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Down Iv Part I - The Purple Ep
Down Iv Part I - The Purple Ep
Price: £7.13

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Down - Down IV Part 1 - The Purple EP, 27 Sep 2012
Down IV Part I - The Purple EP is a six track, 33.18 minute release by the American Doom/Sludge/Stoner Rock supergroup Down from September 2012. It is the first in a series of EPs that collectively form a complete body of work known as Down IV but which each stand up as individual releases and which are all sequenced to show one particular element of the band's overall sound.

If you are unfamiliar; Down's line-up features Pantera's Phil Anselmo on vocals, Corrosion Of Conformity's Pepper Keenan on guitar, Eyehategod's Jimmy Bower on the drums (who has also played with Pepper and Phil in C.O.C and Superjoint Ritual respectively), Crowbar's Kirk Windstein on guitar and now Crowbar's Pat Brudders on bass, replacing Pantera's Rex Brown who in turn had previously replaced Crowbar's Todd Strange.

Generally, if you like any of the individual bands from which the band members previously come then there is a good (though not 100% guaranteed) chance that Down will suit your tastes, and they are definitely a band worth listening to for any fans on the Doomy, Stonery end of the Metal spectrum.

Stylistically, The Purple EP concentrates on the heavier, doomier and most Sabbath-influenced aspects of the band's sound, ignoring the softer acoustic moments or bluesier leanings that intermittently appeared throughout their previous three studio albums. This is both the EP's greatest strength and weakness, as it delivers one complete set of matching tracks in a cohesive and uninterrupted whole, but could equally be accused of being samey or lacking variety if you weren't feeling particularly generous. There is nothing as fun as `Stained Glass Cross' or as evocative as `Jail' for example, but that shouldn't really be a problem when everything that is there is great in its own obvious way.

Choosing highlights from a half-hour EP of similarly themed material is difficult although I would say that it was probably a good idea for the band to market the album using both `Witchtripper' and `Misfortune Teller' as they are definitely the most catchy and instant tracks on the EP. This is not to say however that the rest of the release is anything less than what a fan could want from Down in terms of quality. Every member puts in a good performance, the production job is charmingly raw and the whole thing just feels like pure-Down.

Overall; as long as you already like Down, and aren't necessarily looking for a myriad of different styles and approaches then Down IV Part 1 - The Purple EP is everything you could ask for and you should probably check it out.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 5, 2012 6:20 PM GMT


Blood Of The Nations
Blood Of The Nations
Price: £14.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Accept - Blood Of The Nations, 12 Sep 2012
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This review is from: Blood Of The Nations (Audio CD)
Blood Of The Nations is the twelfth studio album by the legendary German Metal band Accept, and their first since reforming and hiring Mark Tornillo, formerly of TT Quick, on lead vocals.

Despite it being the band's twelfth record, it has all the energy and power of a brand new band's debut and would serve as a fine introduction to the legendary band for any new fan and could either inspire you to check out the back catalogue, or along with its follow-up record `Stalingrad,' serve as half of an absolutely perfect discography from the theoretical new band. Additionally, for existing fans it has proven to be a damned fine comeback album, getting a lot of rave reviews and positive fan reaction.

Stylistically speaking there really isn't any better way to describe the material other than as true Heavy Metal, plain and simple. Even if it does risk making you sound a bit like a music snob. Its that part of the Metal spectrum that forms the basis for the early types of Power, Thrash and Progressive Metal without actually leaning especially heavily into the defining characteristics that separate each subgenre from plain old Metal itself, although at the same time occasionally its more powerful, thrashier and even a little proggier than some of the early albums in each of those respective genres before they found their niche.

Regardless of the style however, it is just a remarkably well written and enjoyable Metal album that has a satisfying production job, courtesy of Andy Sneap, as well as a lot of virtuosic displays of musicianship and great vocals all around that can recall Lemmy at one moment, Halford at another and then former Accept singer Udo the next moment.

