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Reviews Written by
Craig Hale (Cheltenham, UK)

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Masters Of Rock: Saxon
Masters Of Rock: Saxon
Offered by mrtopseller
Price: £3.50

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Metal Masters, 4 Jun. 2006
This review is from: Masters Of Rock: Saxon (Audio CD)
A fantastic compilation of a most underated Metal Band.

The tracks on this compilation provide a true reflection of the ever changing styles - yet consistant attitude - of Saxon.

Since their emergence during the NWOBHM era, Saxon found themselves in the commercial shadow of Iron Maiden and Def Leppard.

Yet, despite all odds, this band is still going strong today and this compilation provides the evidence of why that is so.

Full of anthems that are now qualified as Metal/Rock classics, this compilation is an ideal platform for listeners not sure where to start in their introduction to Saxon.

If you are a fan of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Rush, Deep Purple, Blaze, Black Sabbath or Motorhead, this may be the CD for you!

Price: £10.39

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Roaring Success! Lionheart Claws Back Metal!, 19 Oct. 2004
This review is from: Lionheart (Audio CD)
If fans of metal and rock were pleased with the direction Saxon have been taking over the last few albums (Unleash the Beast, Metal Head, Killing Ground) they will be more than happy with 'Lionheart'. This is a natural progression for the band and they sound better than ever! Saxon have found a sound that is distinctly their very own!
Highlights of the album are too numerous to isolate, but rock fans will be content to hear the title track - a sequel to 'Crusader' - bring back memories of a time when Rock and Metal were not simply an art form to be exploited by the likes of certain contemporary artists.
Byford's vocals are amazing and have evolved to an incredible degree over the years. No other mortal sounds like Biff!
Quinn and Scarret perform superbly - never overplaying, yet providing serious licks and riffs. Some lovely middle section solos are played by both!
The prime success of 'Lionheart', however, is the songwriting. Melodies, lyrics and anthems grow on the listener like a super virus, creating an addictive experience.
This is, quite possibly, the best album Saxon have produced since 'Denim & Leather' and, considering there have been a fair few decent efforts in between, is saying something!
Quite simply - if you enjoy Rock or Metal, JUST BUY THIS ALBUM!
And, to top it off, go see the band live - it is an experience like no other!

The X-Factor
The X-Factor
Price: £5.99

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Maiden At Their Blazeing Best!, 26 July 2004
This review is from: The X-Factor (Audio CD)
Like many fans, I was initially turned off by the drastic change of vocal style when Bruce Dickinson left and Blaze Bailey stepped in. Bailey's style is so different to Dickinson's that the 'Maiden' sound took a step towards another dimension!
At first, I could not get into this new sound, particularly Bailey's style of singing.
But, as all the best albums achieve, 'Sign Of The Cross' began to grow on me. I found myself humming the title track, 'Lord Of The Flies' and 'Man On The Edge' without realising it. More importantly, this new arrival breathed a new life into the band's writing and performance. Maiden's music became more disciplined, yet more emotional (very lacking with the Dickinson era).
It still took more time to get used to Bailey's style but, honestly, there is something addictive about his voice.In fact, it was so addictive that I eventually went out and bought the 3 'Blaze' albums he produced once he left Maiden! The man has become one of my favourite vocalists!
If you are new to Iron Maiden, then a 'Best Of' compilation is best. This should also feature Maiden's original singer, Paul Di'anno. You will then have a broad idea of what Maiden are all about.
Essentially, the ultimate Maiden sound is the band that featured Dickinson, but 'The Sign Of The Cross' and, more importantly, Blaze Bailey, gave the band the kick up the a** it needed.
All the songs on the album are pretty much classic, full of energy, and have a catch to 'em that will make them hammer around your brain.
Personally, this is my favourite Iron Maiden album. But, be warned, give the album a chance to grow on you. You will learn to love it!

