September 29, 2017

P.O.D. - Testify (2006)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Nü-Metal, Alternative Metal
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© 2006 Atlantic Records
AllMusic Review by Matt Collar
Whether it be the group's Christian ethos, ethnically diverse makeup, or reggae-sunsplash-meets-Ozfest vibe, P.O.D. has always retained a bit more respectability than their rap-rock peers. Even during the group's most "nu-metal" moments, they sound like they have at least heard Bad Brains' first three albums and probably dug them. Smartly, on their fifth studio album, Testify, the band continues to eschew such rap-rock gimmicks as ancillary use of turntables and cheesy samples, and instead delivers a mature and workmanlike metal monster-piece. Bright, loud, but always artful, Testify's glossy production comes via journeyman hitmaking producer and synthesizer master Glen Ballard. While P.O.D. has lost none of their rootsy funk metal swagger, Ballard -- the man behind such pop titans as Michael Jackson, Van Halen, and Alanis Morissette -- has found a way to give them an eminently palatable studio sheen that brings to mind a deft mix of the arena rock of Asia and the Police, as much as it does Sepultura. The move toward a more polished sound also pays dividends creatively, as guitarist Jason Truby, while not quite as forward-thinking as Audioslave's Tom Morello, nonetheless shines under Ballard's approach, delivering a truly inspired and technically brilliant performance. Similarly, vocalist Sonny seems reinvigorated and practically giddy on the lead-off track, "Roots in Stereo." Spiritually, the band is as concerned as ever with Jah, inner strength, and the "blood of God's veins," and if the melancholy single "Goodbye for Now" is any indication, they still have a few inner demons to wrestle with creatively. Luckily, though, they haven't forgotten the funk, and songs such as the head-snapping "Lights Out" and the Sabbath-esque "Sounds Like War" combine a bit of hip-hop fun with Bob Marley-inspired metal faith. Throw in a couple of serendipitous guest spots from Hasidic rapper Matisyahu and by the time you get to the devastating metal-reggae album closer, "Mark My Words," you've got a band reborn.

tags: pod, p.o.d. testify, 2006,

September 28, 2017

P.O.D. - The Fundamental Elements of Southtown (1999)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Nü-Metal
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© 1999 Atlantic Records
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
With their full-length debut, The Fundamental Elements of Southtown, POD (Payable on Death) shows considerable promise, crafting an album that flows from aggressive rap-metal to trippy, Beastie-styled reggae dub excursions. It may be all over the map, but give the group credit for trying a bunch of styles and pulling most of them off. At times, they sound too derivative -- when they rock really hard, they sound too much like a Christian Rage Against the Machine -- but there's energy here and the roots of a distinctive sound, all of which are necessary for a strong debut.

tags: pod, p.o.d., the fundemental elementals of southtown, 1999,

P.O.D. - Brown (1996)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Nü-Metal
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© 1996 Rescue Records
*No professional reviews available for this release.

tags: pod, p.o.d., brown, 1996,

P.O.D. - When Angels & Serpents Dance (2008)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Alternative Metal, Alternative Rock
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© 2008 INO/Columbia Records
AllMusic Review by Jared Johnson
P.O.D.'s lineup may have returned to 2001, but thankfully its sound did not. Guitarist Marcos Curiel came back to the SoCal band for the first time since Satellite, bringing his underrated talent and looming presence that had been missing on the band's subsequent releases (2003's Payable on Death and 2006's Testify). The synergy of his reappearance was obvious, even if longtime fans may have been flattened a bit to hear the band's new sound lacking the edge of earlier releases. To their credit, the new sound worked in P.O.D.'s favor since modern rock fans seemed to have left nu-metal in their wake. Indeed, Limp Bizkit and Korn fans were few and far between. No longer shouldering the nu-metal mantle, P.O.D. were free to reacquaint listeners with their versatility. The straight reggae of "I'll Be Ready," the bluesy rhythm of "It Can't Rain Everyday," and the (gasp!) acoustic ballad "Tell Me Why" show that this is not a memory piece or a tribute to harder days. When Angels and Serpents Dance represents the strength of one of Christian rock's greatest assets. Guest artists include the Marley Sisters, Mike Muir of Suicidal Tendencies, and Page Hamilton of Helmet.

