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Tom Chase (London)

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In The Arms Of God
In The Arms Of God

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Return To Form, 10 Sept. 2007
This review is from: In The Arms Of God (Audio CD)
It's good to see COC back in action, making a new album and touring, as they were one of my favourite acts from the 90's. With "In The Arms of God" the band return to form, combining the elements that made them such a great band in the first place - good song writing/melody, and of course lots and lots of bluesy riffs.

After leaving their hardcore/thrash/metal fusion beginnings behind, the band created a series of stunning metal releases. This was not a view held by all however, as the band lost fans, claiming they had `sold out' with the new old-school metal approach. For me, a fan of retro metal, especially in the stoner/doom styling, albums such as "Deliverance" and "Wiseblood" did the trick, and this new release is in a similar vein.

What distinguishes COC from all the other riff-heavy metal bands is their excellent song writing ability, combining great riffs with actual good structures and melodies. After the flowing start of "Stone Breaker" with its spacey intro and relatively straight-forward styling, the band really kick things off with "Paranoid Android", which combines everything I was previously talking about. The song starts with an infectious Pepper Keenan bluesy riff, albeit rather repetitive, but then the band really begin to show their colours, switching things up with numerous middle sections, all with varying riffs, melodies and tempos. Another example of the bands superb song writing comes in my personal favourite, the sprawling "Never Turns To More". This is possibly COC's best song to date, with rich vocal harmonies, infectious riffs and overall stellar musicianship from the whole band. This song also has a very dreamy and ethereal aspect to it, due to many of Keenan's vocal notes being held and delayed with effects (this is also used in other standout track "It Is That Way"), and some of the lead solos having a similar echoed and delayed effect. The band really hit the nail on the head with this song.

To me there are also promising signs of development from the band, experimenting with different sounds and vibes. For example "Rive River Rise" has a very cool middle-eastern/Asian vibe to it, with its use of shakers, congas and driving acoustic guitars. The album's closer, the title track, sounds to me like Keenan was greatly influenced by his time with super group Down, as this song could've easily been on either of their releases. Starting with pummelling riffs and aggressive vocals, the song draws to its massive climax with simply THE riff on the album, the structure reminds me a lot of the epic closer to "NOLA", the fine "Bury In Smoke" which ends with the albums most brutal and engulfing riff. This is not to say the band has lost any of its original sound and style, as this album is packed with killer and classic COC songs (such as "Dirty Hands", "Backslider" and "World on Fire"), all adding up to an album with NO filler, and not a single weak track.

Due to this reason, I am very tempted to say this is COC's best album yet. Whether it's a maturing or simply the benefits of taking time out, whatever it is...this band has hit their peak.

Brown Album
Brown Album
Price: £5.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Primus' Most Unique Record, 10 Sept. 2007
This review is from: Brown Album (Audio CD)
The "Brown Album" was initially rather disappointing for me. For one thing I found the songs to be a little too drawn-out, resulting in a sense of monotony, but also I really disliked the production. Unlike past Primus albums where the instruments have sounded very clear and punctuated, the "Brown Album" sounds like it was recorded underwater. This is especially the case with the drums, which have a very thuddy sound, especially the snare drum which sounds like someone thumping a mattress. But gradually I have found this murky production to give the album a special feel, and certainly the most unique of all the Primus albums. I have also come round to many of the songs I initially deemed uninspiring, and therefore this album has become one of those classic 'growers' that take months, sometimes years to really click.

Now, reviewing this album years down the line, I can honestly say there really isn't a poor song here, and may well be the band's most consistent release. For reviews sake, I shall pick out a few of my highlights, starting with the groovy "Golden Boy". Initially this was my favourite song on the album, and one of the few I would return to, mostly due to its fantastic lead bass riff, which has Claypool's groovy and complex styling all over it. "Shake Hands With Beef" is a powerful and lurching song with a great confrontational vibe, boosted by menacing lyrics concerning growing up and violence (thematically similar to "Fisti Cuffs"). This is a song that really complements the low-end, fuzzy guitar production, and the muddy drum production I mentioned earlier. "Bob's Party Time Lounge" is another favourite, combining Claypool's soft, almost 'childlike' vocal effect with a fun, energetic and typically groovy chorus motif. The song also contains Claypool's bent for off-centre, slightly disturbing lyrics about drug abuse, violence and sex, all executed with tongue firmly in cheek. My last album pick, and personal fave is the brooding "Restin Bones", similar in style and feel to "Shake Hands With Beef" with a slow tempo, fuzzy guitars and somewhat laid-back vocal delivery, lyrically telling an 'edgy' narrative story.