Crunchy riffs, impressive solos and memorable vocal patterns are what this album is all about, and it delivers them in enough permutations of speed, softness, fun and seriousness to both keep the listener engaged and leave them satisfied at the album's conclusion. It has a both a fairly instant appeal as well as definitely being a `grower' of a record that rewards repeat listening relatively well, and I highly recommend checking it out.


Hall Of The Mountain King
Hall Of The Mountain King
Price: £7.65

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Savatage - Hall Of The Mountain King, 28 Aug 2012
Savatage's fourth studio album Hall Of The Mountain King is a cult classic Heavy Metal album, that was released in 1987 and which was the starting point in the band's gradual evolution from a more traditional 80s Metal band into a Progressive Metal band.

Sonically, the album shares moments of Power Metal, NWOBHM, Progressive Metal & Thrash Metal without ever really settling on one or the other for a real long time, although in a way that always feels natural rather than a schizophrenic shifting between disjointed styles. If you come in to it expecting one particular thing then it may be confusing or even a bit annoying, indeed people often argue over what subgenre Savatage actually are since they sit perfectly on the borders of so many, but if you can stop yourself over-analyzing it in comparison to any set of genre boundaries, you'll get to hear a damn fine album of well written, quintessentially '80s sounding Metal.

Jon Olivia has a powerful voice that goes from throaty low pitched shouting to Dickinson & Halford style theatrics and melodies at a moments notice. Equally, the rest of the band are all impressive at their instruments, with each member shining at one point of the album or other, from a bass-centric intro to a lengthy guitar solo or some interesting drum fills everyone shows what they can do in a restrained but still impressive fashion.

The whole record flows really well and not a moment feels wasted or out of place, the production suits the musical direction perfectly and the album overall just feels satisfying. Its easy to see why it always makes it into lists of best metal albums.

Highlights include the rhythmic and interesting `Legion' the speedy `White Witch' and the brilliant and memorable title-track along with its classical-reinterpretation prelude track, for which most people will know the album.

Overall; Hall Of The Mountain King is something that pretty much any Metal fan should be able to find something to like about, and if you haven't heard it yet, you should at least consider trying it out.


Tribe
Tribe
Offered by mrtopseller
Price: £4.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Queensr’che - Tribe, 25 Aug 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Tribe (Audio CD)
Tribe is the eighth full-length studio album by the Seattle based Progressive Metal band Queensr’che. It was released in 2003 to mixed reviews, and of all of Queensr’che's albums to date it is probably the most misunderstood and underrated.

Following on the heels of the unpopular Q2K album, and featuring a credibility-questionable semi-return from former guitarist Chris DeGarmo which some fans accused of being cynical, the album is sometimes unfairly dismissed as being an awful record that fans should avoid.

In my opinion there is still actually quite a lot to like about Tribe and it is by no means the band's worst outing to date. The band have always been big fans of evolution, and never made two albums in a row that sounded much alike. Tribe has its own sound like all Queensr’che albums do, even though people sometimes lump it in with the previous two records as being `that alternative period.'

Though it uses Alternative Rock influences like Hear In The Now Frontier and Q2K as well as Alternative Metal influences like Operation Mindcrime 2, it uses them in a different way, like all Queensr’che albums do, only this time it's a way that almost makes some concessions to their earlier sounds and consequently Tribe feels very much like Queensr’che even though you wouldn't really expect it to given the fan reaction it received. I have to admit that after reading about its reputation, and after hearing Q2K, I didn't really expect the album to be one of the band's better efforts, but upon hearing it initially, and indeed after listening to it numerous times, I was surprised by just how much I did end up liking it.

The three heavier numbers, `Open' `Tribe' and `Desert Dance' have that mixture of slow Metal, an eastern flavour and an Alternative feel that the heavier moments on Promised Land like `Damaged' and `I Am I' had. `Desert Dance' incorporates a few controversial touches of Nu Metal and `Tribe' has a mixture of Grunge-gone-Psychedelic guitar and tribal percussion that actually brings to mind Undertow-era Tool.

