June 27, 2017

Godsmack - IV (2006)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Post Grunge
Label Number: B0006601-02
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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.

tags: godsmack, iv, IV, 2006, flac,

Godsmack - The Oracle (2010)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Post Grunge
Label Number: B001 4236-02
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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.

tags: godsmack, the oracle, 2010, flac,

June 26, 2017

Godsmack - Godsmack (1998)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Post Grunge
Label Number: UD-53190
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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.

tags: godsmack, album, 1998, flac,

Godsmack - Awake (2000)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Post Grunge
Label Number: 012 159 688-2
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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.

tags: godsmack, awake, 2000, flac,

Godsmack - Faceless (2003)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Post Grunge
Label Number: 440 067 854-2
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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.

tags: godsmack, faceless, 2003, flac,

June 24, 2017

Nirvana - Nevermind (1991) ☠

*This pressing contains 12 tracks total 
and features "Endless, Nameless" as a hidden bonus track.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Grunge
Label Number: DGCD-24425
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☠: Selected by Lass
© 1991 DGC/Sub Pop
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.

tags: nirvana, nevermind, never mind, 1991, flac,

Limp Bizkit - Significant Other (Special Edition) (2001)

*U.K. special edition or "New Edition" 
Contains a bonus disc with 3 live tracks.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Nü-Metal
Label Number: 490 788-2

© 1999-2001 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.

tags: limp bizkit, significant other, special edition, 1999, flac,

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

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Nü-Metal, Rapcore
Label Number: 069490770-2
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© 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.]

tags: limp bizkit, chocolate starfish and the hot dog flavored water, &, 2000, flac,

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.

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,

June 18, 2017

Bloodhound Gang - Use Your Fingers (1995)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Alternative Rock, Hip-Hop
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© 1995 Columbia/Cheese Factory/Underdog
AllMusic Review by Jonathan Ball
Embracing a variety of styles from rap to punk, this diverse group created a following with the single and video "Mama Say," as well as with an independent EP, Dingleberry Haze.

Bloodhound Gang - Hooray For Boobies (2000) ☠

*U.S pressing.
Country: U.S.A
Genre: Alternative Rock, Nü-Metal
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© 2000 Geffen Records
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
On one hand, it's easy to hate the Bloodhound Gang. They're vulgar, obnoxious, lunk-headed, awkward, offensive, and defiantly stupid. On the other hand, you almost have to admire the lengths that they go to be, well, defiantly stupid. It's not just in the words -- the music is as dumb and dopey as Jimmy Pop's ridiculous lyrics. This is really, really, really dumb music. Pop doesn't care about being cool, he just wants to make dirty jokes and sing silly songs. Granted, that's not for everyone, but if you find the very title of their third album, Hooray for Boobies, funny, you'll find that this is their masterpiece. Pop isn't just a white rapper, he also has a fondness for white-trash metal and a fetish for early-MTV one-hit wonders. He's also partial to jokes about puke, coughing, and sex. He never wastes an opportunity to be obvious. Instead of telling the story of Vivid girl Chasey Lain in "The Ballad of Chasey Lain," he writes the song from the point of view of a mock-stalker. Never mind that that doesn't constitute a ballad -- it's unclear what it is, actually -- and it's not really funny either, which an actual ballad about Chasey's rise to power could have been. Then again, that's too much thought to expend on a group whose catchiest hook is "You and me baby ain't nuthin' but mammals/So let's do it like they do on the Discovery Channel" ("Bad Touch"). Clearly, a song like that, set to a robotic new romantic beat, isn't made for an audience that wishes "Take the Long Way Home" was a Supertramp cover. The thing of it is, given his musical and lyrical allusions, Pop is smarter than he seems. Of course, he enjoys playing to the lowest common denominator, and depending on your mood (or your level of resistance), there's almost charm to its dumbness, particularly since the group reaches beyond the white-boy rap-metal that is their foundation. Does that make Hooray for Boobies a good album? Well, yes, at least for adolescent boys. It's the kind of record that sounds good at parties and in the car, and it will certainly shock some parents, even though anyone with a taste for the truly outrageous and extreme will find this tame and dorky.

