February 28, 2019

A Flock of Seagulls - The Story of a Young Heart (1984)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: New Wave
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© 1984 Jive Records
AllMusic Review by Tom Demalon
Faced with declining sales and a sound that was already becoming considered passé, A Flock of Seagulls retooled a bit for their third album, The Story of a Young Heart. Steve Lovell stepped into the producer's role and the band eased up on its heavily synthesized approach for more of a Europop feel, to no avail. The less cluttered, more polished sound of album is undermined by the limited vocal ability of singer Mike Score. His monotone delivery fails to imbue the songs with any warmth. "The More You Live, the More You Love" is as good as anything they've done and gave the band one final chart hit, stalling at number 54. Otherwise, the best stuff is near the end and sounds most reminiscent of their debut. "Over My Head" and "Heart of Steel" bound along but sound thin. However, they almost recapture their hyperkinetic glory with "Remember David." The Story of a Young Heart is the sound of a band slowly losing momentum

tags: a flock of seagulls, the story of a young heart, 1984, flac,

A Flock of Seagulls - The Light At The End of The World (1995)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Synth Pop, Pop Rock
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© 1995 Big Shot Records
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
The image and sound of A Flock of Seagulls are so intrinsicly tied to the early '80s that it's hard to imagine the band fashioning a successful comeback in the mid'-90s. Light At the End... is proof that any doubts about the band being able to creatively revitalize themselves are completely warrented. Though they try to expand their sound somewhat and bring themselves into the mid-'90s, they are held back by their limited capablities. A Flock Of Seagulls don't write one memorable hook on the entire album and the sound of the album is too polished, too produced, which means it doesn't have a chance of recapturing the glitzy, synthesized spark of new wave. In all, Light At the End... is a dull, tedious and fairly embarrassing listen.

tags: a flock of seagulls, the light at the end of the world, 1995, flac,

February 27, 2019

Live - Throwing Copper (1994) ☠

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Alternative Rock
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☠: Selected by Lass
© 1994 Radioactive
AllMusic Review by Gina Boldman
On Throwing Copper, Live tightened their sound, added crashing crescendos for dramatic effect, and injected some anger into their sound and songwriting. They also eased up a bit on the Eastern philosophy; the result is a more cohesive, memorable record overall, and quite an improvement from the sometimes overly precious Mental Jewelry. And for all of Mental Jewelry's ideologies, Throwing Copper is ultimately a more passionate and successful album, thanks to tracks like "I Alone," "Selling the Drama," and "All Over You," all of which received heavy radio play. The rebirth-themed "Lightning Crashes," the album's biggest hit, was written in memory of Barbara Lewis, a classmate who was killed by a drunk driver in 1993. Other standouts include the Kurt Cobain/Courtney Love-inspired "Stage," the apocalyptic "White, Discussion," the bass-driven, obsessive "Iris," and the dark "Dam at Otter Creek." Of course, Ed Kowalczyk couldn't resist throwing in a song like "T.B.D." (for the Tibetan Book of the Dead), based on Aldous Huxley's slow descent into death, aided by heroin. Its melodrama is a bit much, even for Live, and is just a sign of things to come on their next album, Secret Samadhi. But Throwing Copper is still a huge improvement from Mental Jewelry, and is the least overtly preachy Live album to date.

tags: live, throwing copper, 1994, flac,

Live - Secret Samadhi (1997)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Alternative Rock
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© 1997 Radioactive
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Throwing Copper made Live stars, but it didn't necessarily earn them respect. Evidently, the band thought that the problem lay with Jerry Harrison's crisp, commercial production, so they hired Jay Healey as a co-producer and set out to make a messy, hard-edged visionary statement. Unfortunately, Secret Samadhi fails like most self-conscious grand statements. Borrowing heavily from Jimmy Page's bag of tricks, Live spikes Secret Samadhi with Eastern-tinged strings, sitars, and powerful, overdubbed guitars. However, Ed Kowalczyk's lyrics and singing remain indebted to early U2 -- he wants to say something big in a big way. The two approaches sit together uncomfortably, especially since Live's spirituality is ill-defined and the songs lack hooks. "Lakini's Juice" is propelled by a slide guitar riff out of Physical Graffiti, but there isn't a vocal melody, and that's symptomatic of the album's failure. While the scope of Live's ambition is admirable, the music falls flat in execution, especially when compared to the clear-headed, earnest arena-oriented alt-rock of Throwing Copper.

