June 29, 2017

The Doors - An American Prayer (1995 Remastered Edition)

*Reissued & remastered in 1995 by Elektra records. Contains 3 bonus tracks.

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Rock, Psychedelic Rock
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© 1978-1995 Elektra Records
AllMusic Review by Vik Iyengar
Moody and mesmerizing, An American Prayer is an interesting album of Jim Morrison reading his poetry over the Doors' music. An American Prayer was finished by the remaining members of the Doors after Morrison's death and finally released in 1978 (it was remastered and re-released in 1995 with bonus tracks). Those familiar with the lyrics of the Doors will not be surprised, but others may be put off because Morrison is unafraid to use crude imagery and talk unabashedly about taboo topics such as sex and religion. Although many dismiss his poetry as simplistic random musings, Morrison is a gifted lyricist with a vivid imagination. The album also demonstrates how the other musicians in the band create a mood that breathes life into Morrison's dark, twisted visions. The music excerpts of "Peace Frog" and "Wasp (Texas Radio and the Big Beat)" provide a welcome air of familiarity, and the definitive live version of "Roadhouse Blues" in the middle of the album provides a nice respite from the barrage of stories and metaphors. However, An American Prayer must be listened to in one sitting to be fully appreciated, preferably at nighttime when one is alone and can devote full attention to the listening experience. This album is not for everyone, but is a must-own for Doors completists and fans of Jim Morrison's poetry.

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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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Guru - Jazzmatazz: Volume 1 (1993)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Hip-Hop
Style: Jazz Rap
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© 1993 Chrysalis Records
AllMusic Review by Marisa Brown
Though it can reasonably be argued that rap grew almost directly out of funk and its particular beat, there are a lot of overlaps with jazz, particularly the bop and post-bop eras: the uninhibited expression, the depiction of urban life, just to name two. Jazz samples have also had a large role in hip-hop, but the idea of rapping over actual live jazz wasn't truly fully realized until Gang Starr MC Guru created and released the first in his Jazzmatazz series in 1993, with guest musicians who included saxophonist Branford Marsalis (who had previously collaborated with DJ Premier and Guru for the track "Jazz Thing" on the Mo' Better Blues soundtrack), trumpeter Donald Byrd, vibraphonist Roy Ayers, guitarist Ronny Jordan, and keyboardist Lonnie Liston Smith, as well as vocalist N'Dea Davenport (also of the acid jazz group the Brand New Heavies) and French rapper MC Solaar. While Guru's rhymes can occasionally be a little weak ("Think they won't harm you? Well they might/And that ain't right, but every day is like a fight" are the lines he chooses to describe kids on the subway in Brooklyn in "Transit Ride"), he delves into a variety of subject matter, from the problems of inner-city life to his own verbal prowess to self-improvement without ever sounding too repetitive, and his well-practiced flow fits well with the overall smooth, sultry, and intelligent feel of the album. From Jordan's solo on "No Time to Play" to Ayers' vibes expertise on "Take a Look (At Yourself)" to MC Solaar's quick and syllabic rhymes on "Le Bien, le Mal," Jazzmatazz, Vol. 1 (and what turned out to be the best of the series) is a rap album for jazz fans and a jazz album for rap fans, skillful and smart, clean when it needs to be and gritty when that's more effective, helping to legitimize hip-hop to those who doubted it, and making for an altogether important release.

tags: guru, jazzmatazz, jazzmatazz vol 1993, flac,

Illegal - The Untold Truth (1993) ☠

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Hip-Hop
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☠: Selected by Sentinel
© 1993 Rowdy Records
AllMusic Review by Stanton Swihart
If the message of "Head or Gut," the walloping, maniacal Erick Sermon-produced first single from The Untold Truth, isn't transparent enough, here's the translation: unless you're feeling lucky, stay away from these hip-hop moppets. Or, to put it another way: Had it come down to a back-alley brawl with these guys, Kris Kross definitely would not have come out on the other side still jumping. Lovable little foundlings Illegal were not at the time they made their first and lone album. If you ignored Jamal and Malik's words, the duo almost could have come across like cartoon characters, but go beneath the pre-pubescent voices and you certainly don't find PG, Saturday-morning sentiments. They were the "stick-up kids" that Gang Starr once had warned us about. (And emphasis on the "stick-up," not on the "kids.") On The Untold Truth they sound as if they would just as soon smoke you as look in your direction. Hardcore posturing aside, though, the album has a whole lot going for it. Even at their tender ages, Illegal already had the attention of a list of genuine heavyweights: Sermon, Diamond D., Lord Finesse, Biz Markie, and Dallas Austin (who oversaw the entire project) all produce tracks, and the grimy sonic scenery they put behind the visceral--if frighteningly, preternaturally violent--street stories of the pair is a perfect fit. There is nothing as great as "Head or Gut" on the rest of the album, but most of the music does not trail too far behind in quality, particularly "Illegal Will Rock," "Understand the Flow," and "On Da M.I.C."