tags: pod, p.o.d., when and angels and serpents dance, 2008,

P.O.D. - Satellite (2001) ☠

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Alternative Metal, Nü-Metal
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☠: Selected by Lass
© 2001 Atlantic Records
AllMusic Review by Jason Birchmeier
During an era when most heavy metal bands wallowed in their own misery, singing about pain and sadness, P.O.D. offered a more optimistic alternative. The band had been releasing music since the late '90s, but it was this album rather than its commercially overlooked predecessor, The Fundamental Elements of Southtown (1998), that reached out to countless listeners. Quite simply, you can't deny the emotion P.O.D. funnels into its songs. The sentiment feels genuine, as if this band truly cares about its listeners, one of the key reasons why this album shook the metal world in 2002. And, as most listeners will no doubt agree, it did so for the better. The metal world needed an album like Satellite in 2002, just like it needed a band like P.O.D. to challenge longtime metal heavyweights like Tool and Korn for supremacy. The spiritual, emotional band writes songs about promise and hope -- songs that inspire you to celebrate life, not despise it. It's not just the singing of vocalist Sonny either, though his soaring voice has much to do with it. Rather, it's the band as a whole that gives the songs on Satellite so much affective power. These four guys obviously love making music together, and that passion comes across in every song. Guitarist Marco, bassist Traa, and drummer Wuv fuse a variety of influences -- metal, hip-hop, dub, Rage Against the Machine -- and create music that stands on its own, apart from the many other nu-metal bands of the time. In particular, "Alive" and "Youth of the Nation" stand out as rallying calls for metal fans looking for music about living, not dying.

tags: pod, p.o.d., satellite, 2001,

September 24, 2017

SuperCharger - Broken Hearts & Fallaparts (2014)

Country: Denmark
Language: English
Genre: Melodic Heavy Metal
Style: Rock N' Roll
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© 2014 Sony Music/Gain Records
Review by Kirsty Birkett-Stubbs for Metal-Rules.com
SuperCharger are well liked in Denmark. They've won awards and everything for previous releases HAND GRANDE BLUES (2009) and THAT'S HOW WE ROLL (2011). But the home crowd are like that aren't they? Thing is with more rock n roll leanings than countrymen Volbeat, and with the kind of brash attitude that used to be brought by Backyard Babies, there's stuff for everyone else to like as well. If rock n roll is your thing, and we mean kick the throttle, dance on the tables, fun-time rock, then BROKEN HEARTS & FALLAPARTS could get quite cosy on your stereo. Or your iThing. Or that gadget that beams songs straight into your brain – you know whatever kids these days play their music on. (Sure as hell ain't a Walkman). Kind of a shame because SuperCharger are the kind of band that one time you could have broken a Walkman to. “Like A Pit Bull” may slobber and snarl from the start, but as with much of the album if you're looking for lyrical substance you won't find it here. Mikkel Neperus sings them all with gusto though and his voice goes from raspy to punky with ease. “From The Gutter” is a 'we're a band' song which doesn't bring anything new to the story, but continues to make it fun to listen to, and “Blood Red Lips”, which features Mustasch's Ralf Gyllenhammar and David Johannesson, is rock at its bawdy best. “Supercharged” is SuperCharger's mission statement, a good hard stare in the eyes for any newbies, and surely a live anthem for welcoming the crowds. “Get What You Deserve” musically sticks the boot in, whilst “Suzi The Uzi” is let down by its ropey chorus featuring hyper-cutesy but nondescript female interjections. Shame because at its heart its a rocking, piano-heavy tune. It's the wealth of ideas that makes BROKEN HEARTS & FALLAPARTS interesting, because whilst the lyrical ideas may be as thin as an over-worn pair of tights, musically everything from banjo, harmonica,and piano rub up against the usual suspects. Most of the tracks actually have their own identity, and some of them are surprising. See “Hung Over In Hamburg” which tries a bluegrass opening that quickly cuts to a heavier incarnation with a great sing-along chorus, and the acoustic closer of “Goodbye Copenhagen”. It's quite a departure from the rest of SuperCharger's amped offerings, more melancholic than mad one, and perhaps for the first time on the album gives you room to consider just what is being said. You may not remember all the songs in the morning, but BROKEN HEARTS & FALLAPARTS will show you a good time the night before and sometimes that's all you want from music. After all it's usually the good times that you want to relive.

tags: supercharger, super charger, broken hearts and fallaparts, fall aparts, 2014, flac,

September 23, 2017

Witchcraft - Witchcraft (2012 Reissue)⚓

*A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file. Reissued in 2012 by Metal Blade Records. Track list and total remains the same (11 tracks total)

