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Reviews Written by
Tom Chase (London)

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Price: £9.99

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Riff Fuelled Metal, 25 Dec. 2006
This review is from: Wiseblood (Audio CD)
Corrosion of Conformity established themselves as a metal act after the crossover album "Blind" and the all-out bluesy stoner approach of "Deliverance", both excellent albums in their own right. "Wiseblood" saw COC continuing the riff filled approach that touches on stoner metal. With Pepper Keenan (of metal supergroup Down) behind the lead guitar and vocals, you know the album will deliver to those who want big infectious riffs and catchy melodies, aspects "Wiseblood" takes at ease.

Kicking things off with the frantic riffing of King of the Rotten, the album is launched into gear, and the relatively fast and catchy approach is continued through the opening few tracks, highlighted by crowd favorite Long Whip. Other examples of the adrenaline pumped COC include the aggressive fist-pumping The Door, wielding lyrics of `while you're losing it on the curve / right, there's the door' to add to the confrontational flavour. And also the aptly named Fuel which contains some thundering riffs and even moments of double bass kicks.

"Wiseblood" also portrays COC's bent for moody, melancholic ballads in the sad Goodbye Windows, with lyrics of a disappointed mother telling her son `he should have known better'. And also the chilling Redemption City which demonstrates Keenan's excellent ability to craft a moody ballad, especially in the sumptuous acoustic passage in which he sings `your soul is tired and you want to go home'. These are typical COC ballads, recalling the likes of the flooring Pearls Before Swine from the album "Deliverance".

Overall this is solid riff fuelled metal, and will certainly please fans of the post "Blind" COC, and probably fans of general rock music who enjoy a good melody and riff.

Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £12.28

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One Messy Monstrosity Of An Album, 25 Dec. 2006
This review is from: BE (Audio CD)
Being a big fan of Pain Of Salvation's "Remedy Lane" and "Perfect Element", I had to listen to this cd...the controversy between fans and critics was intriguing to me, here I have what I hope is my final opinion. This is one highly pretentious yet utterly fascinating album.

As with the majority of progressive music, concepts are supplementary to the balance, "Be" is no exception. The questions raised by Gildenlow are rather clich'd in my opinion, issues on existence, the repeated quote stuck all over the packaging 'I do not remember not being'. As far as I'm concerned if such issues are executed in an intelligent and thought provoking manner, it becomes interesting...or fresh. The deep levels of thought Gildenlow has put into this album, while being of a clich'd subject, are fresh. The arrangements are anything but clich'd, it could be argued they are pretentious. So, we have a musically pretentious album that deals with a fresh look on a derived subject.

As far as the music is concerned Pain Of Salvation are stretching their already vast array of talent, the arrangements are simply mind boggling...but they do take a while to sink in. The albums structure is a complex one, songs are split by short pieces or extracts, themes weave in and out, returning at unexpected moments. The album takes a while to get going, starting with some experimental pieces containing some complex metal, catchy folk and instrumental piano/orchestral pieces. Such unexpected twists continue, some are monotonous - some utterly breathe taking. One thing this album cannot be criticised for is being predictable. The ending of the album, starting from 'Nihil Morari' through to the onslaught of 'Martius/Nauticus II' is Pain Of Salvation at their best. The ballad 'Iter Impius' is PoS' most moving piece to date, and the percussion climax of 'Nauticus II' is such a powerful ending leaving you awe.

This is a grand piece of work, highly ambitious in every aspect. Some will adore, some despise, just a really difficult album to judge.

Accelerated Evolution (Ltd Edition)
Accelerated Evolution (Ltd Edition)
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £15.59

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars (3.5) High Expectations Unfortunately, 25 Dec. 2006
The booklet I received when purchasing a different artist on the InsideOut label described Devin's `Accelerated Evolution' as `extraordinary and innovative'. Descriptions such as innovative, experimental, `pushing-the-border' etc are unfortunately thrown at anything Devin produces now due to his previous works (Terria, Infinity), which thoroughly deserve such credentials, quite simply AE is a rather simplistic, dare I say straightforward progressive metal/rock album.

