April 30, 2017

Iced Earth - Dystopia (Limited Edition) (2011)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Heavy Metal, Power Metal
.FLAC via Mega (Link)
.AAC 256 kbps via Mega (Link)


© 2011 Century Media
AllMusic Review by Gregory Heaney
Iced Earth look back on some old ideas on their tenth studio album, Dystopia, their first album with new vocalist Stu Block (formerly of Into Eternity), who joined the band after Matt Barlow decided to depart the band a second time to focus on his family. The album finds Block pushing his vocals into new territories, moving away from the anguished growl he perfected with Into Eternity in favor of a more soaring singing style. Block handles the change well, easily adapting his style to fill some pretty big shoes in the power metal outfit. While fans might be torn about the new singer, they can find solace in the return of the "Something Wicked" story line, giving them a little taste of something old to ease them into this new period of Iced Earth’s history, which -- regardless of whether you’re running hot or cold on their new frontman -- still delivers plenty of the intense power/thrash goodness.

Green Day - 1,039/Smoothed Out Out Slappy Hours (1997)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Punk Rock
Style: Pop Punk
.FLAC via Mega (Link)
.AAC 256 kbps via Mega (Link)

© 1991-1997 Lookout! Records
AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett
When Green Day's first album appeared, anyone predicting that fame, MTV, top-selling albums, and more would be on the horizon in the near future would have been happily patted on the head and then sent to the insane asylum. It helps to remember that Nirvana's breakthrough was still a year away, for one thing, and, for another, 1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hour isn't a truly great album in the first place. It's not bad, by any means, and quite arguably just about everything on it could be transposed with a slight aural tweak here and there to Dookie or Insomniac without anyone batting an eye. It's just little more than a fun punk-pop album with some entertaining metallic flash here and there, one of many such records that the late '80s and early '90s produced in the indie rock world. After a great start with "At the Library," it's quickly clear that the rest of the record is going to continue in the same vein. What's fun is realizing how much the band already had to work with, pursuing obvious love of three-chord forebears like the Dickies and the Ramones to energetic if not revelatory ends. Billie Joe Armstrong's balance of disaffection and nervous, goofy passion is well in place, while he's already showing his effective, no-frills approach to chewy feedback melody. Songs like "I Was There" and "Road to Acceptance," not to mention the implicitly weed-celebrating "Green Day" itself, are great calling cards for later breakouts on both levels. Mike Dirnt's no slouch himself, providing good backing vocals when needed for harmony, but oddly enough the most prominent performance throughout comes from original drummer John Kiftmeyer, who wouldn't last through to the next album. Call it a quirk of recording, but there it is.

tags: green day, 1039, smoothed out slappy hours, 1997, flac,

Green Day - Kerplunk (1991)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Punk Rock
Style: Pop Punk
.FLAC via Mega (Link)
.AAC 256 kbps via Mega (Link)

© 1991-1992 Lookout! Records
AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett
Green Day's second full album was the perfect dry run for the band's later assault on the mainstream, containing both more variety and more flat-out smashes than previous releases had shown. With Tre Cool now firmly in place as the drummer, the lineup was at last settled, and it turned out Cool and Mike Dirnt were a perfect rhythm section, with the former showing a bit more flash and ability than John Kiftmeyer did. Together the two throw in a variety of guitarless breaks that would later help to define the band's sound for many -- warm and never letting the beat go. As for Billie Joe Armstrong, his puppy-dog delivery and eternal switching between snotty humor and sudden sorrrow was better than ever, as were his instantly memorable riffs. The metal-strength chug that always informed the band's best work isn't absent either -- check out Armstrong's opening riffing on "Christie Road." The whole thing starts with a note-perfect bang -- "2000 Light Years Away" is the absolute highlight of the group's premajor-label days, with a great chorus and classic yearning lyrics. It got buried in the wave of Dookie's success a bit, but one other number didn't -- "Welcome to Paradise," also a standout on that album, appears here in its original form. Rob Cavallo punched up the radio-friendly sound on the latter take, but even here it's a treat and a half -- quick, rampaging, and once again with a great stop-start chorus to spare. Other straight-up pop winners include "One of My Lies" and "Who Wrote Holden Caulfield?." Elsewhere, Green Day slow down tempos, try acoustic numbers, and in one hilarious moment, pull off a ridiculous yet worthy country pisstake with the Cool-written "Dominated Love Slave." [CD versions included the Sweet Children EP as a slightly surprising bonus.]

tags: green day, kerplunk, 1991, flac,

Green Day - American Idiot (2004) ☠

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Punk Rock
Style: Pop Punk
.FLAC via Mega (Link)
.AAC 256 kbps via Mega (Link)