Country: Sweden
Language: English
Genre: Doom Metal, Psychedelic Rock
Style: Traditional Doom
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© 2004-2012 Rise Above, Metal Blade Records
AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia
Unlike most doom bands, Sweden's Witchcraft aren't content to remake Black Sabbath's original heavy metal blueprint -- doleful, deliberate, scary stuff -- at ear-shattering volume and distortion. Rather, they take it a step further by ensuring their eponymous 2004 debut (which they proudly claim was recorded "in a basement" using only vintage equipment) sounds no more recent than, say, 1971. Sure enough, the results are so eerily authentic that fans of modern doom may at first find themselves wondering if Witchcraft even qualifies as such (strictly speaking, I suppose they don't) -- only to realize, if they know their history, that Sabbath themselves sounded no heavier on their seminal debut. And clearly, it's that unique and genre-founding article, with its looser, at times almost jazzy arrangements, which informs much of the contents here: from the wonderfully simple but effective riffs driving the band's eponymous title track, to the reedy, Ozzy-like vocal swoops punctuating ensuing numbers like "The Snake," "Lady Winter," and "What I Am." Witchcraft have a little more spring in their step than the original Sabs, and therein lies proof of their additional influences in '70s folk and hard rock -- particularly legendary proto-doomsters Pentagram. To wit, "Please Don't Forget Me" is a cover version of a tune by Stone Bunny -- a ridiculously obscure band which later evolved into Pentagram; and first single (and veritable raison d'être), "No Angel or Demon," was in fact recorded as a tribute to Pentagram leader Bobby Liebling. Included here, it sounds somewhat at odds with its surroundings -- partly due to its exceedingly energetic gait, partly because its familiar closing riffs leave one expecting Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower" to kick off. Back to more familiar, but no less inventive terrain, "It's So Easy" offers yet another multi-faceted and mesmerizing trip, "You Bury Your Head" suddenly cuts loose with ripping bass and heavily distorted guitars, and the cryptic "Her Sisters They Were Weak" sweeps along medieval melodies on its way to a chilling music box coda, its words recited and printed backward so that one must hold the CD booklet to a mirror in order to reveal a devilish parable! In summary, as much as their admirable songwriting chops, it's often Witchcraft's loving recreation of a sorely overlooked era in underground music that makes this album such a special treat to behold.

tags: witchcraft, witchcraft album, 2004, flac, reissue, 2012,

September 22, 2017

The Stooges - Fun House (1970)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Garage Rock
Label Number: 74071-2

© 1970-1988 Elektra Records
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming
The Stooges' first album was produced by a classically trained composer; their second was supervised by the former keyboard player with the Kingsmen, and if that didn't make all the difference, it at least indicates why Fun House was a step in the right direction. Producer Don Gallucci took the approach that the Stooges were a powerhouse live band, and their best bet was to recreate the band's live set with as little fuss as possible. As a result, the production on Fun House bears some resemblance to the Kingsmen's version of "Louie Louie" -- the sound is smeary and bleeds all over the place, but it packs the low-tech wallop of a concert pumped through a big PA, bursting with energy and immediacy. The Stooges were also a much stronger band this time out; Ron Asheton's blazing minimalist guitar gained little in the way of technique since The Stooges, but his confidence had grown by a quantum leap as he summoned forth the sounds that would make him the hero of proto-punk guitarists everywhere, and the brutal pound of drummer Scott Asheton and bassist Dave Alexander had grown to heavyweight champion status. And Fun House is where Iggy Pop's mad genius first reached its full flower; what was a sneer on the band's debut had grown into the roar of a caged animal desperate for release, and his rants were far more passionate and compelling than what he had served up before. The Stooges may have had more "hits," but Fun House has stronger songs, including the garage raver to end all garage ravers in "Loose," the primal scream of "1970," and the apocalyptic anarchy of "L.A. Blues." Fun House is the ideal document of the Stooges at their raw, sweaty, howling peak.

tags: the stooges, fun house, 1970, flac,

The Stooges - The Stooges (1969)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Garage Rock
Label  Number: CD 74051

© 1969-1988 Elektra Records
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming
While the Stooges had a few obvious points of influence -- the swagger of the early Rolling Stones, the horny pound of the Troggs, the fuzztone sneer of a thousand teenage garage bands, and the Velvet Underground's experimental eagerness to leap into the void -- they didn't really sound like anyone else around when their first album hit the streets in 1969. It's hard to say if Ron Asheton, Scott Asheton, Dave Alexander, and the man then known as Iggy Stooge were capable of making anything more sophisticated than this, but if they were, they weren't letting on, and the best moments of this record document the blithering inarticulate fury of the post-adolescent id. Ron Asheton's guitar runs (fortified with bracing use of fuzztone and wah-wah) are so brutal and concise they achieve a naïve genius, while Scott Asheton's proto-Bo Diddley drums and Dave Alexander's solid bass stomp these tunes into submission with a force that inspires awe. And Iggy's vividly blank vocals fill the "so what?" shrug of a thousand teenagers with a wealth of palpable arrogance and wondrous confusion. One of the problems with being a trailblazing pioneer is making yourself understood to others, and while John Cale seemed sympathetic to what the band was doing, he didn't appear to quite get it, and as a result he made a physically powerful band sound a bit sluggish on tape. But "1969," "I Wanna Be Your Dog," "Real Cool Time," "No Fun," and other classic rippers are on board, and one listen reveals why they became clarion calls in the punk rock revolution. Part of the fun of The Stooges is, then as now, the band managed the difficult feat of sounding ahead of their time and entirely out of their time, all at once.