Don't get me wrong though, the album still has its fine moments, but really lacks the coherence and consistency in artistic approach Devin has become renowned for. Songs such as `Depth Charge', `Random Analysis' and `Suicide' are all solid, with typical Devin sounding guitar riffs and the wonderful mixture of melodic and shouting/screaming vocals that lace every Townsend record. `Deadhead' is probably the most progressive piece and certainly has some creative moments, the guitar playing especially shines, which leads me onto `Away'. I've read some reviewers slating this as a poor Vai rip-off, personally this is one of my favourite moments on the album, the main guitar theme is fresh and the variations of it are equally compelling.

The rest of the album is rather forgetful to be brutally harsh. The problem is I have to come to expect so much diversity and innovation from Devin's work, and tracks such as `Storm', `Traveller' and `Sunday Afternoon' are just too simplistic and become old quick.

This album will no doubt attract some new fans with its more accessible material, if you are new and you find yourself agreeing with me on the better tracks on the album (dare that happens), I seriously recommend purchasing Devin's earlier solo efforts, most notably his masterpiece Terria.

Alice In Chains
Alice In Chains
Price: £3.99

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars (4.5) Brooding Finale, 25 Dec. 2006
This review is from: Alice In Chains (Audio CD)
After creating a surge of fine albums in the 90s with the almost perfect tour-de-force of grunge - 1992's "Dirt" - and one of the most touching EPs I've ever heard - 1994's "Jar of Flies" - AIC's final output before Staley's death was this self-titled album, AKA "Tripod".

"Tripod" never really got the acclaim akin to "Dirt", although certain tracks got a deal of airtime such as the dingy Heaven Beside You, it is rather underrated in the grunge era. However, I feel it does lack the consistency of "Dirt" and at times feels a little bloated, but then it also contains some of AIC's finest work and has a very unique eerie feel to it, as it is the final works before the tragedy.

The opening two tracks kick things off in typical AIC grunge style. Grind has a menacing sluggish riff combined with an infectious chorus melody, a trademark of AIC at their best, and Brush Away is probably my favorite of the more straightforward rockers on the album with its stellar guitar interplaying from Cantrell and Staley's desperate cries of `I gotta get away...And brush away loose ground'. The vibes of anguish and depression are continued and multiplied tenfold by the punishing Sludge Factory, which feels like, well...sludge. This is the pinnacle of the album, and definitely up there with AIC's best achievements. The band bludgeon their way through the 7 minute entirety with huge walls of down-tuned guitars and one of Staley's best ever performances, his delivery is full of such deep frustration and anguish it is genuinely touching. Heaven Beside You then adds a different angle on the depressive and gloomy atmosphere, replacing the crushing chords with delicate acoustic playing (and yes, the odd strum of a power chord, naturally) and a rather desolate and detached vocal performance from Cantrell and Staley, both adopting an almost `laid back' style which works very well. After this break from the booming guitars, albeit a very emotional and intense break, Head Creeps opens with a bang, big guitars and distorted vocals from Layne, a fantastic opening.

The rest of the album is not quite as heavy, with the exception of God Am and So Close, both solid rockers, tracks such as Shame In You, Frogs and Over Now are slower and stripped of the powerful guitars. Shame In You is the first sign of a `happy' vibe, although it is quite open to interpretation, it could either be taken as a rare glimpse of sunshine or as a desolate, `given up' type ballad. The two closing tracks, which the band also use to close out the "Unplugged" session are both very touching and hold that eerie feeling I mentioned earlier - the feeling of the tragedy that followed the album.

Overall this is a fine piece of 90s grunge music, portraying a band that while not on their peak, can still create some fine music and with a vocalist like Layne Staley, there is a heavy emotional aspect, emphasised by his death which followed the album.

Come My Fanatics/Electric Wizard
Come My Fanatics/Electric Wizard

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Electric Wizard At Their Best, 25 Dec. 2006
My review will be mostly based on the main "Come My Fanatics" disc, but this offering also includes their s/t debut.