`The Art Of Life' has something of the feel of classic closers like `The Lady Wore Black' and `Roads To Madness' about it, (highlighted on `The Art Of Live's acoustic rendition of Roads To Madness') although obviously through the filter of Alternative Metal rather than classic Heavy Metal. Not to mention that its main riff is vaguely similar to the vocal pattern from `The Killing Words' off of Rage For Order.

Finally, the ballads `Rhythm Of Hope' `Doing Fine' and album highlight `Great Divide' (which I'd recommend that even if you skip the album, you still check out this one song) all have the feel of the band's great lineage of ballads like `Silent Lucidity,' `Della Brown' `Bridge' and `I Will Remember.' Admittedly, they aren't just as good, and they are once again played through an Alternative filter, but that doesn't diminish their quality all to significantly as long as you don't just outright dislike anything Alternative sounding.

The only real place where the album feels like a bit of a let down for me is in the second and fourth track as well as, more importantly, in the order of the tracks. `Loosing Myself' has that post-Tate's discovery of U2 feel that `Burning Man' and `Wot Kinda Man' from Q2K had, and `Loosing Myself' has great lyrics and some great acoustic guitar work but the wrong chorus for a song in that point of the album.

I personally rearranged the album in my music library so that `Tribe' and `Blood' are tracks two and four, and this way the album flows a hell of a lot better (I'd recommend this to people who haven't heard the album yet incidentally, do it before hand and you'll get a better first impression.)

Overall; I think that if it had of had a more open minded and accepting fan base, if it had followed up Promised Land, which it spiritually does rather than chronologically does (which would also have made the band's career trajectory feel more natural), if the situation with Chris had not been unclear or misrepresented in the press and if it had have been two tracks shorter with the tracks placed in a slightly different order, then Tribe would actually be a very good album that a lot of people liked.

This isn't the case however, and as it stands Tribe is a good but mildly flawed album with a disproportionately bad reputation but a lot of potential. OK, if you only like Prog Metal that still sounds like Power Metal or Thrash Metal you probably mightn't like it, and if you dislike the Alternative sound it may well just be irredeemable, but equally if you are the kind of fan who isn't as strict with their tastes as the stereotypical quick-to-cry-foul Metalhead, then there is a hell of a lot to enjoy about Tribe and it can offer a few great new Queensr’che songs for your collection.


Mastermind
Mastermind
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £9.57

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Monster Magnet - Mastermind, 23 Aug 2012
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This review is from: Mastermind (Audio CD)
Mastermind is the eighth full-length studio album by the legendary New Jersey Stoner Rock band Monster Magnet. It was released in 2010 and is seen as something of a return to form by many fans as it is one of the band's genuinely best albums to date, despite having been released so chronologically far from their early work.

Stylistically speaking, Mastermind is the heaviest, hardest and doomiest Monster Magnet album to date and there is a very clear Black Sabbath influence on display on a lot of the tracks, most of which are mid-paced or even slow. There is still variety to be found however; there are two tracks of jangly chord bashing towards the album's close, two very intense atmospheric build ups and two faster songs just after the album opens up that raise the tempo in an energetic fashion before the album settles back down into its doomy groove, as well as a third halfway through that shakes you up and stops you getting complacent.

Singer and primary songwriter Dave Wyndorf has consistently been one of the genre's finest ever lyricists, to the point where it is one of the band's distinguishing features, and this album is far from a disappointment in that regard. As usual; interesting observations, black humour and some almost depressing philosophical points all mix together in well-written and mutli-faceted songs that reward repeat-listening.

When this is combined with the variety of vocal approaches from bluesy drawls and spacey pronouncements to metallic roars by way of sly and sarcastic punk deliveries and the occasional melody, it makes for a brilliant album that you can listen to a lot without getting bored, in which you can discover something new every time and which should be at least considered for a place in any fan's collection. This is not the sound of a band phoning it in, it is a band charged up and really laying into it hard.

Its not all super heavy riffs and biker metal production though; the band still incorporate some of the psychedelic sounding guitar effects and additional percussion from the early stuff and touches of electronics from the mid-period material, albeit very subtly, into the hard rock based music. In some ways Mastermind is unlike any other Monster Magnet album due to the precise ratio of its influences and approaches to songwriting and yet in other ways its kind of like the summation of their entire career since it mixes it all together.