tags: the stooges, the stooges album, 1969, flac,

September 20, 2017

UFO - Making Contact (1983)

 *Reissued in 1992 by Chrysalis Records. Made in Japan.

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Hard Rock
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© 1983-1992 Chrysalis Records Ltd.
AllMusic Review by Jason Anderson
Sadly, it happens. Great rock bands disintegrate, often before their time, and a string of recordings appears posthumously that at best offers little resemblance to the sound and attitude associated with the group, and, at worst, smears the reputation of present and past membership. Then, when the critical musicians reform for real, all credibility has been sucked out of their moniker, and futility extends into farce. While UFO and its various key players made enough good music together and separately after their late-'70s heyday to avoid any worse-case scenarios, records like 1983's Making Contact did little to maintain the metal outfit's dwindling accessibility. With only singer Phil Mogg remaining from the key Mogg/Way/Schenker grouping that led to UFO's most successful releases, this disc should more appropriately be labeled as a solo offering. Mogg sounds fine, but the material here is mostly second-rate '80s pop-metal. The Thin Lizzy-tinted "A Fool for Love" and the upbeat "Push, It's Love" almost cut it, but like the rest of Making Contact, these tracks are mired in a mid- to slow-tempo quagmire of tired riffs and cliché lyrics that limit the record's ability to rock.

tags: ufo, making contact, 1983, flac,

UFO - Misdemeanor (1985)

*Reissued in 1992 by Chrysalis Record. Made in Japan.

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Hard Rock
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© 1985-1992 Chrysalis Records Ltd.
AllMusic Review by Jason Anderson
The second of two mid-'80s UFO releases featuring only one key member from the group's glory days, Misdemeanor is no improvement over the wilted Making Contact. With Pete Way and Michael Schenker off on their own for years, vocalist Phil Mogg struggled mightily to maintain the UFO name to no avail in the early '80s -- he even disbanded the group briefly before assembling this attempt at a comeback. The final major-label recording for UFO after a long relationship with Chrysalis Records, Misdemeanor boasts better production and better material, but the disc still flounders in '80s commercial rock convention. Mogg is in fine voice and there are a few sweet-sounding guitar moments, but this record practically defines middle of the road. In fact, it's hard to imagine that Chrysalis and Mogg felt they had a chance to attract enough radio attention to make a recording with such pop overtones worthwhile. Maybe that was the plan, but it's hard to believe that there really was any realistic plan for this album at all.

tags: ufo, misdemeanor, 1985, flac,

September 17, 2017

Reverend Bizarre - II: Crush The Insects (2005)

