September 29, 2017

Krokus - Rock The Block (2003)

Country: Switzerland
Language: English
Genre: Hard Rock
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© 2003 Reality Entertainment
AllMusic Review by Greg Prato
When AC/DC exploded on the charts in the early '80s (thanks to the blockbuster classics Back in Black and Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap), there suddenly seemed to be legions of groups that sonically emulated the group -- especially their "Bon Scott era." Included in this "pack" were Rose Tattoo, Angels (also known as Angel City), and Heaven. But the one that enjoyed the most success stateside was Switzerland's Krokus, thanks in part to a plumb opening spot on Def Leppard's sold-out Pyromania tour, and moderate hit albums (1983's Headhunter and 1984's The Blitz). But the group (which was fronted by Marc Storace, undoubtedly one of the more interesting-looking singers in metal history) was unable to sustain its success and, throughout the '90s and early 21st century, would reunite for new albums and tours, with various members coming and going. 2003's Rock the Block was the first Krokus release to see Storace behind the mic in some time, and unlike when they were obviously trying to score a glossy radio hit in the mid-'80s, Rock the Block sees a band that has gotten back to its AC/DC roots, as evidenced by such tracks as "Mad World" and "I Want It All."

tags: krokus, rock the block, 2003,

Krokus - Hoodoo (2010)

Country: Switzerland
Language: English
Genre: Hard Rock
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© 2010 Columbia/Sony Records
AllMusic Review by Alexey Eremenko
The best AC/DC impersonators in the world are back, and they're rocking as hard as ever. Hoodoo was hailed as a comeback album for Krokus, but for a band that was established in 1974 and went through a number of hiatuses, a four-year gap between records is just one milestone among many. There's honestly little that needs to be said about the music on Hoodoo, because the AC/DC reference really sums it all up: this is dirty, swaggering rock & roll, a heap of primitive bluesy riffs piled over a nondescript rhythm section that is there for the sole purpose of compelling the listener to tramp down that accelerator pedal on the highway. The lyrics are even simpler that those of AC/DC, and Marc Storace is a clone of Bon Scott, though maybe a tad less rowdy, naughty, and lewdly suggestive in approach -- not for lack of trying, of course. In the past, Krokus were known to dabble in a number of styles, right down to symphonic prog of their roots, but this is all in the past, and Hoodoo is as solid as a wrecking ball, with the exception of "Ride into the Sun" and "Firestar." The former is a more serious, midtempo number, equally similar to AC/DC's "Hail Caesar" and Def Leppard's output circa 1983 (the Lepps had their own song named "Ride into the Sun," but this has nothing to do with the Krokus title). As for the closer, it's an ultra-raw proto-power metal song in the vein of early Grave Digger -- a nice direction, but not explored enough on the album. Generally, the sort of hard rock found on Hoodoo stopped being original around the time of Perestroika, but novelty isn't its main selling point anyway. The best testament to the quality of this record is the fact that a cover of "Born to Be Wild" blends right in without dwarfing the rest of the songs, even though those songs are 30 years too late to be classics of the same caliber.

tags: krokus, hoodoo, 2010,

Krokus - Round 13 (1999)

Country: Switzerland
Language: English
Genre: Hard Rock
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© 1999 Phonag
AllMusic Review by Jason Anderson
After yet another in a series of near-complete lineup overhauls, Fernando Von Arb and a group of musicians calling themselves Krokus released this nondescript metal throwback on Angel Air in 2000. Titles like "Suck My Guitar," "Gypsy Love," and "Wild Times" would have been scoffed at during the group's Headhunter heyday 17 years previous, which makes their presence curious on Round 13. Unfortunately, old habits are hard to break. Speaking of old habits, no Krokus record would be complete without a note-for-note AC/DC rip-off, and "Witchhunter" fulfills that requirement with a more-than-familiar Highway to Hell-era guitar performance. Vocalist Carl Sentance doesn't ape Bon Scott or Brian Johnson the way that earlier Krokus screamers had, but such mimicry is almost this group's trademark, so the nondescript efforts of Von Arb, Sentance, guitarist Chris Lauper, bassist Many Maurer, and drummer Peter Haas end up sounding like so much '80s truck-commercial rock. A small group of Krokus loyalists still existed at the turn of the century, and this apparently necessitated the making of another dated record from Von Arb and whomever he happened to bump into at the studio, but Round 13 cannot be recommended, even to the most obsessive and misguided Krokus/Von Arb fans.

tags: krokus, round 13, 1999,

Krokus - Hellraiser (Limited Edition) (2006)

*Limited edition release. Contains 1 bonus track and 15 tracks total.

