June 29, 2017

Motörhead - Aftershock (2013)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Heavy Metal
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© 2013 UDR GmbH
AllMusic Review by Gregory Heaney
In the history of music, there are few true mavericks on the level of the legendary Lemmy, a man who seems to do his own thing without any concern for what anyone else thinks about it. This level of confidence has made Motörhead a timeless institution in the world of rock & roll, and on Aftershock, the band's 21st album, it's clear they're not even close to running out of gas. While the band's elemental sound doesn't show much in the way of innovation, the spirit of true rock is so strong within it that it doesn't really matter. These guys aren't influenced so much as they are influences, and as the elder statesmen of being badass, Motörhead deliver yet another show of strength, putting on a master class in the sort of down-and-dirty grit and grime that most other bands can only summon ironically. Although Aftershock probably won't go down in history as one of the band's great albums, it serves as a reminder of Motörhead's, and by that virtue Lemmy's, status as true originals who play by a set of rules that only they seem privy to. Fans of the band, or really anyone who has ever dared to cut the sleeves off of a jean jacket or carved a skull into a desk with a knife, would do well to pay tribute by checking this one out, lest they incur the wrath of Kilmister.

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Motörhead - Kiss of Death (2006)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Heavy Metal
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© 2006 Sanctuary Records
AllMusic Review by Greg Prato
In the metal community, there are two veteran/legendary bands that, whenever they release a new album, you know pretty much what you're going to get. We're talkin' 'bout AC/DC and Motörhead, of course. While the former band now takes several years between albums, the latter cranks them out on a much more frequent basis, as evidenced by the arrival of 2006's Kiss of Death (which arrived barely over two years since 2004's Inferno). The fact that the hard-living group is still at it is an astonishing feat unto itself, but when you realize they're still keeping pace with the younger acts -- when it comes to touring and recording -- it's even more impressive. As expected, Kiss of Death contains quite a few new numbers that will sound right at home in the set list, nuzzled between "Ace of Spades" and "Overkill," including the album-opening "Sucker," as well as "One Night Stand" and "Christine." And following in the footsteps of the surprise acoustic ditty on their previous album, "Whorehouse Blues," comes another similarly styled track, "God Was Never on Your Side." Yet, overall, there are too many songs that sound like run-of-the-mill modern-day metal (such as "Living in the Past" and "Sword of Glory"), rather than the classic Motörhead sound you'd expect. Still, a mostly good Motörhead album like Kiss of Death easily manages to slay most of the fly-by-night foolers that are currently being showcased on the airwaves.

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Motörhead - Motörizer (2008)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Heavy Metal
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© 2008 SPV, Steamhammer Records
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson
Even if Motörhead had broken up around 1983 or 1984, they still would have gone down in history as one of the most influential metal outfits of all time. Motörhead, after all, was the first metal band to seriously incorporate punk; they wrote the book on thrash metal and speed metal in the late '70s and early '80s, paving the way for Slayer, Metallica, Venom, Megadeth, Testament, Anthrax, Death, Exodus, and countless others. But Motörhead, of course, didn't break up in 1983 or 1984, and they were still cranking out quality albums in the late 2000s. Lemmy Kilmister (who turned 62 in 2007) shows no signs of slowing down on 2008's Motorizer, which Cameron Webb produced at Dave Grohl's 606 Studios in Los Angeles. Despite the fact that Webb has worked with a lot of alt rock and alt metal artists (including Limp Bizkit, Orgy, Godsmack, Buckcherry, Lit, Ben Folds, and Monster Magnet) and produced this 39-minute CD in a studio that is owned by a member of the Foo Fighters and ex-member of Nirvana, Motorizer makes no effort to be alternative-sounding. Instead, the classic Motörhead sound prevails, and forceful, in-your-face tracks such as "Buried Alive," "Runaround Man," "When the Eagle Screams," and "Time Is Right" sound like they could have been recorded 25 years earlier. Motorizer never pretends to be groundbreaking, but if the material is predictable, it is engagingly predictable; Kilmister sounds inspired and focused throughout the album, and at 62, he has yet to overstay his welcome. Motorizer falls short of essential and isn't quite in a class with Motörhead's best late-'70s/early-'80s output, but this album is definitely respectable -- and it is good to see this seminal thrash/speed trio still plugging away after so many years in metal's trenches.

