October 31, 2018

Suffocation - Breeding The Spawn (1993)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Death Metal
Style: Technical Death Metal
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© 1993 Roadrunner Records
AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia
With its head-spinning compositional intricacies and city-block-leveling ferocity, Suffocation's first album, Effigy of the Forgotten, provided a veritable blueprint for '90s death metal; so it was pretty much a given that the resulting heightened expectations would pile the ruble left in its wake into a peak much too high for its successor to possibly surmount. Sure enough, 1993's Breeding the Spawn, was widely panned by pundits and fans for a variety of reasons, ranging from its short length to its perceived repetition of the predecessor's overall formula (hardly fair considering the continued complexity of each and every song), and, perhaps most accurately, its inexplicably muddy final mix, which critically lacked the same, bass-heavy qualities as Effigy. No doubt, the last definitely served to dampen the flesh-piercing capacity of otherwise razor sharp onslaughts such as "Beginning of Sorrow," "Anomalistic Offerings" and the title track, while rendering secondary tracks like "Marital Decimation" and "Ornaments of Decrepancy" into so much death metal mush. The band's performance itself certainly didn't lack for intensity, though, with guitarists Doug Cerrito and Terrance Hobbs going about their hyperactive business with as much blazing technique as ever before (even if some of it was lost in the general cacophony), drummer Mike Smith battening the hatches with his distinctive, manual blastbeat playing style, and resident Cookie Monster impersonator, Frank Mullen, raving unintelligibly but convincingly above it all -- as expected. When all is said and done, no one will debate the fact that Breeding the Spawn failed to pick up the gauntlet thrown down by Suffocation's preceding '90s metal boilerplate, but it hardly stinks up their legacy either, and is therefore still recommended to die-hard fans of the group

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Suffocation - Souls To Deny (2004)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Death Metal
Style: Technical Death Metal
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© 2004 Relapse Records
AllMusic Review by William York
Souls to Deny is Suffocation's first release since 1998's Despise the Sun EP, and their first full-length since 1995's Pierced From Within. Since they'd been on hiatus for a while, this is technically a "reunion album," but it doesn't feel like one. Interestingly, Suffocation haven't really changed their basic style much at all since those earlier releases, yet this album still sounds completely current in terms of the present-day death metal scene -- probably because so many bands continue to be influenced by Suffocation's early- to mid-'90s albums. However, even though the surface-level characteristics of the band's sound haven't changed, there is still plenty of ingenuity and sleight-of-hand happening below the surface. Standouts include opener "Deceit," the title track, "Immortally Condemned," and the amazing "Demise of the Clone," whose cyclical riffs give the odd impression of repeating while at the same time having no beginning or end. The song offers a concise summary of what makes this band so revered by death metal aficionados. There seems to be a sort of hidden logic at work in it, since it's hard for even an astute listener to figure out what's going on in terms of the song structure, yet it obviously all makes perfect sense to the band, who deliver this perplexing material with a natural, freely flowing sense of brutality. Many bands have attempted to copy Suffocation's sound, and most of them are extremely boring because they either don't grasp the subtleties or don't have the intuition that these guys obviously possess as songwriters and musicians. "Souls to Deny" is a reminder of what makes good death metal good, and a refreshing break from the uninspired landfill fodder that constitutes so much of the genre's output circa the early- to mid-'00s.

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Suffocation - Suffocation (2006)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Death Metal
Style: Technical Death Metal
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© 2006 Relapse Records
AllMusic Review by Greg Prato
Regardless of wheter you're a death metalhead or not, you have to respect a group like Suffocation -- for being around as long as they've been, and for continually sticking to their guns through thick and thin. Trends may come and go, but you can always count on the Suffocation chaps for a healthy dose of punishing drumbeats, frantic doomsday riffing, and vocals so devilish that Beelzebub himself is probably green with envy. The group's 2006 self-titled release offers more of the same, but that's obviously the way the boys like it, as evidenced by such assaults on the senses as "Abominations Reborn" (on which drummer Mike Smith offers some impressive metronome-like beats), while you know what you're in for by just gazing at such other song titles as "Bind Torture Kill." Longtime Suffocation fanatics will surely be pleased.