☠: Selected by Lass
© 2004 Reprise Records
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
It's a bit tempting to peg Green Day's sprawling, ambitious, brilliant seventh album, American Idiot, as their version of a Who album, the next logical step forward from the Kinks-inspired popcraft of their underrated 2000 effort, Warning, but things aren't quite that simple. American Idiot is an unapologetic, unabashed rock opera, a form that Pete Townshend pioneered with Tommy, but Green Day doesn't use that for a blueprint as much as they use the Who's mini-opera "A Quick One, While He's Away," whose whirlwind succession of 90-second songs isn't only emulated on two song suites here, but provides the template for the larger 13-song cycle. But the Who are only one of many inspirations on this audacious, immensely entertaining album. The story of St. Jimmy has an arc similar to Hüsker Dü's landmark punk-opera Zen Arcade, while the music has grandiose flourishes straight out of both Queen and Rocky Horror Picture Show (the '50s pastiche "Rock and Roll Girlfriend" is punk rock Meat Loaf), all tied together with a nervy urgency and a political passion reminiscent of the Clash, or all the anti-Reagan American hardcore bands of the '80s. These are just the clearest touchstones for American Idiot, but reducing the album to its influences gives the inaccurate impression that this is no more than a patchwork quilt of familiar sounds, when it's an idiosyncratic, visionary work in its own right. First of all, part of Green Day's appeal is how they have personalized the sounds of the past, making time-honored guitar rock traditions seem fresh, even vital. With their first albums, they styled themselves after first-generation punk they were too young to hear firsthand, and as their career progressed, the group not only synthesized these influences into something distinctive, but chief songwriter Billie Joe Armstrong turned into a muscular, versatile songwriter in his own right.
Warning illustrated their growing musical acumen quite impressively, but here, the music isn't only tougher, it's fluid and, better still, it fuels the anger, disillusionment, heartbreak, frustration, and scathing wit at the core of American Idiot. And one of the truly startling things about American Idiot is how the increased musicality of the band is matched by Armstrong's incisive, cutting lyrics, which effectively convey the paranoia and fear of living in American in days after 9/11, but also veer into moving, intimate small-scale character sketches. There's a lot to absorb here, and cynics might dismiss it after one listen as a bit of a mess when it's really a rich, multi-faceted work, one that is bracing upon the first spin and grows in stature and becomes more addictive with each repeated play. Like all great concept albums, American Idiot works on several different levels. It can be taken as a collection of great songs -- songs that are as visceral or as poignant as Green Day at their best, songs that resonate outside of the larger canvas of the story, as the fiery anti-Dubya title anthem proves -- but these songs have a different, more lasting impact when taken as a whole. While its breakneck, freewheeling musicality has many inspirations, there really aren't many records like American Idiot (bizarrely enough, the Fiery Furnaces' Blueberry Boat is one of the closest, at least on a sonic level, largely because both groups draw deeply from the kaleidoscopic "A Quick One"). In its musical muscle and sweeping, politically charged narrative, it's something of a masterpiece, and one of the few -- if not the only -- records of 2004 to convey what it feels like to live in the strange, bewildering America of the early 2000s.

tags: green day, american idiot, 2004, flac,

Green Day - 21st Century Breakdown (2009) ☠

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Punk Rock, Power Pop
Style: Pop Punk
.FLAC via Mega (Link)
.AAC 256 kbps via Mega (Link)
☠: Selected by Lass
© 2009 Reprise Records
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
American Idiot was a rarity of the 21st century: a bona fide four-quadrant hit, earning critical and commercial respect, roping in new fans young and old alike. It was so big it turned Green Day into something it had never been before -- respected, serious rockers, something they were never considered during their first flight of success with Dookie. Back then, they were clearly (and proudly) slacker rebels with a natural gift for a pop hook, but American Idiot was a big album with big ideas, a political rock opera in an era devoid of both protest rock and wild ambition, so its success was a surprise. It also ratcheted up high expectations for its successor, and Green Day consciously plays toward those expectations on 2009's 21st Century Breakdown, another political rock opera that isn't an explicit sequel but could easily be mistaken for one, especially as its narrative follows a young couple through the wilderness of modern urban America. Heady stuff, but like the best rock operas, the concept doesn't get in the way of the music, which is a bit of an accomplishment because 21st Century Breakdown leaves behind the punchy '60s Who fascination for Queen and '70s Who, giving this more than its share of pomp and circumstance. Then again, puffed-up protest is kind of the point of 21st Century Breakdown: it's meant to be taken seriously, so it's not entirely surprising that Green Day fall into many of the same pompous tarpits as their heroes, ratcheting up the stately pianos, vocal harmonies, repeated musical motifs, doubled and tripled guitars, and synthesized effects that substitute for strings, then adding some orchestras for good measure. It would all sound cluttered, even turgid, if it weren't for Green Day's unerring knack for writing muscular pop and natural inclination to run clean and lean, letting only one song run over five minutes and never letting the arrangements overshadow the song. Although Green Day's other natural gift, that for impish irreverent humor, is missed -- they left it all behind on their 2008 garage rock side project Foxboro Hot Tubs -- the band manages to have 21st Century Breakdown work on a grand scale without losing either their punk or pop roots, which makes the album not only a sequel to American Idiot, but its equal.

