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Azz McMahon (NSW, Australia)

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Price: £5.99

22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Paranoid., 3 Jun. 2010
This review is from: Paranoid (Audio CD)
What the hell can you say about this classic that hasn't been said already?

Not much, so I'll simply say, if you haven't heard this album, and you call yourself a metalhead - you're not you know.

Black Sabbath's second album is a masterpiece, pushing aside much of the blues of their first album, and if anything, becoming even darker in tone, as the topics of war, drug abuse and erm... fairies in boots fuelled the imagination of Geezer Butler and Ozzy Osbourne, while Iommi's riffs were forged of purest metal.

War Pigs, Iron Man, Electric Funeral, the jazz toned Planet Caravan, Bill Ward's moment of glory on Rat Salad, the bleak Hand of Doom.... these alone justify getting the album.

Paranoid itself has become a classic track - and one of the signature tunes of Black Sabbath - but I liken it to the first albatross around Sabbath's neck - fortunately they finally stopped playing it when Heaven and Hell was formed - I'm not going to deny it's legacy in Sabbath's hallowed career, but the only way this song works for me is Sabbath and Ozzy performing it, and it isn't overly Sabbath in sound - sounds more like a quick Zeppelin jam musically (but considering it was the last song recorded for the album as a "filler track", it's not surprising given it was very melodic by Sabbath's standards at the time, that it became a single, and placed Sabbath into superstar status).

The deluxe edition of this album released recently is brilliant - the quadrophonic mix is amazing - true Sabbath fans who haven't heard this yet - go and get it, it's well worth it.

This album is immortal - and rightfully one of the albums by which all metal is judged against.

Ultimate Sin
Ultimate Sin
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £10.40

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Ultimate Sin? No, no it isn't., 3 Jun. 2010
This review is from: Ultimate Sin (Audio CD)
By the mid 80's, Ozzy Osbourne was a fully fledged superstar in the metal scene, with his unique vocals, crazy antics and some great music proving that he would indeed survive being " just the singer in Black Sabbath".

This was the second album of the Jake E. Lee era, and although it's virtually verging on the emerging glam metal scene in places, The Ultimate Sin isn't really that bad.

The title track is a good solid rocker, Secret Loser is a good track as well (and used in the soundtrack of the Charlie Sheen vehicle The Wraith), Never Know Why is Ozzy telling us why he rocks (simplistic Ozzy lyrics sure, compared to some of his moments with Bob Daisley, but the guitars here are good - and Lee's solos towards the end are brilliant), Killer of Giants has some great arpeggiated guitars and a good solid riff base, even if the "no-nuke" message is a bit limp-wristed compared to the songs that would come out during the thrash metal onslaught of the time about the same subject.

There are tracks which aren't that flash either - Lightning Strikes doesn't do anything for the album, Thank God For the Bomb with Ozzy's cheesy "nuke ya nuke ya!" is at odds with Killer of Giants for one thing (though the main riff isn't too bad).

The best is saved for last (at least on my version of the cd) - the now infamous Shot in the Dark - Ozzy's closest moment to disco to date (largely thanks to Phil Soussan's bassline - but it works!) and a fondly remembered video of the glammed up Ozzy and fellow bandmates you can see these days on youtube to relive those crazy LA days during the mid 80's.

All in all, as the Lee era came to a close (Lee was fired and he went to join Black Sabbath deserters Ray Gillen and Eric Singer to form Badlands), so too did the glammed up sound of Ozzy, as Zakk Wylde turned up to reinject a bit of metal into proceedings.

The Ultimate Sin isn't the ultimate sin after all - if anything, it's a lightweight metal album that actually does rock more than it's reputation suggests.

Great Boris Vallejo artwork as well.

Lock up the Wolves
Lock up the Wolves
Price: £6.18

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lock up the Critics!, 3 Jun. 2010
This review is from: Lock up the Wolves (Audio CD)
This album marked a change of direction for Dio, with several members who wrote songs on the album - including long time members Jimmy Bain and Vinny Appice not taking part on the album.

Ronnie James Dio was a lone hand, and drafted in Rowan Robertson and Teddy Cook, Jens Johannsson, and asked to guest at the time was then AC/DC drummer Simon Wright.