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Earshot - Letting Go (2002)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Alternative Metal
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© 2002 Warner Bros. Records
AllMusic Review by Bradley Torreano
Earshot's debut album for Warner Bros. is a tense mixture of various alternative metal styles that were popular in the late '90s. More than any other band, Earshot sounds a lot like Tool. Now there are lots of bands who can lay claim to sounding like that band, but this could have easily been a lost Tool album and no one would look twice. Vocalist Will Martin can be a perfect clone for Maynard Keenan at times, although he also bears a striking resemblance to Ultraspank's Pete Murray. Tracks like "Get Away" and "Wake Up" are solid tracks that might be predictable, but retain their power and come across nicely. This is also a band that is not afraid to mess around with tempo, stopping songs in the middle and generally being very experimental with their general setup. But what they might fail to realize is that Tool is perhaps the ultimate experimental metal band, and they make this sort of metal better than any other band in this era. Earshot has a lot of potential, but on this debut they stick too close to a formula that was concocted by a band that does it better.

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Earshot - Two (2004) ☠

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Alternative Metal
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☠: Selected by Lass
© 2004 Warner Bros. Records
Review by Allmusic.com
Listening to the doom and gloom that permeates Earshot's sophomore effort, the initial sonic resemblance to Tool is striking. Although guitar-playing vocalist Wil Martin sounds like Tool's Maynard Keenan at times, Earshot manages to stake its own musical claim via the churning guitars of Mike Callahan and Scott Kohler and the pulsing rhythm section of bassist Johnny Sprague and drummer Chas Stumbo. Betrayal and angst are the orders of the day throughout the hills and valleys of these potent songs. Here Martin touches on plenty of dark subject matter, be it a horrible break-up (a tormented "Tongue-Tied"), or a desperate escape from a grim situation (the soaring "Goodbye"). However, Earshot does find a silver lining amid all the bad scenarios, particularly the epic "Nice to Feel the Sun," featuring a throng of howling choruses and crashing chords. With TWO, Earshot encapsulates emotional wear-and-tear in a heavy yet engaging package.

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Earshot - The Silver Lining (2008)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Alternative Metal
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© 2008 In De Goot Recordings
AllMusic Review by Eric Schneider
Issued in 2008, THE SILVER LINING presents a collection of straightforward heavy-rock tunes by the Los Angeles-based act Earshot. Often recalling a much more accessible and streamlined Tool, particularly in the dramatic vocals of Wil Martin, the ensemble charges through angst-ridden, guitar-driven tracks such as “Don’t Hate Me” and “Beside Myself.”

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Boys Like Girls - Love Drunk (2009) ☠

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Pop Rock, Alternative Rock
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☠: Selected by Lass
© 2009 Columbia Records
AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra
Boys Like Girls' self-titled debut album was an unexpected success, eventually going gold. Devoid of any hit singles or a truly distinctive sound, the album seemed to catch on because it was a perfect distillation of the emo pop sound with no rough edges to scare people away. For the follow-up, 2009's Love Drunk, the band sticks to the same basic template of super slick, glossily produced emo pop with uptempo songs that sound stadium singalong-friendly and ballads that seem destined to melt teenage girls' hearts. The difference this time is that the songs are better-written and hookier, especially the rockers. "She's Got a Boyfriend Now" and "Contagious" sound like 2000s updates of the classic '80s sound of pop/rockers like Bryan Adams and Rick Springfield; "Real Thing" even conjures up the red leather and headbanded ghost of Loverboy. Strip away a few of the modern things like Auto-Tune and programmed drums, and there you are. These very catchy, super fun rockers comprise two-thirds of the album, the strongest part of the record and a definite improvement over the debut; it's the other third of the record that poses a problem. The band dabbled in balladry on the first album, but they weren't the kind of syrupy acoustic guitar and violin weepers that are on display here. The three songs that slow things down on Love Drunk slow things down to a complete stop and threaten to derail the album entirely -- a case in point being the truly terrible "Two Is Better Than One," which features vocals from Taylor Swift and sounds like something Diane Warren would have shelved for being too trite and formulaic. The other two aren't much better, and they sound like the work of a completely different band. Take them off the record and you're left with a very good pop/rock record with emo leanings. Leave them on and you need to do some programming. Either way, this is a much better record than their debut -- and that in itself is an impressive feat.