Country: Switzerland
Language: English
Genre: Hard Rock
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© 2006 AFM Records
AllMusic Review by Greg Prato
Thirty years after their self-titled debut album first appeared, Krokus are back for more with 2006's Hellraiser. Prior to the album's recording, the group suffered quite a blow when longtime guitarist Fernando Von Arb (who had appeared on seemingly just about every single Krokus album) had to exit the band due to complications from wrist surgery. But instead of packing it up and calling it a day, Krokus has decided to soldier on, with Mandy Meyer (who played with the band during the mid-'80s) taking Von Arb's spot. Singer Marc Storace remains behind the mic, and on such tunes as the album-opening title track and "No Risk No Gain," he still seems to be evoking the spirit of AC/DC's Bon Scott. Elsewhere, the dual guitars of "Angel of My Dreams" bring to mind Iron Maiden. Hellraiser finds Krokus following the same game plan that made them headbanger favorites for a spell during the mid-'80s.

tags: krokus, hellraiser, hell raiser, limited edition, 2006,

P.O.D. - Testify (2006)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: N眉-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: N眉-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: N眉-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, N眉-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 26, 2017

Krokus - Change of Address (1986)

Country: Switzerland
Language: English
Genre: Hard Rock
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© 1986 Artista Records
AllMusic Review by Jason Anderson
Change of Address is plainly one of the worst efforts from Swiss metal band Krokus. After the loud and energetic outfit had their single mega-hit years earlier with Headhunter, a not-so-gradual creative decline ensued that perhaps culminated (but didn't end) with the release of this limp recording. Artists like Bon Jovi and Def Leppard were re-categorizing metal during the mid-'80s, as the genre suddenly gained a huge mainstream audience thereby creating a commercial opportunity that caused many so-so metal acts to abandon their heavier musical roots. The resulting power-chord pop on records like Change of Address was consistently clich茅 and worthless. There is hardly any point in describing songs with titles like "Hard Luck Hero" and "Burning Up the Night," but they are, of course, laughably dopey and not at all ironic. People who appreciate hard rock and metal from this era's master practitioners (Iron Maiden and Judas Priest most notably) can hardly stomach records like Change of Address, as these sickly offerings had a very destructive influence on heavy metal/hard rock.

tags: krokus, change of address, 1986,

Krokus - The Blitz (1984)

Country: Switzerland
Language: English
Genre: Hard Rock
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© 1984 Arista Records
AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia
Stylistically, The Blitz pretty much picked up where Krokus' breakthrough, Headhunter, left off. But ultimately, it failed to equal its predecessor's platinum sales, grinding to a halt just past gold status. A shambolic cover of the Sweet's "Ballroom Blitz" (which didn't sound all that great in its original version) is especially painful, and tepid rockers like "Out to Lunch" and "Hot Stuff" simply fail to excite. Still, "Midnite Maniac" was arguably the band's best single ever, and "Our Love" their most accomplished power ballad so far. Other cuts like "Rock the Nation" and "Out of Control" actually show some promise, but with clich茅d titles like these, how could they ever expect to stand out? Overall, The Blitz must still be considered a highlight of Krokus' career, but that ain't saying much.

tags: krokus, the blitz, 1984,

Krokus - Stampede (1990)