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Staind - 14 Shades of Grey (2003) ☠

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Alternative Metal, Alternative Rock
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☠: Selected by Lass
© 2003 Flip/Elektra Records
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Staind broke through the nu-metal murk in 2001 with Break the Cycle because the band landed upon a rather ingenious formula -- toning down the aggression and turning up the emotion, all the while returning to the Alice in Chains-styled grunge that began the whole alt-metal mania of the '90s. Evidently, American audiences were hungry for big sensitive guys with tattoos crooning ballads, since Break the Cycle and its single, "Been a While," were inescapable throughout 2001, and soon Staind had eclipsed even its mentor, Fred Durst's Limp Bizkit, in popularity, raising expectations for the group's third album, 2003's 14 Shades of Grey. What they've delivered is a record that follows through on the neo-grunge and soul-baring, sensitive journal entries of Break the Cycle. There are plenty of loud guitars here, but the overall sense of aggression has been tempered considerably as Aaron Lewis' thoughts and feelings take the forefront, with the music used as coloring for his emotion. That means there's not much visceral kick in the rhythms, nor are there head-snapping hooks in the riffs, or catchy melodies. Like a metallic variation on emo, where expression trumps any other consideration, Staind is all about how Lewis is feeling -- whether it's about the world, love, his daughter "Zoe Jane," or his idol, "Layne." The tempos, even when fast, let Lewis emote, and he does so with a full-bodied croon, something that sounds particularly jarring when he sings "f***," which he does a lot, often in choruses. The croon, the profanity, and his obsession with documenting his emotions in detail -- an obsession with his feelings on the level of second-wave sensitive '70s singer/songwriters who also reveled in the specificity of their situations -- are in full bloom on 14 Shades of Grey, and they have the net result of either making listeners empathize completely or turning them off completely. That specificity of situation might, in fact, make the audience that connects with this smaller than the legions who loved "It's Been a While" -- particularly because there are no songs with hooks, let alone hooks as undeniable as that -- but those who connect with Staind will likely find this more consistently satisfying than Break the Cycle.

tags: staind, 14 shades of grey, 2003, flac,

Mourn - Mourn (1995)⚓

*Original first pressing. A photo of the disc is included on the RAR file.

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Doom Metal
Style: Traditional Doom
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© 1995 Rise Above Records
AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia
Despite their extremely competent musicianship and solid songwriting skills, obscure doom metal outfit Mourn is perhaps best remembered for the presence of a female singer within their ranks, a true rarity in the doom metal field. Carried forth by singer Caroline Wilson's highly operatic style, the band's doleful anthems of woe acquire an even more dramatic quality, particularly reminiscent of early Candlemass. Powerful, but not all that flexible, her voice still manages to provide an interesting contrast for the group's ungodly de-tuned riffs, a combination which is best exemplified on the surging "Iron Sky" and the almost overwhelmingly heavy "Children of the Circle." Somewhat less inventive tracks like "Drowning" and "Through These Eyes" see the album taking a nose-dive, quality-wise halfway through, but Mourn manage to recover in time for a strong finale, delivered via the surprising acoustics of "After All" and yet another excellent riff-wielding behemoth called "Forever More." All in all, a pretty solid doom metal album for serious fans to seek out.