Simon decided to join the band during the recording of this album - and was the drummer in the group again up until Ronnie's untimely death.

Lock up the Wolves starts with the speedy rock of Wild One - Wright's drums blazing away proving that he wasn't just a sub-standard substitute for Phil Rudd, with some nice licks from Robertson and a more aggressive vocal technique from Ronnie - the first signs of what was to come during the 90's.

There are the usual trademarks of fantastic lyrics, great melodies and passionate vocals - but the album itself isn't perfect, with fillers such as Night Music, Walk on Water, Why Are They Watching Me, Twisted and My Eyes being slightly below par - but make no mistake, Lock up the Wolves is still a solid album.

There's also the killer songs - the heavy rock of Hey Angel, the obligatory Dio ballad of Between Two Hearts, the terrific blues jam of Evil on Queen Street (Wright and Cook are superb here), the inspired classic Dio sound of Born on the Sun, and of course, there's the title track - an epic 8.30 minute monster(possibly the longest track Dio recorded as a band) - a sprawling track with good keyboards, a powerful vocal from Ronnie, and some deft guitar work from Robertson (I love how he makes the guitars howl on the track - very apt).

With songs of this quality on the album, it was a surprise that Ronnie James Dio broke up the band to rejoin Black Sabbath after a chance meeting with Geezer Butler - and it seems to be a sadly forgotten album, but Lock Up the Wolves is good, solid, traditional heavy metal in the RJD mould - and that's exactly how it should be.

All Shall Fall
All Shall Fall
Price: £11.85

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The aural equivalent of frostbite, 3 Jun. 2010
This review is from: All Shall Fall (Audio CD)
I, for one, was somewhat surprised at the left turn Immortal made after they decided to call it a day after the majestic Sons of Northern Darkness era came to a close.

When I heard they were back, I was hoping for a new album that would be equal to Sons itself.

What I got when All Shall Fall was released, wasn't as good as Sons, and an album that was not immediately accessible to me, but it grew on me.

There's a feel of earlier Immortal here - somewhere between Blizzard Beasts and At the Heart of Winter, though a frosty breeze of Sons of Northern Darkness makes it's presence felt towards the later songs on the album.

The Production is raspier, for want of a better term - and musically, you know it's Immortal, but it does lack a certain something to make the album killer.

The artwork is superb though - and there are some good songs here - just not enough fire in the bellies of the beasts themselves to show what they're capable of this time around.

Personal favourite of the album - the epic closing track Unearthly Kingdom - classic latter day Immortal.

All in all - this is the aural equivalent of frostbite - cold, dark, takes time to grow on you and really seep in, but All Shall Fall is a welcome return from a true black metal legend.

Thornography/ Harder Darker Faster (Special Edition)
Thornography/ Harder Darker Faster (Special Edition)
Price: £11.44

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Cradle's darkest hour, 3 Jun. 2010
Cradle are certainly a band that doesn't stay still for long in one type of metal - flitting between practically every heavy metal genre in existence, they have, love them or hate them, been a successful force for English metal in general.

After a stunning return to form via the wonderfully gothic flavoured Nymphetamine album, they go and throw it all away again with this insipid excuse of an album.

The sad thing about Thornography is that all the ingredients for a killer Cradle album are there - Dani's usual Romantic lyrics - check - Paul's scything guitars - check - pompous overblown symphonic parts - check - Sarah Jezebel Deva singing - check... but it's all so wrong.

I have tried to like this album over the years since it's release, but it's absolutely terrible in it's sheer mediocrity.

The bonus disc does contain a killer cover of the Misfits' classic Halloween II - if the rest of the album could have sounded like that, it would have some redemption.

A lot of fans don't like the cover of Temptation - taking an 80's hit and making it more darkwave - I actually did like it and think it's the only decent song on the whole album - the rest of it (though the instrumental Rise of the Pentagram and Libertina Grimm aren't wastes of space either) - is just woefully mediocre.

Cradle are capable of so much more than this speed written tosh - any of their earlier albums would prove that beyond a shadow of doubt - and so would the next album to follow.