Country: Switzerland
Language: English
Genre: Hard Rock
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© 1990 Phonag Records
AllMusic Review by Jason Anderson
One of the most interesting recordings in the Krokus discography, Stampede was not at all timely, but with its distinctly non-Krokus lineup -- including the derivative but talented vocalist Peter Tanner -- this 1990 release works as well or better than many of the band's more recognized offerings. Like his predecessor, Marc Storace, Tanner supremely rips off an AC/DC vocalist. But there's a catch; on tracks like the tragically titled "Rock and Roll Gypsy" the singer apes Brian Johnson instead of Bon Scott (whom Storace plagiarized famously). What makes things even more interesting, Tanner does a much better job (or at least a more listenable one) by occasionally riffing on Accept's Udo Dirkschneider to form an amalgam that's briefly compelling. Joining Tanner on Stampede are first-time Krokus members Manny Maurer (guitars), Tony Castell (guitars), Peter Haas (drums), and longtime Krokus guitarist/songwriter Fernando Von Arb, who curiously plays bass on this record. The power metal of the opening title track is Stampede's absolute highlight, with its tight riffing and layered choruses. From there it's mostly downhill, but the production, writing, and performances are as good as anything released by Krokus since Headhunter. Stampede isn't exactly a real Krokus recording, but it is one of the finest discs with the group's name printed on the cover.

tags: krokus, stampede, 1990,

Krokus - Heart Attack (1988)

*Original first pressing on C.D.
Country: Switzerland
Language: English
Genre: Hard Rock
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© 1988 MCA Records
AllMusic Review by Jason Anderson
While released during the mid-'80s creative nadir of veteran metal outfit Krokus, and while generally derivative, 1987's Heart Attack was a significant improvement from the previous year's offering, Change of Address. By shamelessly aping years-old metal hits from Def Leppard and Judas Priest on the two opening cuts "Everybody Rocks" and "Wild Love," Krokus made it clear that they still weren't up to creating anything of their own on Heart Attack. But, fortunately, the superior production and arrangements make these tracks, and the entire release, more listenable than its predecessor. A few cuts like "Speed Up" and "Flyin' High" do deserve credit for not being shameless rip-offs of specific commercial metal hits. In fact, these tracks aren't really bad at all, but, unfortunately, that's about the best that can be said for this disc. There are a couple nice riffs, but the dated drum sounds, the clich茅-ridden titles and lyrics, and the foolish reconstruction of more successful recordings make Heart Attack an impossible recommendation.

tags: krokus, heart attack, 1986,

Krokus - Headhunter (1988)⚓

*Original first pressing on C.D.
Country: Switzerland
Language: English
Genre: Hard Rock
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© 1983-1988 Artista Records
AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia
Swiss rockers Krokus had already been around the bend a number of times by the time they scored their first (and only) American platinum success with 1983's Headhunter. Shameless bandwagon hoppers that they were (their origins lay in cheesy, late-'70s progressive rock), the band at least deserve credit for mixing their musical stew just right on this occasion. The results include the frenetic title track, a highly competent power ballad in "Screaming in the Night," and their biggest hit -- a reworking of Bachman Turner Overdrive's "Stayed Awake All Night." Mid-tempo rockers such as "Eat the Rich" and "Russian Winter" also receive energetic performances from the band, but singer Marc Storace generally makes a nuisance of himself with his grating screech, which falls somewhere between Bon Scott and Accept's Udo Dirkschneider. Though their ridiculous attempt to emulate the pop-metal posturing of the day (guitarist Fernando Von Arb's incessant pouting remains an especially horrifying image) would do them little good, Headhunter, at least, remains Krokus' finest moment.

tags: krokus, headhunter, head hunter, 1983,

Krokus - To Rock or Not To Be (2002 Reissue)

*Reissued in 2002 by CD-Maximum. Contains 1 bonus track and 13 tracks total.

Country: Switzerland
Language: English
Genre: Hard Rock
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© 1995-2002 CD-Maximum
AllMusic Review by Jason Anderson
The first recording in years to feature classic Krokus members Marc Storace (on vocals) and guitarist/songwriter Fernando Van Arb (who together led the group to the top of the '80s metal heap during the Headhunter Blitz period), To Rock or Not to Be was a successful return to form for the Nordic metal veterans. Storace's Bon Scott impersonation actually seems to have improved with age, and on tracks like "Flying Through the Night," it's almost impossible not to think that the AC/DC screamer hasn't risen from the dead. The overall effect is enhanced by Van Arb's direct approach to power chording and song construction. Too many pseudo power metal choruses and unforgivable lyrics on tracks like the title cut and "Stop the World" keep the record from being the genuinely cool tribute to the band's early (and derivative) crunch that it should be. Considering how many years separated Krokus from their gold and platinum days, however, To Rock or Not to Be is a respectable disc that fans of the group may very well enjoy.