Along with 2001's "Dopethrone", Electric Wizard managed to carve out some of the best doom/stoner music of the 90's. I personally prefer "Come My Fanatics" as I believe it to be slightly more consistent and concise, but both albums are absolute essentials for both fans of the genre, and more generally fans of good old metal such as Sabbath and St Vitus.

The band kick things off with simplistic bliss - one big fuzzy note. The effect of this is unexpectedly powerful, instantly getting the adrenaline rushing and creating the inevitable sense of what's about to come. After some buildup play EW swamp the listener with a cascade of sumptuous bluesy riffs with that unmistakable low-end resonance. Return Trip is simply a fantastic opener, and the best of any EW album. It comprises everything a metal fan could want, big riffs, catchy hooks, solos, tempo changes...a real demonstration that this band is no second-rate act. They are the real deal.

After a characteristic vocal sample opening, Wizard in Black reveals its main riff, possibly the finest on the album, and the band knows it, they do not hesitate in repeating it. Which is a good thing - believe me. The song is typical classy EW, again mixing the big riffs with catchy choral lines and clever song writing, another instant winner. Continuing the theme of class comes Doom Mantia, an incredibly trippy number that slowly eases its way, flowing riff by riff into a gigantic wall of guitar fuzz and swirling vocal effects. This is THE song to rip a bong to ladies and gents. The final few minutes of Jus repeating the title with his underwater styled effects, backed by a huge ominous riff and pummelling drums is quite simply divine.

Ivixor B is a psychedelic break from the wall of fuzzy guitars, consisting of middle-eastern sounding vocals and some swimmy bass playing, and of course weird outer space synthesised effects. Things get back to style when Son of Nothing booms in with its very simple but mega heavy leading riff. While not quite up to the standards of previous tracks, it is still solid album material, and a song most other doom/stoner bands would die for. The chorus line of `baby, just maybe, we'll take you to the son of nothing' is intertwined with a lovely change of riff, very well executed. The album then closes with an instrumental track that is the weakest on the album, which isn't exactly shameful as the rest of it is outstanding.

The 2nd disc containing the bands s/t debut is considerably less stellar due to somewhat poor production and a lack of attack on the guitar tone. While it does have some moments of excellence such as the title track and Stone Magnet, you will spend much more time with "Come My Fanatics".

Overall this album is not just for fans of doom and stoner music. This is top notch metal in the 70s style - great riffs, fuzzy tones and ultimately infectious. You will struggle to find a better demonstration of this style of music.


7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE Epic Piece of Riff Worship, 25 Dec. 2006
This review is from: Dopesmoker (Audio CD)
After a deal of critical acclaim following the fantastic "Holy Mountain" album, Sleep found their way into new ground with a bigger label deal and well, lots of money. The band used this money to buy hella loads of weed, and naturally amps, and they created "Jerusalem", an epic journey of riffs and silly lyrics about weed pilgrims and the likes. The problem was that it was too inaccessible for most labels, and it drifted into obscurity. But thankfully those wondrous people at Tee Pee have re-released a longer, heavier, and generally better sounding mix of the original, the aptly named "Dopesmoker". It contains all the massively fuzzed-out riffs and trippy, disorientating guitar solos that anyone could ever want.

For those new to Sleep, this is probably not the place to start, as it is one huge hour-long monolith, and their LP "Holy Mountain" is easier on the stomach and equally mesmerising. For those with the old "Jerusalem" I would advise you to try this, the guitar tone is much richer and Pike's solos are far superior, especially the first solo that comes in around the 14 minute mark, it is jaw-droppingly splendid. His feel for the solo is what makes it special, he plays with such flow and ease it reminisces that Hendrix fluidity that only the most gifted guitarists can pull off. Other moments of excellence include around 40 minutes, the band slows everything down, stripping the fuzzy guitars to play a simple motif. It acts as a perfect break from the engulfing sounds, and works its way wonderfully to my favourite riff in the songs entirety. The album also includes a live track called Sonic Titan, a kind of re-working of the title track from "Holy Mountain", an enjoyable song but it feels more of a collector's item than a necessity.

Special mention should also go to drummer Chris Haikus, who managed to keep the flow going with apparent ease. He never misses a beat or comes in from a fill slightly out of time, a great feat when you consider this version was recorded in one sitting live.