tags: green day, 21st century breakdown, break down, 2009, flac,

April 29, 2017

Whitesnake - Ready An' Willing (1980)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Hard Rock
.FLAC via Mega (Link)
.FLAC via Mega (Mirror Link)

© 1980-1988 Fame/EMI Records
AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia
Despite benefiting from the expert assistance of legendary producer Martin Birch (Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, later Iron Maiden) Whitesnake's early studio albums all tended to sound unexplainably flat. Their fourth effort, 1980's Ready an' Willing, was no exception, but it did make up for this somewhat with solid songwriting. In fact, David Coverdale and company were growing increasingly more consistent and self-assured with each record, and this album's first half shows great progress over the previous year's hit-and-miss Lovehunter. Opener "Fool for Your Lovin'" was their best single yet, as well as their highest charting; with its clever combination of hit-savvy chorus and authentic bluesy resignation, it set the template for subsequent triumphs, and the fact that Coverdale re-recorded it (in disappointing pop-metal fashion) over a decade later for 1989's Slip of the Tongue is a testament to its staying power. Further highlights include the live favorite "Sweet Talker" (given extra bite by Micky Moody's expert slide guitar), the groove monster of a title track, and a set of memorable ballads in "Blindman" and "Ain't Gonna Cry No More." The same laurels can't be awarded to the album's closing trio of songs, all of which evince the tired and formulaic blues-rock that had dominated previous releases. But this didn't stop Ready an' Willing from qualifying as Whitesnake's finest hour thus far, with ever-greater glory waiting just over the horizon.

April 28, 2017

Whitesnake - Whitesnake (1987) ☠

*U.S. pressing. Contains 9 tracks total.
Country: U.S.A
Genre: Hard Rock, Glam Metal
.FLAC via Mega (Link)
.AAC 256 kbps via Mega (Link)

☠: Selected by Lass
© 1987 Geffen Records
AllMusic Review by Steve Huey
David Coverdale built Whitesnake's commercial breakthrough on a collection of loud, polished hard rockers, plus the band's best set of pop hooks. The Led Zeppelin-ish "Still of the Night" offered headbanger appeal, but it was the big chorus of "Here I Go Again" -- one of the very small number of non-power ballad '80s hard rock singles to actually top the pop charts -- and the quiet ballad "Is This Love" that really sold the album in spades. The rest of the album generally holds interest as well, and it's easily the band's best.

tags: whitesnake, whitesnake album, 1987, flac,

Whitesnake - Slip of The Tongue (1989)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Hard Rock
.FLAC via Mega (Link)
.AAC 256 kbps via Mega (Link)


© 1989 Geffen Records
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek
Any band would have been hard-pressed to follow the success of a multi-platinum album with another one of equal or higher quality both critically and commercially. Needless to say, that's exactly what David Coverdale and Whitesnake were faced with when it came time to record 1989's Slip of the Tongue, the follow-up to their 1987 smash self-titled LP. To complicate matters, Coverdale lost Irish guitarist Vivian Campbell during pre-recording sessions due to artistic differences, and his songwriting partner and lead guitarist, Adrian Vandenberg, injured himself to the degree that he couldn't play; he did some early work that made it on to the final album. Coverdale, faced with a quickly approaching deadline and pressure from management and the label finally recruited former Frank Zappa guitarist Steve Vai to fill the chair. Commercially, Slip of the Tongue was an unqualified success. The album ended up being Whitesnake's third platinum recording. Musically, however, the set is so drenched in '80s production -- huge compression, Midi keyboards, a thin bottom end, etc. -- it seems that little of the band's tough blues-based metallic persona remains. The album sounds dated, full of overblown sounds and effects that have little to do with the act's trademark heavy guitar-and-bass approach to hard rock and early Brit metal. Some of the songs have merit, even if their finished productions ruin them -- the tough "Now You're Gone" and "Judgment Day," are great examples, as is "The Deeper the Love," a classic Coverdale power ballad needlessly drenched in keys and synths. The fit between Vai and Whitesnake is also questionable; his busy approach is at odds with the meat and potatoes strut and pound of the band. Fans ate it up at the time, but Slip of the Tongue is, unfortunately, still an album very much of its time and the curious, as well as fans, may want to check out their earlier work before picking this up.