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June 27, 2017

Godsmack - IV (2006)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Post Grunge, Alternative Metal
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© 2006 Universal, Republic Records
AllMusic Review by James Christopher Monger
Godsmack may never garner the kind of praise that's bestowed upon its obvious influences (Metallica, Alice in Chains, Tool), but the hard-working Boston quartet has managed to stay at the top of the alternative metal heap for nearly eight years. IV, produced by frontman Sully Erna, doesn't stray too far from the formula, relying on big midtempo brooders and heavy, drop-D riffs to work in the usual themes of loneliness, betrayal, and the overuse of the word "bleeding." For the most part it's cliché done well -- the record opens with an audio collage of children saying their prayers before bed -- and the band can turn it up to 11 with the best of them. Stadium-sized cuts like "Speak," "Enemy," and "Temptation" are sure to please the masses -- they even bring out the vocoder for "No Rest for the Wicked" -- and fans brought into the fold with 2004's acoustic Other Side EP will eat up the pensive, mandolin-led "Hallow," but there's little growth to be found, resulting in a textbook-executed slice of commercial aggression.

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Godsmack - The Oracle (2010)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Alternative Metal
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© 2010 Universal, Republic
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek
Four long years after IV, Godsmack’s last effort, fans perhaps had some reason for trepidation about the release of The Oracle. After all, since their 1998 debut, they had moved further afield of the songwriting and recording formula that made it eventually a triple platinum success. Godsmack had taken their post-grunge brand of heavy metal and brandished it into a sound that fluctuated between straight-up riff-heavy plodding and more dramatic sonic ambiences that thundered on Awake and Faceless (the former of these won a Grammy), then mutated on 2004’s The Other Side, which showcased them playing acoustically. Finally, on IV, they employed sound effects to such a degree that they used a vocoder. Each album had diminishing returns of fortune and and enthusiasm from listeners. The Oracle is, if nothing else, a return to the band’s signature sound of yore. It was produced by Dave Fortman, who has helmed sessions for Evanescence, Simple Plan, Slipknot, Mudvayne, and Otep. The album’s pre-release single, the aggressively roiling “Cryin' Like a Bitch” -- aided by its video -- pushed it to the top of the metal chart. (The controversy surrounding it, rumored to be about Mötley Crüe bassist Nikki Sixx and events of the Crüe Fest 2 tour, didn’t hurt either.) “What If?” and “Love-Hate-Sex-Pain” followed it, creating greater anticipation for the final product. Listening through the album, it seems as if Godsmack heard the cry of their dedicated hoard and went back to making the kind of record that defined them. Check tracks like “Forever Shamed,” with monstrous beats -- real and sampled -- by Shannon Larkin against Tony Rombola's churning, syncopated riffs and that timekeeping bass charge by Robbie Merrill. Frontman Sully Erna's vocals are right up front, half singing, half shouting, and channeling the late Layne Staley more than he ever has before -- and that’s saying something. Interestingly, singles aside, the album picks up steam as it reaches its nadir. “Shadow of a Soul,” with its military cadences and distorted guitars and basslines, propels one of the hardest-rocking tracks here. The title cut closes the album out, and at 6:23 clocks in as its longest. It begins slowly and melodically, but begins to pick up real steam at around the one-minute mark. Basically, it's an instrumental suite with sampled vocals from a number of sources asking “What is reality?” as it moves through various stages and phases before whispering to a finish. Those fans seeking a return to Godsmack’s roots will not be disappointed; for others, the sound may be a retrenchment because there was no place else for them to go. The only undebatable thing is that The Oracle is the most aggressive disc Godsmack have issued since their debut.

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June 26, 2017

Godsmack - Godsmack (1998)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Post Grunge, Alternative Metal
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© 1998 Republic, Universal Records
AllMusic Review by Roxanne Blanford
Boston's Godsmack confidently brought nu-metal rock into the technological age by seamlessly incorporating noisy hooks into a tight framework of pulsing beats, processed vocals, and a slew of programmed samples, edits, and voiceovers. Singer/producer Sully Erna unloads a barrage of in-your-face verbal assaults, lambasting the often bumpy road of love relationships. These songs are caustic and unapologetic, with ear-splitting guitars and energetic drumming. Both "Moonbaby" and "Timebomb" are fraught with explosive guitar riffs, while "Voodoo" does an about-face and confronts the theme of obsessive love with full-bodied percussion. Godsmack's innovative use of sample mixing may lead to the erroneous conclusion that this reissued release sought to capitalize on sounds made fashionable by the likes of Prodigy and Monster Magnet. But one listen to Sully Erna's achingly brittle vocals is all that's needed to fully convince anyone that Godsmack makes serious hard rock.