Highlights include the Nine Inch Nails-esque `Time Machine' which has some genuinely beautiful guitar, as well as the energetic and lyrically superb `Bored With Sorcery' and the doomy `When Planes Fall Out Of The Sky,' which boasts some of the album's heaviest riffs.

Overall, Mastermind is one of the best Monster Magnet albums available, no caveat. Its certainly the one with the best reputation in a long time, and although I personally think that the band never got bad, it still gives off those feelings of reaffirmation that all the best comeback albums do.

Its just got a certain inexplicable spark both of creativity and power and I'd highly recommend that any old fans who've given up on the band check it out and see if it wins them back.

Basically though, if you like Monster Magnet at all you should probably try this out, especially if you like their heavier stuff. If you are a new fan its definitely not a bad place to start either, although maybe try it in conjunction with a `classic' as well, because they're definitely the kind of band where hearing one album wouldn't be enough to really `get' what the band are all about.


Beautiful Stories For Ugly Children
Beautiful Stories For Ugly Children
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £10.02

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mushroomhead - Beautiful Stories For Ugly Children, 12 Aug 2012
Beautiful Stories For Ugly Children is either the seventh, fourth or third album by the criminally underrated band Mushroomhead, depending on your views on record contracts and compilations. It is their second album with Waylon Reavis in one of the band's two lead vocalist positions. Since its release in 2010, the band have lost Pig Benis, Gravy and Lil Dan, who all appear on the album, as members.

Despite still containing large chunks of influence from Alternative and Industrial music; Beautiful Stories' is arguably their most straight forwardly Metal release to date; with a lot more double-kicks, chugging and up-tempo tracks than on their previous albums. At times, there is even a very clear Zack Wylde/Dimebag Darrell feel present in the tails to the riffs and there is a hell of a lot more lead guitar than on any previous Mushroomhead release.

Furthermore, there are also a lot less of the dark and creepy moments from the band's early work to be found here. There is nothing like `Chancre Sore' or `The Wrist' on the album for example, which may in fairness be a bit disappointing for certain fans, but the album definitely does make up for ignoring one aspect of the band's sound with its consistency and the excellent, memorable songwriting.

Right from the beginning, the album is charged and exciting, kicking off with the very fun opening track `Come On' which pretty much sums up the entire new focus in direction in one track.

The next four tracks are all excellent, very much following in that same direction, but with enough variety each for the album not to sound homogenous, then from that point on the album lets a lot of variety sink in. There are still touches of Faith No More's influence present in the vocal patterns and choice of keyboard sounds, but you'll also get a really Tony Iommi sounding riff here, a bit that could fit on a Chimaira record here or even a vaguely Ministry-esque drumbeat there too.

When this is focused yet varied musical direction is combined with the hugely improved production job and mix (courtesy of their drummer Steve `Skinny' Felton) over the last record, and the fact of Waylon's voice being an established part of the band already this time around, this is a very impressive and instantly enjoyable record, arguably even their best to date. If you have anything more than a casual interest in the band, this is definitely not an album to skip.

Highlights include the faster, heavier tracks like `Come On,' `Darker Days' and `Burn The Bridge,' as well as the interesting percussion-based `Harvest The Garden' and the proggy `Holes In The Void' which sounds like an even more intense reworking of their cover of Pink Floyd's `Empty Spaces.'

That being said however, there is not a single track here that is forgettable, weak or out of place; it is a remarkably consistent album and the kind where you can have a new favourite track on every listen.

The songs are all big, the riffs are all satisfying and there are lead guitar breaks going off left, right and center. The combination of this direction and the existing styles of vocals, keyboards and electronics from the `Xii' album in particular, results in a brilliant and utterly enjoyable record.

Overall; for a fan of the band, this album is an absolute must-have. It may take a few listens to come around to if you primarily like the band through the filter of a more Industrial or Alternative fanship but will likely become your favourite Mushroomhead album if you listen to it through the filter of a more Metal fanship.