April 27, 2017

Testament - Dark Roots of Earth (2012)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Thrash Metal
.FLAC via Mega (Link)
.AAC 256 kbps via Mega (Link)


© 2012 Nuclear Blast Records
AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia
Forget Metallica, forget Megadeth, Anthrax, and even Slayer! The most formidable on-stage thrash metal powerhouse of 2011 was arguably the (mostly) reconstituted classic lineup of Testament: singer Chuck Billy, guitarists Alex Skolnick, and Eric Peterson, plus returning bass badass Greg Christian and occasional drummer Gene Hoglan, who probably tops most predecessors on the stool, most would agree. This fearsome ensemble spent several months tearing up concert halls worldwide, consistently putting the "mosh" back in the "pit," before invading Oakland, California's Driftwood Studios to record their tenth album Dark Roots of Earth, which, though not quite as timeless as Testament's late-'80s triumphs, sure comes as close as anything they've done over the past 20 years. Savagely lucid thrashers like "Rise Up," "True American Hatred," and "Last Stand for Independence" highlight everything that made Testament special from day one and their failure to achieve stardom so perplexing: the homegrown Bay Area violence rivaled only by Exodus and a versatile musicality on par with Metallica. A simplistic analysis could chalk up the former to rhythm guitarist Peterson's brute-fist force, the latter to lead shredder Skolnick's Satriani-caliber virtuosity, but they are both just pieces of the band's alchemical musical puzzle, complemented by Billy's unique penchant for growling in tune, Christian's inventive and athletic bass contributions, and Hoglan's devastating percussive propulsion (if anything, he holds some of his death metal tricks in check here). Returning to the music itself, the more melodically driven title track and pummeling anti-ballad "Cold Embrace" raise fond memories of the Souls of Black and Practice What You Preach eras, respectively; and in the particularly memorable "A Day in the Death," fans get a polished-off ancient outtake co-written by original vocalist Steve "Zetro" Souza! Finally, though the songs named above largely see Testament reaping nostalgia's rewards, the multifaceted "Throne of Thorns" reveals new sounds, ideas, and a willingness to experiment more aggressively in years to come. For now, Dark Roots of Earth improves upon 2008's comeback The Formation of Damnation and, in tandem with those rejuvenated live performances, promises a well-deserved second act for a band that so narrowly missed grasping the golden ring its first time around. Who knows, the best may be yet to come for Testament.

tags: testament, dark roots of earth, 2012, flac,

Black Sabbath - Mob Rules (1981)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Heavy Metal
.FLAC via Mega (Link)
.AAC 256 kbps via Mega (Link)


© 1981-1989 Warner Bros. Records
AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia
1981's Mob Rules was the second Black Sabbath album to feature vertically challenged singer Ronnie James Dio, whose powerful pipes and Dungeons and Dragons lyrics initially seemed like the perfect replacement for the recently departed and wildly popular Ozzy Osbourne. In fact, all the ingredients which had made their first outing, Heaven and Hell, so successful are re-utilized on this album, including legendary metal producer Martin Birch (Deep Purple, Whitesnake, etc.) and supporting keyboard player Geoff Nichols. And while it lacks some of its predecessor's inspired songwriting, Mob Rules was given a much punchier, in-your-face mix by Birch, who seemed re-energized after his work on New Wave of British Heavy Metal upstarts Iron Maiden's Killers album. Essentially, Mob Rules is a magnificent record, with the only serious problem being the sequencing of the material, which mirrors Heaven and Hell's almost to a tee. In that light, one can't help but compare otherwise compelling tracks like "Turn Up the Night" and "Voodoo" to their more impressive Heaven and Hell counterparts, "Neon Knights" and "Children of the Sea." That streak is soon snapped, first by the unbelievably heavy seven-minute epic "The Sign of the Southern Cross," which delivers one of the album's best moments, then its segue into an unconventional synthesizer-driven instrumental ("E5150") and the appearance of the roaring title track. Side two is less consistent, hiding the awesome "Falling off the Edge of the World" (perhaps the most overlooked secret gem to come from the Dio lineup) amongst rather average tracks like "Slipping Away" and "Over and Over." Over the next year, the wheels fell off for Black Sabbath, and Dio's exit marked Mob Rules as the last widely respected studio release of the band's storied career.

tags: black sabbath, mob rules, 1981, flac,

April 26, 2017

Pagan Altar - Mythical & Magical (2006)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Doom Metal
Style: Traditional Doom
.FLAC via Mega (Link)
.AAC 256 kbps via Mega (Link)


© 2006 Oracle Records Ltd.
Review by Angela "The Hunter" for Metal-Temple.com
Ahhh nothing like a little worship at the Altar to get your mind straight. Hail friends! Doom Metal has always been a love / hate issue with me. It’s either really good, or it sucks and the band should have gotten someone other than their stoner friends, or way too supportive family, to give an honest opinion as to if they should record an album. I am happy to say, after my journey through the pagan lands, that the latter is the case. Welcome to the PAGAN ALTAR. As I listened to “Mythical And Magical”, I could feel myself relax, unplug, and just fucking be alive. Terry Jones’s vocals are gritty but very melodic, and really tie all of the elements of each song together. The guitars are heavy and tight, while keeping the riffs and solos low key Very nice balance between the two. You can definitely feel the influence of Iommi and Blackmore, but in a really good way. Standout tracks include “Samhain” and “The Rise Of The Dark Lord”. Drums are a bit thin, but that could be for multitude of reasons. William Gallagher's bass work is also very heavy and melodic, and really puts the finale piece in the puzzle to make each song a whole work. I genuinely enjoyed the journey this album took me on. The band has been around since 1978, yet only first were given the nod by a record label in 1998. That is dedication, perseverance, and unfailing fan base that kept their music alive for over 2 decades. Simply amazing. For Doom Metal fans, this album will find much favor with you. For a rating I’d say 7 out of ten. As always, stay well, and live free my friends!