Country: Finland
Language: English
Genre: Doom Metal
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© 2005 Season of Mist
Review by Dee for Metal Reviews.com
Hailing from Finland, the adopted home of all things doom, Reverend Bizarre are an established trio who play a seductive style of traditional doom metal. Already gaining in underground respect for releasing several so-called EPs that each contain over 70 minutes of music, this prolific band has already planned and written at least three more albums of material. Their latest release, "II: Crush the Insects", is a testament to their honed songwriting and tightness as a band.
This album is something of an oddity, as it feels like a three song stoner-doom EP tacked on to the front of a more traditional doom album. Nevertheless, the combination works well.
The proceedings kick off immediately with "Doom Over the World", a rock'n'roll style anthem that begins with a cymbal crash and a low bass note at the very instant that you press play. The guitar tone is certainly heavy, but not crushing in and of itself; the heaviness lies in how the band wields their distinctive sound. Albert's vocals are singular; sounding somewhat raucous, like a clergyman telling salacious tales to the nuns. As the song steadily unfolds, you come to appreciate their influences; this track has a clear Black Sabbath/St. Vitus aesthetic, as well as a strong party atmosphere - as the "Doom over the world! Eternal shall be my mission!" chorus refrains, a long sample of what I can only assume is the band drinking and laughing at the bar is overlaid, and stretches far beyond the conclusion of the song.
"The Devil Rides Out" comes next, opening with a very groovy, bassy stoner riff, complemented by liberal use of toms and crashes; it is here where you realise just how good the Earl of Void is behind the kit. This song flows exceptionally well, maintaining its driving, purposeful feel even through several changes of pace. The only slight complaint I have about this song is that the guitar tone isn't really suitable for solos; indeed, I would have preferred a drum solo by the capable Earl of Void. This track ends in an enjoyable Sabbath homage; the band plays a swingy, jazzy riff and fades into silence.
A short one-two-three-four played on the drums leads into "Cromwell", introducing its striking, stepped riffs. Magister Albert isn't far behind, describing the civil war and the power of the Ironsides. Each verse ends with an explosive drum fill, which is rare for trad - finally, a doom drummer who does more than merely keep time. The song is quite subtly constructed, with a second riff hidden inside of the song; this middle section stretches on for a while, but steps up gradually and you can't be bored by the pleasing progression. At some point in here you realise that not much singing has actually taken place, but the song has kept your attention throughout. The track ends with a simple use of the riff as an outro, concluding the stoner section of this album..
..and the difference is obvious from the first notes of "Slave of Satan"; the band has stepped back from their driving, rock'n'roll and is now working precisely, weaving a slow dirge as the backdrop to an inspired rant about the pretentions of so-called goths. The accuracy on show here is quite incredible when you take into account the crawling speed at which they are playing. Albert picks his moments, stretching a relatively short set of lyrics across a thirteen minute song. His half-rant, half-scream near the end of this track proves a fitting climax. Beautiful.
"Council of Ten" maintains the slow pace of the previous song; I felt the riff here was disappointing following Slave of Satan, but you can't have everything. This song progresses in sections rather than between verses and choruses, which is a nice touch, lending a little unpredictability to the mood. The pace picks up considerably for the last segment of this song, another groovy nod towards Sabbath, and a worthy one at that.
"By This Axe I Rule" begins as another slow dirge, except Albert comes in almost immediately and tells us that he has the urge to kill, foreshadowing the brilliant and frankly hilarious lyrics to come. Four minutes in, the track explodes, transforming into a headbanging blues-rock riff, perhaps the best on the album. Once Albert has delivered his grisly lyrics, the tempo drops, and a lethally slow, dropping riff takes charge, over which Albert screams and babbles eerily all the way to the conclusion at around ten minutes.
"Eternal Forest" follows, but feels strangely lifeless. I consider this the low point of the album, which is somewhat disconcerting as this is an eleven minute track. That's not to say that this song has no redeeming features; it simply does not compare to the rest of the material on this album, and would fit better on an EP, or maybe into the repertoire of a different band entirely.
The eighth and final track on the album, "Fucking Wizard" fully redeems the band, opening as a double homage to Holst's "Planet Suite" and to Black Sabbath's eponymous song. They certainly respect their influences. Albert has the chance to sing without drums for the first time on the album, but opts to whisper, speak, and rant his way through the long verse. Long means long; eight minutes pass as the band slowly plays more and more urgently, until - you know what's coming by now - the pace picks up and Albert starts singing over an incredibly enjoyable if simple riff, and you can tell he's enjoying himself as he "Woo!"s and "alright!"s his way through his lines. The band play without him for the remaining three minutes of the song, reprising the quasi-Mars them, and ending with a huge bluesy climax.
That took seventy five minutes. These guys are generous with their material.
All in all, this is an incredibly enjoyable album, epic in its own way while resisting all comparisons to Candlemass. Even at the doomiest, most droning point in the album, you never tire of their sound. I only wish Eternal Forest could have kept up the momentum.

tags: reverend bizarre, ii crush the insects, 2005, flac,

UFO - Mechanix (1982)

*Reissued in 1992 by Chrysalis Records. Made in Japan.

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Hard Rock
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© 1982-1992 Chrysalis Records Ltd.
*No professional reviews available for this release.

tags: ufo, mechanix, 1982, flac, reissue,

UFO - No Place To Run (1980)

*Reissued in 1992 by Chrysalis Records. Made In Japan.