 tags: krokus, to rock or not to be, 1995, 2002, flac, reissue,

Krokus - Metal Rendez-vous (1980)

*Original first pressing on C.D.
Country: Switzerland
Language: English
Genre: Hard Rock
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© 1980-1987 Artista Records
AllMusic Review by Adam Bregman
Heavy on the cheese, Krokus' Metal Rendez-Vous is a fairly enjoyable record, though more than a little silly. The butt of jokes even within the mostly irony-free metal world, Krokus were major poseurs jumping from prog rock to glam metal in timely fashion as trends changed in the late '70s. They eventually stuck with the glam metal thing, milking it for all it was worth, and were quite successful. This record catches them with a little bit of AC/DC-style swagger and plenty of wanky guitar solos. The song "Tokyo Nights" for some reason features a reggae beat halfway through. The album has other surprises, like the way over-the-top power ballad "Streamer," which is incredibly ridiculous and dated. But Metal Rendez-Vous definitely has some kitsch value and, like Spinal Tap, is occasionally very funny, though in Krokus' case, it is definitely an unconscious thing. Despite that, they do know how to rock and can play their instruments better than your average poodle-haired metal dudes.

tags: krokus, metal rendez vous, 1980, flac,

Krokus - To You All (1977)

*Reissued by Sound Service. No reissue date is provided in the CD booklet, inlay or in the credits.

Country: Switzerland
Language: English
Genre: Hard Rock
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© 1977-?? Sound Service
AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia
After doing their part to destroy progressive rock's good name with their eponymous first album's "everything but the kitchen sink" songwriting schizophrenia, Krokus started feeling their way toward a far less complicated and ultimately more successful form of hard rock with their 1977 sophomore album, To You All. Indeed, only guitarist Tommy Kiefer and drummer -- now vocalist -- Chris Von Rohr remained from that ill-starred debut's recording lineup, and although they were backed by yet another short-lived rhythm section here (comprised of bassist J眉rg Naegeli and drummer Freddy Steady), To You All is notable for heralding the arrival of second guitarist Fernando Von Arb, who would eventually take charge of the band during its mid-'80s glory years. Unfortunately, those years still seemed like an almost impossible dream in light of the frustratingly mixed results presented here, as Krokus insisted on diluting their increasingly cohesive heavy rock numbers, like the glam-flavored title track, the Kiss-like "Mr. Greedy," and the Southern rock candidate "Lonesome Rider," with unsatisfying bland pop diversions like "Move It On," "Trying Hard," and their especially painful descent into tepid MOR on "Festival" (although it did conclude with an unexpectedly heavy guitar riff borrowed from Frank Zappa's "Muffin Man"). For all of these inconsistencies, To You All did yield Krokus' first domestic hit with rambunctious opener "Highway Song," and this, along with Von Rohr's imminent hard rock enlightenment while attending an AC/DC concert, effectively paved the way to the group's hard rock rebirth and subsequent recruitment of Bon Scott sound-alike Marc Storace.        

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Krokus - Hardware (1981)

*Original first pressing on C.D.
Country: Switzerland
Language: English
Genre: Hard Rock
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© 1981-1992 Ariola Records
AllMusic Review by Andy Hinds
Krokus' generic, by-the-numbers approach to '80s hard rock isn't particularly well represented here (the band would reach its apex on 1983's Headhunter), although there are a few good songs -- the album's opening and closing tracks, "Burning Bones" and "Celebration," respectively, are its best, and the steely ballad "Winning Man" (later virtually rewritten as "Screaming in the Night") is worthwhile. But stinkers like "Smelly Nelly" are just inexcusable.

tags: krokus, hardware, hard ware, 1981, flac,

Krokus - One Vice At a Time (1982)