June 16, 2017

Bullet - Highway Pirates (2011)⚓

Country: Sweden
Language: English
Genre: Hard Rock
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© 2011 Black Lodge Records
Review by Adrien Begrand for PopMatters.com
When it comes to modern takes on classic hard rock and traditional heavy metal, bands fall into two categories. Many young acts mimic the music’s sense of fun well enough to make the whole experience passable (Airbourne, for instance), but in the end, the entire exercise can become as trite as all the other bands that fail in their attempt (Jet). It’s as if they’re winking at us while they play. Every once in a while, though, you hear a new band that totally gets it. There’s no irony in traditional metal. You sell your music with a totally straight face and dare your audience to buy into it fully, and when that connection is made, the results can be thrilling. When looking for good traditional metal, the best bets are usually found in Europe, namely Sweden and Germany. There, the classic metal aesthetic from the 1970s and ‘80s is so ingrained in the culture, it’s practically mainstream, and the scenes are loaded with bands who not only celebrate that great sound and style but perform it with a level of conviction that few young bands in North America are able, let alone willing, to pull off. The latest such band to turn heads is Bullet, a ferocious five-piece from the relatively small Swedish city of Växjö who over the course of a few years has become a sensation in their own country. However, what makes them so unique compared to any other like-minded band is just what specific era they choose to build their sound around. With a couple of slick guitarists capable of wicked, bluesy riffs and enormous heavy metal hooks and fronted by a singer whose voice is as raspy as his physique is round, it’s clear what Bullet is aiming to replicate: the George Young-produced AC/DC of the late-1970s and the music of German legends Accept, namely the 1980-‘81 era that spawned the albums I’m a Rebel and Breaker. Past Bullet albums, 2006’s Heading For the Top, and 2008’s Bite the Bullet, did a very good job capturing the vibe of those two great influences, but their third album, Highway Pirates, elevates their game on every level. Mixed by Tobias Lindell, who has worked with the terrific, underrated Swedish band Mustasch, the new record achieves the kind of sonic balance between retro and modern that so many of these bands look for, slickly produced yet at the same time retaining its gritty, live off-the-floor edginess. The energy of Highway Pirates is absolutely palpable as Bullet proceeds to spout cliché after metal cliché so convincingly that the shtick actually sounds fresh compared to the boring music that passes for modern hard rock today. Just look at the titles they come up with: “Stay Wild”, “Blood Run Hot”, “Fire and Dynamite”, “Knuckleduster”, Highway Pirates, for crying out loud. In lesser talented hands, it would be begging for ridicule from jaded music writers, but instead, the band comes through with exuberant, insanely catchy songs that stare the listener right in the face and dare them to drop all inhibitions and prejudices and embrace the cliché totally. There’s no need to go into great detail about what these songs sound like; if you know “I’m a Rebel” and “Starlight”, you know what Bullet sounds like. However, if there’s one song that so perfectly encapsulates Bullet’s modus operandi that it deserves to be singled out, it’s the brilliant “Heavy Metal Dynamite”. That’s right, this album is so awesome it needs two “dynamite” songs to convey said awesomeness. But what “Heavy Metal Dynamite” does so ingeniously is toss in a sly pop touch, delivering an irresistible groove and a gargantuan hook alongside the band’s already strong sound. That Accept/AC/DC influence is still prominent, but a slight glam element creeps in: the rhythm section evokes the great Hanoi Rocks (those constant handclaps are the clincher); the riffs toss in a little Kix into the mix, and singer Dag Hell Hofer sounds as much like Cinderella’s Tom Keifer and Britny Fox’s “Dizzy” Dean Davidson as Udo Dirkschneider. Like the rest of the album, “Heavy Metal Dynamite” does absolutely nothing new stylistically, but it’s so fun, so full of energy, that to quip about how tacky or cheesy it is would miss the point of the music entirely. If Highway Pirates doesn’t get you going, you might want to check for a pulse.