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June 27, 2017

Shyheim - The Lost Generation (1996)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
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© 1996 Noo Trybe Records
*No professional reviews available for this release.

tags: shyheim, the lost generation, 1996,

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.

tags: godsmack, the oracle, 2010, flac,

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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A+ - Hempstead High (1999)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Hip-Hop
Style: Pop Rap
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© 1999 Universal Records
AllMusic Review by Matt Conaway
A+ exhibited enough potential on his debut album Latch Key Kid for many to consider him as being one of hip-hop's most promising future lyrical assassins. After all you do not hear many 14-year-old shorties rocking the mic as profusely as he did on his debut. However after a two-year layoff in between LP's, A+ has moved on to more adult topic matter and seems eager to present himself as hip-hop's version of Usher. But not only has A+ lost his innocence, he has also lost any sense of originality. One of A+'s major drawbacks is he tends to mimic the flow of whomever he is teamed up with, whether it be Canibus, or Psycho Drama. He waters down this recording with blatant crossover reaches like "Don't Make Me Wait" and "Price of Fame." "What Da Deal" f/ Cardan is especially disheartening, as both MCs trade woeful verses and Cardan sounds like a carbon copy of Mase or Cam'ron. The few gems on this album stick out like a sore thumb, since they're few and far between. A+ brings guaranteed action with cuts like the heavily mix-tape circulated "Boy II Men" featuring Lost Boyz & Canibus, and a surprisingly tight collaboration "Watcha Weigh Me" featuring MJG. When A+ sticks to simple, yet effective beats and rhymes, he reaps the benefits, as on "Parkside Garden." A+ desperately needs to find his own unique identity and style. "Hempstead High" is aptly titled as it is a high schoolish effort at best; hopefully, with his next LP A+ will mature mentally, instead of physically, and come into his own.

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O.C. - Word...Life (2007 Reissue)

*Reissued in 2007 by Musicshine Inc. Contains 5 bonus tracks. A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A
Genre: Hip-Hop
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© 1994-2007 Musicshine Inc./Next Mill Entertainment
AllMusic Review by M.F. DiBella
O.C.'s auspicious debut announced the arrival of one of modern rap's more gifted storytelling lyricists. The artist dropped his thesis on "Time's Up" a '90s rap benchmark track that served to separate rap's true school from its ever-expanding species of frauds. On that track, O.C. takes umbrage with money-grubbing fake MC's over a combined droning bass guitar and well-plucked sample from Slick Rick's "Hey Young World." The album is drenched in classic, hard-core East Coast B-boyism, but O.C. puts the boasts on the shelf to take up more existential subject matter. On "Born to Live" he spins wistful fables from his childhood in order to discuss life's bittersweet fragility: "born to live/a life to die/life's so damn short and I wonder why." The soulful composition lifts a tasteful snippet from Keni Burke's "Keep Rising to the Top." O.C.'s connections to Organized Konfusion shine through on his debut, showcasing a thought-provoking intellectual diversity rarely seen on rap albums. Organized's Pharaoh Monche sits in on the album, as do producers Buckwild and Lord Finesse. Word...Life saw little commercial success due, in part, to the drained coffers of the failed endeavor that was Wild Pitch Records, but one would be hard-pressed to find a hard-core hip-hop fan without this recording somewhere in their collection.

tags: oc, o.c., word life, word... life, 1994, 2007, reissue, flac,

N.W.A. - Niggaz4Life (1991)