The "Brown Album" is not as technically proficient as previous releases, such as the classic "Sailing The Seas Of Cheese" and "Frizzle Fry" albums. Nor is it as disturbingly off-centre as the weird and wonderful "Pork Soda". Yet, I believe this is their most consistent album from front to back, and has a unique production and vibe, making it a necessary purchase for fans of other albums, and an interesting focal point for new fans.

Queens of the Stone Age
Queens of the Stone Age
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £8.46

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Middle Ground Between QOTSA & Kyuss, 10 Sept. 2007
This review is from: Queens of the Stone Age (Audio CD)
I am a massive fan of Kyuss, and I want to make it clear that I prefer their best works ("Welcome To Sky Valley" and "And The Circus Leaves Town") to QOTSA's best stuff (and anyone that doesn't know Josh Homme was Kyuss' guitarist and main songwriter should find out about that for their own sake, and this review's sake). That is not to say I don't enjoy QOTSA, they are pretty much single-handedly carrying the stoner rock torch into the realms of popular music. Releases such as "Rated R" and "Songs For The Deaf" are eclectic and sometimes simply outstanding outings into modern rock music. However, the bouncy and poppy aspect of QOTSA, compared to the epic groove jamming of Kyuss, doesn't quite work as well for me. The band doesn't send me to that other place, where I'm engulfed and lost in the music. This was the case until I came across this...

This is the band's debut LP (they started out life with a split EP with Kyuss, the first division of the original members), and it strikes me as the band's best to date. Yes, "Songs For The Deaf" sprawled across genres, sounds and atmospheres. Yes, "Rated R" had some catchy-as-f*%k lush melodies. But I always wanted more from the band. They lacked the groove of Kyuss, lacked that desert vibe, the driving and pummelling riffs...the overwhelming aural trip those albums created. But here, with this underrated and seemingly pushed aside release, the band hit the balance for me, combining elements of Kyuss at their peak, and the best of the QOTSA style.

This is evident with songs such as "Regular John", "If Only" and "Mexicola", my three favourite rocking tracks on the album. These songs encompass both the groove and fuzzy tones of Kyuss with the vocal melodies and catchy hooks of QOTSA. Also, special mention should go to "You Cant Quit Me Baby" which is a masterful ballad with a very eerie and melancholy atmosphere, and one of my favourite QOTSA songs to date.

If you're a fan of QOTSA and don't have this release, it really is worth hunting down. For those Kyuss fans, this is the most logical evolution from the Kyuss sound and will certainly please.

Wish You Were Here
Wish You Were Here
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £11.89

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Floyd At Their Best, 10 Sept. 2007
This review is from: Wish You Were Here (Audio CD)
This was the album that really got me into Pink Floyd. I had "Dark Side of the Moon", the album that most fans agree to be the band's peak, and one of the definitive rock albums of all time. But there was something truly special about my initial experiences with this album that has made me adore it so much over the years.

Thematically "Wish You Were Here" is enthralling. The main focal point delves into the troubled human psyche, with Syd Barrett being the obvious ignition for this theme. However, the lyrics often travel beyond Barrett, and reach out into a broader spectrum that targets aspects such as misguided upbringings and the bands own lifestyles. For example the epic "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" is at first glance a tribute to Barrett, with lyrics aimed at his troubled life, starting with his upbringing - "Remember when you were young, you shone like the sun. Shine on you crazy diamond. Now there's a look in your eyes, like black holes in the sky." This theme of Barrett's struggle into adulthood is emphasised with the chilling lines "You were caught on the crossfire of childhood and stardom, blown on the steel breeze." The poignant and sad themes brought forward by "Shine On..." are again emphasised by "Welcome To The Machine" which highlights Barrett's struggles against regulation and authority - "You bought a guitar to punish your ma, and you didn't like school, and you know you're nobody's fool." The song also delves into the matter of the music industry, and can be read as both a "welcome to reality" for Barrett as well as a "welcome to the music machine" to the young and hopeful musicians, yet to be hit by the hash industry. This is the first case of the lyrics offering a separate meaning aside from the obvious tribute to Barrett. The classic title track is another example of this style, as it tackles both the loss of Barrett's sanity but also comments on the bands own state, summed up by the profound and insightful lines - "We're just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year, Running over the same old ground. What have we found? The same old fears." Waters is reflecting upon the bands lack of direction, and seems to feel somewhat stuck with his lifestyle.