tags: bullet, highway pirates, 2011, flac,

Usher - Confessions (Limited Edition) (2004) ☠

Country: U.S.A
Genre: R&B
Label Number: 82876 64634 2
☠: Selected by Lass
© 2004 LaFace Records
AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman
Confessions' most detracting factor is its length. At an hour in duration, it could be stripped of five songs and be far more powerful, especially since no one would have to do any wading to get to the meaty parts. On the other side of the coin, the smartest move Usher makes here is in allowing the Lil Jon-produced "Yeah!" to take its rightful place as the only club track; any attempt at doing something stylistically similar would've failed miserably in its presence. "Yeah!"'s crunk-meets-R&B foundation, featuring an instantly addictive eight-note keyboard vamp and one of Usher's most muscular turns, is so absorbing that Ludacris' 1500th guest verse floats by with little notice. The following "Throwback," produced by Just Blaze, sounds like it was made for the sole purpose of trailing Alicia Keys' "You Don't Know My Name." Like that hit, "Throwback"'s sensitively treated soul sample provides a nostalgic tint that complements the wistful, regret-filled tone of the lyrics. A small batch of Jam & Lewis productions, including the effortlessly gliding "Truth Hurts," continue to help raise Usher's loverman stock. Another pair -- the upbeat "Caught Up" and the aptly titled "Burn" -- also rate as some of the vocalist's best moments yet. He's been doing this for ten years now. Numerous chart hits have spun off each of his albums. Needless to say, the time is right for the phrase "just another" to be banned from use when discussing him.

tags: usher, confessions, special edition, 2004, flac,

Janet Jackson - Control (1986) ☠

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Pop, R&B
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☠: Selected by Lass
© 1986 A&M Records
Reviewed by Allmusic.com
Although Janet Jackson had released two records in the early '80s, they were quickly forgotten, and notably shaped by her father's considerable influence. Janet's landmark third album, 1986's Control, changed all that. On the opening title track, Jackson, with passion and grace, declares her independence, moving out of the gargantuan shadow of her brother Michael and on to the business of making her own classic pop album. The true genius of Control lies in the marriage of her extremely self-assured vocals with the emphatic beats of R&B production wizards Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. The duo was already well established in the music industry, but the practically flawless Control showcased Jam and Lewis' true studio mastery. For the better part of two years, Janet remained on the pop chart, with two-thirds of the album's tracks released as singles, including the ever-quotable "Nasty," the assertive "What Have You Done for Me Lately," the frenetically danceable "When I Think of You," and the smooth, message-oriented ballad "Let's Wait Awhile." Jackson achieved long-awaited superstar status and never looked back.

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June 14, 2017

Rob Zombie - Hellbilly Deluxe (1998)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Industrial Metal
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© 1998 Geffen Records
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Just as White Zombie was on the verge of becoming the most popular metal band in the land, Rob Zombie decided he was an auteur. Stopping short of breaking up the band, Zombie set out to make sure everyone know that he was the main force in the band, as if there were any doubt in the first place. He did extracurricular animation, managed a band, started a record label, drew a sequence in Beavis & Butt-Head Do America, appeared in films, wrote the script for The Crow 3 (which he planned to direct), and most tellingly of all, he recorded a solo album, Hellbilly Deluxe. Since White Zombie was always his baby, it seems a little strange that he had the need to break away from the group, especially since the album sounds exactly like a White Zombie record, complete with thunderous industrial rhythms, drilling metal guitars, and B-movie obsessions. For most listeners, it doesn't matter if Hellbilly Deluxe is technically a White Zombie or Rob Zombie album, since it delivers the goods, arguably even better than Astro-Creep: 2000. To outsiders, the entire schlock enterprise may seem ridiculous or sound monotonous, but even the weak cuts here hit hard and give fans exactly what they want.

June 12, 2017

Lions Pride - Breaking Out (1994 Reissue)

Country: Belgium
Language: English
Genre: Heavy Metal
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© 1984-1994 Mausoleum Records
*No professional reviews available for this release.