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Hard Rock
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© 1980-1992 Chrysalis Records Ltd.
AllMusic Review by Vincent Jeffries
The first studio recording after the departure of guitarist Michael Schenker, No Place to Run set into motion UFO's critical and commercial decline. While only a slight adjustment to the band's successful hard rock formula, the midtempo guitar rock bore much more of a resemblance to fading '70s rockers like Bad Company than the coming NWOBHM. Fellow Brits like Def Leppard were cultivating a similar but much more exciting brand of simple, angular hard rock built for the millions of AC/DC-loving Americans, while UFO seemed to be chasing their stylistic tail. Louder and way more energetic, Def Leppard were poised to overtake the rock universe while UFO languished on No Place to Run. Tracks like "This Fire Burns Tonight" call to mind Jackson Brown-styled adult rock; meanwhile, any audience UFO might have built up over the harder-edged Schenker years was fleeing to acts like the Scorpions and Judas Priest, who were only getting heavier. To call No Place to Run a middle-of-the-road miscalculation would be generous. The disc had already aged badly when it was released and that hasn't changed in the decades since.

tags: ufo, no place to run, 1980, flac,

UFO - Obsession (1978)

*Reissued in 1992 by Chrysalis Records. Made In Japan.

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Hard Rock
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© 1978-1992 Chrysalis Records Ltd.
AllMusic Review by Greg Prato
UFO's Obsession was to be their last studio record with star guitarist Michael Schenker. It did indeed contain lots of prime metal cuts, but some of the material ultimately fell flat. "Only You Can Rock Me" kicks off the album with a fun and carefree feel, while the funky "Pack It Up (And Go)" contains some John Bonham-like drumming courtesy of Andy Parker. The opening momentum is carried on through the slow Zeppelin groove of "Ain't No Baby," but soon the band hits the skids. The group takes a crack at a power ballad, which ends up sounding like an Elton John throwaway ("Lookin' Out for No. 1") and a couple of blah, clichéd rockers ("Hot 'N' Ready" and "One More for the Rodeo"), both anchored by Pete Way's ultra-simplistic single-note basslines. But the album eventually gets back on track with the melodic rock of "Cherry" and "You Don't Fool Me," the latter containing some tasty, fiery guitar solos. UFO hinted at their talents with releases such as Obsession and Lights Out, but it was their next release, the live Strangers in the Night, where it all came together for them.

tags: ufo, obsession, 1978, flac,

UFO - The Wild, The Willing & The Innocent (1981)

*Reissued in 1992 by Chrysalis Records. Made In Japan.
Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Hard Rock
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© 1981-1992 Chrysalis Records Ltd.
*No professional reviews available for this release.

tags: ufo, the wild, the willing and the innocent, 1981, flac,

September 16, 2017

UFO - Lights Out (1977) ☠

*Original first pressing on C.D. Made in Japan as part of the "Past Masters" series.

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Hard Rock
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☠: Selected by Buccaneer
© 1977-1989 Chrysalis Music Ltd.
AllMusic Review by Matt Kantor
Despite a few generic moments, Lights Out is probably the best studio document of what elevated UFO above the '70s hard rock fray. Within a Euro-blues framework, the classic lineup that lasted from Phenomenon through Strangers in the Night incorporated challenging dynamics, epic balladry, and a more than occasional sensitivity. On Lights Out, all three of these traits come together in powerful fashion, most notably on the space rocker-cum-ballad "Love to Love," where a ridiculously heavy intro gives way to flourishing poetics. "Gettin' Ready" and an oddball Love cover, "Alone Again Or," also showcase the band's sensitive ambiguities, never compromising the group's overarching hard edge. Not enough can be said either about UFO's stand-out individual performances, particularly Phil Mogg's street level vocals, which no doubt greatly influenced Joe Elliot and Paul Di'Anno. Then, of course, there's the matter of Michael Schenker's deservedly lauded lead guitar. Expressive and bluesy with a tone nearing perfection, even the more pedestrian tunes are made worthwhile due to a Schenker solo. Lights Out holds up well; its subtleties are worth mentioning because the band always make it a point to rock hard, and the playing is always on. Almost completely overlooked stateside, Lights Out is a lost gem.

tags: ufo, lights out, 1977, flac, reissue,

UFO - No Heavy Petting (1976) ☠

*Original first pressing on C.D. Made in Japan as part of the "Past Masters" series.

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Hard Rock
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☠: Selected by Buccaneer
© 1976-1989 Chrysalis Music Ltd.
AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia
Following the breakout success of Phenomenon and Force It, UFO had finally ascended to the first division of British hard rock. And after hiring a second guitarist and keyboard player in Danny Peyronnel, Schenker and Mogg led the group back into the studio to record their fifth album, No Heavy Petting. A noticeably cautious effort, Petting stuck so close to the rules laid down by Force It that all the excitement of the band's performance wound up slipping through the cracks. Gutsy opener "Natural Thing" was competent enough to become a concert regular, but lukewarm material like "Can You Roll Her" and "Reasons Love" simply added nothing new. And bass player Pete Way didn't help things any with his only contribution, the plodding, amazingly dull "On with the Action." Even the album's best moment, the beautifully executed "I'm a Loser" (which unleashes Schenker for one of his most jaw-dropping solos ever), mimics Force It's "Out in the Street" before closing with a piano pattern straight out of progressive rockers Kansas' "No One Together." The overly dramatic "Belladonna" (complete with synthesizer-simulated harpsichord), on the other hand, is mostly a casualty of time; the kind of ballad that was effective enough in its time, but simply hasn't aged well. Thankfully, UFO would rebound in spades the following year, delivering their best all-around studio effort, Lights Out.

