amount of money to buy it here from Amazon. It's a nice looking package and it was fantastic to finally SEE this legendary concert. I took off one star because the DVD itself could be executed better and the video quality is substandard. It maintains the 4 star rating because of the musical quality and the fact that for the price, this is a purchase with which I'm sure any IE fan would be happy.

Triumph Or Agony (Ltd.)
Triumph Or Agony (Ltd.)
Offered by hotshotrecordsgermany
Price: £17.60

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Agony. Definitely Agony., 1 Dec. 2006
This review is from: Triumph Or Agony (Ltd.) (Audio CD)
I am a lover of 'film score' (read Elfman, Williams, Davis, Goldenthal etc.) and power metal. I am even a lover of Rhapsody.

Rhapsody of Fire however, have produced what can only be described as a lazy album void of any serious creativity or innovation. They have recycled many melodies from previous albums, knocked off various film soundtrack motifs without improving on the original creator's ideas, and gave nothing genuinely imaginative.

They were once the kings of orchestral music combined with metal, but their latest opus shows that they have left the door open for new bands to emerge in this field. Besides, despite being called 'Hollywood metal', their 'score' is so poorly orchestrated that it would struggle to meet the demands of a B-Grade fantasy film director, let alone the stringent expectations of Hollywood. The voicing isn't great (it's mostly poor) and the music is clearly written in sections and repeating blocks rather than in the proper evolving and flowing manner you'd expect of orchestrally-inclined music. The result for the end listener is pointless repetition and boredom. I suspect they had already reached their creative best in their previous release, and have released this half-arsed effort just to get across the change of name.

It was a disappointing release by any measure.

There are other bands (both emerging and established) that do the orchestral metal thing a LOT better and many of them look set to take the sound better places.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 24, 2011 5:18 PM GMT

One Cold Winter's Night
One Cold Winter's Night
Offered by cuddiwax
Price: £8.50

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Live Metal Album of the Year, 30 Nov. 2006
This review is from: One Cold Winter's Night (Audio CD)
If you are going to buy one live album this year, make it this one!

The performance of all members in the band is TOP QUALITY. Great energy, tight, and clever use of vocal dynamics. However, the main reason to buy this release is Roy Khan, now known as 'Kahn' I believe! As a vocalist myself, I was listening on with absolute awe. Pitch perfect through a 90 minute intense performance, and some moments that blow the mind (especially the beautiful falsetto in the opening of The Edge of Paradise).

I have to say, the production is a slight problem for this release, as it makes the drums (well played by Grillo) sound as though they were made out of industrial plastic, rather than very expensive skins!

Without knit-picking, this album is a marvellous release, and if you are even a slight Kamelot fan, you won't be disappointed.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 24, 2010 10:31 AM BST

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