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Virtual XI
Virtual XI
Price: 5.29

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lazy structure, competent delivery, 13 Jan 2005
This review is from: Virtual XI (Audio CD)
Virtual XI is the second album from Iron Maiden with Blaze Bayley on vocals, and while it is an improvement on the previous album (The X-Factor) it is below the standard of albums like 'Piece of Mind' and Seventh Son of a Seventh Son' which cemented Maiden's reputation. Suprisingly, this failure is not due to poor guitar work or vocal performances, indeed this album boasts some Iron Maiden's strongest vocals and music, instead it is due to lazy song structure.
Futureal is a strong opening track, a sharp, concise three minute anthem, but from here, the problems start. The Angel and the Gambler starts strongly, with a excellent intro and two good verses, but this track is plagued by a weak chorus, and terrible cheesy keyboard work. After hearing the three lines: 'Don't you think I'm a saviour, don't you think I could save you, don't you think I can save your life' four times, the track breaks down (and a series of dull computerised blips take over) and then the same lines are repeated a total of eight more times. After the final verse, the same lines are repeated another ten (yes I said TEN) times, and not even the excellent guitar fills between repetitions of the chorus lines can stave off the tedium. It's not the only track with this problem, the chorus to 'When two Worlds Collide' is needlessly repeated three times, with no real purpose other than to make the track more than six minutes long (maybe that means they get more money or something).
From the here the album is little more than formulaic. 'Lightning Strikes Twice,' 'When Two Worlds Collide,' 'Educated Fool' and 'Don't Look to the Eyes of a Stranger' all have the same structure: All the verse vocals are expended in one go, followed by a chorus, then a guitar solo, before the chorus is repeated again. Initially you hardly notice this but after even a few listens, this will become annoying.
However, the greatest criticism must be withheld for 'The Clansmen.' Evidently, when Iron Maiden wrote this track they ran out of ideas so quickly that they saw fit to repeat the first verse again near the end, a wholly unnecessary measure, which detracts greatly from the appeal of the track.
It's definately not all bad though, as mentioned before, the musical work is excellent, some of Maiden's best guitar fills and solos can be heard on this album, and Blaze's vocals suit the music perfectly, at times creating a brilliant atmosphere.
Unfortunately though, the bad points outweigh the good, and with new albums 'Brave New World' and 'Dance of Death' being far superior to this, it's difficult to see why anyone needs it.

The War Of Art
The War Of Art
Price: 5.79

4 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Painfully repetitive, 15 Dec 2002
This review is from: The War Of Art (Audio CD)
On paper American Head Charge have all the credentials to be a great young band, with a mix of instruments from guitar to keyboard to synth. This gives them the freedom to try all kinds of different styles in their tracks. Unfortunately, they explore very few styles on their debut album. The problem stems from (but does not stop with) the way the songs are sung. The vocalist Martin Cock does have a good singing voice when he decides to use it, but unfortunately in all but 1 track he settles for yelling his lines. This really drains the power from the tracks, which are charged well with solid guitar riffs.
This album reaches lowpoints with 'Self' 'Seamless' and 'Never Get Caught' which are stunning in their unoriginality.
The only saving grace is 'Just so you know,' a track which mixes the power guitar riffs with a clever melody and Martin Cock actually singing to create a unique sound. This track was rightfully the single released, and if some of the other tracks were anywhere near this good, it might be a good album.
But with only one good or original track, this album just fails to impress. Unless you want to listen to a lot of tracks that sound the same, ignore this album and buy the single of 'Just so you Know' instead.

Lovecraft and Witchhearts
Lovecraft and Witchhearts
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: 20.60

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good album, but could've been better, 15 Dec 2002
This is a compilation of the Cradle's work since 1996, it includes tracks from 'Dusk and Her Embrace,' 'Cruelty and the Beast,' and 'Midian.' There are some excellent tracks here which show the Cradle's ability to mix heavy and thrash metal with orchestral arrangements to create a distinctive sound which cannot fail to entertain.
Cradle of Filth are at their best mixing ideas, and therefore there are some tracks on here which really don't need to be heard, 'Funeral in Carpathia' and 'Sodomy and Lust' are two examples. These tracks are baseless in their unoriginality and threaten to bring the standard of the album down.
There are also a number of tracks which could have been included instead, 'Cthulu Dawn' and 'Tearing the Veil from Grace' perhaps, both of which rise above the standard of some of the tracks on this double album.
However as I said earlier this album will definately keep you entertained for a long time as it has me, and for those who have not heard much of the Cradle's music, this would be a good place to start.

Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: 14.06

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A huge step forward, 15 Dec 2002
This review is from: Midian (Audio CD)
After the dull and repetitive 'Cruelty and the Beast' you could forgive me for being a little trepidatious before buying this CD. I had already seen the video for 'Her Ghost in the Fog' on TV so at least I knew there was one track on the album I would like. I am happy to say that I was more than pleasantly suprised with the rest as well.
From the predictably dark and gutteral sounds of 'At the Gates of Midian' this album blasts straight into 'Cthulu Dawn,' a track which urges your head to bang. It is fast, loud, well written and an excellent start which really sets the mood. The organ accompniment in the background mixed with the eclectic guitar riffs is an excellent sound and one which is used at various points in this album.
'Saffron's Curse' is a more melodic track which intersperses the heavy riffs with patches of melodic synth and Sara Jezebel Diva's backing vocals, and it impresses. It also shows the ability of the band to write tracks with vastly different styles, which is a godsend after the 'dakka-dakka-dakka' nature of 'Cruelty...'
By the time 'Amor E Morte' starts you can't help but be absorbed. Featuring the first of two super fast guitar solos from Gian Piras, 'Amor...' features chorus work and orchestral arrangements which enhance the power of the track immeasurably.
'Her Ghost in the Fog' is as close to a love ballad as you will ever get from Cradle, and it really does work. The voice over in the intro and the crushingly heavy riffs back this track up excellently and it cannot fail to impress.
From there on in the album maintains the standard, and the conclusion to this album 'Tortured Soul Asylum' shows just how powerful the Cradle's music can be.
I recommend this album to anyone who has listened to Cradle before, or even anyone who hasn't. I won't guarantee you'll like it at the first listen, Dani's lyrics do take a while to get used to, but this is a tremendously rewarding album, which shows more maturity and quality from the Cradle.
Buy it yesterday!