tags: ufo, no heavy petting, 1976, reissue,

UFO - Phenomenon (1974)

*Original first pressing on C.D. Made in Japan as part of the "Past Masters" series.

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Hard Rock
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© 1974-1989 Chrysalis Music Ltd.
AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia
Guitarist Michael Schenker's impact upon UFO's career cannot be overestimated. Before the German teenager's arrival (he was only 19 when he jumped ship from the Scorpions), the British rockers' early albums of half-baked space rock had been completely ignored everywhere but Japan. But with Schenker on board, the group's sound received a well-needed attitude injection, veering toward the Anglo-hard rock style that would make them famous. That is not to say that their first collaboration, Phenomenon, was an instant home run. Quite the contrary, as the band seemed a tad wary of giving Schenker's more aggressive style complete freedom to roam, reining in the budding guitar hero just enough to stunt the impact of promising rockers like "Oh My and "Too Young to Know." Likewise, "Time on My Hands" and "Crystal Light" are bogged down in excessive acoustic guitars, while "Space Child" shows glimpses of their failed space rock past. And one need only look at standout track "Doctor Doctor" for further proof of the group's uncertainties. Later a mandatory concert staple, and still beloved as a fan favorite, the original version featured here doesn't even have what you'd call finished lyrics, and packs none of the fire eventually immortalized by the absolute monster performance captured on 1979's Strangers in the Night. In fact, the only moment in which Phenomenon truly ignites is during the scorching "Rock Bottom," already a Schenker tour de force even here. Ultimately, Phenomenon amply manages to hold its own, but only hints at what was still to come.

tags: ufo, phenomenon, 1974, reissue,

Reverend Bizarre - So Long Suckers (2007)

Country: Finland
Language: English
Genre: Doom Metal
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© 2007 Spikefarm Records
AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia
Reverend Bizarre made no bones about their plans to disband following the release of this, the group's third long-player, and so it's some small consolation for fans that the aptly named III: So Long Suckers saw the Finnish doom power trio going out, if not on a high note, then with a bang -- literally a BIG bang. Not only did the album require two CDs (the first clocking in at precisely 66:06) to house its bloated 250 minutes' worth of music, but it featured no less than three songs lasting a patently absurd 25 minutes in length. Yet only one of these -- the half-hour opening monolith "They Used Dark Forces/Teutonic Witch" -- really justified the effort, packing more songs-within-its-song than a pod of charging Oliphants has trunks, and arguably trailing only Sleep's historic "Dopesmoker" where sheer girth and multi-part songwriting magnificence is concerned. Sadly, the remaining tandem of "Sorrow" and "Anywhere Out of This World," though peppered with occasional powerful moments and clever ideas, really could have done with some editing, akin with that brought to bear on slightly more restrained (you know, just 12, 15 minutes or so) and coincidentally more successful efforts like "Funeral Summer" and "Caesar Forever." But, as a final pair of bite-sized cuts -- the driving instru-groove "Kundalini Arisen" and the hidden farewell noise collage "Mallorca" -- ultimately prove, the members of Reverend Bizarre were keenly aware of the diminishing provisions of creativity and musical chemistry at their disposal. Or else they wouldn't have decided to call it quits even before So Long Suckers arrived in records stores, leaving a hoard of leftover material for posthumous mini-releases to sift through, along with one of the most impressive and consistent doom discographies of the 2000s. As the band's motto wisely put it: "Doom What Thou Wilt," indeed.

tags: reverend bizarre, so long suckers, 2007, flac,

UFO - Force It (1975)

*Original first pressing on C.D. Made in Japan as part of the "Past Masters" series.