These themes are executed with such power and sincerity that I can't help but become engulfed into the atmosphere and troubled world "Wish You Were Here" evokes. All of Pink Floyd's best albums have these morose and introspective lyrics, but the genuine frustration and desperation portrayed here has always had a big impact on me, bigger than the themes of their other classics.

Musically "Wish You Were Here" is monolithic. There is so much to delve into for the fan of rock music. The epic "Shine on You Crazy Diamond" is one of THE definitive rock pieces of all time. Never in its 25-minute entirety does it become boring or repetitive - there is not a note wasted. And to me, the key to the success of the music is the simplicity. Never does Gilmour tear up a complex solo, or go overboard with the guitar layering. Take for example the lead motif to "Shine On...", the classic four note melody, a simple, even outrageously simple thing, yet it is so powerful and atmospheric. And that goes for the rest of the album. "Welcome To The Machine" continues the moody and turbulent sounds, and the title track fashions a beautiful and touchy guitar melody, which is again very simple. The band never overdid things with "Wish You Were Here", which seems a bit oxymoronic when you consider there's a 25-minute epic masterpiece laying down the bookends. But that's why this album is so special. It is never self-indulgent, pretentious or a showcase of the band's technical wizardry (something all too many progressive bands delve into). And for these reasons I believe "Wish You Were Here" was the musical pinnacle to Pink Floyd's career.

If you're a fan of classic rock, progressive rock or any f***ing kind of rock, and don't own this album, then you need to hurry down to your local store and pick it up. This is definitive classic rock, and my personal favourite from one of the best bands to ever grace the Earth.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 6, 2008 12:27 AM GMT

Master of Reality
Master of Reality
Offered by Assai-uk
Price: £7.87

21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Black Sabbath At Their Career Peak, 10 Sept. 2007
This review is from: Master of Reality (Audio CD)
"Master of Reality" is the epitome of Black Sabbath's monolithic riff-fuelled rock. If you want music with heavy, bluesy and infectious riffs, melodic vocals and breath-taking guitar solos, then look no further than "Master of Reality".

This is one of those special albums where every track has become a classic over the years. It all starts with the fantastic "Sweet Leaf", which was initially my favourite song on the album. "Sweet Leaf" kicks the album off in style and lays down the foundations perfectly. The opening cough/splutter sample gives meaning to the title, and sets up one of the most prominent themes and influences for the band - marijuana. This was truly the start of stoner rock. Please don't think that this stupefies the music in any way - an accusation I have heard many a time when listing stoner rock as one of my favourite genres. Yes, this album is a great experience when ripped, as are the best of the modern day stoner albums, but don't be put off thinking a sober state will forge no rewards. Bong or no bong, this is one of the best rock albums ever made.

The riffs. Let me talk about some of the timeless riffs on this album. Riffs that over the years have become massively influential and classic in every sense of the word. It is through no chance or overreaction that people nowadays refer to some guitar riffs and leads as "Sabbath-esque" or "Sabbathy". The grand onslaught of these riffs starts with the simplistic and contagious lead to "Sweet Leaf", one of my favourite riffs ever conceived. The glory to this riff, and with the majority of Tony Iommi's genius craft, is the simplicity - sacrificing complex timings, extra ghost notes and fancy finger work for simple motifs. The emphasis is put firmly on execution and groove. Take for example the riff changeups in the fine closer "Into The Void", going from the fine rolling and laid-back intro riff to some ferocious muted riffing, all complemented perfectly by Ozzy's high and melodic vocals. All of this combines to make one of the album's finest moments. Then there's "Children of the Grave" which stretches the simplicity to a basic rolling note, repeated in a galloping time signature, augmented by the occasional menacing chord progression. This song was really ahead of its time, paving the way for the galloping marches of the finest Iron Maiden. What makes these riffs even better is the structure of the songs, which are intelligent and keep the various riffs fresh. For example, the changeups in "After Forever" evolve around a repetitive lead riff which gives way to various themes and new riffs, but always returns to retain the original flow and groove. Call them stoners, but this is intelligent song writing, and something ensued throughout the album.