*A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A
Genre: Hip-Hop
Style: Gangsta Rap
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© 1991 Ruthless Records
AllMusic Review by Jason Birchmeier
Like 100 Miles and Runnin' (1990), the five-track EP that preceded it, N.W.A's third full-length album, Niggaz4life, courts controversy in every imaginable way, from its title (printed backward on the cover, as a mirror image) down to its mercilessly misogynistic second half, and it remains shocking years later, no matter how many times the controversial aspects of the album have been exploited again and again by others. Unfortunately, the shocking rhetoric -- which, to a degree unprecedented at the time of the album's release, revels in relentless obscenity, graphic sex, and extreme violence -- tends to overshadow the remarkable production work of Dr. Dre here. Similar in practice to the concurrent production work of the Bomb Squad, Dr. Dre and co-producer DJ Yella densely layer soul-funk samples from the 1970s over hard-hitting beats. As he had on his previous productions, Dr. Dre mines the Parliament-Funkadelic back catalog in particular for sample material: for instance, two Eazy-E solo showcases, "Automobile" and "I'd Rather Fuck You," are satirical interpolations of Parliament's "My Automobile" and Bootsy Collins' "I'd Rather Be with You," respectively, while the skits "Don't Drink That Wine" and "1-900-2-Compton" are likewise homage to George Clinton and company -- and, if you're keeping tabs, "Niggaz 4 Life" borrows an elastic bassline from Parliament's "Sir Nose d'Voidoffunk." The album-opening "Real Niggaz Don't Die" is one of the most remarkable productions, comprised of multiple samples, most evidently Rare Earth's "I Just Want to Celebrate," a joyous song whose sampled hook is in great juxtaposition to the overriding dire tone of the production, best characterized by one of the other songs sampled on the track, the Last Poets' "Die Nigger!!!" In terms of rapping, Niggaz4life suffers for the absence of Ice Cube, even as the D.O.C. assumes his position as the in-house ghostwriter. There's a lot of Eazy-E to be heard throughout the album, for better and for worse, as his sense of humorous menace is amusing as well as unsettling. In the end, it's easy to understand why N.W.A unraveled shortly after Niggaz4life: on the one hand, the group had become a vehicle for exploiting the taboos of gangsta rap, to significant commercial success (this was a chart-topping album, after all), while on the other hand, it had become less about the production talent of Dr. Dre, whose work was being sorely overshadowed by all the controversy.

tags: nwa, n.w.a., niggaz 4 life, niggas 4 life, niggaz4life, 1991,

June 24, 2017

Tony D - Pound For Pound (1997)

*U.S. pressing.
Country: U.S.A
Genre: Hip-Hop
Style: Instrumental
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© 1997 Grand Central Records
AllMusic Review by John Bush
Tony D.'s first full-length for Grand Central (though he had been producing singles for the label for several years) is that rare work of instrumental hip-hop -- an album of unvaried mid-tempo beats and stoned grooves which actually succeeds despite the lack of rapping. The addition of beatmeisters Spikey T, Mr. Scruff, and Buffy Brox make Pound for Pound a satisfying success.

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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 - Three Dollar Bill, Yall$ (1997)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Nü-Metal
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© 1997 Interscope Records
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
With their major-label debut, Three Dollar Bill Y'All, Limp Bizkit quickly rose to the top of the alt-metal subgenre known as "rapcore." Part of the reason the band stood out from their peers was their kinetic, frenzied energy. They might not have many original ideas -- they are largely an outgrowth of Korn, Faith No More, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers -- but they do the sound well. They have a powerful rhythm section and memorable hooks, most of which make up for the uneven songwriting. Then again, you're not looking for perfection on a debut -- you're looking for a promising sound, and on that front, Limp Bizkit deliver.

tags: limp bizkit, three dollar bill yall, ya'll, $, 1997, 3 dollar,

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.

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

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.]

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

Questionmark Asylum - Questionmark Asylum: The Album (1995)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Hip-Hop
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© 1995 RCA Records
AllMusic Review by Bret Love
Nine out of ten rap fans surveyed could not tell Questionmark Asylum from the Pharcyde in a blind taste test. After all, the D.C.-based quartet possesses mad dance skills, has a uniquely tripped-out rhyme style, and sticks to a primarily positive alt-rap approach. Thankfully, all four MCs have their own unique lyrical flows, and The Album ultimately defies easy comparisons. On "Curse of the Q," which laments the loss of their original major-label record deal, they reveal distinct personalities that make the catchy hook and freaky vocal melody even more memorable, with Mistafiss and Digge Dom assuming drum and keyboard duties, respectively, as sidemen Kevin "KC" Campbell and Jesse "Twin" Blanks add guitar and bass to the ultra-funky mix. On "Love, Peace, Soul," go-go music legend Chuck Brown adds distinctive flavor to the acid jazzy mix, while "Get With You" samples Bootsy Collins' classic "I'd Rather Be With You" for a funky reinvention. An impressive debut from unfairly overlooked hip-hop shoulda-beens.

tags: questionmark asylum, question mark, the album, 1995,

Mic' Geronimo - Long Road Back (2003)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Hip-Hop
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© 2003 Warlock Records
*No professional reviews available for this release.

tags: mic geronimo, long road back, 2003, mic',

Beyond - Comparison (2001 Reissue)

*Reissued in 2001 by Rhymesayers Entertainment. Track list remains the same at 18 total.

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Hip-Hop
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© 1996-2001 Rhymesayers Entertainment
*No professional reviews available for this release.

tags: beyond, comparison, 1996, reissue, 2001, flac,

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.

tags: black sabbath, headless cross, 1989, flac,