Dark Roots Of Earth  [Cd+dvd]
Dark Roots Of Earth [Cd+dvd]
Price: £12.36

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Testament - Dark Roots Of Earth, 30 July 2012
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Dark Roots Of Earth is the tenth full-length studio album by the legendary San Franciscan Bay Area Thrash Metal band Testament. It was released on Nuclear Blast in the summer of 2012, following up 2008's critically acclaimed The Formation Of Damnation album. Like that album and indeed also its 1999 predecessor, The Gathering, the album was produced by the famous British producer Andy Sneap.

There was a bit of background intrigue regarding the album's drummer in as much as that although the excellent and underrated Paul Bostaph was still a member of the band just before the time of the album's writing, due to an injury, the drums on the album where actually played by another former Testament band member (and member or contributor with dozens of respected and influential bands) Gene Hoglan. Consequently the album has quite a different feel, as far as the drumming goes, to The Formation Of Damnation.

Interestingly, the band also worked with Lamb Of God's Chris Addler on this record, but his tracks didn't end up on the standard version of the album, although his version of the track `A Day In Death' can be bought separately online.

Stylistically speaking, Dark Roots Of Earth very much continues in the path set by the previous two Testament albums, mixing elements of their classic Thrash sound with some elements of their more Death Metal influenced mid period, toned down. The result is an album that has songs with the occasional use of Death-vocals like 1997's Demonic album, sharing song-time with melodic singing and guitar harmonies like 1989's Practice What You Preach album, as well as the somewhat controversial new usage of Blast Beats. This pretty much creates a best-of-both-worlds scenario for fans of the band's entire catalogue.

The main body of the album however is made up of speedy double-kicks, chugging low-pitched guitars and mostly shouted vocals, punctuated frequently by Alex Skolnick's and Eric Peterson's creative leads and solos. So, effectively it pretty much embodies the classic Bay Area Thrash sound, but in a way which still comes across as fresh and modern primarily through the excellent production job and the surprising amount of melody in the songwriting.

There are also a couple of tracks, including the Title Track and the semi-ballad `Cold Embrace' which try other ideas and styles as well, which adds a touch of variety to the album, breaking up the stream of faster pounding numbers and allowing it to flow well from beginning to end.

Highlights include the catchy opener `Rise Up,' the catchy single `True American Hate' and the aforementioned semi-ballad `Cold Embrace.'

At the end of the day, its going to be down to personal preference how much you enjoy the album and where it fits in the band's catalogue. Some people will find it a little too modern and some people won't find it light and melodic enough. Some people would prefer if Louie Clemente or Paul Bostaph had been on it and some people just don't like modern production at all. If any of these things sound like how your mind usually works then this might be one to skip but it's definitely a personal-preference issue if you dislike the record rather than any inherent lack of quality.

What can't really be argued is that the band have put in a tremendous amount of care and effort into crafting this album and care has been taken to mix old-school and modern styles to keep things fresh. It isn't just formulaic and it isn't just phoned-in and I personally enjoy it a great deal. Due to the album's very high anticipation level and all the excitement surrounding it, I'm not sure at this point if the album will retain all of its potency with the passage of time or how much respect the fans will give it two or three albums down the line, but it certainly leaves an incredibly strong first impression right now and is far, far from a disappointment or let down.

Overall; Dark Roots Of Earth is an excellent and enjoyable fifty-minute album. Fans of Testament should check out the album, especially if they already enjoyed the previous album; fans of Thrash should check out the album, especially if they like the excellent renaissance its been enjoying in recent years as classic bands either reform or release their best albums since the eighties and in fact, fans of Metal in general who for some reason haven't yet explored Testament should consider at least checking out this album if they have the time and money to take a shot on it.

***If you chose to get the special edition version, you can enjoy four bonus tracks, including an extended version of `Throne Of Thrones,' as well as the Queen cover `Dragon Attack,' the Scorpions cover `Animal Magnetism' and the Iron Maiden cover `Powerslave.'