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Godsmack - Awake (2000)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Post Grunge, Alternative Metal
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© 2000 Republic, Universal Records
AllMusic Review by Christina Fuoco
Godsmack recorded its self-titled debut for $1,500 and served up a triple-platinum helping of meaty, cleverly written, pure metal -- led by one of 2000's best singles, the tribal "Voodoo." Unfortunately, the group's sophomore effort, Awake, doesn't live up to its predecessor. The first three songs -- "Sick of Life," "Awake," and "Greed" -- blend together unanimously into a swirl of Tony Rombola's jackhammer guitar riffs. It's the deeper cuts that are the standout tracks. The dirgy, slow groove in "Mistakes" is hook laden. One common thread between Godsmack and Awake is lead singer Sully Erna's angst-ridden lyrics. "Oh God, I'm makin' the same mistakes," he cries in "Mistakes," as Rombola's guitars encircle him. Drummer Tommy Stewart, on "Trippin'," aptly pronounces Erna's anger in "Face down/I walk away/Every time I think I do the right thing/You turn your back on me." The album opens with the pronouncement, "I'm gonna do it again." Probably not.

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Godsmack - Faceless (2003)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Post Grunge, Alternative Metal
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© 2003 Republic, Universal Records
AllMusic Review by Wade Kergan
Godsmack's first, slow-burning success -- the self-titled debut from 1998 -- spent two years climbing charts and selling records as the witchy minstrels of alternative metal wound their way across the country on two consecutive Ozzfest tours. The sound was familiar enough, recalling Alice in Chains in both vocalist Sully Erna's tortured howls and their very name, taken from that band's excellent 1992 release, Dirt. And while it initially failed to impress critics, fans quickly picked up on the band's industrial touch to the post-grunge sound. Likewise, 2001's Awake was regarded by some as a sophomore slump, with only half of the sales of Godsmack's debut, but "slump" in this case equaled double-platinum. And though the sales did validate the band's effort to some extent, Awake was full of growing pains, as they tried in vain to shed their influences and ended up with a record that had successful moments, but its reliance on stop-start rhythms often left it sounding sorely underwritten. Faceless, Godsmack's third full-length, grooves more fluidly than Awake, but the band still hasn't managed to locate the pop hooks that made their debut a success. And while concentrating on texture can be just as interesting as hooks, lyrics as misanthropic as Erna's only sink Faceless further into the mire.

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June 24, 2017

Nirvana - Nevermind (1991) ☠

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Grunge
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☠: Selected by Lass
© 1991 DGC Records
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Nevermind was never meant to change the world, but you can never predict when the Zeitgeist will hit, and Nirvana's second album turned out to be the place where alternative rock crashed into the mainstream. This wasn't entirely an accident, either, since Nirvana did sign with a major label, and they did release a record with a shiny surface, no matter how humongous the guitars sounded. And, yes, Nevermind is probably a little shinier than it should be, positively glistening with echo and fuzzbox distortion, especially when compared with the black-and-white murk of Bleach. This doesn't discount the record, since it's not only much harder than any mainstream rock of 1991, its character isn't on the surface, it's in the exhilaratingly raw music and haunting songs. Kurt Cobain's personal problems and subsequent suicide naturally deepen the dark undercurrents, but no matter how much anguish there is on Nevermind, it's bracing because he exorcizes those demons through his evocative wordplay and mangled screams -- and because the band has a tremendous, unbridled power that transcends the pain, turning into pure catharsis. And that's as key to the record's success as Cobain's songwriting, since Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl help turn this into music that is gripping, powerful, and even fun (and, really, there's no other way to characterize "Territorial Pissings" or the surging "Breed"). In retrospect, Nevermind may seem a little too unassuming for its mythic status -- it's simply a great modern punk record -- but even though it may no longer seem life-changing, it is certainly life-affirming, which may just be better.