If you are a fan of 70s metal, big riffs, fuzzy tones and ethereal guitar solos then you really cannot go wrong with this. My only warning would be to those who lack concentration, as this is one massively long piece with moments of disorientating repetition, but I assume you wouldn't even be on this page if you can't handle a song over 4 minutes.

Trampled Under Hoof
Trampled Under Hoof
Price: £7.23

4.0 out of 5 stars Very Enjoyable EP From a Fine Act, 16 Oct. 2006
This review is from: Trampled Under Hoof (Audio CD)
After two of the best outings into doom/stoner metal in the past decade - 1999's "1" and 2000's "Flower of Disease" - and the powerful EP "Dog Days", Goatsnake returned to good form with the EP "Trampled Under Hoof", albeit slightly short at roughly 30 minutes.

Anderson and Stahl are without doubt a fine pairing, Stahl's distinct vocal delivery adds the infectious bluesy choral lines, and Anderson is well, a monster on the guitar, as anyone who has heard his work with doom legends Sunn O))) will second. And the two are in fine form in the EPs opener Portraits of Pain which fuses a slow brooding opening riff with expert time changes and one of the most sublime closing sections the band has ever created. The adrenaline is at full flight with Stahl crying `like your mother before your sacrifice' and the band pummelling big downtuned riffs, all to be slowed back down to the opening crawling pace. A wonderful showcase of the bands talents.

Black Cat Bone contrasts the slow booming ending with its relatively fast pace and abundant energy. In case anyone doubted Anderson's ability to create superb riffs this song will change that. At just under 3 minutes it is a short and sharp piece and will get your head bobbing. Then things slow down to ultimate doom pace with Junior's Jam. Opening with atmospheric effects, the best riff of the album lurches in and pummels the listener. The song has a similar structure to Portraits of Pain, starting at punishing crawl pace, speeding up and then back to the opening riff for good measure (and also some farmyard animal effects). And in no way does it feel repetitive. A classic Goatsnake song.

The next two tracks are covers, the first is Burial at Sea, a St. Vitus cover. The recording isn't prefect but it doesn't need to be. It is an almost perfect adaptation for Stahl and a great tribute to the pioneering classic act. The next cover is Hot Rod originally played by the obscure act Black Oak Arkansas, and is not really up to the standard Goatsnake set themselves, but it is a fun way to end an excellent EP.

Hopefully there will be more in the future from this fine band, these 5 tracks are very good and showcase classic doom metal, but it doesn't quite quench the thirst for more of the Snake.

Price: £7.84

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bleak Excellence, 15 Oct. 2006
This review is from: Folklore (Audio CD)
16 Horsepower are a tragically overlooked band, fronted by the eccentric yet undoubtedly talented David Eugene Edwards (also of Woven Hand). The band play a dark, brooding style of country music. If you see the word 'country' and are instantly thinking of hillbilly music and cowboys, 16 Horsepower will completely change that notion. The subject is dark - man's sins and downfall, societies lack of faith, wallowing in a world of superficial possessions... all engulfed in harrowing soundscapes of `eerie' banjos and a rather pounding low-end. This is not for the faint of heart.

Standout tracks include the menacing opener 'Hutterite Mile', a slow paced chilling opener that sets the tone perfectly. The same style is ensued in my personal favourite `Blessed Persistence', brooding, slow paced bass lines and desolate guitars surround Edwards' bleak lyrics. `Sinnerman' and `Beyone The Pale' also follow this style. `Outlaw Song' is very worthy of note for its difference, standing out from the overall gloomy atmosphere with its somewhat upbeat feel, despite the lyrics telling a rather violent narrative.

16 Horsepower really should get more recognition as they are a tremendous act, really engulfing and thought provoking, this is music to be savoured.