tags: pagan altar, mythical and magical, 2006, flac,

Black Sabbath - Heaven & Hell (1980)⚓

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Heavy Metal
.FLAC via Mega (Link)
.FLAC via Mega (Mirror Link)


© 1980-1987 Warner Bros. Records
AllMusic Review by Greg Prato
Many had left Black Sabbath for dead at the dawn of the '80s, and with good reason -- the band's last few albums were not even close to their early classics, and original singer Ozzy Osbourne had just split from the band. But the Sabs had found a worthy replacement in former Elf and Rainbow singer Ronnie James Dio, and bounced back to issue their finest album since the early '70s, 1980's Heaven and Hell. The band sounds reborn and re-energized throughout. Several tracks easily rank among Sabbath's all-time best, such as the vicious album opener, "Neon Knights," the moody, mid-paced epic "Children of the Sea," and the title track, which features one of Tony Iommi 's best guitar riffs. With Heaven and Hell, Black Sabbath were obviously back in business. Unfortunately, the Dio-led version of the band would only record one more studio album before splitting up (although Dio would return briefly in the early '90s). One of Sabbath's finest records.

April 24, 2017

Iced Earth - Horror Show (2001)

*Standard pressing. 
Contains 11 tracks total.
Country: U.S.A
Genre: Heavy Metal
.FLAC via Mega (Link)
.AAC 256 kbps via Mega (Link)


© 2001 Century Media
AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia
By the time they recorded their eponymous debut, heavy metal traditionalists Iced Earth were seasoned veterans, having gradually climbed their way to the surface of a Florida club scene swimming with hundreds of death metal bands. And it shows, for despite a few production kinks, their sound (combining a tremendous Iron Maiden influence with a few thrash metal tricks, namely double kick drums) was almost fully developed. Led by rhythm guitarist Jon Schaffer, the group storm their way through a series of galloping anthems filled with guitar harmonies, complex time changes, and admirable musical chops, especially from lead guitarist Randall Shawver. "Written on the Walls," "Colors," "The Funeral," and "When the Night Falls" are only a few of the highlights -- most of which were later re-recorded with new players for 1997's Days of Purgatory compilation. Purists may prefer the raw original versions.

Black Sabbath - Tyr (1990)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Heavy Metal
.FLAC via Mega (Link)
.AAC 256 kbps via Mega (Link)


© 1990 I.R.S. Metal
AllMusic Review by James Chrispell
Gothic in approach, but crushing guitar riffs galore, Tyr followed Black Sabbath's previous return to the spotlight by less than a year. Again leaning heavily on the darker side of life, or perhaps, death, Tyr is a set of tunes loosely based around the Norse tales of Odin and the gods of war. "Valhalla" is unlike anything the old Sabbath tried, yet still sounds familiar. "The Sabbath Stones" mix myth with metal in a crushing display of musical synthesis. With Tyr, Black Sabbath sound as serious as can be.

tags: black sabbath, tyr, 1990,flac,

Black Sabbath - Black Sabbath (1970)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, Blues Rock
.FLAC via Mega (Link)
.AAC 256 kbps via Mega (Link)