Furthermore, you get a DVD featuring a 29-minute making-of documentary, although the band did give away most of the footage in free webisodes prior to the album's release.

There is also a 9-minute `Gear Tour' from the guitarists where they take you through the pick-ups and pedals and that sort of thing.

Finally there is a 20-minute live concert from the Avalon Ballroom, Santa Clara California, February 19th 2012. The track listing is: 1. Practice What You Preach 2. Over The Wall 3. Souls Of Black 4. Disciples Of The Watch.

It is a multi-camera shoot and a fairly energetic performance from the band in front of an enthusiastic crowd (they have fun and you even hear the 'Breaking The Law' riff at one point), although the sound quality isn't incredible and the vocals and guitar are fairly low in the mix. Despite these sound problems it is still fairly enjoyable, and watching Skolnick's guitar solos close up should be interesting for guitarists. Basically, it is a nice enough bonus feature but isn't of the same production value as their Live In London DVD.

The packaging of this special edition version is in an elaborate glossy book-style presentation, with the pages stuck into the case's spine and the discs held inside a `page' each. And overall the whole thing is worth the extra money if the price difference is small enough and you haven't already got a copy of the album***
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 11, 2014 6:06 PM GMT


Dehumanizer
Dehumanizer
Price: £4.92

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Black Sabbath - Dehumanizer, 26 July 2012
This review is from: Dehumanizer (Audio CD)
1992's Dehumanizer was Black Sabbath's sixteenth full-length studio album. It is sort of an anomaly in their career, in as much as that it was their third album with Ronnie James Dio on vocals, who had previously sang on the band's tenth and eleventh albums Heaven And Hell and Mob Rules but left the band to start a successful solo career, to be replaced firstly by Deep Purple's Ian Gillian for one album and then by Deep Purple's Glen Hughes for one album.

After the band lost Hughes they then recruited Ray Gillen before finally ending up with Tony Martin who, excluding this album which interrupts the five studio album and almost ten year streak, sang on every Black Sabbath studio album afterwards.

As if interrupting the Tony Martin streak didn't already make it feel a little odd, it is also a little odd in that it both is and isn't the band's final album with Ronnie James Dio on vocals because they did actually reform with him again briefly over a decade and a half later to put out three new songs on a greatest hits package and then once more with a different name (Heaven And Hell) and put out another album.

The album was produced by Reinhold Mack, who is notable for his work with Queen, ELO and Deep Purple. The production job of the album however is a source of complaint among many fans and critics, who argue that the record is too muddy sounding.

The general public and critical consensus surrounding the album was that it was the weakest of the three Black Sabbath albums with Dio, but people can differ on whether that's because this one is actually bad or because the other ones just happen to be even better.

How you feel about this subject will just come down to personal preference at the end of the day and you really have to try it for yourself to find out where you stand. The only thing I would say is that the album is a little dense and definitely a grower so if you really want the best out of it you should probably put in at least five or six serious listens before really making a judgment.

Musically, the album is very heavy, dark and doom orientated, primarily slow paced and mostly based around longer tracks; if any speed builds up its usually just for the guitar solo or the ending (with a few exceptions of course).

Fans of the album would argue that the songs are substantial, and critics of it would argue that the songs are overlong with too much repetition. Its not like the album is devoid of variety though, sometimes there are soft arpeggiated sections and there are a few tasteful touches of background keys, but to be fair it is mostly all about big riffs and Dio's vocals.

The tracks are quite powerful, brimming with teasing potential energy, that feels intense because the song feels like it is holding back something and threatening to explode at any moment. It can be frustrating to a lot of listeners that the songs basically overuse this teasing mechanic and rarely actually do explode as promised, but again depending on your viewpoint maybe that just makes it more intense.

If you are satisfied hearing some big Iommi riffs, a few guitar solos and Dio's inimitable vocals, then you can't really miss out on this album. It may not rewrite history and replace Paranoid and their debut in every critic's poll and top-100 list, nor should it be expected to, but it is another set of songs to be enjoyed in the form you already enjoy.