We Live
We Live
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £9.22

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Solid Comback For EW, Almost Up There With Past Classics, 15 Oct. 2006
This review is from: We Live (Audio CD)
"We Live" marks the first release from the totally re-shaped Electric Wizard, with only Jus Oborn remaining from the original line-up that spawned the doom classics "Come My Fanatics" and "Dopethrone". There seems to be quite a deal of resent from `hardcore' fans who bemoan that the new material is more of a Jus Oborn solo album than an EW album of old, or that Jus Oborn has run out of ideas and is trying to re-create what he once had. The list of complaints is quite long and diverse floating around different review sites. Personally I believe "We Live" to be a very fine outing into doom metal, and while it doesn't quite live up to the classic EW albums, this is a lot better than most of the releases in this genre.

It was quite clear after "Let Us Prey", a rather confused release, although incredible at times, the band was having artistic differences. So with a completely new line-up surrounding Jus, who lets face it was THE driving force in the old band, he has come up with a very solid release, albeit one that had to grow on me. Initially I very much enjoyed the opening of Eko Eko Azarak with its epic riffs and dreamy vocals, and also the beginning of the title track. But then the album took a wrong turn, I found myself bored, something only the best doom bands can prevent, and the old EW was certainly a prime example of such bands. I also found myself a bit baffled at the choice of line-up, especially with the second guitar of Liz Buckingham, who is barely audible at times, and really doesn't seem to add to the mix.

Obviously this disappointed me, but with repeated listens I unravelled the excellence of "We Live". Those seemingly dull and lacklustre, dare I say second rate Oborn riffs, suddenly became intriguing, and I found myself engrossed in the melodic qualities of the album, which is something not all EW releases can boast. I might even go as far to say this is the most melodic of all the EW releases, Jus certainly put more emphasis on his vocals with infectious and often hypnotic choral lines, boosted by a very clean effect for an EW release. This is highlighted by the opener Eko Eko Azarak which really kicks everything off with its spellbinding melodies. The chorus in the title track and Malfiore also contain the dreamy vocal harmonies "We Live" promotes so wonderfully.

I've read a deal of criticism concerning the almost fast paced Another Perfect Day, many people believe EW should really stay away from anything but crawling pace. While I agree EW are better when they play slow, the song acts as a nice break from the ultimately bleak and sloth-like approach, and the introduction does give the adrenaline a pump. After the few minutes of `fast' pace, the song slows right down to big booming chords and desperate cries from Jus, and finishes what I believe is a very good song. The style is continued into the monumental closer Saturn's Children which has become one of my all time favourite EW songs and the best of "We Live". This song has everything any fan of doom can ever want - slow menacing buildup play, big crashing guitars and distressed vocals, classy solos and a trance-inducing finish of repetitive riffing. A perfect way to finish what I consider a very fine album and an excellent return for Jus.

So, if you want some great doom metal and are not concerned about the new face of EW, then you will really enjoy this. Very catchy and melodic once given time, this album will give much satisfaction.

Price: £13.42

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Harsh, 7 Oct. 2006
This review is from: Untitled (Audio CD)
Really, this album isn't much else than raw and harsh instrumental metal. Yet I find myself so compelled to it. As other reviewers have repeatedly stated, it's heavy. Lord is it heavy. Not heavy in the sense of crazy blastbeat drumming and super speedy guitar licks, its just loud, droning `walls of sound', created by the monumental guitars.

In relation to other more recent Pelican releases, this album is a lot heavier and far less ambitious. You wont find the gorgeous acoustic passages found on the latest (and might I add superb) `The Fire In Our Throats Will Beckon The Thaw'.

The album's pinnacle point, the 13-minute climax of `The Woods', is outstanding. It leaves me feeling like a wobbly sack of human inertia when it has finished. The sound is huge, the buildups are tense and executed perfectly, the changes in riff and mood come in perfect timing...this song is stunning.

The rest of the album is solid, can't really complain, but `The Woods' is worth the money alone.

I read a reviewer claiming the band sound like they're `stuck in one major chord'; I'm not sure what this person is trying to say. For one thing the band certainly don't seem `stuck' to me, and as for major chord? This is an absurd criticism as the band clearly doesn't play one repeated chord, maybe this person meant...major scale...or major key...but then once again they would be wrong, as no song on this album is in a major key.

This album is simply harsh, full of towering guitar riffs and chord progressions that never tire. If you're a fan of post rock, check this one out.

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