© 1970-1988 Warner Bros. Records
Review by Steve Huey for Allmusic.com
Black Sabbath's debut album is the birth of heavy metal as we now know it. Compatriots like Blue Cheer, Led Zeppelin, and Deep Purple were already setting new standards for volume and heaviness in the realms of psychedelia, blues-rock, and prog rock. Yet of these metal pioneers, Sabbath are the only one whose sound today remains instantly recognizable as heavy metal, even after decades of evolution in the genre. Circumstance certainly played some role in the birth of this musical revolution -- the sonic ugliness reflecting the bleak industrial nightmare of Birmingham; guitarist Tony Iommi's loss of two fingertips, which required him to play slower and to slacken the strings by tuning his guitar down, thus creating Sabbath's signature style. These qualities set the band apart, but they weren't wholly why this debut album transcends its clear roots in blues-rock and psychedelia to become something more. Sabbath's genius was finding the hidden malevolence in the blues, and then bludgeoning the listener over the head with it. Take the legendary album-opening title cut. The standard pentatonic blues scale always added the tritone, or flatted fifth, as the so-called "blues note"; Sabbath simply extracted it and came up with one of the simplest yet most definitive heavy metal riffs of all time. Thematically, most of heavy metal's great lyrical obsessions are not only here, they're all crammed onto side one. "Black Sabbath," "The Wizard," "Behind the Wall of Sleep," and "N.I.B." evoke visions of evil, paganism, and the occult as filtered through horror films and the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien, H.P. Lovecraft, and Dennis Wheatley. Even if the album ended here, it would still be essential listening. Unfortunately, much of side two is given over to loose blues-rock jamming learned through Cream, which plays squarely into the band's limitations. For all his stylistic innovations and strengths as a composer, Iommi isn't a hugely accomplished soloist. By the end of the murky, meandering, ten-minute cover of the Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation's "Warning," you can already hear him recycling some of the same simple blues licks he used on side one (plus, the word "warn" never even appears in the song, because Ozzy Osbourne misheard the original lyrics). (The British release included another cover, a version of Crow's "Evil Woman" that doesn't quite pack the muscle of the band's originals; the American version substituted "Wicked World," which is much preferred by fans.) But even if the seams are still showing on this quickly recorded document, Black Sabbath is nonetheless a revolutionary debut whose distinctive ideas merely await a bit more focus and development. Henceforth Black Sabbath would forge ahead with a vision that was wholly theirs.

tags: black sabbath, black sabbath album, 1970, flac,

Black Sabbath - Dehumanizer (1992)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Heavy Metal
.FLAC via Mega (Link)
.FLAC via Mega (Mirror Link)


© 1992 Reprise/BMG Direct Marketing, Inc.
AllMusic Review by Bradley Torreano
Sabbath and Dio were dealing with a dwindling fan base, unsuccessful albums, and a longstanding creative rut when they decided to reunite the Mob Rules lineup. In a perfect world, they would have created a monster of an album and shot back into the limelight with a vengeance. But with ten-year-old internal tensions still gnawing away at the band, they hastily created Dehumanizer, a weird side note in their long history. Ronnie James Dio delivers his strongest performance since the early '80s, and hearing Geezer Butler and Tony Iommi play together after nine years is inspiring. But they cannot seem to overcome the challenge of crafting classic Sabbath material, and it is this issue that haunts the recording from moment one. "Sins of the Father" is a good example; they attempt a "Children of the Sea"-type slow jam with the same ringing guitar and up-tempo vocals, but the hook is just not there and the band sounds like its creative wheels are spinning in place. The bandmembers do craft enough good riffs to make songs like "Time Machine" and "After All (The Dead)" at least sound interesting, but they don't deliver a "Heaven and Hell" or "E5150" like they could have. And instead of Butler's classic doom-laden lyrics making their triumphant return, Dio takes on the writing duties and manages to pen some true stinkers. "Computer God," "TV Crimes," and "Master of Insanity" are all decent songs that are tanked by his cheesy "contempt for humanity" lyrics. At least he doesn't sing about dragons, but it wouldn't be that much worse than what is here. Dehumanizer isn't terrible, but it should have been the sign for the band to call it a career. Instead, Dio split when he refused to open shows for Ozzy Osbourne's retirement tour; they used Judas Priest singer Rob Halford for a few shows, and then everyone left but Iommi and Butler, who stayed on to paste a new lineup back together for the marginally better Cross Purposes.

tags: black sabbath, dehumanizer, 1992,

Black Sabbath - Paranoid (1970)⚓

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Heavy Metal, Doom Metal
.FLAC via Mega (Link)
.AAC 256 kbps via Mega (Link)

© 1970-1988 Warner Bros. Records
Review by Steve Huey for Allmusic.com
Paranoid was not only Black Sabbath's most popular record (it was a number one smash in the U.K., and "Paranoid" and "Iron Man" both scraped the U.S. charts despite virtually nonexistent radio play), it also stands as one of the greatest and most influential heavy metal albums of all time. Paranoid refined Black Sabbath's signature sound -- crushingly loud, minor-key dirges loosely based on heavy blues-rock -- and applied it to a newly consistent set of songs with utterly memorable riffs, most of which now rank as all-time metal classics. Where the extended, multi-sectioned songs on the debut sometimes felt like aimless jams, their counterparts on Paranoid have been given focus and direction, lending an epic drama to now-standards like "War Pigs" and "Iron Man" (which sports one of the most immediately identifiable riffs in metal history). The subject matter is unrelentingly, obsessively dark, covering both supernatural/sci-fi horrors and the real-life traumas of death, war, nuclear annihilation, mental illness, drug hallucinations, and narcotic abuse. Yet Sabbath makes it totally convincing, thanks to the crawling, muddled bleakness and bad-trip depression evoked so frighteningly well by their music. Even the qualities that made critics deplore the album (and the group) for years increase the overall effect -- the technical simplicity of Ozzy Osbourne's vocals and Tony Iommi's lead guitar vocabulary; the spots when the lyrics sink into melodrama or awkwardness; the lack of subtlety and the infrequent dynamic contrast. Everything adds up to more than the sum of its parts, as though the anxieties behind the music simply demanded that the band achieve catharsis by steamrolling everything in its path, including its own limitations. Monolithic and primally powerful, Paranoid defined the sound and style of heavy metal more than any other record in rock history.