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Limp Bizkit - Significant Other (Special Edition) (1999)

*Contains a bonus disc with 3 live tracks.
Country: U.S.A
Genre: Nü-Metal, Rapcore
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© 1999 Flip/Interscope Records
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Limp Bizkit made their reputation through hard work, touring the hell out of their debut album Three Dollar Bill Y'All and thereby elevating themselves to the popularity status of their similarly rap-inflected, alt-metal mentors Korn. With their second album, Significant Other, they come close to reaching Korn's artistic level; at the very least, it's considerably more ambitious and multi-dimensional than Three Dollar Bill. Limp Bizkit, of course, hasn't abandoned their testosterone-overloaded signature sound, they've just built around it. There are flourishes of neo-psychedelia on pummeling metal numbers and there are swirls of strings, even crooning, at the most unexpected background. All of it simply enhances the force of their rap-metal attack, which can get a little tedious if it's unadorned. Not so coincidentally, the enlarged sonic palette also serves as emotional coloring for Fred Durst's lyrics. He broke up with his longtime girlfriend -- his Significant Other, if you will -- during the writing of the album, and his anguish is apparent throughout the record, as almost every song is infused with the guilt, anger, and regret that was churned up in the wake of separation. That, however, gives the impression that this is an alt-metal Blood on the Tracks. It's not. Nevertheless, it does have more emotional weight than Three Dollar Bill, along with more effective, adventurous music. More importantly, it balances these new concerns with trace elements of their juvenile humor along with the overpowering aggro rap-metal that is their stock in trade. Which makes it a rare artistic leap forward that will still please audiences that just want more of the same.

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Limp Bizkit - Chocolate Starfish & The Hot Dog Flavored Water (2000) ☠

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Nu-Metal, Rapcore
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☠: Selected by Lass
© 2000 Flip/Interscope Records
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Let's start with the title, not only the winner for the Billy Corgan award for ludicrous monikers, but a title, like Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, that's a winking acknowledgement that the group knows what its stereotype is. Smashing Pumpkins knew everybody thought they were tragic romantics; Limp Bizkit know everybody believes they're juvenile vulgarians, so they're ready to prove 'em right. And how do they do that? With a title that's defiantly vulgar but, more revealingly, embarrassingly awkward. The scatological meaning of Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water is obvious to anyone who's graduated junior high, but it stumbles over its punch line, winding up as more bewildering than funny or offensive. But it doesn't stop there, or with the sickly cover art, since hot dogs and chocolate starfishes become lyrical themes on the album. Clearly, Limp leader Fred Durst takes some pride in his ass and dick joke, since he repeatedly uses it to illustrate the one theme of the album, namely how nobody understands him, especially in Limp Bizkit's year of success after 1999's Significant Other. He may occasionally attempt to frame his rage as us versus them, as on "My Generation," but he winds up bringing everything around to himself. Envision a Use Your Illusion where Axl Rose felt compelled to rewrite "Get in the Ring" for every song, just to make sure that you, dear fan, realize that he's persecuted and thank the lord above that you're there to understand him. And that's it. There's nothing else to the record. If the band supported him with sheets of noise, terrifying guitars, monstrous rhythms, or even a hook every now and then, Durst's narcissism may have been palatable, but the group pretty much churns out the same colorless heavy plod for each song. Combined, Durst's self-pitying and the monotonous music give away that the band bashed Chocolate Starfish out very quickly -- it's the sound of a band determined to deliver a sequel in a finite amount of time. Since Bizkit have never relied on song or studiocraft, it shouldn't come as a surprise that neither is in evidence here, but the problem is they're fishing in a shallow pool. Previously, they had pent-up rage on their side, but here, the music sounds rote -- when it gets louder, it signifies nothing, it just gets louder -- and Durst can see no farther than his past year. That past year may have been a whirlwind of success and fame, but that doesn't stop him from dwelling on the people that have said bad things about him, nearly ignoring those who (somewhat justifiably) argued that he helped stoke the fires as Woodstock '99 in favor of the "critics that don't get it," which includes a whole song sniping at labelmate Trent Reznor. Now, undoubtedly, there are some fans that will empathize with Durst, but the question is, will it really resonate with them? After all, everyone feels rage after being dumped by their significant other, but does everyone live in a world where they feel like they're attacked on all sides? Come to think of it, they do, but Durst's vision on Chocolate Starfish is so insular, it's hard for anyone else, even his bandmates, to come inside. [Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water was also released in a "clean" version containing no profanities. This basically guts the record, especially "Hot Dog" where "f*cking up" is used upward of 50 times, but parents should be reassured that there's this option on the market. But they should consider this -- not one profanity is used sexually, it's all an expression of rage or slang. After a while, the cursing isn't even noticeable, since it's so omnipresent it winds up signifying nothing. It's just part of the midrange hum, like the drums and droning guitars.]

