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A Map Of All Our Failures (CD & DVD - LIMITED EDITION)
A Map Of All Our Failures (CD & DVD - LIMITED EDITION)
Price: 16.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A very good album., 24 Oct 2012
As most would expect, this is quite familiar My Dying Bride material in as much as that there sound is mature and unique to them.
On the first few listens through it seemed to have a bit more in it to me than their last couple of albums but time will tell how this develops. This may also be in some ways due to the production, but the opening track "Kneel TIll Doosday" is certainly an attention getter. While there are many other great parts on this album, it is this first song that right from the start says "pay attention".
Would I say this is their greatest album ever? No.. I still prefer their first three full lengths personally. Is it a high quality album? Yes, for sure. Do I recommend that you buy this? If you are already a My Dying Bride fan, you probably already know what to expect and have made a decision to purchase this or not - so I do not expect to sway anyone there... if you are new to the band, check out the song mentioned above, "Kneel Till Doomsday"... if you like it then you will like this album I think.

Are you a collector type? Make sure you get the version with the DVD, the hour+ interview with the band members is interesting enough for a couple of $ more.

All in all, not an absolutely essential album, but a very good album that will sit well with a lot of their current fans... this may also be my favourite album of theirs that has been released in the 2000's.
4 stars for a strong album.


Decontruction
Decontruction
Price: 16.19

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great album!, 6 Jan 2012
This review is from: Decontruction (Audio CD)
To be honest I was not looking forward to this album as much as a number of others this year, nor, indeed, as much as the other albums even in this four album release by Devin Townsend.

Initial thoughts
The first few listens I found this difficult, there is a lot going on musically, very dense layering. But what actually put me off was Devin's feel, this album is in a lot of parts very manic. After I got used used to this edge of sanity application to music I started to appreciate the album so much more and it would not have been the unique voice of Devin Townsend without it.

The Good..
Praise The Lowered, Stand, Juular, Sumeria are all excellent, dense, frightening, relaxing, absorbing, funny, grim, entertaining and gripping in turns (and sometimes all at once).
They showcase in a way unique to this album something that has been displayed on Ki, Ghost and Addicted in their own way. There are calm parts with DT's inately musical voice, followed by passages of insanity with growls, grunts, amid a chorus of voices that add to an already overwhelming sonic environment and vice versa.

The in between..
Every other track on the album falls into this range. There are no bad tracks, just tracks that get more or less plays than the others.

The Bad..
The only things I can be really picky with are that the album is maybe too long. It is an intense listen and at over 70 minutes can be quite challenging. I found I needed to work up to listening to it end to end while still giving it my full attention.

Production
Awesome. One of the best I have heard in recent times. Amazingly dense. Insanely so. Yet nothing is lost due to this. There is an excellent balance between instruments and nothing that seems too freaky from a frequency point of view. An absolute joy on both speakers and headphones.

Final Thoughts
Again, I would never have though this album would be my album of the year, but there you are. Having said all of that do I recommend it? Only if you like Devin Townsends style. That manic ride that he invites us into called his music.... If you are not sure listen first, as it is unique enough that many will be put off... But for those inclined can be quite rewarding. This is not Ziltoid, it is not Strapping Young Lad, but it is very much a Devin Townsend record.


Sounds of a Playground Fading
Sounds of a Playground Fading
Price: 8.85

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good release, 11 Dec 2011
This is a paraphrasing from my website where I review the album song by song...

I have not listened to this band since there first album came out last millennia. They just did not strike me at the time as my thing. So it was with a bit of surprise that I listened to this album as it was not what I expected. A note for fans, well, this might not be your thing, especially if you were mainly a fan of their death metal era, so you are warned! As I had not heard anything from the band in years I could approach this with a pretty much unconcerned view of how their past albums relate to this one but I do warn others to try and hear it first!

The songs are catchier than I had expected from the band, with a lot more in the way of anthemic choruses etc.
A very good album though the mid section left me wanting some more changes. It is very well produced having a fair amount of dynamic, by todays standards, and at the moment is the go to album for me for going for a walk. I expect that there will be a few albums that will top this before the end of the year but this disc is certainly worth repeated listens. It was a tough choice between three and 4 stars here as it really is a 3.5 - I have rounded up but be aware I do not rate it a true 4 star album.