tags: black sabbath, paranoid, 1970, flac,

April 23, 2017

Slayer - South of Heaven (1988)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Thrash Metal
.FLAC via Mega (Link)
.AAC 256 kbps via Mega (Link)

© 1988 Def Jam Records
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson
When it comes to death metal, no band is more convincing than Slayer. For other bands, focusing on death, Satanism, the supernatural, and the occult became a cliché; but Slayer's controversial reflections on evil always came across as honest and heartfelt. The group's sincerity is the thing that makes South of Heaven so disturbing and powerful -- when the influential thrashers rip into such morbid fare as "Spill the Blood," "Mandatory Suicide," and "Ghosts of War," they are frighteningly convincing. With their fourth album, Slayer began to slow their tempos without sacrificing an iota of heaviness or incorporating any pop elements. South of Heaven would be Slayer's last album for Def Jam. When Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons (brother of Joseph "Run" Simmons of Run-D.M.C.) parted company, Slayer went to Rubin's new company Def American, while LL Cool J, Slick Rick, and other rappers recorded for Simmons at Def Jam.

Slayer - Hell Awaits (1985)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Thrash Metal
.FLAC via Mega (Link)
.AAC 256 kbps via Mega (Link)

© 1985 Metal Blade Records
AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia
When it was released in 1985, Slayer's second full album, Hell Awaits, seemed to many a nearly impenetrable cacophony of sound. However, it proved to be incredibly ahead of its time instead, and has since been confirmed as a mandatory item in the band's remarkable discography. Why? Well, despite its many memorable tunes, the songwriting on Slayer's 1983 debut, Show No Mercy, was firmly entrenched in blues-based punk/metal, and it wasn't until the following year's more excessive Haunting the Chapel EP that the band began adding the unusual arrangements, varying tempos, and dissonant nuances that paved the way to a wholly distinctive sound all their own. These experiments (rooted in the at once ingenious and ingenuous innovations of Venom's early work) were fleshed out even further on Hell Awaits; starting with the terrifying title track, continuing through the mesmerizing "At Dawn They Sleep," and arguably pushed over the limit of reason by the corrosive "Hardening of the Arteries." Here, the listener is introduced to a far more technical, almost progressive, side of Slayer -- a side never heard before and rarely since, for that matter. Meanwhile, comparatively straightforward thrashers like "Kill Again" and "Necrophiliac" made it plain that the group's love of pure speed remained intact, even if here, their sharp-edged riffs were often buried in overwhelming distortion. And perhaps most crucial of all, the musical backdrops unleashed by all the above (as well as equally worthy entries "Praise of Death" and "Crypts of Eternity") actually managed to inflict a true sense of horror and fear on par with their lyrics -- therefore marking Hell Awaits as the first album unmistakable as coming from anyone else but Slayer. True, it was ultimately eclipsed by its peerless successor, Reign in Blood (still largely considered the greatest thrash metal album ever recorded), as an irresistible force, but one could still make a confident point that Hell Awaits' uniquely daunting compositions arguably proved just as influential to future extreme metal acts.

April 22, 2017

Pink Floyd - Animals (1977)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Progressive Rock
.FLAC via Mega (Link)
.AAC 256 kbps via Mega (Link)

© 1977-1986 Harvest Records
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Of all of the classic-era Pink Floyd albums, Animals is the strangest and darkest, a record that's hard to initially embrace yet winds up yielding as many rewards as its equally nihilistic successor, The Wall. It isn't that Roger Waters dismisses the human race as either pigs, dogs, or sheep, it's that he's constructed an album whose music is as bleak and bitter as that world view. Arriving after the warm-spirited (albeit melancholy) Wish You Were Here, the shift in tone comes as a bit of a surprise, and there are even less proper songs here than on either Wish or Dark Side. Animals is all extended pieces, yet it never drifts -- it slowly, ominously works its way toward its destination. For an album that so clearly is Waters', David Gilmour's guitar dominates thoroughly, with Richard Wright's keyboards rarely rising above a mood-setting background (such as on the intro to "Sheep"). This gives the music, on occasion, immediacy and actually heightens the dark mood by giving it muscle. It also makes Animals as accessible as it possibly could be, since it surges with bold blues-rock guitar lines and hypnotic space rock textures. Through it all, though, the utter blackness of Waters' spirit holds true, and since there are no vocal hooks or melodies, everything rests on the mood, the near-nihilistic lyrics, and Gilmour's guitar. These are the kinds of things that satisfy cultists, and it will reward their attention -- there's just no way in for casual listeners.