So the song writing is clever. It keeps the riffs fresh and interesting and manages to hold the fantastic groove. However, it is the overall writing and structuring of the album as a whole that I find most impressive. The balance of "Master of Reality" is perfect and superior to any of their other albums. There are no overly long songs, as all are between 5 and 7 minutes. The effect of this gives the album a special kind of flow that is often lacking in their other releases. "Embryo" and "Orchid" are short little pieces that act as introductions rather than fillers, and again retain the sense of flow as they are not too long or boring.

Mention should of course go to Ozzy Osbourne. In my opinion Sabbath simply isn't Sabbath without Ozzy on the vocals. His voice has become one of the most distinctive and acclaimed in rock history, and rightly so. He has what all the best rock singers have - the ability to hit the right notes, often quite high ones, and an idiosyncratic style that is instantly recognisable. The Black Sabbath sound is rounded off perfectly by this master vocalist, best highlighted by his inspired deliveries on "Children of the Grave" and "Into The Void".

Any fan of rock music should enjoy this album. It has every ingredient that makes rock so enjoyable - powerful and inspired vocals, stunning guitar solos and riffs, solid bass playing and some stellar drumming. Black Sabbath at the pinnacle of their career.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 14, 2011 12:47 PM BST

1 / Dog Days
1 / Dog Days
Price: £11.48

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First Classic From Stoner Rock's Most Overlooked Band, 10 Sept. 2007
This review is from: 1 / Dog Days (Audio CD)
This is a Southern Lord re-release of Goatsnake's previously out of print LP "I" and EP "Dog Days" onto one disc. This is essential listening for fans of 70s styled rock and modern day stoner/doom rock.

To put the band in some context - Goatsnake spawned some big names in the stoner/doom rock genre, namely the mighty guitarist Greg Anderson, the unique bluesy vocalist Pete Stahl, and the rumbling fuzz of Guy Pinhas. All of these members have other commitments nowadays, most notably Anderson with Sunn O))) and Pinhas with Acid King, but Goatsnake was where it all started.

Goatsnake are one of the few bands in this genre with a bold sense of originality, and therefore stand above the masses. This is due to a few fundamental aspects. Firstly, the guitar work of Anderson and Pinhas - these guys create a very unique sound, partly due to a mystery tuning that has never been revealed, and partly due to their rather different take on the classic stoner guitar riff. They create many riffs with a very bluesy feel, emphasised by Stahl's vocals, but simultaneously retaining an extremely heavy classic doom vibe. The almighty lead riff of album highlight "What Love Remains" is a typical example, combining huge punishing walls of guitar tone, recalling the most killer riffs of Sabbath or St. Vitus, but using a very bluesy range of notes that sounds more like Kyuss or Sleep, which is reflected by Stahl's call and response vocals.

It's not just the riffs that make Goatsnake special. They have an excellent understanding of composition - something that many stoner/doom bands seem to sacrifice for finding that one killer riff. Many of the songs weave in and out of sections, combining heavy riff-fuelled onslaughts, swaggering bluesy moments and even some piano/violin additions. Examples of this include "Mower" which starts off in classy doom style before sliding into a verse/chorus repetition, showcasing some quirky off-beat rhythms and some good old-school galloping drive. This section reminds me very much of Led Zeppelin when they chop-change bluesy riffs and tempos (and of course Stahl's somewhat high pitched vocals give that Plant edge). This all slows back down again, and reverts back to the crawling pace of the opening, with some menacing Stahl vocals and huge Anderson chords.

Similarly "Lord of Los Feliz" uses contrasting sections, and can be basically split into two main sections - an elongated intro and a closing section. The closing section is perhaps the highlight of the album, with some absolutely sublime vocals from Stahl. His vocal harmonies here are both beautiful and unhinging at the same time, and make for a grand climax. And talking of climaxes, the album's closer "Trower" is something of a weird song, beginning with some rather generic stoner rock riffing (for the first time on the album), but then kicking into some truly inspired writing with a great jam section and violin/female vocal section, which is patiently faded out to reveal a huge punishing final riff.

"Dog Days" is not as consistent, despite having less tracks. The highlights include the opening track "The Orphan" which uses dynamics to great use, mixing big doom riffs with some eerie hypnotic vocals, and the absolutely gigantic cover of Sabbath's "Whoe Are You?". This is probably the best Sabbath cover I have ever heard, as the band doesn't fall into the trap of simply re-hashing the song with their own sound, a mistake too many bands make. Instead they have retained the main theme and melody, but have transitioned it into a huge wall of guitar drone and some echoing trippy vocals from Stahl. This song makes "Dog Days" a worthy buy by itself, and is up there with my favourite Goatsnake songs.