Rock In Rio (Live)
Rock In Rio (Live)
Price: 8.48

0 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mostly good, partly bad, 1 Oct 2002
This review is from: Rock In Rio (Live) (Audio CD)
Looking at the line-up on this double CD I realised I had not even heard of some of the tracks, like the rarely heard 'Sign of the Cross' and 'Clansman.' It also boasts tracks from their newest album 'Brave New World,' like 'Dream of Mirrors,' the excellent 'Wicker Man' and of course the title track itself.
From the classical intro, the roar that goes up when Adrian Smith starts the intro to 'Wicker Man' is absolutely stunning, I've had the privelidge of hearing this CD with surround sound, it's something else.
The first CD maintains a high standard nearly all the way through, though 'The Mercenary' is a let-down.
At this point I should point out something to all those who don't have any Iron Maiden CD's, they like lots of solos, linking riffs and they will leave a long time between the end of one chorus and the next verse.
Another rather unfortunate habit is that they will sometimes expend all their lyrics in the first 3 minutes of a track, jam for 3 minutes then just repeat the chorus and end the song. This can be very annoying and frustrating at first.
A prime example of this is 'Sign of the Cross' which expends all of it's verse material in a 2 minute blast, then has almost 6 minutes of jamming before simply repeating the chorus and ending. I couldn't help but think they could have put more effort in.
However don't let those few problems put you off, Iron Maiden is uplifting, unlike Metallica and doesn't resort to using swear words every line like Guns 'n' Roses but does explore melodies in depth which means if you are new to metal this CD is a good choice.
CD 2 continues the high standard, the first time you hear 'The Evil that Men do' (which is faster than normal on this CD) you will be amazed, you'll probably reach for the repeat button a few times. The tracks after 'Fear of the Dark' up to 'Sanctuary' solidify and confirm the standard of CD 2, but in Sanctuary this album hits it's lowest points. This track stops and starts something chronic, and even stops altogether because the crowd aren't into it, leading to Bruce wasting 30 seconds yelling at the crowd before the track continues. 'Sanctuary' also has perhaps the worst guitar solo ever, from Jerick Gers. It really does sound like his guitar is broken, but it isn't.
'Run to the Hills' is an excellent finisher and has all 250,000 fans yelling the chorus with Bruce.
That's the other problem. Bruce really does mess up some of the lines with the way he sings them. He sings some lines much faster than they are sung on the albums, or sometimes higher or lower. I was unconvinced by the standard of the singing, especially on 'Hallowed be Thy Name' where he struggles to keep up to the point that the drummer slows down so Bruce doesn't get left behind.
However, overall this is a great album, definately recommended. I got it in May and I still listen to it now. BUY IT!!

Cruelty and the Beast
Cruelty and the Beast
Offered by MMT-UK
Price: 7.90

1 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Try harder next time Cradle, 20 Aug 2002
This review is from: Cruelty and the Beast (Audio CD)
I was eager to buy this CD, as I already owned Midian and wanted to hear more of what the Cradle had to offer. It was a mistake. This album starts convincingly enough, with a solid intro and a good first three tracks. 'Cruelty Bought They Orchids' is a super-fast (almost thrash fast) track with excellent lyrics and a brilliant intro. 'Beneath the Howling Stars' starts to explore melodies and harmonies more, but all I will say is that this particular album has already peaked by this point. 'Venus in Fear' is frankly laughable, while the orchestral arrangement is sound enough, the moans and groans put on over it are pathetic, this is a track I only listened to once.
From there, things go from being on a slight slope to careering down a sheer mountain face. Evidently, by the time Cradle came to writing 'Desire in Violent Overture' they had decided that melodies were a bad idea, and that instead they would grind out basic thrash riffs and throw Dani's lyrics on top. 'The Twisted Nails of Faith' improves slightly, with some almost good slower parts, with !!SOMEONE NOT IN THE BAND!! speaking a few lines in the middle at one point, but really by this point you will be looking at your CD player to check whether or not you're still listening to track 6.
The same could even be said for 'Bathory Aria', while this may be three seperate tracks it's really just the same sort of riffs with three sets of lyrics one after another.
'Portrait of the Dead Countess' is an excellent orchestral instrumental, and this album almost finishes on a high point, but unfortunately 'Lustmord and Wargasm' fails to lift the standards of the CD, or your spirits after sitting through this painfully dull album.
Overall, I was expecting so much from this album, but after listening to it just 2 times, I was left with nothing to do but bury it as deeply as possible in my CD case.
Buy Midian, or Dusk and Her Embrace, they're great albums, but avoid this album like the plague, which incidentally seems to feature in Dani's lyrics an awful lot these days.

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