tags: mourn, mourn album, mourn band, 1995, flac,

Staind - The Illusion of Progress (Limited Edition) (2008) ☠

*Limited edition contains 3 bonus acoustic live tracks. 16 tracks total.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Alternative Metal, Alternative Rock
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☠: Selected by Lass
© 2008 Flip/Atlantic Records
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Staind seem to sneer at the very notion of forward movement on the title of their sixth album, The Illusion of Progress, and that disdain very well may be a Freudian slip, as the Springfield, MA, rock band stubbornly refuses to evolve over the course of a decade. If anything, with each album their aggression erodes and the angst of frontman Aaron Lewis mellows into a mild grumpiness that surfaces only when he's not singing profane songs of devotion, which is most of the time. Ballads have always been his forte, a convenient vehicle for his quivering sensitivity and accidental melodicism, yet it's still startling how slow The Illusion of Progress unfolds, as Staind rarely muster the energy to move beyond midtempo even when they deign to crank up their amps for anthems of mild alienation or vague inspiration. Instead, they prefer to spend their time plucking electrics as if they were acoustics, creating arpeggios that recall "It's Been a While" while sidestepping replication because this slow, stately crawl is now the sound of Staind: they're easy listening grunge, music for recovering extreme sports addicts. So, it should come as no surprise that The Illusion of Progress is filled with love songs from Lewis, a married father of three who pledges his commitment and chronicles his insecurities and dreams in moody minor chords; it's not just an album recorded at his home studio, it's about his home. As always, Lewis' sincerity is disarming and strangely endearing, as unlike so many of his posturing peers he seems like a genuinely good guy, which is enough to make it hard not to wish that he could break free from his inadvertent lyrical clichés, clumsy expletives, and obvious Bob Dylan allusions, to say something specific instead of something sweeping, but that would be progress, something that Staind don't desire because they're perfectly content with where they are.

tags: staind, the illusion of progress, limited edition, 2008, flac,

Crossfade - Falling Away (2006) ☠

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Post Grunge, Alternative Metal
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☠: Selected by Lass
© 2006 Columbia Records
AllMusic Review by Corey Apar
2004's self-titled effort turned Crossfade into platinum-selling artists, driven by the success of their self-deprecating lead single "Cold," which stayed on the rock charts for some ridiculous amount of time, like over a year or so. Since then, the band has been stripped down to a trio after losing DJ Tony Byroads to the realms of marriage, and the occasional sampling and synth appearances have left with him. Crossfade's controlled rock aggression has remained intact, however, and their follow-up, Falling Away, is pretty much more of the same in all other respects -- strained vocals, authoritative guitars, bashing drums, dismal atmosphere. "Washing the World Away" and "Why" have some of the most crunching guitars present, the latter finishing off with a pretty gut-wrenching, embittered shriek. However, said cry is a somewhat abrupt ending to the song, a problem other tracks exhibit as well, yet not enough to completely throw off the record's overall flow. Mopey lyrics and soaring choruses of pain and misery abound; Ed Sloan's hardened voice struts with angry bitterness, like he's spent his entire life in relationships where he's been sufficiently screwing things up or someone has been screwing him over. He laments how much "it hurts to be alone in this cell I call my home/but it heals me in my mind without you by my side" over gentle strumming and percussion before lurching into the dejected "nothing feels good anymore/everything's wrong" power chorus of "Everything's Wrong." But the sensitive-tough-guy love of "Invincible" shows his heart may actually be capable of repair, even if the song falls a bit short musically as compared to the aching strength and melody of a track like "Already Gone." Overall, Falling Away adds up for a competent display of regurgitated post-grunge, albeit one that struggles to even really measure up to the most memorable moments of Nickelback. Then again, the unexpected and out of place, semi-jazzy, closing piano jam of "Never Coming Home" reveals, especially in its emphasis on forceful vocal range exploration, that there could be something more to Crossfade than just wounded frat rock. Um, maybe.

tags: crossfade, falling away, 2006, flac,

February 26, 2019

Selena - All My Hits: Todos Mis Éxitos (1999) ☠

*Contains 16 tracks total including "Disco Melody" & the Ranchera mix of "No Me Queda Más" A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
(Contiene 16 canciones en total incluyendo "Disco Melody" y la version Ranchera de "No Me Queda Más" Se incluye una foto del disco en el archivo.)
Country: U.S.A.
Language: Spanish (Español), English
Genre: Tejano, Mariachi, Pop
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☠: Selected by Sentinel
© 1999 EMI Latin/Q Productions
*No professional reviews available for this release.

