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The Unforgiven (England)

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And Justice For All
And Justice For All
Price: £9.99

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ...And let down by poor production, 5 April 2007
This review is from: And Justice For All (Audio CD)
''...And Justice For All'' is arguably Metallica's most ambitious album, reflected in the song lengths. However, unlike ''Master of Puppets'', the production doesn't quite match the vision.

It starts off brilliantly, with the epic, crushing ''Blackened'', with the tracks heaviness matched by the morbid lyrics. On the subject of the lyrics, I think this album marked Hetfield's maturity as a writer, with some noticably dark and emotive lyrics, such as ''Harvester of Sorrow'' (with a suitably harrowing intro), and ''Dyers Eve'', which, alongside ''Fade To Black'', must rank as one of Metallica's most personal songs.

The album's standout is ''One'', the balance between the softer verses and the heaviness of the chorus is matched by the increasingly desperate lyrics, (Hold my breath as I wish for death/Oh please God, wake me). It's an oustanding song, employing the quiet/loud and fast/slow dynamic to enthralling effect, whilst never loosing its power.

What lets the album down is, as mentioned above, the production. The sound on Lars' drums is poor, and Jason Newsted's bass is strangely absent from the mix, which is even more noticable after Cliff Burton's stellar work on ''Master of Puppets''.

The musicianship is outstanding, possibly the best Metallica had shown up to that point, (just listen to ''To Live Is To Die''), but aside from ''One'', ''Blackened'', ''Harvester of Sorrow'' and the title track, the rest lack true conviction, with ''The Frayed Ends of Sanity'', in particular seeming rather one dimensional next to the complexity of ''One'' and ''Blackened''.

This is a shame, as, with better production, and with every song invested with the same epic scope as ''One'', this could have been a stunning album. The intelligence is there, as is the ambition, but some of it seems to have been lost when they pressed the record button. The result is, sadly, a case of what might have been.

Ride The Lightning
Ride The Lightning
Price: £12.62

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thrash classic, 4 April 2007
This review is from: Ride The Lightning (Audio CD)
The best way to judge an album's quality is how good it sounds years after its release. This is harder for metal bands, as their music can sound dated, their lyrics cheesy and the whole thing, well, a bit naff.

Metallica, however, are not one of these bands. They were always the most intelligent of the thrash bands, with James Hetfield's lyrics examining dark, serious subject matter. ''Ride The Lightning'' is a perfect example of this cerebral approach, with tracks like the epic ''Creeping Death'' and the seminal ''For Whom The Bell Tolls'' showing challenging subect matter can be combined with thrash riffs, without dumbing down the latter.

This intelligence is also reflected in the musicianship, which is nothing short of exceptional. Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett and the late, great, Cliff Burton are all superb, their talent and vision are evident throughout, notably on ''The Call Of Ktulu'', which, despite being an instrumental, looses none of its power or heaviness.

To pick a standout track is hard, not least in 2007, 23 years after its release, when many, if not all, of the songs are regarded as thrash classics. I believe ''Fade To Black'' deserves a special mention though: its emotive, yet powerful lyrics, great Hetfield vocals, and a stunning acoustic intro, matched only by the epic outro.

The contrast from the intimacy of the opening to the heaviness of the outro shows Metallica's true genius. Heavy, yet intelligent, matching outstanding musicianship with the ability to write great songs. The best compliment though, is that it still sounds fantastic today.

10,000 Days
10,000 Days
Price: £7.33

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tool release outstanding record...again, 3 April 2007
This review is from: 10,000 Days (Audio CD)
It's felt like a long time since ''Lateralus'', but the intervening years has done nothing to dim Tool's creativity. This album is thrilling in its diversity, from the hook-laden chorus of ''The Pot'', to the complexity of ''Rosetta Stoned'', via the haunting, brooding epic of the title track, this is at once Tools most accessible, yet experimental pieces of work.

All of the band are on top form, with Adam Jones' guitar work particularly impressive. From the growling intro of 'Jambi' to the delicate passages on ''Wings for Marie''/''10,000 Days'', he confirms that he's one of the most versatile guitarists in metal.

Maynard's vocals are as outstanding as ever, going from angry whispers, to emotive croon with ease, reflecting the album's lyrical content, which is by far Tool's most emotional to date.

Excellent musicianship, intelligent lyrics, even the packaging is great. Tool are on another level, and ''10,000 Days'' confirms this.

Ghost Reveries [CD + DVD Digipak]
Ghost Reveries [CD + DVD Digipak]
Offered by rbmbooks
Price: £20.93

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definition of brilliance!, 3 April 2007
There are musicians, and there there's Opeth. One of only a handful of bands for whom the term artist seems more appropriate, Opeth are simply on a different level. They may do the same basic things that all bands do, like making albums and touring, but there the similarity ends.

'' Ghost Reveries'' has more thought and invention, not to mention vision, than most bands manage to put into their entire careers. A single song, any song, on this album covers more ground musically, (even Mikael Åkerfeldt's vocals alone), than a single album by most bands.

''The Baying of the Hounds'' is a perfect example. Death metal growls, but with an organ-led backing reminiscent of Deep Purple, which gives way to some hauntingly beautiful clean vocals from Åkerfeldt. A genre defining track certainly, but proof of this album's quality is that it's not even the best song on here.

That honour, (and the competition for it is fierce), is Reverie/Harlequin Forest. An ambitious epic, yet accessible to anyone who likes truly good music. Poetic lyrics, stellar vocals and some stunning acoustic guitar work, it has it all.