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June 21, 2017

Black Sabbath - Headless Cross (1989)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Hard Rock, Heavy Metal
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© 1989 I.R.S. Metal
AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia
By the late '80s everyone had pretty much given up on Black Sabbath...and why not? After all, guitarist Tony Iommi was the only remaining original member, and the band had seen an outrageous number of musicians -- particularly lead singers -- crash through its battered ranks since Ozzy Osbourne's late-'70s sacking. So it was actually quite a shock to anyone still paying attention when no-name vocalist Tony Martin outperformed a string of higher-profile predecessors with his contributions to Sabbath's unexpected 1987 return to form, The Eternal Idol, then pulled off the even more remarkable feat of being invited back for a second go-round via 1989's equally satisfying Headless Cross. Arguably the finest Black Sabbath album sans Ozzy or Dio, Headless Cross also featured one of Black Sabbath's most formidable lineups ever: matching the two Tonys with veteran bassist Neil Murray (Whitesnake, Gary Moore, etc.) and experienced journeyman Cozy Powell (too many associations to list) -- one of the few drummers in possession of an instantly recognizable sound. It's Powell, in fact, who leads the Sabs back out to the battlefield when he detonates the reverie of atmospheric intro "The Gates of Hell" with his echoing, pounding war drums, but naturally everything on offer is ultimately bound to, and dependent upon, Iommi's almighty riffs -- from whence all rivers flow. This includes morbid monster-pieces such as "Kill in the Spirit World" and "Call of the Wild," which quake with simply massive power chords yet still manage to flow seamlessly into slightly more upbeat radio-friendly numbers like "Devil and Daughter" and "Black Moon." Likewise, whereas "When Death Calls" is surely one of Iommi's most spine-chilling compositions ever in terms of sheer malevolent force, the equally bewitching "Nightwing" flips the coin entirely with its delicate acoustic guitars and (dare it be said) highly romantic lyrics. In short, for those wise enough to appreciate Black Sabbath's discography beyond the Osbourne and Dio essentials, there can be no better place to start than Headless Cross or its worthy predecessor, The Eternal Idol.

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Black Sabbath - Seventh Star (1986)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Heavy Metal, Hard Rock
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© 1986 Warner Bros. Records
AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia
An often misunderstood and underrated album, 1986's Seventh Star was never intended to be a Black Sabbath release, as the band had effectively broken up following its disastrous 1984 tour in support of career low point Born Again. Instead, Seventh Star was conceived as guitarist Tony Iommi's first solo project, and it was only record company pressure that forced him to resurrect his longtime band's moniker at the last minute. With this in mind, one can better appreciate both the record's more blues-based, often un-Sabbath-like songwriting and the contributions made by journeyman singer Glenn Hughes (ex-Trapeze, Deep Purple, etc.), whose incredibly emotive and soulful vocal style was completely at odds with the deadpan delivery of Sabbath's most recognizable singer, Ozzy Osbourne (a discrepancy that would spell his quick exit when the necessary classics were wheeled out for the ensuing world tour). Still, within the unique circumstances of Seventh Star's creation, Hughes' fiery tunefulness made aggressive hard rockers like "In for the Kill," "Turn to Stone," and "Danger Zone" uncommonly catchy, and gorgeous ballads such as "Angry Heart/In Memory..." and "No Stranger to Love" all the more heart-rending. Tellingly, his efforts fell resoundingly flat on the bluesy aimlessness of "Heart Like a Wheel" and the gothic menace of the title track, making it possible for keener observers to foresee the troubles ahead. Yet, in light of the even more traumatic difficulties that preceded it, Seventh Star -- for all its uncharacteristic sonic qualities -- actually represents the turning of a corner for Black Sabbath's lengthy career, which steadily regained momentum in the years that followed.