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Boys Like Girls - Boys Like Girls (2006) ☠

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Pop Rock, Alternative Rock
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☠: Selected by Lass
© 2006 Red Ink/Columbia Records
AllMusic Review by Corey Apar
Oh, Boys Like Girls. With their eponymous debut for Red Ink, the Boston quartet marks its entry into the effervescent world of sugary, emo-blasted pop/rock. They've got the gleaming guitars, urgent vocals, and driving rhythms propelling three-minute ditties about their hearts, their girls, and those girls who just like to toy with their poor hearts. But unlike similarly styled bands, Boys Like Girls are largely lacking much of anything that could either separate them from the pack or, at the very least, give them more substance to appeal to more than just the teenaged girls who will be singing along enthusiastically at shows while secretly pining for the shaggy-haired, boyish clan. Boys Like Girls are simply without the overwhelming catchiness of the All-American Rejects or the unbridled enthusiasm of the City Drive. Instead, listeners are left with an offering that is almost catchy and enthusiastic. Even the few standouts -- like the summer drive of "The Great Escape" and "Heels Over Head" -- will be pretty hard to recall by the lukewarm album's end. Regardless, those looking for a quick fix will surely eat up the likes of Boys Like Girls.

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October 29, 2018

Giuffria - Giuffria (1984)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hard Rock
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© 1984 MCA Records
AllMusic Review by Doug Stone
Keyboard maestro Gregg Giuffria originally planned to retain the Angel title for his second high-profile cinematic rock show, but the scalding ivories soaring throughout this record prove he's fully in charge, making the Giuffria moniker an apt band name. The long, blond angel always kicks off his projects with some cool keys, and the pulsing prelude to "Do Me Right" overpowers the rest of the song; like much of the album, this track devolves into a standard hair cut with symphonic trappings. Some abrupt occultism flies out of the flip's finale (spookiest cock rock craziness since the rise of Hagar's animal on Three Lock Box). Know now that both Giuffria platters are built around David Glen Eisley's voice, and enjoyment depends on how one takes to his heavy heaving. Plus, typical of this time period, some stuff sears, while some stuff sucks. But wistful weeper "Call to the Heart" rightfully remains Giuffria's crowning achievement and lone chart glory. Poor Giuffria remains a terrain-tethered star who never got off the ground.