A Dramatic Turn Of Events
A Dramatic Turn Of Events
Price: 8.30

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Playing to their strengths, 11 Dec 2011
This is basically a paraphrasing of a review from my own website...
Well this album has caused the expected scrabble amongst hardcore DT fans, those determined to love it, those determined to hate it and those who approach it with clinical objectivity. The one thing I guess I feel from the album, is that this album was written with for those who are already fans. While it may attract new fans without doubt, it is an album that says to the fans ... Look we acknowledge we are DT, in all of its light and dark musical forms, so not too much metal, sit down, here we are, back with balanced focus....

This, to me, is not Dream Theaters best album, but it is a strong album and shows definite hope for the future of the band. It shows a band playing back to its well balanced strengths. It is not perfect, there are definite flaws I have not touched on yet. The production is the best I have heard in years from this band. The instruments are all there and well balanced. The bass and keyboards really stand out as different from the last couple of albums. I give special kudos to Jordan Rudess, John Myung and James Labrie whom all sound much more natural and inclusive on this album. Obviously the drum production has, not suffered, ut been placed back a little in the mix for all this and I applaud that. The one area that I am not sure about is the guitars. While the tone on the leads u=is exceptional there is a little something, and this is a niggle rather than a criticism, it is almost like the note attack is not as crisp as usual, or some of the dynamic is missing and this reduces the colour palette somehow of the guitar. The other thing I guess is this album does not have a genuine song that just demands you listen as much as I'd otherwise expect. That may also be because I am getting used to it still, but normally there'd be a song that draws me in, and it just has not happened yet. Doesn't mean it won't though so I remain positive about that.


The Hunter
The Hunter
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: 14.78

4.0 out of 5 stars Good to see a band willing to be diverse, 11 Dec 2011
This review is from: The Hunter (Audio CD)
Initial thoughts
I was looking forward to this album even though I had not been much of a fan of the ban until I head Crack The Skye earlier in 2011. Since then I have also managed to track down Blood Mountain. So it was with a sense of trepidation that I heard about the release of "The Hunter". I knew I would buy it, but I did not know what I would think of it. Then the pre-release songs were released and while good, were nothing of the level of Crack The Skye. I had no problem with that as often individual tracks will be like that. It is the whole album that I look forward to. So on the first listen I sat there knowing I would not form a whole judgement on the album but rather get an idea on what I would like and what I wouldn't.

And so..

The Good..
This album sees Mastodon get spacier. And when they do, I love it. My favourite tracks are the spaciest. What you get is a band who are happy to write metal with space, with a ton of effects at times, and, most oddly, are not afraid of the G,B,E strings of there guitar. And yes, I mean the high E! Mix this in with the unique production that Mastodon have and yeah, it is a very unique mix and definitely left me wanting more of this style of music. Also, the use of multiple vocal parts is something I highly commend
The Hunter and The Sparrow are easily my two favourite tracks on this album. Both are just superb to my spacey ears. Hell, give me a whole album like this and I'd wear my CD player out. (Arcam, I still get a warranty if this happens? Right? RIGHT? Bueller?!) Stargasm is also worthy of a mention, and Creature Lives as well. Thickening is pretty good, as well, though one which was slow to catch on with me. Black Tongue is not bad as an upbeat more aggressive opener.

The in between...
Well, this is where most of the songs fall, in that 5 to 7 out of 10 area. This is not because they are bad, but possibly just because the quality of the good songs, above, is so damned high. These songs, while having their own unique personality, just don't have as much personality as those above. Curl of the Burl, for instance, is an okay song, but, it just doesn't have the sheer uniqueness and feel of the songs above.

The Bad...
I am happy to say there really is nothing that is hatefully bad. There are songs I skip, but that is just my impatience to get to the good songs.

Production
The production again is uniquely Mastodon. Think heavy in an almost fuzzy way. There are a lot more clean vocals than not, which I consider a good thing. There are more keyboards, which I do not have a problem with (look at my Music that I own page for proof).
The spacier sounding songs are fantastic though, a really good mix of all the instruments. I must say I love being able to hear a bass clearly and without competing with the drums.

Final Thoughts
This is a strong album. Not as strong to my mind as "Crack the Skye", which to me was a stunning album. It may be partially due to the lack of a concept here, or the feeling that a few of the songs could have had more development, but there is that slight level of difference, to me, that makes this album worthy of repeated listens, but not likely to be as long lasting as an album. The shorter songs on this album work in some places, but may have stunted some tracks of that little bit of development that could have taken it to that next level. Having said all that, these songs *may* work better live for those very same reasons. Oh, and for all the fans who mention commercial because of the clean vocals is my take. They would be more commercial, selling to a known fan base, than to chop and change as they do and continue to potentially alienate their fan base with each new album. This is something I actually commend them for as it is never without risk. While AC/DC can get away with making little changes over many years, I am glad that there are bands willing to be a little different all the time. Now my mini rant is out of the way, I will finish by saying this is a good album, but probably not a 2011 top 10. Which isn't really fair as there have been so many good albums this year, in any other year it may have made it.