I cannot recommend this album enough to fans of stoner or doom rock. If you are unsure on these genres, then think of this as Zeppelin and Sabbath's quirky child, combining the blues and vocals of Zep and the downright mean riffing of Sabbath.

City Of Echoes
City Of Echoes
Offered by trec002
Price: £17.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Trimmed & Tight Pelican, 10 Sept. 2007
This review is from: City Of Echoes (Audio CD)
"City of Echoes" is Pelican's third LP and continues the band's style of instrumental post-rock/metal. Gone are the drawn-out progressive pieces such as "March to the Sea" or "Nightendday" that took the listener on lengthened ten minute plus journeys. Instead "City of Echoes" delivers eight condensed and concise tracks, all roughly around the six-minute mark, and all keeping the themes and ideas trim and tight.

Obviously personal taste will have a major role in determining the result of this new direction. I can see it bringing in new fans due to accessibility, or perhaps reeling back old listeners who became bored with the old longer compositions. On the flipside I can also see it disappointing a portion of fans - those that liked the band's progressive approach. Initially I was quite firmly in the latter camp, irritated by my initial listens I thought Pelican had completely lost their song writing ability, as the album sounded like a confused mess of noise and heavy riffs. But it really did grow after a few more listens, and I began to pick out song structures that initially seemed scrambled.

I appreciate "City of Echoes" more by treating it as one large song, as this way I find it encompasses all of the old elements combined into a more dynamic and contrasting composotion - an aspect lacking in many of the individual compositions. This includes the rich and beautiful acoustic passages (represented by my favourite track on the album "Winds With Hands"), melancholy guitar motifs (evident throughout but most notably in the beautiful title track and "Far from Fields") and thundering riffs (something in plenty with the monstrous "Dead Between The Walls", and the fierce climax to the opener "Bliss In Concrete"). However, this seems slightly lacking as the older compositions would contrast dynamics more effectively and build up to climaxes in typical post-rock fashion, akin to Godspeed You! Black Emporer or Explosions In The Sky. With this new approach the elements are all there, but just divided and cut up into individual short songs.

This approach is certainly a risky development by the band, and is running the risk of the "hardcore" fans throwing the sold-out label at them. But, to Pelican's credit, I think they have done enough. "City of Echoes" is a detachment from the old progressive styling, and is not the ideal direction I personally want from them, but they retain enough of the old magic and formula for me to enjoy it, and give it a good rating.

Neon Bible
Neon Bible
Price: £5.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Successful Change, 10 Sept. 2007
This review is from: Neon Bible (Audio CD)
Following on from the stirring, morbid and undoubtedly unique journey of "Funeral", Arcade Fire dispels any fears (and critic's expectations) of a slacking follow-up. "Neon Bible" is quite simply one of the best albums I have heard in recent years. Vastly superior to the fields of mediocre pop-rock and even the band's past high standard - this is an album to savour.

Successfully different is the theme for "Neon Bible". Instead of re-hashing a tried and tested formula, the band branch out an array styles and refine their existing idiosyncrasies. New flavours are introduced to spectacular effect - perhaps best shown by the glorious stomping "Antichrist Television Blues", a song many have been comparing to heyday Springsteen due to Butler's stressed and authoritative delivery of lyrics attacking the state of current affairs. A similar theme is applied to "Windowstill", a yearning ballad with Butler singing about his desires to move on and away from this troubled society.

Further developments in sound include the album's sublime closer "My Body Is A Cage", which sees the band entering slow-burning blues, fusing it with the eerie backdrop of searing pipe organs. Similarly, other album highlight "Intervention" showcases the thundering organs as the central piece, with the song slowly picking up pace until it becomes a stomping riot through Butler's potent lyrics concerning the ideals and demands of modern life, "you say it's money that we need, as if we're only mouths to feed", and religion, "working for the church while your family dies", and how ultimately love needs to be tendered, "every spark of friendship and love will die without a home". While these may not be revolutionary lyrics, Butler's compelling style of delivery gives a fantastic sense of desperation, letting his emotions spill out and giving great weight to his words and the music backing it.