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Black Sabbath - Cross Purposes (1994)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Heavy Metal
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© 1994 I.R.S. Records
AllMusic Review by Bradley Torreano
Cross Purposes could have been the ultimate Black Sabbath album. That may be a bold claim, but it combines members from several different eras together for perhaps the most promising lineup since Ronnie James Dio's days with the band. Geezer Butler is there to represent the classic '70s version, Tony Martin returned to the fold to be the '80s representative, new drummer Bob Rondinelli brings the '90s flavor to everything, and Tony Iommi is the never-say-die (no pun intended) original member who never left the flock. But instead of crafting Sabbath's masterful return to grace, they made a weird mishmash of power metal and stoner rock that works more often than not. At least Butler seems to have Iommi attempting memorable riffs again, something he couldn't quite get the hang of until the album previous to this. "I Witness" opens with a classic guitar part, while the drums drive the song along and the bass chugs away with a newfound energy. But this energy is offset by the increasingly soulful vocals of Martin, who simply cannot muster the creepy wail that Ozzy Osbourne brought to the band. In fact, he puts in a performance that is even below the standards he set on albums like The Eternal Idol. The minute his voice starts on the first track, it's as if Sabbath had to adjust to not make him sound out of place. Why the band couldn't have found a suitable replacement is a mystery, unless Iommi had simply given up on bringing in yet another singer after so many had come after Osbourne. "Virtual Death" is the brutally heavy shocker that suddenly appears in the middle of the album; it goes to show how they could have incorporated Martin much more effectively and is also the best slow crawl Iommi had worked on since 1983's "Zero the Hero." Butler does seem to have a good influence on Iommi whenever they work together, and their interplay becomes quite interesting as the album goes on. For whatever reason, most of the filler is at the beginning, leaving the better material to hang back for the second half. "Immaculate Deception" contains another good riff, although keyboardist Geoff Nichols spews inappropriate new age nonsense all over it. "Back to Eden" improves matters again with more wonderful interaction between Butler and Iommi, while "Cardinal Sin" is yet another good song that goes to show how misused Martin had been during his first run with the band. Many might disagree, but Cross Purposes is the first album since Born Again that actually sounds like a real Sabbath record. And it is probably the best thing they'd released since The Mob Rules, even with the filler tracks and keyboards. Of course, the lineup completely dissolved as Iommi perpetuated the band's downward spiral, but for a brief moment it seemed like Sabbath could have really shaped up into something special.

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Black Sabbath - Forbidden (1995)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Heavy Metal
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© 1995 I.R.S. Records
AllMusic Review by Bradley Torreano
When the most influential heavy metal band ever to have roamed the earth teams up with Body Count's Ernie C to try and inject new life into their sound, it should have been the signal to give up the ghost. But poor Black Sabbath named an album Never Say Die because they meant it, and this sad album is a reminder of how dim even the brightest lights can get. Where their last album was an uneven but pleasant return to form, this is just the band going through the motions. "Get a Grip" takes its riff from Iommi's own "Zero the Hero" and totally wrecks it; "Can't Get Close Enough" is an awful power metal ballad; and "Shaking Off the Chains" might be the worst Tony Martin-fronted Sabbath song. And that is a bold claim considering how awful Tyr was. "Illusion of Power" is the weirdest song, with Martin dueting with Ice T on a song that sounds much more like Body Count than anything Sabbath-related. "Sick and Tired" is the only standout track; with its bluesy tempo and decent vocals, it sounds like Helloween performing a Cream song. But considering the vast legacy behind the band, it is truly a sad state of affairs when their best material sounds like a mid-level power metal band. It is hard to pinpoint the worst Sabbath album, but this could be it. With boring songs, awful production (from Ernie C), and uninspired performances, this is easily avoidable for all but the most enthusiastic fan. As a side note, the reception to this album was so poor that Iommi cleared out the lineup, gave in, and finally reconciled with Ozzy Osbourne for their spectacular reunion tour.

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Motörhead - Snake Bite Love (1997)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Heavy Metal
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© 1997 CMC International Records
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
No matter how many years the band toils on, Lemmy Kilmister refuses to change the basic hard and fast rules of Motörhead. Usually, that's a plus, since nothing quite compares to Motörhead roaring ahead at full blast, but occasionally it can result in an undistinguished album. Snake Bite Love is one of those. There isn't necessarily anything wrong with the record, as it offers a solid set of blistering, heavy rockers that race by at breakneck speed, but it doesn't add any new twists to the formula or have particularly memorable songs. Snake Bite Love sounds fine as it's playing, but very little of it leaves a lasting impression. Many members of the group's cult will probably find it worth a listen, but those who only like Motörhead's classic '70s and '80s output will find it a bit of a chore.