*Original first pressing on C.D.
Country: Switzerland
Language: English
Genre: Hard Rock
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© 1982-1992 Ariola Records
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson
Why does an MC go from preaching a positive, uplifting message of African-American pride to celebrating drugs and promiscuity? Why does a serious jazz saxophonist suddenly give up hard bop and start emulating Kenny G? And why does a gutsy, risk-taking alternative country artist end up playing it safe and turning into yet another Shania Twain or Garth Brooks clone? It's simple -- the artist gets sick of struggling, takes a look at the marketplace and decides to go with what is profitable instead of sticking to his/her creative guns. Krokus was a lot like that. The Swiss headbangers didn't start out as headbangers; they were originally a progressive rock outfit along the lines of Yes, Genesis, and ELP. But when the band didn't get anywhere commercially, it decided to cash in on metal's popularity and started emulating AC/DC. Krokus' detractors would argue that One Vice at a Time is the work of a poor man's AC/DC -- and, to be sure, this 1982 LP is formulaic and contrived. But while Krokus wasn't easy to respect or admire, it was easy to like. AC/DC-minded tunes like "Save Me" and "Long Stick Goes Boom" aren't very imaginative, but they're infectious and enjoyable nonetheless. From Krokus' own songs to a cover of the Guess Who's "American Woman," everything on this album is catchy. Is One Vice at a Time derivative and shamelessly unoriginal? Yes. But it's still a fun record and ends up being a very guilty pleasure.

tags: krokus, one vice at a time, 1982, flac,

Krokus - Pay It In Metal (1978)

*U.S. release. Unofficially released by Mercury Records No reissue date is provided in the CD booklet. The original album title is "Pain Killer" Both versions have identical track listings and track total (10 tracks total.)
Country: Switzerland
Language: English
Genre: Hard Rock
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© 1978-?? Mercury Records
AllMusic Review by Jason Anderson
Including its original Painkiller Europe-only artwork, Pay It in Metal had at least three covers, with the Mercury Records "Talking Banana" U.S. version being the one generally associated with this ten-song 1978 release. As the group was taking a distinctly heavier, fuzzier, more "metal" approach, perhaps this re-titling of Painkiller made good business sense as it suggested the crunchier sound of Marc Storace-fronted big-sellers like Metal Rendez-Vous and Headhunter. Instead, Pay It in Metal is distinctly un-metallic, with original vocalist Chris Von Rohr putting his best boogie foot forward on top of Fernando Von Arb's up-beat blues-rock and Southern-fried riffs. The hard-edged good-time rock on Pay It in Metal basically works, but withers when compared to masters of the era like AC/DC -- a group Krokus outwardly mimicked years later. Fans of '70s hard rock, curious about the genre's second-tier artists, would do better purchasing a dozen different April Wine and Triumph offerings before considering Pay It in Metal.              