Although, that could easily be said about any song on this album. The heavy parts sound even heavier because they are balanced by clean vocals, proving Mikael Åkerfeldt to be one of the most versatile vocalists in any genre. Hellish death growls to ethereal, heartfelt laments, and with everything in between, his performance is a tour de force.

He's not too bad on the old guitar either, with his, (and also Peter Lindgren's), guitar work as varied as it is stunning, recalling such visionaries as Ritchie Blackmore, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimi Hendrix.

His bandmates are also on top form, with Martin Lopez surely one of the best drummers in music, as his work here confirms. Martin Axenrot has a big job on his hands to replace him, that's for sure.

In truth, 1,000 words isn't enough to describe how good this album is. You NEED this album, and this band, in your CD collection.

St. Anger [Bonus DVD Digipak]
St. Anger [Bonus DVD Digipak]
Offered by Smart-UK
Price: £13.55

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A black mark on a fine CV, 3 April 2007
A midlife crisis, or did they just forget how to play their instruments? This is a poor record, in terms of production, lyrics and the music. It's not just that it's Metallica, and we judge them by a harsher criteria than most bands, this is a poor album for any band to release.

Having said that, it is unbelievable that this is the same band responsible for ''Master of Puppets'', ''Creeping Death'' and ''Enter Sandman'', etc. How can they be the same band that produced this?

Where to start? Boring riffs, inane lyrics, (and this from James Hetfield, one of the finest lyricists in metal), and the drumming! It sounds as if Lars recorded his drums on some pots and pans in a toilet cubicle.

Not just bad Metallica songs, but bad songs full stop. An insult to one of metal's finest names.

Dead Again
Dead Again
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £9.10

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Moody and Melodic, 30 Mar. 2007
This review is from: Dead Again (Audio CD)
It's been four years since 'Life Is Killing Me', and Type O Negative still haven't cheered up. Although, when they can make dispair sound so good, who'd want them to?

Opener 'Dead Again' sets the tone, starting of in morose, doom laden style, but upping the tempo to heavy, yet melodic effect. It's a tactic that Type O use throughout 'Dead Again', most impressively on 'The Profit of Doom', with Pete Steele sounding suitably apocalyptic, then, one Kenny Hickey riff later and the song turns on it's head.

The next track, 'September Sun' shows the famous Steele baritone in all it's glory, and again shows the bands thrilling grasp of dynamics, turning a song completely around to thrilling effect.

The lyrics are as jet-black as ever, ('Blood's thicker than water/Though much harder to clean up' from 'Some Stupid Tomorrow), though, as on the opening track, always darkly moving.

Melodic, yet at heavy, and with riffs Jimmy Page and Tony Iommi would be proud of, Dead Again' is already one of the albums of the year.

Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness
Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness
Offered by Leisurezone
Price: £5.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Progressive brilliance, 30 Mar. 2007
From the beautiful orchestral opener 'Keeping The Blade', 'Good Apollo...' is a record that never lets up, in imagination or quality. There is, quite simply, no weak tracks on this album.

Everything stands out, firstly the lyrics. In keeping with the concept covered on previous C&C releases, they are suitably poetic, yet express epic themes in accessible terms: 'would things have changed if I could have stayed'.

This is backed up by the songs themselves, which manage to be both insanely catchy, yet ambitious ( 'From Fear Through The Eyes Of Madness', Apollo II: The Telling Truth'. This is balanced with more 'commercial' sounding songs like 'Wake Up', complete with an excellent slide guitar work, and 'The Suffering', which has a killer chorus.

The fact that the songs are both accessible and challenging is largely thanks to Claudio Sanchez, whose delivery can be emotive, such as on 'Always and Never', yet can turn angry, reflecting the hatred in some of the 'Good Apollo's...' lyrics (see 'Welcome Home').

It's rare to find a band that combines melody and invention to such challenging, yet accessible effect. With 'Good Apollo I'm Burning Star IV...' Coheed & Cambria have done so with ease.

Price: £8.87

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More great Finnish music, 27 Mar. 2007
This review is from: Once (Audio CD)
Perhaps it's the weather, but Finland keeps producing great metal and rock music,especially of the Goth genre. However, this is by no means Goth-by-mumbers like certain, inferior acts, and the music, indoubtedly dramatic, is balanced with excellent, poetic lyrics, to ensure the music doesn't become cheesy, unlike some lesser symphonic/Goth metal bands.

The diversity in Nightwish's sound is best shown in 'Creek Mary's Blood', which features traditional Native American chanting and instrumentation, courtesy of John Two Hawks, and 'The Siren', with Tarja's vocals (outstanding throughout), adding to the track's Middle Eastern flavour, with a sitar thrown in for good measure.

The guitar work is heavy, and the rifs and solos will please any Metallica fans, yet they also know when to soften things up, with some nice acoustic guitar work.

To call this a simple metal release doesn't do it justice, its scope is just breathtaking, much like a film score. On the one hand you have heavier, more 'commercial' tracks like 'Nemo' and 'Wish I Had An Angel', and on the other, 'Kuolema Tekee Taiteilijan'(the album's big ballad, sung in Finnish)and 'Ghost Love Score', ten minutes of the finest metal- of any genre- you'll ever hear. The only thing missing from it is the epic film it sounds like it was composed for.

Anyone after metal that is emotive, inventive, yet heavy, should certainly give Nightwish, and this album, the 'Once' over. (sorry about the awful pun)

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