The Dark Side Of The Moon [2011 - Original Recording Remastered] [Immersion Edition]
The Dark Side Of The Moon [2011 - Original Recording Remastered] [Immersion Edition]
Price: 91.90

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great music, but questionable packaging and extras, 11 Dec 2011
Okay, to start this is only a sort of review. DSOTM is such a well known album that you would already have heard enough to have an idea of whether you would like it or not.
My goal here is really to try and give you an idea of whom I think this boxed set may be suitable for. After all, how many copies of the album do you really want to own unless you are a major fan?
And this is the thing, this release is really only for the most die hard fans. Clocking in at $110AUD it is certainly not for casual listeners.

The Good...
Well, the blu-ray audio. To have this album on SACD was special enough, and for me, the first time I really appreciated the album in the way a lot of fans already did. But the Alan Parson's quadrophonic is something else. It is proof alone that this album was written with a different sense of vision than many others. For those with a blu-ray player, you have the same things but with lower bit rate on a DVD audio. The blu-ray, to me, almost alone makes this worth the price of admission. The live shows and extra tracks are all good, but nothing that would normally justify the price. They are still nice however.

The Not So Good...
Four of the six discs have their cases as part of the box, while the blu ray and extra tracks CD came with a cardboard sleeve. Really? I personally believe that they all should have come in a sleeve/jewel case etc. I don't want to go opening and closing the box every time I want to listen to/watch something that it came with. Seems silly, and something likely to shorten the length of the boxes lifespan.
The Bad...
The gimmicks. The marbles. The scarf. I mean, really?? While the list of questions that they asked people while making the album for the samples that appeared on it makes sense, marbles and a scarf? Really?

Final Thoughts
If you are a major fan of Pink Floyd, like I am, then this is a must just to get what is, at this stage, the best quality release of the music. As an "immersion" addition, some of the extra content is good. Marbles and a scarf though, really? I would have preferred extra content for that price.
Having complained about the price I will say: There are many boxed sets coming out around this price range (hello Dream Theater!) that are nowhere near as rich in terms of worthwhile content. For this price I *expect* the highest quality release possible (Once upon a time I would have said SACD, but, well, I am resigned to it being a dead format now due to its restrictive controls amongst other reasons). I expect extra tracks etc.
In conclusion, a strong release let down by some questionable gimmicks, but worth the money for the hardcore fan compared to other boxed sets that are seemingly far less value but worth more money. I desperately wanted to rate this with 5 stars, but in the end can only give it 4 due to the packaging and gimmicks. The music alone is superb.


Iconoclast (Limited)
Iconoclast (Limited)
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: 7.59

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good, but maybe lacking dynamic, 11 Aug 2011
This review is from: Iconoclast (Limited) (Audio CD)
This review may seem in some ways very negative. It is a very modern sounding album, take that as you will...
Dynamics: The guitars are all very good don't ever get me wrong there, hell, not very good. Great. Same with the drums. And the bass, and the vocals etc. But there is not enough dynamics from a songwriting and production perspective for my ear. I would like a little bit more dynamic, if there is a solo, and this goes for keyboards as well, let it stand out, let the production highlight it, if necessary really let it soar. Give it room to breathe.
Keyboards: We all know how great the early orchestrations of Symphony X were. But I feel that they are not as "there" anymore. Which is a shame for a band with Symphony in there title. They really don't stand out enough anymore, possibly due to the dynamics issue. I really would like to see the keyboards really orchestrate with the rest of the band again. Having said all of that, if this is where the band are musically good for them. I don't think bands should ever change want they want because of people like me voicing my opinion.
Diversity: Because of the above issues each song has difficulty standing out. Which when you consider the talent on offer really makes this a shame.
I found often the choruses were good and catchy but there was not enough to excite elsewhere, and even the chorus' were not produced to really catch the ear and stand out.
So, all said and done, do I recommend this album? Hell yes. But there are caveats. Obviously if you don't like albums that lack some dynamic content then it may not be for you. If you did not like the rougher sounds of Paradise Lost compared to previous albums it may not be for you. If you like Paradise Lost however this should be an almost essential purchase. I do like this album a lot, but can't listen to it yet from start to finish like some other double CD's. I am hoping though that this is one of those albums that is a sneaky grower, but unfortunately at this stage it is an album that is less than the sum of all its parts. It as a whole album ranges between 3 or 4 out of five. I will go for the higher option and revise downward if it doesn't in fact grow on me, although I really hope it does... and that I can revise upward.