tags: selena, all my hits todos mis exitos,, vol 1, 1999, flac,

Staind - Chapter V (2005) ☠

*A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Alternative Metal
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☠: Selected by Lass
© 2005 Flip Records
AllMusic Review by Johnny Loftus
By Staind album five it's remarkable how much bile still sits in Aaron Lewis' gut, how much mental anguish he's endured. But what's equally remarkable is how diligently he regurgitates it. He's like the post-grunge Job. Arguably emotion trumps Layne Staley and Alice in Chains as being the biggest component in this music. Lewis' first-person therapy drove the 2001 breakthrough "It's Been Awhile," his psyche was the star of 2003's 14 Shades of Grey, and he's once again searching, waiting, wondering, and flailing on Chapter V. "I'm still wearing this miserable skin," he cries in the churning "Please." "Why can't you just forgive me?" he pleads in the moody lead single, "Right Here." "I don't want to relive all the mistakes/I've made along the way." Staind often settles into a stodgy trudge somewhere south of melody, and the Alice/Pearl Jam/Tool forces are still strong. ("Devil" is like a Pearl Jam-branded template.) But the thing about Lewis is that he's just so genuine. Hundreds of frontmen pour out their emotions, from post-grunge bruisers to diary-clutching emo ninnies. But you can tell it's not a gimmick with Lewis. There are no illusions to his lyrics, no opportunistic shadows behind his words. "Tell me please/Who the f*ck do you want me to be?" -- Lewis could care less about looking macho when his heart's on the line. He searches for his emotional rescue in every note of every song, and if the hook suffers, well, too bad. Unfortunately they do suffer on Chapter V -- the mostly mid-tempo songs plod along, usually turning to a screeching lead guitar over chunky chording to differentiate the choruses. But by this point in the band's career it's likely fans are responding exclusively to Lewis' heady turmoil, not just waiting for a melody as strong as the one in "It's Been Awhile." V does still has its moments. "Take This" builds gently to an understated chorus -- it wouldn't be out of place on a Lifehouse album -- and "Right Here" is strong. As for rocking, "Falling" satisfies in a mid-'90s modern rock radio sort of way. But Staind is still about that wounded muscle in Lewis' chest, and whether or not he'll ever find redemption.

tags: staind, chapter v, chapter 5, 2005, flac,

Stuck Mojo - Snappin' Necks (1995)

*A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Rapcore
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© 1995 Century Media
AllMusic Review by Bret Love
Though they were one of the earlier bands to jump on board the rap-rock bandwagon, Atlanta's Stuck Mojo never achieved the massive fame of groups like Rage Against the Machine, who kicked a similar stylistic blend. Their idea of neck-snappin' rap-metal wasn't exactly a new idea, even in 1995 -- the sound's been around since Run-DMC's first album -- but at least Stuck Mojo did turn it up a notch, backing aggressive rhymes with some of the hardest double bass-pounding grooves this side of Pantera. The group's high testosterone and volume levels, and virtual lack of funkiness, ensure a somewhat limited appeal, but for angry young men with too much pent-up energy, the powerful aggression of Snappin' Necks must be close to heaven.

tags: stuck mojo, snappin necks, 1995, flac,

February 25, 2019

Finger Eleven - Tip (1997) ☠

Country: Canada
Language: English
Genre: Alternative Metal
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☠: Selected by Lass
© 1997-1998 Wind-Up
AllMusic Review by Roxanne Blanford
The debut recording from Finger Eleven, Tip blends alternative grooves with a heavy rock edge. The catchy hooks and reflective lyrics provide a rich and layered presentation, giving songs like "Above" and "Awake and Dreaming" remarkable levels of emotion. By experimenting with timing and tempo in their compositions, Finger Eleven displays a flair for musical detail and craftsmanship, setting them apart from the sonically similar Stone Temple Pilots and fellow Canadians Our Lady Peace. This collection of powerful and deeply felt songs moves through rock soundscapes with impressive results.