Stand out tracks include the musically-atypical single `TV Crime' which is a lot faster than the rest of the album, as well as the very heavy `Letters From The Earth' and the grand `I.'

Overall; There are certainly a lot of reasons to give this album a listen; if you are a Sabbath fan, if you are a Dio fan, if you enjoyed Heaven And Hell`s album and if you just plain like big doomy riffs and slow songs. I speculate that the album suits metal fans more so than the original rock fans, and that if you enjoy Stoner or Doom metal you'd be more accepting of the album's production and direction.

All in all, if you have the time, money and patience for it and suspect you'd be inclined to enjoy it then you should give this album a shot. At the very worst you'll get one or two new enjoyable tracks for your collection, and if you're lucky then maybe you will find something that you really connect with.


Periphery II
Periphery II
Price: £10.24

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Periphery - II, 16 July 2012
This review is from: Periphery II (Audio CD)
Periphery II: This Time Its Personal is the second full-length studio album by the American Metal band Periphery, it was released in 2012, following up on 2011's Icarus EP and 2010's self-titled debut album.

Periphery's style of music is a highly technical and slightly progressive blend of metal, with a clear Messuggah influence in the angular low riffs and focus on rhythm as well as bursts of a much more clean and melodic side and some integration of electronic music, synths and electro drum sounds.

Alongside a number of other bands, they are considered by some to be one of the most important bands in the controversial Djent subgenre. For those who don't know, a lot of people argue over whether or not Djent is actually a genre or not, and whether some of the bands are really just Tech-Metal and some are just Death Metal, Prog Metal or Deathcore etc ...and to be fair only time will tell on that front.

If you like any other Djent or even vaguely Djent-related bands such as Tesseract, Structures, Uneven Structure, After The Burial, Born Of Osiris, After The Burial, Animals As Leaders, Vildhjart, Architects, BMTH, Sikth, Messugah, or just this sort of end of the musical spectrum in general, then they are at least worth a curiosity listen. The album contains a lot of the key features of styles like Deathcore, Metalcore, Prog Metal, Tech-Metal, Math-Metal jumbled together, with bits of electronic music added in moderation.

In fact, regardless of your opinions on the subgenre's existence or how much you do or don't like any of the other bands associated with it, if you have liked anything you've heard from Periphery thus far, this album is worth checking out.

The musical quality is very high, the quality of the production is high, there are a large amount of ideas on offer and since the album was made available for streaming by the band, overwhelming public opinion seems to say that singer Spencer Sotelo has improved immensely with the vocals.

There are also guest appearances in the form of guitar solos from John Petrucci of Dream Theater, Guthrie Govan of The Aristocrats and Wes Hauch of The Faceless.

If you have heard the pre-released single `Make Total Destroy' you should have some idea of the album's direction. There is a lot of lead guitar on this album, very brief sections of Death Vocals and Blast Beats, some spacey atmospheric passages, big clean singing parts, occasional effects-laden arpeggiated sections, and mostly a lot of crushing Djenty sections often in non-standard time signatures.

Other highlights include `Face Palm Mute,' which starts off especially angular but has a lot of dynamics, with music cutting off suddenly hear and there for a drum fill or Sikth-esque fast vocal line, as well as `Ragnarok,' which really displays Spencer's vocals rather well, `Scarlet' which is almost a little reminiscent of Coheed And Cambria and finally the album closer `Masamune.'

Overall, Periphery II should keep a lot of fans happy and is worth checking out if you have an interest in the band but haven't yet taken the plunge. Furthermore; If you can, you should try and get the special edition with two bonus tracks; an extra instrumental track and a cover of Slipknot's `The Heretic Anthem.'


Yellow and Green
Yellow and Green
Price: £10.51

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Baroness - Yellow And Green, 16 July 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Yellow and Green (Audio CD)
Yellow & Green is the third full-length studio album by the Savannah based Progressive/Sludge Metal band Baroness, it was released in the summer of 2012, produced by John Congleton and is a double disc album.