September 24, 2017

Queensr每che - American Soldier (2009)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Heavy Metal
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© 2009 Rhino/ATCO Records
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek
Queensr每che always seem to work best in high concept. Who can argue that Operation: Mindcrime was one of the greatest metal concept albums of all time -- and arguably one of the finest that rock & roll in general ever produced. When they revisited it with OMII, in order to finish the story, they went back to use '80s production techniques to give the album a sense of continuity with its predecessor -- and it worked like a charm. Rather than conspiracy and control, this time out Queensr每che -- vocalist Geoff Tate, guitarist Michael Wilton, bassist Ed Jackson, and drummer Scott Rockenfield -- turn their attention to another high concept setting: American soldiers in harm's way. But rather than simply politicizing their subject from an outsider's point of view, they place the stories firmly in the camp of the subjects. This set is a hard-rocking, loosely woven story about war from the point of view of those in the United States Armed Forces. The 12 songs on American Soldier reflect on every perception of war from the inside -- Tate read dozens if not hundreds of accounts of servicemen, from WWII through Vietnam and both Gulf Wars. Songs are interspersed with recorded voices of servicemen relating their stories in either brief samples or slightly longer interludes. Musically, the album is more melodic than any Queensr每che set in recent memory. Tate channels his inner David Bowie to full effect -- but not affect. Tunes such as "At 30,000 Feet" walk a thin line between rock ballad and power-chord anthem. "Sliver," the set's opener, charges out of the gate but with one major difference: producers Jason Slater and Kelly Gray allow for a muddier sound here, even with the various atmospheric overdubs. "The Killer," in the middle of the disc, is written from the point of view of a returning Vietnam vet who is encountering cries of "baby killer" in the streets of his neighborhood. The chanted refrains, multi-layered guitars, and popping snares add anthemic weight in the chorus, but the rest of the track sprawls with haunted vocals by Tate.
American Soldier is sometimes difficult to come to grips with musically. It's not a lack of focus per se, but more a purposely ambitious ambivalence on the part of the bandmembers trying to pack as much as they can in the mix, even when it's too much. Most cuts are equal parts hooks and heaviness, but quizzically, never at the same time. Each track functions as its own rock & roll puzzle that sprawls as much as its hones in. The one track that flat-out doesn't work is the album's only ballad, "Home Again." It begins with a reminiscence by a soldier trying to relate his experience, and gives way to Tate in Bowie storytelling mode with a duet vocal by Tate's daughter Emma. The tempo is pure drama, and with its reverb-heavy atmospherics, lilting acoustic guitars, and narrative structure that offers a series of exchanged letters, it falters under its weight. Ultimately, though, that's a small complaint for such an ambitious project. For the most part, these guys have a solid sense of their strengths as a band, and it must be said that Queensr每che keep the preaching to a minimum while still managing to relate hard truth in a populist way. This is a very fine album that takes on a very hot and noteworthy -- as well as timeless -- topic that no one else has had the guts to take on in such a grand scale thus far.

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Queensr每che - Dedicated To Chaos (2011)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Heavy Metal
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© 2011 Roadrunner Records
AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia
At first glance, the title of Queensr每che's eleventh studio album, Dedicated to Chaos, seems strangely at odds with the track record of one of heavy metal's most cerebral and civilized bands; but, on second thought, it's actually a perfect summation of the Seattle group's uninterrupted musical evolution from album to album throughout its storied career, frequently to the chagrin of its loyal fans. Ironically, though, even the band's single, obvious attempt at repeating itself via 2006's Operation: Mindcrime II arguably upset more fans than not, so what does that say about Queensr每che's chances of remaining a vital, relevant musical entity instead of geriatric participants in the heavy rock nostalgia circuit inhabited by most other veteran outfits of their pedigree? Clearly not much, if not even long-term supporters appear willing to respect, never mind appreciate, each 'R每che album's quest for individuality, which, not surprisingly, sees Dedicated to Chaos taking another strange, unprecedented twist. This time, most songs are built from the ground up on strong rhythmic foundations, stopping just short of overt electronics, resulting in culprits like the eastern strains and funk of "Got It Bad," the paranoid string-sections of "Higher," and the ice-cool cocaine soul of "Drive." But this only covers the album's dominant facet and, looking a little deeper, one also finds the Spartan hard rock of "Get Started," where the band gets their inner AC/DC groove on, the haunting "Broken," which amazingly combines Sinatra's Only the Lonely and Bowie's Berlin period; the cinematic "At the Edge," which moves drastically from metallic familiarity to alien techno rave; as well as several rather forgettable tunes ("Around the World," "I Believe," "LuvnU") that simply leave no lasting impression. What's more, as has been the case with most Queensr每che LPs, post-Promised Land and the subsequent departure of chief songwriter Chris DeGarmo, inconsistency is ultimately the problem here. Yet then, just when mediocrity and disorienting novelty begin to overwhelm, along come tracks like "Hot Spot Junkie" and "Retail Therapy" that actually resemble distant cousins of '90s Empire -- several generations and pure genetic strains removed from their pristine forefathers, but welcome old friends nonetheless. Still, it's no use: Queensr每che are virtually unrecognizable nowadays, which is possibly worse than ripping themselves off. Not that anyone has been able to agree on the matter for at least the past decade in the band's career: Queensr每che can't win, and their fans can't win. Stalemate.

tags: queensryche, dedicated to chaos, 2011, flac,

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'锚tre), "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,