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Staind - Dysfunction (1999) ☠

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Alternative Metal
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☠: Selected by Lass
© 1999 Flip Records
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
At the beginning of the '90s, "metal" was a dirty word. A few bands, such as Metallica, had enough weight to appear as heirs to the metallic crown, but for the most part, it was the province of lightweight pop-metal mavens. How times change. By the end of the decade, metal was ultra-serious, with the typical band tackling somber, even morose, subjects without humor either in their lyrics or music; it was nothing but a constant grind. Staind is very much emblematic of its era, as much as Poison was of its -- which isn't meant to be a slam, actually. It's just that the band's debut album, Dysfunction, is a product of the times. Staind shows a lot of promise on Dysfunction, but you'd forgive a casual observer for thinking that it's an average alt-metal record, because in many ways it is. Unlike Korn or Limp Bizkit (who fervently endorsed Staind, so much so that LB's lead singer, Fred Durst, co-produced the album), Staind doesn't really have a distinct image or musical style, but the band does summarize '90s underground metal, from Alice in Chains to Tool to Korn. This is hookless, solo-less music where the sonic texture serves as coloring for the bleak words. Not necessarily an easy listen for the uninitiated, but anyone who's grown up on alt-metal will find familiar touchstones throughout the record and will be pleased at how the band easily shifts tempos and sonic colorings, while Aaron Lewis actually sings on much of the record. These are subtle pleasures, the kinds that aficionados will appreciate. Other listeners, however, will likely find Dysfunction a little tedious, since there isn't a wide variety of songs on the record, nor is there anything catchy. That, of course, is a signature trait of alt-metal and helps make the record a sign of the times -- but that doesn't mean it's an easy record to enjoy for anyone outside of the cognoscenti.

tags: staind, dysfunction, 1999, flac,

Staind - Break The Cycle (2001)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Alternative Metal
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© 2001 Elektra/Flip Records
AllMusic Review by Michael Gallucci
The title of Staind's sophomore album refers to the misery passed on from generation to generation; specifically, singer Aaron Lewis' family issues. And Break the Cycle is an issues album -- Lewis' therapy session for all to hear. "For You" reads like a final confession from child to parent ("I am f*cked up because you are"), and on the hit single "It's Been Awhile," he sings, "I cannot blame this on my father." Staind wraps up all this pain in deceivingly melodic packages, sort of like Nirvana's "All Apologies" without the depth. Lewis has a Kurt Cobain-like ache to his voice, which makes the more affecting songs -- like the acoustic version of "Outside" -- genuine (or at least appear that way). Cycle is ultimately no more than 50 minutes of standard-issue desolation, but the softness of many of the tracks gives it compassion, something most of Staind's peers have no time for.

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Crosssfade - Crossfade (2004)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Alternative Metal, Post Grunge
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© 2004 Columbia/FG Records
AllMusic Review by Johnny Loftus
Hometown Crossfade fans will recognize the majority of this eponymous major-label debut, as it's been retooled from the band's self-released 2001 effort, when they were still known as Sugardaddy Superstar. Columbia's signing of the band makes sense, as Crossfade combines the most marketable elements of Nickelback and P.O.D. (check "No Giving Up"), throwing in the brooding aggression of Cold and Disturbed as bonus glue. Its occasional flirtation with synths and sampling is negligible, as discordant guitars dominate the album's mix. Speaking of cold, that's also the name of the 'Fade's first single. Ed Sloan has a powerful voice, and he sells the track's somewhat generic chorus ("What I really meant to say/Is that I'm sorry for the way I am") by really lighting into the melody. He goes on to apologize for his "screwed-up side" as dull power chords lurch in the background. "So Far Away" and "Disco" follow a similar formula, marrying thick, glowering riffs to rousing choruses; that Disturbed feel really drifts in on the latter, where you half expect an "Oh wah ah ah ah!" yawp after its payoff chorus chant. Crossfade actually runs into trouble with tracks like this or "Death Trend Setta," where they try too hard to soak their considerable rock power in played-out angry guy raps. The band is more successful with cuts like "Starless," the aforementioned "Cold," or even the atmospheric "Deep End," where Sloan hits huge vocal hooks over serviceably powerful riffs. "Dead Skin" is another relative highlight of Crossfade. Musically it's an awkward facsimile of Staind's embittered melodrama, but its tale of addiction and relationship destruction feels like the record's emotional core.