Here's to a return of classic Cradle when All Hallow's Eve comes...

Price: £18.06

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars AC/B sides, 3 Jun. 2010
This review is from: Backtracks (Audio CD)
What we have here is basically a collection of the b-sides from most singles and some tracks from the Australian versions of High Voltage, T.N.T., Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap and Let There Be Rock (which are criminally out of print, I might add), and 2 discs of live performances (again, mostly b-sides).

Nothing here has been unreleased before - and if you're a long time Australian fan of the band, such as myself, you can't help but feel a little cheated - even if you own the deluxe working amp set - which I do.

The extras include a vinyl version of the studio cuts, which is fine for a collectible, a couple of extra tracks not on the standard version (additions which made me go out and get the deluxe set pre-ordered), and an additional dvd - the full concert Live at the Circus Krone - which shows a good performance from the band, but it's not AC/DC at it's best.

Some nice memorabilia replicas, such as a $100 Angus Note from the Australian leg of the Razor's Edge Tour, stickers, and a large coffee book of photos of the band highlighting their career from Bon Scott's days to the Black Ice tour is also a nice have - but it's really for diehards only.

All in all, you do get some value for money, but I would have liked some unreleased studio tracks, and maybe even copies of music performed by the band with Dave Evans out front - now there's a rarity for you.

If you're new to the band, or just like some of their songs and want to check out more, the standard version will see you right - if you're a fanatic of the band, the deluxe set should be for you - but Aussie fans won't get as much appeal out of it unless they haven't followed the band from the 70's.

It's good to have the set - but for value for money, the Bonfire set was definitely better overall - even with a copy of Back in Black sandwiched in.

The Warrior And The Sorceress [1984] [DVD]
The Warrior And The Sorceress [1984] [DVD]
Dvd ~ David Carradine
Offered by FREETIME
Price: £8.48

3.0 out of 5 stars The Warrior and The Topless Chick, 1 Jun. 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
That would be a more apt title, as the sorceress doesn't exactly do much sorcery compared to her counterparts in other fantasy films of it's ilk, unless your idea of fantasy is the female form topless throughout most of the film, as opposed to dungeons and dragons style adventure with magic and sword fights.

A very basic idea, featuring David Carradine as a sword for hire (it's a western with swords basically), on an arid world, where water is one of the most important commodoties.

Two local merchant houses vie for control of their town's lone well of fresh water, and sell the villagers to slavers for financial clout to purchase mercenaries and to keep the other merchant in check.

Carradine is affable enough, in a role he would have endured for years during his days in Kung Fu, and although he doesn't have much to do, he seems to enjoy the role he's in, and swings his sword with a swagger.

This one isn't amongst the top tier of fantasy films, compared to say, Conan the Barbarian - but it's not too bad of it's ilk.

Steel Dawn is another film which follows a similar style of story - and both take their cues from films like The Magnificent Seven, Yojimbo, The Seven Samurai and similar stories - both films are also inferior to the aforementioned productions, but enjoyable on their own merits.

The Dangerous Brothers - Dangervision [DVD]
The Dangerous Brothers - Dangervision [DVD]
Dvd ~ Rik Mayall
Price: £7.50

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dangerous Brothers - A Transition, I'll trust you'll agree., 1 Jun. 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
As it's title suggests, this showcases the violent slapstick skills of Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmondson (so what's new?), as the Dangerous Brothers, two ne'er do well entertainers who specialise in dangerous stunts and sleazy banter.

Whilst not as off the wall as their characters in the Young Ones, Dangervision provides moments of amusement for those who are already hip to Mayall and Edmondson's style of humour.

You can see slight leanings towards Filthy, Rich and Catflap, and some of the beginnings of Bottom in some of the skits here - but the collection is hit and miss, as were the shows Mayall and Edmondson appeared in during the 80's.

Cameos from John Bird, Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry are amusing, and Helen Lederer also makes herself present, as does Jennifer Saunders.

A slice of the time capsule of the 80's British Alternative comedy scene, and if you loved the Young Ones, you'll like this.