Crack the Skye [Special Edition]
Crack the Skye [Special Edition]
Price: 6.77

5.0 out of 5 stars This album has made me a fan.., 11 Aug 2011
Firstly, I need to say I have never been a fan of this band and even resisted purchasing this for a long time.. That said, here is the review..

This album grew on me. First listen I was a bit... meh... but after a few solid listens, paying attention all the way to the end it definitely grew on me. While I do not think it's the greatest album of all time, and that the album is let down by one or two weak tunes, the good songs that are here are really right up there. Overall production was of a generally consistent quality while not being the greatest ever, however it rarely lets the album down. All the musicianship is of high quality. Special note there to the drumming. The vocal's will be love/hate. Initially they did not do a great deal for me, but after a while, I sort of "got" where they were coming from, and once I did, it certainly greatly opened up the appeal of this album. I will say, I do highly recommend this album to you, don't be too scared of samples you may hear online as it will likely grow on you in some parts over time. And it does leave me anticipating the next album - I can only hope this added progginess was not a one off. I will give it 5 stars though but tracks 2 and 3 leave me a bit hesitant to do so... although the last 4 tracks and in particular The Czar, Crack the Skye and The Last Baron more than make up for this.


The Great Mass (Digi+dvd)
The Great Mass (Digi+dvd)
Price: 19.31

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great mix of death metal and orchestra, 11 Aug 2011
This is basically the conclusion of a review that I put on my website:
This is a very strong album by Septic Flesh. There are only a few minor flaws, and these are as much my personal taste as anything. The album is dark, but, hey. this is death metal after all. The orchestration in the main is very good although some part stand out to my mind and do not fit as well as I would have hoped....while others fit far better than I would otherwise have expected. The production and mix are very good and very polished. All instruments have their own place and sit well. It is not unnecessarily muddy and there is good detail. If I was to say anything, the bass and drums perhaps lack punch. This does not detract from the album though, but could have added some extra dimension overall to the band. The length is good as it goes just long enough to leave me wanting more, if anything it seems to go a fraction too short. I think a few of these songs could have been extended quite easily and successfully as, while they already enjoy a very good musical dynamic roller coaster ride there could have been more fleshing out of some of the themes ... again, this is just personal taste.

Will this album make my top 10 for the year? Hard to tell,likely no as there are a lot of strong albums coming out later this year, but as it stands right now, it is definitely in my top 10 so far, yes. If I have any strong changes of mind about this album over the few months I will update this post, as the albums longevity to me alone will be interesting.
By Amazon's review system I will give it 5 stars, although 4 may be more appropriate in the long term.


Shades Of God
Shades Of God
Price: 6.43

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So good I overplayed my first copy, 7 Aug 2011
This review is from: Shades Of God (Audio CD)
To give a little history - this is the second time I have bought this CD. The first was when it first came out, it survived many playings and many moves but eventually just didn't last. Of course, I treat CD's much better than this now.

Historically this was the third CD of Paradise Lost's that I had heard. The first was Gothic, I then went backwards to get Lost Paradise.
They were each good, with Gothic being the better, but this CD really stood out too me. Instead of a death like grunt it is more of a sorrowful bellow if that is even possible. The vocals are not normal singing yet, but they are not death styled either.
Also, there is a much stronger sense of melody here which shows that the band was starting to find its unique sound that lead to the many changes in the future including electronica and a predominately clean vocal sound.
The riffs here though are both doomy and melodic giving a lot of the songs an unusual power. The drums were suitably powerful with an epic and when necessary thunderous feel.
At times almost upbeat, brooding, sorrowful and angry in its own tormented way this album was the first of the major UK doom acts to really get my interest. (The others were My Dying Bride from Turn Loose the Swans and Anathema from Silent Enigma).

Crying for Eternity, No Forgiveness, Your Hand in Mine and As I Die are my favourite songs off this album.
As I Die was the albums single.
This album may not have aged as well as some of there others but I have to give it a high rating just for the impact it had on me at the time. I will never really be able to subjectively review it without a somewhat nostalgic reminder of the emotions I went through with it at the time. For newer listeners, I would recommend you listen to samples first as this may not be what you expect from this band - again, given how diverse there changes were after this album musically.


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