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Giuffria - Silk + Steel (1986)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hard Rock
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© 1986 MCA Records
AllMusic Review by Doug Stone
Released back when there was always two sides to every audio story (i.e., side one and side two), Giuffria's second offering houses an interesting concept: polarizing the huffy from the heavy. This is hardly a revolutionary idea, as such was the common format of most AOR at the time, and perhaps for the sake of balance some silk slips into the steel and vice versa, so the record ultimately ends up heavy on the light. The titular titan's bombastic keyboards float like angel feathers amongst David Glen Eisley's lung-busting vocals (Eisley even scats with axeman Lanny Cordola right out of the gate on "No Escape"). The saccharine sweetness of "Love You Forever" and "Girl" isn't sticky enough and makes your teeth hurt, but brief radio-ringer "I Must Be Dreaming" reveals a lovely, plaintive reverie, forerunner to White Lion's wimpy winner "Little Fighter" and arguably even better than the debut's "Call to the Heart" (Giuffria's shining moment on the charts). Silk closer "Change of Heart" mentions "Heart on the Line," a Rick Nielsen number the band covered as House of Lords on Sahara. Obviously these poodle poppers want the airwaves, as demonstrated on the radical "Radio" and through the production gloss of Pat Glasser, the secret of Night Ranger's success. The best steel moment, "Lethal Lover," naturally rules and quotes Journey's "Edge of the Blade" and "Hocus Pocus" by Focus. The slippery-when-wet "Dirty Little Secret" isn't as raunchy as Y&T should be, but boasts some fine playing. Giuffria's whooping keys retain their grandiose uniqueness, and the electric drums are antiquated but not annoying, ditto the blazing fretwork (a dependable hair staple) from Cordola. Honestly, though, except for one jewel on each side, these dudes can't touch Steve Perry and company. The European reissue includes a bonus, "Say It ain't True." Sinister genius Gene Simmons forced the band to change their name and vocalist to become House of Lords.

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La Oreja De Van Gogh - MĂĄs Guapa (2006)

*Contiene un segundo disco con 14 canciones en total. (Contains a second disc with 14 tracks.)

Country: Spain
Language: Spanish (Castellano)
Genre: Latin Pop, Pop Rock
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              *****
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© 2006 Sony BMG Music Entertainment
AllMusic Review by Jason Birchmeier
Like its predecessor, the multi-platinum Lo Que Te ContĂ© Mientras Te HacĂ­as la Dormida (2003), Guapa is a stunning showcase of La Oreja de Van Gogh's talent for crafting an array of nearly perfect pop/rock songs that are memorable and instantly appealing yet also intelligent and unique from one another. While many contemporary pop/rock albums feature a few highlights and a bunch of filler, La Oreja de Van Gogh albums are exceptionally high quality from beginning to end, with any particular song catchy and well-crafted enough to be a potential hit single. For instance, last go round Lo Que Te ContĂ© Mientras Te HacĂ­as la Dormida spawned eight chart hits -- over half the album -- and like its predecessor, Guapa offers a bounty of gems. The dynamic lead single, "Muñeca de Trapo," is the best of them, featuring a chorus powered by a surging guitar riff. The two highlights that follow, "Dulce Locura" and "Perdida," are also explosive. While the quiet-loud-quiet dynamics of these songs aren't as prevalent elsewhere on Guapa, every song boasts a memorable hook, and there's often a palpable tension between guitarist Pablo Benegas, whose riffs tend to overtake the songs during the choruses, and lead vocalist Amaia Montero, whose singing grows intenser whenever the guitar riffs kick in. All of this makes for dramatic and frequently powerful pop/rock -- that is, pop songs that at times truly rock. Toward the latter half of Guapa, after all of the aforementioned highlights have passed, there is a bunch of lighter songs ("Irreversible," "V.O.S.," "Apareces TĂș," "Mi Vida sin Ti," "Cuantos Cuentos Cuento"), which helps relieve some of the earlier tension and closes the album on a fairly relaxed note. [Guapa was subsequently repackaged and re-released as MĂĄs Guapa, a two-disc edition that includes the original album on one disc and a compilation of previously unreleased material on the second disc. Some of the previously unreleased material is from the Guapa sessions, including a couple demos. Highlights include "En Mi Lado del SofĂĄ" and "Nuestro Mundo," both of which are first-rate songs.]