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Motörhead - We Are Motörhead (2000)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Heavy Metal
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© 2000 CMC International Records
AllMusic Review by Steve Huey
The '90s witnessed a surprising and somewhat overlooked renaissance for Lemmy Kilmister and Motörhead, starting with 1991's 1916. The follow-up, March or Die, was woefully subpar and overly commercial, and many dismissed 1916 as a fluke and gave the band up for dead. However, Motörhead then embarked on a run of quality albums for smaller, lower-profile labels; Bastards, Sacrifice, and Overnight Sensation were surprisingly consistent, written and performed with conviction in the classic Motörhead style. The band slipped a bit with 1998's Snake Bite Love, but have thankfully stormed into the new millennium in top form. We Are Motörhead maintains the generally high standard of the band's second decade, and while there aren't many speed-freak theatrics (exception: opener "See Me Burning"), the grimy attitude that's always driven their best work is fully intact. Pared back down to a trio, Kilmister and company deliver a tight, blistering set that's both well-executed and typical of Motörhead's long since established sound. There are no real revelations here, except perhaps that Kilmister still hasn't lost anything to age; of course, longtime fans will be happy to have yet another fine Motörhead record to add to the collection.

tags: motorhead, we are motorhead, 2000, flac,

Motörhead - Sacrifice (1995)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Heavy Metal
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© 1995 CMC International Records
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Metal bands are supposed to lose their energy and power as they age, but Motörhead stubbornly refused to obey that rule, maintaining their string of tough, enjoyable albums into the mid-'90s. Sacrifice, the group's 1995 effort, doesn't offer anything new, nor does it display a newfound subtlety. It's just straight-ahead, breakneck fast, ear-shatteringly loud Motörhead, with buzzing guitars, near-martial rhythms, and surprisingly catchy hooks. There are a few weak moments scattered throughout the record, but on the whole it's a thoroughly engaging and entertaining record from one of the most consistent metal bands in history.

tags: motorhead, sacrifice, 1995,

Motörhead - Orgasmatron (1986)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Heavy Metal
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© 1986 GWR, Profile Records Inc.
AllMusic Review by Steve Huey
On the surface, Motörhead appear to be trying something new with Orgasmatron, bringing in producer Bill Laswell to put a slightly different slant on their signature sound. Laswell does beef up the mix with added sonic detail, which works to particularly good effect on the title track -- the densely layered production helps transform the song and its simple riff into a chugging psychedelic noise-fest. Elsewhere, the production sometimes has the effect of muting the band's energy, sounding oddly processed and lacking the raw bite of past work (which foreshadows their decline over the next few years). It doesn't help that the songwriting is somewhat inconsistent, with "Deaf Forever" and "Built for Speed" standing out among a batch of tunes that sometimes sound as though Motörhead were trying a little too self-consciously to do what people expected from a Motörhead album. Still, in Motörhead's case, that distinction is easily lost, so even if Orgasmatron is somewhat erratic, most fans will find a hidden favorite or two.

tags: motorhead, orgasmatron, 1986,

Motörhead - Another Perfect Day (1996 Reissue)

*Reissued in 1996 by Dojo. Contains 3 bonus tracks.

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Heavy Metal
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© 1983-1996 Dojo
AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia
To this day, Another Perfect Day remains one of the most unique (albeit misunderstood) albums in the entire Motörhead catalog. The band's first effort sans legendary axe-meister "Fast" Eddie Clarke (following six albums, of which at least three are still considered timeless classics), Another Perfect Day would be the band's only outing with onetime Thin Lizzy axeman Brian "Robbo" Robertson. Clearly a nervous musical marriage from the start, the album captures Motörhead mainstays Ian "Lemmy" Kilmister and "Philthy Animal" Taylor struggling to adapt their raw power and unparalleled distortion to Robertson's more mainstream hard rock instincts and melodic tendencies. Thanks in part to Tony Platt's excellent production, Another Perfect Day ranks among the band's best-sounding records ever, but tinkering with a legendary formula is always fraught with danger (is that a boogie-woogie piano on "Rock It"?), and as one might expect, the results here are alternately exhilarating and sometimes frustrating. On the one hand, the glorious arpeggiated melodies that characterize singles "Dancing on Your Grave" and "Shine" (Robertson's most obvious contributions here) were a total shock to the system by classic Motörhead standards, but their popularity and ultimate longevity as band highlights is a testament to their excellence. Furthermore, other drawn-out blues exercises like "One Track Mind" (which wouldn't sound out of place on any number of early Ted Nugent albums) and "I Got Mine" simply took the intensity and power of previously delivered sub-three-minute blasts and diluted it into four to five minutes, which had some fans impatiently glancing at their clocks. The title track barely escapes this predicament, and tighter, punchier numbers like "Back at the Funny Farm" and "Die You Bastard" manage to revisit the classic bile and fury of years past, but Robertson's unwillingness to be a team player (refusing to play standards like "Bomber" live, never mind his ridiculous fashion sense) virtually guaranteed his eventual sacking. By extension, Another Perfect Day is doomed to be considered a curiosity to this very day.