Black Sabbath - Cross Purposes - Live [1994] [VHS]
Black Sabbath - Cross Purposes - Live [1994] [VHS]

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Cross Purposes Live, 21 May 2010
A cash cow released by IRS records back in 1995, Cross Purposes Live is now highly sought after by die hard fans and collectors - the line up which recorded it was already split up by then, and it was released not long before Forbidden came out.

Long deleted in it's original form - and a bootleg dvd derived from it (stick with the vid if you can find it as the dvd truncates half the show) - Cross Purposes Live is not an unwelcome album.

The setlist in itself is terrific, covering a large chunk of the band's history, including a few surprise songs, but this album was far from perfect.

Tony Martin was ill - and it shows, the frontman struggling for notes he would have made in his sleep during the Headless Cross tour back in '89.

The band behind him is tight and sounds great (especially Geezer and Tony, but what's new?) but the live sound was horribly polished though - hardly any menace in the songs - even "Black Sabbath" didn't have it's usual menacing gravitas - and it's the fault of the mix, not the band.

Also cool for being the only official live album to feature Anno Mundi (which isn't on the cd sadly), Headless Cross and The Wizard.

Martin also plays harmonica on the Wizard as well - a real treat for Sabbath fans who had followed the band since the beginning.

Ultimately, a nice collectible if you can get it - but nothing more.

Headless Cross
Headless Cross

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Headless, but not heartless, 21 May 2010
This review is from: Headless Cross (Audio CD)
After a few years of derision in the press, and a line up which couldn't hold for more than a few months, you wouldn't blame Tony Iommi for giving up the ghost on Black Sabbath. Everyone but the diehard fans had, and his last album, The Eternal Idol sold well beneath expectations.

Iommi, is made of tougher material though - and after a brief hiatus, and a change of record label from Warner Bros. and Vertigo to the smaller IRS records (the main mistake he made in his lengthy career), he contacted long time friend Cozy Powell to work on songs and credibility for the band.

Joining him were Geoff Nicholls and Tony Martin - the two survivors from the Eternal Idol sessions, and sessionman Laurence Cottle on bass - and just when Sabbath needed it most, they delivered an album, though heavily steeped in the production style of the late 80's, which was an absolute monster.

After the eerie intro of The Gates of Hell, the title track arrives - Cozy's signature thunder welcomes us to the hill of the Headless Cross - a song that is surprisingly keyboard driven more than guitar, a move unexpected and it's a ripper. Tony Martin, considered to be nothing more than a Dio clone proved he was anything but, as he tore his larynx out in shrieks that even Rob Halford would have trouble copying.

Devil and Daughter was a pop infused radio rock piece of fluff which is held together by Cozy and Laurence's groove. Good solo from Tony I. as well.

When Death Calls - a classic Sabbath song - slow at first, atmospheric with Cottle's bass intro superb. Just when you can't think it can get any better, as it heats up in the middle - Brian May of Queen plays a solo on the track. One of Black Sabbath's finest moments. Superb.

Kill in the Spirit World - another radio friendly song with a great breakdown and solo in the middle.

Call of the Wild - And again - radio friendly rock - but this one is more considered. Great layered vocals from Martin. After all the classic doom and gloom, Sabbath were showing a more melodic side that was only glimpsed with the Dio era.

Black Moon - a re-recorded track from a b-side off the Eternal Idol album - Cozy swings the blues with his classic rock groove - this version is more polished than the original, but it sounds great. Martin and Iommi are superb here.

And finally, the piece de resistance of the album - Nightwing.

After a reverse intro fades to the main riff, Iommi's beautiful guitars and Cottle's superb fretless bass intro, Martin spins us a tale of a great hunter of the night (which turns out to be about owls and bats in the end - way to spoil the mystique Tony!)Great subtle keys by Nicholls too. Appropriately, the song fades out with a frenzied solo from Iommi and Cozy pounding his drums into dust.

Martin's vocals here are terrific - though he does probably force himself too much towards the end a bit like Glenn Hughes does, the whole song is wonderful.

This is easily, the finest post Dio era Sabbath album by a long way - and the finest work by Tony Martin in the band, an album which will stand the test of time as a lost Sabbath classic.

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