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Aleks Syntek - Mundo Lite (2003)

Country: Mexico
Language: Spanish (Español)
Genre: Latin Pop, Pop Rock
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© 2003 EMI/Virgin Records
AllMusic Review by Jason Birchmeier
Mexican pop/rock genius Aleks Syntek has recorded a lot of great music in his day, and the songs comprising Mundo Lite are no exception. In fact, they just might be some of the best he's ever assembled on one album. From the album-opening electronic textures and guitar hooks of "Tiempos de Paz," it's hard to deny the music of Mundo Lite. And if you're not drawn in from the get-go, the second song, "Duele de Amor," an absolutely beautiful duet with Spanish star Ana Torroja, surely will get you. But don't be mistaken. Syntek may be the epitome of Latin pop, but he's an artist first and foremost. His credits for Mundo Lite read like a laundry list: everything from singing, songwriting, and various instrumentation to engineering, production, and arranging. This guy does it all, and he does it very well. Mundo Lite simply shines in terms of production. It's super-produced without sounding over-produced; shimmering with detail yet clearly defined; full and yet still light and spacious. His singing and instrumentation aren't exactly virtuosic, but they don't need to be. This is pop music -- keeping the proceedings basic and accessible is a key part of the appeal. The only real challenge here is to deny the pull of these songs, as they're lively, feel-good, and really catchy. Highlights are plentiful, to the point where you'll likely find yourself playing Mundo Lite from beginning to end without ever reaching for the track-forward button on your music player (not counting the bonus tracks, which admittedly are a bit too much). Again, it seems a little monotonous to harp on about the talents of Syntek, given his bountiful recording career and all the accolades showered upon him over the years, but it's worth stressing that as great as his past work has been more often than not, Mundo Lite showcases the man in peak form. So much so that the album begs the perennial question: where does he go from here? It's hard to imagine a better, nearer-to-perfect performance from Syntek. Does this man's talent have a limit?

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October 28, 2018

Propaganda - Wishful Thinking (1985)

Country: Germany
Language: English
Genre: Synth Pop
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© 1985 ZZT
AllMusic Review by Evan Cater
In the '80s, remix records were usually either solipsistic synth noodling with very little appeal for the average listener or, worse still, crass commercial attempts to eek a few additional dollars from die hard fans. Propaganda was apparently prepared to answer accusations of that sort. The record jacket for Wishful Thinking, their 1985 collection of remixed "disturbdances" of songs from their debut, A Secret Wish, defends the remix concept with a quotation from Goethe: "and refashioning the fashioned/ lest it stiffen into iron/ is a work of endless vital activity." Somehow Wishful Thinking seems deserving of Goethe's defense. These remixes are vital and original creations in their own right. At times they even seem to surpass the quality of the original poppier versions. The driving dance beats, mesmerizing gothic chords, and swirling ambient guitars create a melancholic ethos of considerable artistic merit. Perhaps the key is the reduction in emphasis on the sometimes grating sing/shout vocals by Claudia Brucken and Susan Freytag. And though some mixes do begin to get dull when they are reduced to thumping bass and grinding drums, the vast majority of this project is more dynamic than that.

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Propaganda - A Secret Wish (1985)

Country: Germany
Language: English
Genre: Synth Pop
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© 1985 ZZT
AllMusic Review by Keith Farley
With guests including David Sylvian, Heaven 17's Glenn Gregory, and Steve Howe, A Secret Wish is synth-rock with an eye toward orchestrated pop as well as a bit of sampler experimentation in the grand ZTT tradition of Art of Noise. There's a distinct lack of songwriting on the album, and though the synth-grooves are tight enough to keep it flowing for most of its length, A Secret Wish occasionally falls flat from its own weight.

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Propaganda - 1234 (1990)

Country: Germany
Language: English
Genre: Synth Pop
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© 1990 Charisma Records
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson
1234 was not only Propaganda's first album for Charisma -- it was also the first album the group had recorded since its legal battle with ZTT, and the first since its personnel changes of 1988. Keyboardist Michael Mertens (Propaganda's only remaining original member) and Simple Minds graduates Derek Forbes (bass) and Brian McGee (drums) were still on board, although singer Claudia Brucken had been replaced by Betsi Miller, an American vocalist who fit in nicely. While 1234 isn't Propaganda's best album and falls short of essential, it's generally decent. "Heaven Give Me Words," "Only One Word," and "Wound in My Heart" are examples of Propaganda doing what it did well: lush, atmospheric synth-pop. Attractive melodies were Propaganda's forté, and the group's post-Brucken lineup provided its share. 1234 is the work of a group that was past its prime, but still had some things to say musically.