tags: lions pride, breaking out, 1984,

June 10, 2017

The Smashing Pumpkins - Adore (1998)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Art Rock
Label Number: 7243 8 45879 2 5
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© 1998 Virgin Records
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Left without a drummer after Jimmy Chamberlin's dismissal, the Smashing Pumpkins took the opportunity to revamp their sound slightly -- which is what Billy Corgan claimed they were going to do on their fourth album anyway. Adore, however, isn't a drastic departure. Using dream pop ballads and the synthetic pulse of "1979" as starting point, the Pumpkins have created a hushed, elegiac album that sounds curiously out of time -- it's certainly an outgrowth of their previous work, but the differences aren't entirely modern. Whenever synthesizers are added to the mix, the results make the band sound like a contemporary of the Cure or Depeche Mode, not Aphex Twin. That's not necessarily a problem, since Adore creates its own world with layered keyboards, acoustic guitars, and a rotating selection of drummers and machines. There's none of the distorted bluster that cluttered Mellon Collie and none of the grand sonic technicolor of Siamese Dream. Adore recasts the calmer moments of those albums in a sepia tone, in an attempt to be modest and intimate. Only Billy Corgan would consider a 74-minute, 16-track album a modest effort, but compared to its widescreen predecessors, it does feel a bit scaled down. Still, Corgan's ambitions reign supreme. This is no mere acoustic album, nor is it electronica -- it is quiet contemporary art rock, playing like a concept album without any real concept. Its very length and portentousness tend to obscure some lovely songs, since all the muted production tends to blend all the songs together. But even with its flaws, Adore is an admirable record that illustrates the depth of the Pumpkins' sound, even if it ultimately isn't a brave step forward.

tags: the smashing pumpkins, adore, 1998, flac,

The Smashing Pumpkins - Mellon Collie & The Infinite Sadness (1995)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Post Grunge
Label Number: 7243 8 40861 2 1
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              *****
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© 1995 Virgin Records
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
The Smashing Pumpkins didn't shy away from making the follow-up to the grand, intricate Siamese Dream. With Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, the band turns in one of the most ambitious and indulgent albums in rock history. Lasting over two hours and featuring 28 songs, the album is certainly a challenging listen. To Billy Corgan's credit, it's a rewarding and compelling one as well. Although the artistic scope of the album is immense, the Smashing Pumpkins flourish in such an overblown setting. Corgan's songwriting has never been limited by conventional notions of what a rock band can do, even if it is clear that he draws inspiration from scores of '70s heavy metal and art rock bands. Instead of copying the sounds of his favorite records, he expands on their ideas, making the gentle piano of the title track and the sighing "1979" sit comfortably against the volcanic rush of "Jellybelly" and "Zero." In between those two extremes lies an array of musical styles, drawing from rock, pop, folk, and classical. Some of the songs don't work as well as others, but Mellon Collie never seems to drag. Occasionally they fall flat on their face, but over the entire album, the Smashing Pumpkins prove that they are one of the more creative and consistent bands of the '90s.

tags: the smashing pumpkins,  mellon collie and the infinite sadness, 1995, flac,

The Smashing Pumpkins - Zero: E.P. (1996)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Post Grunge
Label Number: 7243 8 38573 2 6
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© 1996 Virgin Records
Reviewed by Greg Kot for Kerrang Magazine
No this isn’t a new Smashing Pumpkins album, it’s an EP featuring ‘Zero’ from the sprawling Mellon Collie album, plus six previously unreleased tracks.
First of all Zero is good by anybody else’s standards, but it’s note what we’ve come to expect from Chicago’s finest. The Pumpkins are a magnificent group who pen gorgeous, grandiose and affecting songs. And as anybody who has heard the B side tracks which make up the ‘Pisces Iscariot’ will only be to aware that Billy Corgan simply doesn’t write bad songs. There are very few bands which can compete with the Pumpkins majestic power- but that said, this collection of tunes does little to expand on the bands reputation...
You should know ‘Zero’ already. It’s the song featuring Corgan’s despairing exclamation ‘Emptiness is loneliness and loneliness is cleanliness and cleanliness is godliness and God is empty just like me,’ huge riffs and driving, tumbling rhythms. ‘God’ is dark and dragging, the now departed Jimmy Chamberlin’s hypnotic drumming holding back the verses before a trademark Pumpkins chorus explodes with urgency and passion, the guitars spluttering angrily around a repeated snarl of ‘God knows I’m hopeless.’ ‘Mouth of Babes’ is ushered in next courtesy of a ragged and raging ‘Cherub Rock’ style riff, everything spiralling upwards, but it’s the Pumpkins-by-numbers, the sort of tune Corgan can knock out in his sleep. Guitarist James Iha gets a rare co writing credit on ‘Tribute to Johnny’, a dirty riff led instrumental which is so imbued with 70’s stoner ambience that you can’t be sure whether the quartet’s often over looked sense of humor is surfacing to take the piss. It’s the sort of Pumpkins jam that bands mess about with in rehearsal, the solo washing relentlessly over a rolling guitar motif- and even Jimmy Chamberlin the most underrated drummer in rock regardless of his personal troubles, gets to grab the spotlight with a short drum break. Again, it’s a diverting and mildly engaging tune, but hardly essential Pumpkins. The same could be said of ‘Marquis in Spades’, which opens with Corgan muttering ‘Fucker’ and unravels into something searing and bitter,Iha’s fluid guitar lines melting around acerbic, angry lyrics.
‘Pennies’ is much better, a beautiful, uncluttered love song with chiming guitars and a sweet vocal, but the mood it creates is blown apart by the final ‘track’.‘Pasticho Medley’, 23 minutes of fractured riffs and feedback assembled from hitherto unrecorded Pumpkins outakes. No riff lasts longer than 30 seconds or resembles anything the like last one. Why the band thought anybody would like this, is beyond me.
In conclusion, ‘Zero’ is a so-so collection, with typical blinding Pumpkins brilliance interspersed with uncharacteristic throwaway moments. Billy’s heroes can do much better than this, and if you can’t be bothered to buy this, you’re not losing out on anything essential. As ever the choice is yours......