Vapor Trails
Vapor Trails
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £5.91

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Vapour Of Relief!, 4 Jan. 2004
This review is from: Vapor Trails (Audio CD)
For some of us Rush fans, the idea that the band had decided to call it a day was looking more and more like a reality.
I can safely say that these doubters (I was one of 'em!) were proved wrong with the release of 'Vapour Trails'.
The heavily-produced keyboard sound has been expelled, Alex Lifeson has dropped the idea that every song needs a 'proper' guitar solo and investigated the possibility that a lead guitarist can express him/her self with more dimension, Neil Peart has found a new, inspirational energy - obviously in relation to the tragedys that he has experienced in recent years. With these experiences, Peart's intellectual lyrics have gained a human quality that had been absent during the eighties and early ninetys. The words that Geddy Lee has been provided with span all ranges of the human condition - Love, loss, isolation, pride, frustration etc.
Geddy Lee's recent departure to create a solo album has been beneficial without doubt. 'Vapour Trails' displays the singer/bassist at his most confident. This confidence is indicated by the band using Lee's voice - as an instrument - as oposed to a synthisizer that was the usual ingredient. This vocal element- alongside Peart's lyrics - has brought a new, emotional facet to the 'Rush' Sound.
Highlights are 'Ghost Rider' (an obvious reaction to Peart's recent losses of wife and daughter) and 'Freeze' - a showcase of musicianship that only Lee, Lifeson and Peart could produce, emphasising Lee's vocal confidence and Lifeson's rejuvinated attitude towards lead guiter that was mentioned earlier.
'One Little Victory' demands optimism and contains an energy that is impossible from musicians of this ahe and calibre.
'Earthshine' is reminisent of the band during their 'Moving Pivtures' era. The heavy/low bass and guitar sound remind me of 'Limelight'.
'Secret Touch' contains a little homage to Led Zeppelin and is full of energy and heat.
Unlike others, I feel that 'Vapour Trails' is a very worthy component, clicking into the Rush album collection.
Personally, I feel that 'Vapour Trails' belongs in the bracket bestowed to 'Permanent Waves' and 'Moving Pictures'. This idicates my belief that 'Vapour Trails' is the band's greateset achievement for over twenty years!

Dreadful Tales
Dreadful Tales
by Richard Laymon
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dreadfully good tales from Laymon, 9 Jan. 2002
This review is from: Dreadful Tales (Paperback)
If you are a Laymon fan, this collection should not let you down. Laymon's work is the cinematic equivalent of a 'Friday the 13th' or 'Tales From The Crypt' movie. This is not a bad thing. It means that, although much of this work is shallow and unrewarding, it is really good fun. And, I must admit, I read 'Dreadful Tales' in record time - a sure sign of a good book!
There are some stories that do have clever little twists, some that are nastily funny and some that keep you wondering where the plot is going until the last page. There are several, however, that even for me, an avid horror fan, made me wonder if Laymon should have been locked up for in the name of good taste. Honestly, they were sick! A little story called 'Herman' went just too far for me. But then again I did read it in one sitting with a cringeing smile on my face, so I must've enjoyed it in some morbid way!
A great collection... A healthy release from the heavy, tiresome horror books we sometimes get. A saturday-night-drive-in of a story collection.

The Driller Killer [1979] [VHS]
The Driller Killer [1979] [VHS]

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Don't believe the hype!, 20 Dec. 2001
Right - let's make something clear: Abel Ferrara made this film on a budget that probably consisted of two coins; he played the main character himself (the credit went to a fictional actor called Jimmy Laine) and he filmed this movie with a bunch of mates, bad equipment and used locations that most of us would not use as a toilet, let alone film in.
That said and done, I believe the film to be a deeply faulted but respectable amature student film. The suckers that believed the hype and ran out and bought a copy, thinking that they were going to get a blood-laden, vein-bursting horror film will be deeply disappointed; what 'DrillerKiller' exposes is not brains, guts and blood, but lonliness, solitude, love, lust and hate. Of course these things are much cheaper than special effects and work on a higher level than the majority of people that fell for the film's title and the ridiculous ban the movie was given.
But, all that intellectual stuff aside, it's still fun to watch a bad actor run around NewYork putting a drill in a tramp's head.
So, all in all, don't expect nothing to good and snazzy. This ain't really a horror film. But if you want to see how one of the most daring directors of our generation got started this is a must see. For a movie buff such as myself, I found it worthwhile viewing - but if you think 'Lethal Weapon' or 'Top Gun' is the bee's knees, Man! don't buy it - you will be awfully disappointed.