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Vio-Lence - Eternal Nightmare (1988) ☠

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Thrash Metal
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☠: Selected by Buccaneer
© 1988 MCA/Mechanic Records
AllMusic Review by John Franck
Almost by definition, every musical genre (and the Bay Area thrash metal scene was no exception) is launched by a small number of outstanding artists who go on to inspire a slew of second and third 'tier' acts (read: followers). Inevitably, these followers manage to ape the originators with varying success, only to fall prey to historical inconsequence shortly thereafter -- Vio-lence is a classic case study. Although never as talented as peers Death Angel or Testament, Vio-Lence survived by being one of the scene's most pro-active underground acts and a much better live act than your run of the mill Forbidden or Heathen. But with the glaring vocal shortcomings of vocalist Sean Killian cramping their style, committing their Exodus-inspired mosh anthems to vinyl on 1988's Eternal Nightmare would prove to be a greater challenge. Still, guitarists Robb Flynn and Phil Demmel manage to spark some excitement into the propulsive title track, the vicious "Kill on Command" and the raging crowd favorite "Serial Killer."

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Vio-Lence - Oppressing The Masses (1990) ☠

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Thrash Metal
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☠: Selected by Buccaneer
© 1990 Atlantic/Megaforce Records
AllMusic Review by John Franck
Massively influenced by Bay Area Thrash legends Exodus, by 1988 Vio-Lence had already released Eternal Nightmare; a promising debut which featured the pile driving "Serial Killer" and "Kill on Command." But when the band's label Mechanic went bust shortly thereafter, the act would join the ranks of Jon Zazula's Megaforce for the release of their sophomore follow-up, Oppressing the Masses in 1990. Ferocious, intricate, and yet, stubbornly a-tonal at times, the album (produced by Alex Perialas-- the man responsible for such thrash classics as Anthrax's Spreading the Disease and Testament's The Legacy) was a somewhat over-ambitious bid to join the big time thrash leagues, but would be let down once again by singer Sean Killian's irritating buzzing bee vocals. Their crunchy, chuga-chuga guitar attack notwithstanding, tracks like seven minute opener "I Profit" and the excellent, rhythmically charged "Officer Nice" are hindered by their sometimes less than-song-oriented approach and an overwhelming debt to scene leaders Exodus. The same can be said for "World in a World" (possibly the album's strongest track), but some of the remaining material, "Mentally Afflicted," "Liquid Courage" (which deals with domestic abuse as seen through the eyes of an alcoholic) and album closer, "Oppressing the Masses" are all solid if somewhat cookie-cutter in their arrangements.

tags: violence, vio-lence, oppressing the masses, 1990, flac,

Vio-Lence - Nothing To Gain (1993)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Thrash Metal
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© 1993 Bleeding Hearts Records
AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia
Vio-Lence didn't so much progress as wait for their singer, the vocally challenged Sean Killian, to catch up to their musical onslaught. And this he finally did on the band's third and final album, Nothing to Gain. Released to deafening indifference at the height of the '90s alternative rock revolution, this no-frills slab of workman-like thrash metal really never had a hope in hell. So whilst mosh-pit friendly jigs like "Atrocity," "Killing Words," and the furious "Twelve Gauge Justice" rank with their most technically accomplished material to date, nothing here compares to their classic "Serial Killer," in terms of over the top thrashing. Guitarist Robb Flynn soon took the hint, and quit the group to launch the very successful Machine Head.