Like the band's previous albums (and indeed some other Savanah based bands, including Black Tusk and Kylesa) the artwork was created by singer John Dyer Baizley. Furthermore, like the band's previous two albums Red Album and Blue Record, the discs are each given a colour theme.

Both discs open with a musical intro-theme, one for each of the two colours. For example, the first track on disc one is `Yellow Theme' which is a brief instrumental piece using some of the notes and rhythms from later on the disc.

Then, it bursts in with the ridiculously catchy single `Take My Bones Away,' which features brilliant melodic guitar lines and a memorable chorus, some keys and a brilliantly dynamic form where things build up, cut out, speed up, slow down and come in and out of effects loops. It may be shocking if you are caught off guard, but it's a phenomenal track that's every bit as memorable as `Teeth Of A Cogwheel' `Wanderlust' or `A Horse Called Golgotha,' if not more so.

Everything about the album is just a little bit bigger and better than the previous two albums. The production job is fantastic, the songwriting is a little bit more distinctive, John Baizley's vocals have improved immensely and of course there is a full seventy-five minutes worth of music to enjoy this time around.

You'd imagine that trying to absorb something so dense as a seventy-five minute album may be difficult, as with some other 70-80 minute albums, but the decision to both split the albums in two and also to lead with the more energetic stuff and let the second half hang back a bit more really works in keeping the listener's attention and gives you a logical pause point if you need one.

Stylistically, the band have actually gotten pretty far away from Sludge at this stage, and in parts far away from Metal in general. Its way less heavy than their earlier stuff, so approach this album with caution if you only want that one type of sound from Baroness.

Stylistically, there is a clear prog influence in as much as there are a lot of brilliant clean or acoustic sections, atmospheric background noises and touches of both synth and piano, as well as a few sections that center around multi-tracked vocals or chopped up passages (specifically `Psalms Alive').

There are a lot of sounds and tones that the band have explored on previous albums and EPs used too, but there are certainly a lot of surprises and things you wouldn't expect. Over the course of the whole two discs there are a diverse range of musical styles, and yet although the album as a whole is their least heavy outing to date, it still sounds unmistakably like Baroness, since they've always had at least one foot in this musical direction.

The great thing about the album is that while the album is more interesting as a result of the grander scope and prog influences, it is never obnoxiously difficult or overlong and a lot of effort has gone into still keeping the songs concise and easily digestible. Nor is it a rehash of anything that anyone else made, or any one set of genre tropes in particular, it is simply exciting and new music made by creative and talented individuals.

Highlights include the hypnotic `Back Where I Belong,' which almost evokes the spirits of both modern-Radiohead and Gentle Giant without actually sounding like them, as well as the tracks `Sea Lungs' which has an almost `Knights Of Cydonia' by Muse-esque sound in parts, the somber `Mtns. (The Crown & Anchor)' and finally `The Line Between' which along with the `Green Theme' recalls something of Thin Lizzy in the guitar department. Understand however, this record doesn't sound like a collage of other band's work or anything, those musical references are only subtle hints put through the filter of the existing Baroness sound.

Ever since the band offered this album up for streaming I wasn't able to stop listening to it and pre-ordered it pretty much instantly. It's an exciting sort of record that you can just listen to again and again, and have a new favourite track every time, as well as hearing bits of your old favourite track that you didn't pick up on the last time around.

I already liked the band's previous work a lot but this album is an improvement on that again; it may bare little resemblance to them at their Sludgiest, but it is simply such a great album that this shouldn't be a problem to all but the strictest fans. In fact, if they only put out Yellow, it would still be an amazing album and the fact that Green is as good as it is really makes this a stand out release. Just listen to the beautiful `Strechmaker' if you need convincing that Baroness made the right decision.

In summary; this is a superb album that has an awful lot to offer and one that is more instant than their previous work, but which also grows with repeat listens. If you are new to the band, I'd actually recommend that you try this album out first and work your way backwards, unless of course you only like heaviness and can't stomach anything clean, spacey or atmospheric. If you are already an existing fan and don't mind a little change in musical direction, I'd highly, highly recommend this album, its not something you want to miss out on.
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