I believe these changes make "Neon Bible" such a major success for me, as it shows the band developing and adding new influences to an already exceptional sound. This is not to say "Neon Bible" is just an outing into new territory as there is still that signature vibe and atmosphere, only refined for better effect. This is shown in one of my favourites "Keep The Car Running" which seems a direct continuation of sounds from "Funeral", combining the strong galloping march of "Power Out" and the lush vocal harmonies of "Wake Up", only this time the structuring is concise and trimmed, making for a more refined outing. The same refinement can be said for "No Cars Go", the pinnacle song from Arcade Fire's debut EP, only this time it is executed in riotous style, emphasising the powerful strings and catchy chorus melodies. "Ocean of Noise" strikes me as a great improvement on the slower and brooding ballad approach, and showcases one of Butler's most menacing and brooding performances to date.

Other tracks unmentioned keep the album flowing, and make for an album free of any filler. Songs such as the gloomy opener "Black Mirror", the subtle atmospheric title track and the two-part "Black Wave/Bad Vibrations" round off "Neon Bible".

"Neon Bible" lived up to my expectations and delivers one of the most powerful and stirring albums in recent years. Combining the old triumphant sound of "Funeral" and executing new influences and styles, the album is sure to please fans old and new.

The Unreal Never Lived
The Unreal Never Lived
Price: £8.11

4.0 out of 5 stars (4.5) Epic Doom Metal, 10 Sept. 2007
This review is from: The Unreal Never Lived (Audio CD)
"The Unreal Never Lived" follows up the excellent "Illusion of Motion" in typical YOB style. Consisting of four juggernaut tracks (which combine to nearly an hours music), the band continue their delve into the deep and dark realms of doom/stoner metal.

While YOB's sound is overtly doom with its huge crushing tones and often slow pace, the band tend to venture into progressive tendencies, thus giving them a distinct writing style. This is evident with the album's opener "Quantum Mystic", a superb piece that twists in and out of mighty pummelling riffs, Mike Scheidt's distinctive wailing/death vocals and some ethereal and trippy guitars. The song builds momentum, and with each new movement comes a real surge of power. This style is applied to all four tracks, and especially on the epic 20 minute closer "The Mental Tyrant" which fashions a mighty tempo shift from snail-pace to a positively rip-roaring blast, and also in "Grasping Air" which swirls into some melancholy and eerie guitar motifs. These shifts and changes in momentum give the band a definite progressive element, and stop the songs from being monotonous - something that too many doom and stoner bands fall into.

"The Unreal Never Lived" is a very enjoyable and solid outing and will definitely please long time fans and attract new ones. If you like your Sabbath and other bands in the same ilk, then give it a try.

Plastic Green Head
Plastic Green Head

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Underrated Psychedelic Metal, 10 Sept. 2007
This review is from: Plastic Green Head (Audio CD)
After a handful of blistering doom metal albums in the 80s, Trouble turned to more groove-based rock with a dazzling psychedelic edge for "Plastic Green Head" and its predecessor "Manic Frustration". This departure in sound left a lot of fans unhappy, but I've always enjoyed Trouble's 90s output, and especially this album. While the songs lack the same relentless heaviness that can be found on albums such as "Psalm 9" and "The Skull", many do pack a punch, and certainly a heavy nod to Sabbath. They also showcase improved and more concise song writing, enhanced melodic vocals from Wagner, and an irresistible psychedelic tinge.

Doom and heavy metal fans will find joy in "Plastic Green Head". The crunching title track opens the album with a blast, full of prevailing riffs and Wagner's distinctive melodic vocals - a combination that has worked over the years for the band, and continues to shine. Other big metal outings include album highlight "Opium Eater", "The Eye" and "Long Shadows Fall". These songs keep the album flowing and your head banging, and all showcase a sense of the band's refinement with none of the songs seeping over the 5/6-minute mark. What separates "Plastic Green Head" from the masses of standard 90s rock and metal is the band's bent for psychedelic melodies and harmonies, best shown by the stunning cover of "The Porpoise Song". Combined with the beautiful ballad "Requiem" and the excellent melodies of "Flowers" and "Hear The Earth" this album contains some wonderfully unique and infectious songs. Fans of their older releases should enjoy this release, as it is not a complete departure from the doom styling. Fans of 90s rock and psychedelic rock should really love this underrated gem.

The album also comes with a nice little dvd showing an old show. They play mostly songs from Manic Frustration and this album. While the quality of sound and visual is mediocre, the show gives insight into the typical rocking fun of the band live.

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