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Morgoth - Cursed (1991)

Country: Germany
Language: English
Genre: Death Metal
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© 1991 Century Media
AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia
Following a couple of quickly recorded but well-crafted (and well-received) EPs to start off their career, German death metal favorites Morgoth finally got the chance to record a full-length album in 1991's Cursed. Now expanded to a quintet, they entered Dortmund's famed Woodhouse Studios with longtime producer Dirk Draeger and cut nine new tracks, then shipped the master tapes to Los Angeles, California, for additional mixing by death metal authority Randy Burns. The resulting Cursed showed a steady stylistic progression from the band's early work, which, from its original impetus as Kreator-styled Teutonic post-thrash, had now become incontestably death metal. Both a blessing and a curse, this realization confirmed Morgoth's belonging within the new generation of metal talent, yet sacrificed some of the distinctive sonic traits that made them recognizably European in evolution (not just another Floridian death metal act). To wit, the dynamic diversity and melodic asides more prevalent in the European school only cropped up on occasion, lending an almost death/doom drag to winning tracks like "Isolated" and "Sold Baptism." Elsewhere, Morgoth seemed to be emulating Americans Obituary in an attempt to fit in, what with most new offerings (even standouts like "Body Count" and "Unreal Imagination") boasting greater complexity in their arrangements, lower guitar tunings for that bowl-rumbling death-effect, and deeper-pitched growls from vocalist Marc Grewe. But it's the act of book-ending Cursed with incomplete-feeling instrumentals (the intro/title track and repetitive closer "Darkness") that do the most damage to this otherwise very accomplished, if unspectacular, example of early-'90s death metal.

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Morgoth - Odium (1993)

Country: Germany
Language: English
Genre: Death Metal
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© 1993 Century Media
AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia
Alternately viewed, depending on who you ask, as Morgoth's finest hour or their undoing, 1993's Odium found the German quintet bent on expanding their sound following a perfectly acceptable, but perfunctory, death metal effort in 1991's Cursed. Effectively, they seemed to be consciously distancing themselves from the distinctly American death metal habits attained of late, and trying to assimilate -- even if only tentatively -- a number of different influences, ranging from the groovier type of riffs popularized by the likes of Entombed and the then-fast-rising Swedish death metal scene, to the industrial music tendencies making waves worldwide at the time. As a result, Odium songs like "Art of Sinking," "Drowning Sun" and "War Inside" had their lyrics shouted in an almost hardcore style (more so than gurgled in death metal form), were built on cleaner guitar riffs than the deathly sludge of old, and, most egregiously in longtime fans' eyes, wound up surrendering massive doses of pure ferocity in the bargain. However, open-minded listeners less attached to Morgoth's uniform brutality past, likewise encountered numerous reasons to embrace the far more varied combinations of moods and textures fueling the likes of "Under the Surface," "Submission" (complete with murmured vocals -- shock!), and especially all-purpose opener "Resistance." In sum, those willing to accept these aesthetic innovations will find almost nothing to bitch about here, while purists will probably have fled the battlefield by now. In either analysis, Odium probably constitutes Morgoth's most memorable album, and certainly their last, fully committed effort as a band before the seeds of discontent set in.

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Morgoth - Feel Sorry For The Fanatic (1996)

Country: Germany
Language: English
Genre: Industrial Metal, Thrash Metal
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© 1996 Century Media
AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia
By the release of this belated swan song of an album, Morgoth were effectively no more; torn asunder by ulterior projects, divergent career paths, and increasingly pronounced creative differences that conspired to make Feel Sorry for the Fanatic sound impossibly far removed from the single-minded death metal machine that had been. Not surprising, really, if you take into account that these grown men likewise bore little resemblance to the angry teenagers who had founded the band nearly a decade prior, but that was little consolation for any fans who were expecting to hear the sounds of their youth. Feel Sorry for the Fanatic provides nothing of the sort, replacing grunts with musical vocals, lyrics of death and destruction with subjects more, ahem, intelligent and realistic, infusing bountiful doses of melody where previously there'd been mostly unfettered power, and coming full circle in a way by avoiding death metal altogether to approximate earlier, bouncier thrash. Having said that, best tracks "This Fantastic Decade" "Last Laugh" and "Watch the Fortune Wheel" deliver perfectly decent commercial metal if taken at face value, free of any historical expectations. Not so more severe detours such as the aimlessly synth-generated "...And Its Amazing Consequences" or even the unbearably plodding "Curiosity," both of which simply serve to throw more kindling upon the fires of Morgoth's demise. But then, that was already a moot point at this juncture, leaving one only to mull over the philosophical notion that, like many mid-'90s metal bands (including their one-time idols Kreator), Morgoth fell victim to heavy metal's brief but widespread identity crisis of the mid-'90s.