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Hard Rock
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© 1975-1989 Chrysalis Music Ltd.
AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia
Michael Schenker and Phil Mogg really started to find their groove as a songwriting team with their second album together (and fourth UFO release overall), Force It. In fact, the last remaining folk and space rock tendencies that had stolen much of Phenomenon's thunder are summarily abandoned here, as the group launches itself wholeheartedly toward the hard rock direction that would make them stars. The first step is taken by Schenker, of course, who confidently establishes the aggressive, biting guitar tone that would define all the releases of the band's glory years. "Let It Roll" and "Shoot Shoot" kick off the album in rousing fashion, and while holding them under a microscope might reveal them as rather disposable slabs of hard rock, they would remain concert favorites for the band nonetheless. The punchy single "Love Lost Love" sounds tailor-made for the American market and acoustic ballad "High Flyer" is quite good, despite taking a dip in energy. But things only really start to gell on the album's second half. Schenker and Mogg wheel out their most mature composition yet with the piano-led "Out in the Street," whose softer sections truly highlight Mogg's highly disciplined, understated vocal style and make the guitar player's more restrained soloing all the more memorable. Schenker is soon back in charge, however, on the stuttering riffs and blistering fretboard work of "Mother Mary" and the downright vicious stop-start strut of "This Kids" -- both UFO anthems. One of the band's best albums, Force It will not disappoint lovers of '70s English hard rock.

tags: ufo, force it, 1975, reissue,

Melanie C - This Time (2007)

*U.K. release. Contains 1 bonus track and 13 tracks total.

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Pop, Pop Rock
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© 2007 Red Girl Records
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
This Time around, Melanie C has decided to abandon any pretense that she either makes sprightly dance-pop or that she was once known as "Indie Spice" and devotes herself entirely to smooth, pseudo-sophisticated adult pop, the kind of stuff that's ideal for background music at dinner parties consisting of nothing but small plates. There are traces of Coldplay and muted Robbie Williams, along with a fair sampling of Texas and Dido, and it's all blended together into something that's sleek but not stylish, atmospheric without being moody, melodic without being hooky. Melanie C does just fine as a vocalist -- her thin voice has gained some character, she's learned how to milk turns of phrases to give them the appearance of emotion -- but the songs are so middle-brow mid-tempo that it's hard to care for such subtle innovations. Only when the failed single "I Want Candy" comes around as a bonus track at the end does the pulse quicken, but by that point it's too late: the album has long since done its job and lulled listeners into a soothing sleep.

tags: melanie c, this time, 2007, flac,

Melanie C - The Sea (2011)

*European release. Contains 1 bonus track and 12 tracks total.

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Pop, Electronic, Pop Rock
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© 2011 Red Girl Records
AllMusic Review by Jon O'Brien
It's difficult to remember a time when Spice Girls' solo careers weren't met with either total apathy or utter bemusement, but at the start of the noughties, Melanie C appeared poised to become the Robbie Williams of the group, with debut Northern Star racking up over a millions sales, spawning two U.K. number one singles, and sticking two fingers up to the skeptics who argued that a girl-band singer, best known for doing back flips in track suits would never appeal to an older album-buying audience. Unfortunately, it's all been downhill since then, and after taking herself too seriously on 2003's underperforming Reason, her solo career has fallen the wayside of her former bandmates', with the self-pitying pub rock of 2005's Beautiful Intentions and 2007's more encouraging but still slightly bland This Time failing to make any kind of impact whatsoever. But while the rest of the Spice Girls appear content to concentrate their efforts on trashy reality shows and fashion ranges, the artist formerly known as Sporty Spice continues to persevere with what she became famous for, as evident on her fifth studio album, The Sea. The good news is that while the four-year gap between her first and second record killed her career, the same lengthy time away this time around appears to have rejuvenated it, as its 11 tracks, co-written with the likes of Starsailor's James Walsh, Guy Chambers, and Spice/Spiceworld producer Richard Stannard, are the most mature and accomplished she's produced in over a decade. Drenched in luscious cinematic strings, the tribal drums and new age melodies of the title track, the Latin-tinged percussion of "Weak," and the twinkling, ambient electronica of the epic eight-minute "Enemy," feature the kind of orchestral production which show that Melanie's sometimes rough-around-the-edges tones have pleasantly mellowed somewhat: "Think About It" and "Stupid Game" are bombastic Katy Perry/Kelly Clarkson-esque pop/rock anthems which prove she can still compete with those who were barely in their teens during the peak of Spicemania, while the grandiose "Get Out of Here" sounds like Muse's cover of "Feeling Good" crossed with a John Barry James Bond score. The X-Factor winner's "Beautiful Mind" and '80s-inspired "Drown" are perhaps just two string-soaked ballads too many, while "Burn," with its simplistic, childlike production, is pure synth pop by numbers. But The Sea is still a huge leap forward from her past three efforts, and had it been released as the follow-up to Northern Star, rather than 12 years down the line, it could possibly have sustained her initial solo success.

tags: melanie c, the sea, 2011, flac,