tags: pink floyd, animals, 1977, flac,

Pink Floyd - The Final Cut (1983)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Progressive Rock
.FLAC via Mega (Link)
.AAC 256 kbps via Mega (Link)

© 1983-1985 CBS Records
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
The Final Cut extends the autobiography of The Wall, concentrating on Roger Waters' pain when his father died in World War II. Waters spins this off into a treatise on the futility of war, concentrating on the Falkland Islands, setting his blistering condemnations and scathing anger to impossibly subdued music that demands full attention. This is more like a novel than a record, requiring total concentration since shifts in dynamics, orchestration, and instrumentation are used as effect. This means that while this has the texture of classic Pink Floyd, somewhere between the brooding sections of The Wall and the monolithic menace of Animals, there are no songs or hooks to make these radio favorites. The even bent of the arrangements, where the music is used as texture, not music, means that The Final Cut purposely alienates all but the dedicated listener. Several of those listeners maintain that this is among Pink Floyd's finest efforts, and it certainly is an achievement of some kind -- there's not only no other Floyd album quite like it, it has no close comparisons to anybody else's work (apart from Waters' own The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking, yet that had a stronger musical core). That doesn't make this easier to embrace, of course, and it's damn near impenetrable in many respects, but with its anger, emphasis on lyrics, and sonic textures, it's clear that it's the album that Waters intended it to be. And it's equally clear that Pink Floyd couldn't have continued in this direction -- Waters had no interest in a group setting anymore, as this record, which is hardly a Floyd album in many respects, illustrates. Distinctive, to be sure, but not easy to love and, depending on your view, not even that easy to admire.

tags: pink floyd, the final cut, 1983, flac,

April 20, 2017

Survivor - Vital Signs (1984)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Hard Rock
.FLAC via Mega (Link)
.FLAC via Mega (Mirror Link)


© 1984 Scotti Bros. Records
AllMusic Review by Mike DeGagne
Replacing singer Dave Bickler with former Cobra vocalist Jimi Jamison paid off for Survivor, giving them three Top 20 singles from Jamison's debut on 1984's Vital Signs. His high harmonies, added to the group's well-maintained keyboard/guitar style, threw them into the ring with bands like Styx and Foreigner. Both "High on You" and "I Can't Hold Back" are built on congenial rock charm with an AOR dressiness, using the synthesizer to guide Jamison's energetic singing. Along the same lines as Journey's "Open Arms," the delicate but sternly sung ballad "The Search Is Over" gave them a number four single in May of 1985, bettered only by the number two placing of "Burning Heart" from the Rocky IV soundtrack a year later. Outside of the singles, the other songs on Vital Signs keep up with the band's effective formula, a much better effort than 1983's Caught in the Game, which lacked both enthusiasm and rock magnetism. Though a hits package from Survivor would cover most essentials, Vital Signs works best as the band's most spirited studio release.

Black Sabbath - Born Again (1983)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Heavy Metal
.FLAC via Mega (Link)
.AAC 256 kbps via Mega (Link)


© 1983 Warner Bros. Records
AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia
The idea sure looked good on paper, but when former Deep Purple frontman Ian Gillan joined Black Sabbath for 1983's dreadful Born Again album, the grim reality was that Gillan's bluesy vocal style and oftentimes humorous lyrics were completely incompatible with the lords of doom and gloom. Widely deemed the band's creative nadir (although a few later efforts like Cross Purposes and Forbidden give it a run for its money), Born Again also featured one of the worst album covers ever (it's been voted!), and the subsequent world tour was so troubled and tragicomic that the band's Stonehenge stage set wound up serving as inspiration for the ultimate rock & roll spoof movie, This Is Spinal Tap, when it was discovered to be too large to fit inside most venues! Born Again's equally atrocious "production" leaves one with the distinct impression that, in a misguided attempt to record the heaviest album ever, Black Sabbath came away with the muddiest instead. Among the smoking ruins that pass for its songs, one might find it possible to appreciate Gillan's trademarked double entendres on "Disturbing the Priest," pick out a decent melody within the messy title track, and get down to some mercifully straightforward headbanging with "Digital Bitch" and the album's lone classic, "Trashed." But the remaining detritus, composed of embarrassing numbers like "Zero the Hero," "Hot Line," and "Keep It Warm" and pointless sound effect interludes "Stonehenge" and "The Dark," is simply beyond painful. By comparison, even the barely-recognizable-as-Sabbath material found on 1986's belated comeback, Seventh Star -- originally planned as a Tony Iommi solo effort, to be fair -- sounds pretty damn good. But by then, Black Sabbath's greatly anticipated association with Ian Gillan had gone down as one of heavy metal's all-time greatest disappointments, and nearly killed the genre's founding fathers in the process.

tags: black sabbath, born again, 1983, flac,