tags: morgoth, feel sorry for the fanatic, 1996, flac,

Morgoth - Ungod (2015)

Country: Germany
Language: English
Genre: Death Metal
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© 2015 Century Media
Review by Kevin Stewart-Panko for Metal Injection.net
Five years ago, when Germany’s Morgoth announced their return to active duty after a twelve year layoff, there was a pretty good chance I was one of a very small handful of people looking forward to their return. Let me clarify that: I was one of a very small handful of people looking forward to their return if, and only if, they picked up where they left off after 1996’s Feel Sorry for the Fanatic.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, all their pre-Feel Sorry… activities – before they discovered industrial, post-punk and Killing Joke – was perfectly serviceable and admirable death metal, some of which might even be considered small-c classics in some circles. With Feel Sorry…, Morgoth took a ginormous wrong turn down the one-way thoroughfare of expectation, but did a fucking awesome job of it in the process. And while I have gone on record on numerous occasions proclaiming my enjoyment of said record – justifying my shitty taste, as it were – it’s a shame that so few members of the rest of world see where I’m coming from, let alone agree with me. Oh well, there’s no accounting for taste. Good, bad, misguided, or otherwise.
Let’s be realistic: a band coming back from the grave isn’t going to pick up from where its most maligned work and unpopular phase left off, even if extreme music’s absorption and acceptance of post-punk is at an all-time high these days. So it is that Ungod kicks off with “House of Blood” and about a half-minute into the two-and-a-half-minute long track it smacks that Morgoth is indeed going back to their early days, before the mid-90s when they left death metal mewling in the sandbox. However, even at their peak, the Westphalia quintet was a band that even the most dedicated of death heads could take or leave. Yes, they had their moments, and some of them were even great, but Morgoth was always a band lacking that consistently killer sensibility. They offered up just as many moments of crotch-tingling brutality as they did pure ennui, and time away hasn’t changed that unfortunate fact.
Truth be told, it isn’t until the second or third track in (“Voice of Slumber” and “Snakestate,” for those of you keeping score) that Morgoth becomes entirely distinguishable from Obituary. Even then, it’s due to dark and wiry melodies added to the surprising amount of Teutonic-filtered redneck stomp this album is dripping with. When the pace gets picked up, as on “Descent Into Hell” and “God is Evil,” the increased velocity opens things up: the choppier riffs are more propulsive and therefore more scathing, the drumming and cymbal crashes become much more oppressive, and the dynamics more pronounced when they slow down for a sludgy, Celtic Frost mosh groove and add in well-phrased melodic leads. It’s when the mid-pace is made the central focus of a song that Ungod comes across as less exciting and energetic. Witness a track like “Nemesis” with its ungainly plod that’s only salvaged by an awesome chorus and excellent guitar harmonies.
So, in a roundabout way, Morgoth has really picked up where they left off. Except that instead of grabbing the ball around 1993 and Odium’s slightly more daring take on the genre or the complete switcheroo of Feel Sorry…, they basically jumped right back into 1991’s Cursed and that album’s purist death metal form and the same mixed results.

tags: morgoth, ungod, 2015, flac,

October 27, 2018

Splendora - In The Grass (1995)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Grunge
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© 1995 Koch Records
*No professional reviews available for this release.

tags: splendora, in the grass, 1995, flac,