Stephen King Quiz Book: W (Teach Yourself)
Stephen King Quiz Book: W (Teach Yourself)
by Stephen J. Spignesi
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A fun book on a fun author, 1 Dec. 2001
OK you anoraks - this is it. A Steve King quiz book that covers just about everything up until 'The Dark Half'. If you have a friend who is a King fan, as well - and surely, that's pretty likely - the two of you will have a very good time with this book. It's fun and light hearted but you won't impress any would-be admirers if they see you flicking through it. But then again - who gives a toss what they think?
Overall, this is an excellent little ditty that can come out during social times and be an excellent toilet companion. An up to date edition would be nice though as King is now doing the best work of his life.

Gone South (Wheeler Large Print Book)
Gone South (Wheeler Large Print Book)
by Robert R. McCammon
Edition: Hardcover

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars McCammon from Horror to Thriller to Down-Right-Weird!, 1 Dec. 2001
'Gone South' is the final book Robert McCammon completed before his early retirement - and it's a shame, because he was maturing into a writer that had outgrown the 'Horror' label he had given himself in the eighties. The novel focuses on a Vietnam veteran who commits murder whilst in an understandable rage. He goes on the run and a road-movie begins with the character coming across all sorts of weird and whacky people as he runs from the law. It is the bounty hunter, though, that takes the gong for weirdness and I can only picture David Lynch making this into a film. Dan Lambert, the main character, has a wonderfully sympathetic persona but McCammon never gets sugary and sentimental. There's a bit for everyone in this story - the road movie plot, the broken hero, a messed up bounty hunter, a couple of real, major psychos and a little romance to boot. This story could have been just a run of the mill thriller but in McCammon's warped head it is a moving but surreal 'chase across the states' story that moves with a frantic pace and never allows you to take a breather. Overall, 'Gone South' is not McCammon's best (we'll leave that for 'Boy's Life' and 'Swan Song') but that is not a bad thing. This story is a well structured thriller going through the hands of a horror writer that can create well rounded characters as efficiently as Stephen King.
'Gone South' is an enjoyable, touching and funky book.

You Come When I Call You
You Come When I Call You
by Douglas Clegg
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Clegg's story spoilt by the jumps!, 30 Nov. 2001
What a pity. This novel of childhood possesion could have been Clegg's finest hour as Stephen King's book of childhood 'IT' was. 'You come when I call you' starts well enough, leaving enough mystery to keep the reader intrigued as the main characters are interviewed about an incident that occured in their hometown when they were children. The flashbacks are wonderful and show Clegg maturing into a wonderful story teller. But it is the jumpiness of the plot that spoils the novel. Just as you are enjoying the children's story, Clegg pulls you back to present time where the main characters are now adults and seem to be unlikable and rather two dimensional. Also, these time changes are too frequent and the book appears to have very little rythym to it - causing you to look forward to reading it sometimes and reluctantly picking it up at other times - all depending on what character and what time you are reading in the story. The novel really is that inconsistant. But on a lighter note, I have read much worse, and Clegg does seem to be improving all the time. If you have not read Clegg before, I recommend his debut novel 'Goat Dance' and his story collection 'Nightmare Chronicles'. These titles will get you use to his style and you will find 'You come when I call You' much more comfortable reading. All in all, this title is just a little jitter in an improving storytellers career. Disappointing, yet enjoyable sporadically.

The Prophecy [VHS]
The Prophecy [VHS]
Offered by pkeylock
Price: £15.78

4.0 out of 5 stars Walken and Co give class to a biblical fantasy film., 29 Nov. 2001
This review is from: The Prophecy [VHS] (VHS Tape)
From the creator of the 'Highlander' film comes this strange biblical chiller. Although it feels much like Highlander in its plot structure, The Prophecy comes across as a much creepier ordeal that will intrigue the viewer until the end. The cast is surprisingly top notch with Chris Walken clearly enjoying portraying the fallen angel Gabriel. Eric Stoltz makes an appearance and once you get over his b-grade De Niro look, Elia Koteaz holds his own as a cop that had once been a disgraced priest.
Some will find the film messy - some a little confusing - but these were the same elements that made 'Highlander' so enjoyable. In comparison, though, The Prophecy is a more mature film and will gain a cult following. This is already proven by the two sequals that are now available.
All in all - pretty good fun and worth repeated viewing to watch actors enjoying playing baddy immortals fighting for souls!

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