tags: the smashing pumpkins, zero ep, 1996, flac,

The Smashing Pumpkins - Gish (1991)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Grunge
Label Number: CAROL 1705-2
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© 1991 Caroline Records
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Arriving several months before Nirvana's Nevermind, the Smashing Pumpkins' debut album, Gish, which was also produced by Butch Vig, was the first shot of the alternative revolution that transformed the rock & roll landscape of the '90s. While Nirvana was a punk band, the Smashing Pumpkins and guitarist/vocalist Billy Corgan are arena rockers, co-opting their metallic riffs and epic art rock song structures with self-absorbed lyrical confessions. Though Corgan's lyrics fall apart upon close analysis, there's no denying his gift for arrangements. Like Brian May and Jimmy Page, he knows how to layer guitars for maximum effect, whether it's on the pounding, sub-Sabbath rush of "I Am One" or the shimmering, psychedelic dream pop surfaces of "Rhinoceros." Such musical moments like these, as well as the rushing "Siva" and the folky "Daydream," which features D'Arcy on lead vocals, demonstrate the Smashing Pumpkins' potential, but the rest of Gish falls prey to undistinguished songwriting and showy instrumentation.

tags: the smashing pumpkins, gish, 1991, flac,

The Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream (1993) ☠

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Grunge
Label Number: 0777 7 88267 2 9
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☠: Selected by Lass
© 1993 Virgin Records
AllMusic Review by Greg Prato
While Gish had placed the Smashing Pumpkins on the "most promising artist" list for many, troubles were threatening to break the band apart. Singer/guitarist/leader Billy Corgan was battling a severe case of writer's block and was in a deep state of depression brought on by a relationship in turmoil; drummer Jimmy Chamberlin was addicted to hard drugs; and bassist D'Arcy and guitarist James Iha severed their romantic relationship. The sessions for their sophomore effort, Siamese Dream, were wrought with friction -- Corgan eventually played almost all the instruments himself (except for percussion). Some say strife and tension produces the best music, and it certainly helped make Siamese Dream one of the finest alt-rock albums of all time. Instead of following Nirvana's punk rock route, Siamese Dream went in the opposite direction -- guitar solos galore, layered walls of sound courtesy of the album's producers (Butch Vig and Corgan), extended compositions that bordered on prog rock, plus often reflective and heartfelt lyrics. The four tracks that were selected as singles became alternative radio standards -- the anthems "Cherub Rock," "Today," and "Rocket," plus the symphonic ballad "Disarm" -- but as a whole, Siamese Dream proved to be an incredibly consistent album. Such compositions as the red-hot rockers "Quiet" and "Geek U.S.A." were standouts, as were the epics "Hummer," "Soma," and "Silverfuck," plus the soothing sounds of "Mayonaise," "Spaceboy," and "Luna." After the difficult recording sessions, Corgan stated publicly that if Siamese Dream didn't achieve breakthrough success, he would end the band. He didn't have to worry for long -- the album debuted in the Billboard Top Ten and sold more than four million copies in three years. Siamese Dream stands alongside Nevermind and Superunknown as one of the decade's finest (and most influential) rock albums.

tags: the smashing pumpkins, siamese dream, 1993, flac,