tags: motorhead, another perfect day, 1983, reissue, 1996,

June 19, 2017

Bloodhound Gang - One Fierce Beer Coaster (1996)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Alternative Rock, Hip-Hop
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© 1996 Republic Records
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Originally released on the independent label Republic, the Bloodhound Gang's second album, One Fierce Beer Coaster, was picked up by DGC about two months after its release, allegedly because it had great word-of-mouth. And, listening to the single, "Fire Water Burn," it's possible to hear why -- the group's smarmy, smirky alternative funk-metal, complete with junk culture references and "ironic" musical allusions, fits into the one-hit wonder cycle that dominated modern rock during the mid-'90s. One Fierce Beer Coaster captures the group's sound better than their Columbia debut, but the group has neither the dexterity nor the grit to pull off their hip-hop and rock fusions; they awkwardly stumble through their frat-party alternative rock. But what really sinks the album is the revolting, sophomoric humor that passes for lyrics. The liner notes might dismiss any complaints as indication that you don't get the joke, but it's hard to be comfortable with an album that believes smutty puns about oral sex ("Kiss Me Where It Smells Funny") and fart jokes (just about every track on the album) are what punk and alternative rock were all about.

Motörhead - Hammered (2002)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Heavy Metal
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© 2002 Metal-Is-Records
AllMusic Review by Adam Bregman
Unlike many of the band's contemporaries, Motörhead manages to still release lean and mean rock records, while keeping the songs simple rather than adding some electronic accompaniment or trying to be current or hip. Many of the other bands from Motörhead's era might still be worth checking out live (Iron Maiden, AC/DC), but each of those groups' new albums is almost always more forgettable than the last. In Hammered's "Walk a Crooked Mile," Motörhead has written at least one more classic to add to the band's large number of hits, which could easily fill a double CD. Epic in length and with a cool bassline courtesy of Motörhead main dude Lemmy Kilmister, "Walk a Crooked Mile" has a bit of a punk edge to it like a lot of Motörhead's tunes, but it also closes with a stylish '80s-style metal guitar solo. The rest of the material does not veer from the usual Motörhead formula, but it's all played dirty and in the gutter, and will undoubtedly appeal to Motörhead's dedicated fan base.

tags: motorhead, hammered, 2002, motörhead,

Bloodhound Gang - Hard-Off (2015)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Electronic, Synth-Pop, Alternative Rock
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© 2015 Jimmy Franks Recording Company
*No professional reviews available for this release.

tags: bloodhound gang, hard off, hard-off, 2015,

AC/DC - Back In Black (1980)⚓

*First pressing. 
Contains 10 tracks total.
Country: Australia
Genre: Hard Rock
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© 1980-1987 Atlantic Records
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
The first sound on Back in Black is the deep, ominous drone of church bells -- or "Hell's Bells," as it were, opening the album and AC/DC's next era with a fanfare while ringing a fond farewell to Bon Scott, their late lead singer who partied himself straight to hell. But this implies that Back in Black is some kind of tribute to Scott, which may be true on a superficial level -- black is a funeral cover, hell's bells certainly signify death -- but this isn't filled with mournful songs about the departed. It's a more fitting tribute, actually, since AC/DC not only carried on without him, but they delivered a record that to the casual ear sounds like the seamless successor to Highway to Hell, right down to how Brian Johnson's screech is a dead ringer for Scott's growl. Most listeners could be forgiven for thinking that Johnson was Scott, but Johnson is different than Bon. He's driven by the same obsessions -- sex and drink and rock & roll, basically -- but there isn't nearly as much malevolence in his words or attitude as there was with Scott. Bon sounded like a criminal, Brian sounds like a rowdy scamp throughout Back in Black, which helps give it a real party atmosphere. Of course, Johnson shouldn't be given all the credit for Back in Black, since Angus and Malcolm carry on with the song-oriented riffing that made Highway to Hell close to divine. Song for song, they deliver not just mammoth riffs but songs that are anthems, from the greasy "Shoot to Thrill" to the pummeling "Back in Black," which pales only next to "You Shook Me All Night Long," the greatest one-night-stand anthem in rock history. That tawdry celebration of sex is what made AC/DC different from all other metal bands -- there was no sword & sorcery, no darkness, just a rowdy party, and they never held a bigger, better party than they did on Back in Black.

tags: ac/dc, acdc, ac dc,ac-dc, back in black, 1980, flac,