tags: crossfade, crosssfade album, 2004, flac,

February 24, 2019

Sevendust - Home (1999)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Alternative Metal, Nü-Metal
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© 1999 TVT Records
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson
All too often, bands that have shown as much promise as Sevendust did on its self-titled debut album (which went gold) have fallen prey to the dreaded sophomore curse and failed to make good on that promise. But there are no signs of a sophomore slump on Sevendust's second album, Home, which like its predecessor, is as melodic as it is angry and brutally heavy. Melody isn't simply an afterthought on this CD -- it's an integral part of the band's sound, and it complements the intensity and forcefulness of songs like "Denial," "Feel So," and "Crumpled." Many of the influences heard on Sevendust are also heard on Home -- the Atlantans still show an appreciation of artists ranging from Living Colour and Nirvana to Anthrax, Metallica, and Faith No More. But Sevendust is quite recognizable itself, and it had become a major player in the alternative metal world of the late '90s. Those who savored Sevendust's first album won't find Home to be the least bit disappointing.

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Sevendust - Animosity (2001) ☠

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Alternative Metal, Nü-Metal
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☠: Selected by Lass
© 2001 TVT Records
AllMusic Review by Tom Semioli
On Animosity, Sevendust stick to a workmanlike alternative industrial metal formula of mind-numbing aggression propelled by rapid-fire pentatonic riffs, growling lower-register bass rumblings, and polyrhythmic drum patterns intermixed with electronic samples. That they're often praised for their sense of melody just goes to show how far quality songcraft has vanished from hard rock. Sure, there are a few hummable lines in "Crucified" and "Shine," but the majority of this album is a dour angst feast of sonic proportions. "Angel's Son" is the most listenable cut, thanks to a series of open-tuning guitar patterns, sustained arpeggios, and interesting counterpoint harmonies via orchestral string arrangements that allow a little light to shine through the dark lyrics. Though Sevendust is among the top-selling bands in this genre, the album lacks creativity or spontaneity, which says a lot about the state of hard rock in 2001.

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Sevendust - Next (2005)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Alternative Metal
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© 2005 Winedark Records
AllMusic Review by Johnny Loftus
The faithful know the story, but here's the short version. In late 2004 Clint Lowery left Sevendust to join the unimpressive post-grunge outfit Dark New Day, and was promptly replaced with ex-Snot guitarist Sonny Mayo. Then Sevendust departed longtime label TVT in favor of a Universal-distributed indie startup called Winedark. The net result of these changes? Not much. On Next Sevendust still alternates heavy, jaggedly rocking alt-metal with turns toward introspection or balladry. "Hero" opens the album with a stuttering guitar riff and Lajon Witherspoon rasping, "Stop, drop, roll, get up, take a crack at me/Like every other motherf*cker that I've seen today," through clenched teeth. Is his anger aimed at Lowery? Unclear, but it's a powerful song nonetheless. "Silence" and "Desertion" back that aggression up, "This Life" is Witherspoon's synth-supported tribute to his newborn child, and "Never" employs some processed instrumentation for an industrial metal feel. Sevendust play with feeling, and Witherspoon has more range than most of his loud rock contemporaries. But Next rarely progresses past simply capable. Sevendust take the safe route, revisiting the rage and reflection of their past work instead of pressing hard on the new wounds inherent in "Hero" to make the music and volume really bleed. Next? Maybe next time

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Depeche Mode - Music For The Masses (1987)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Synth Pop
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© 1987 Sire/Mute Records
AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett
Initially the title must have sounded like an incredibly pretentious boast, except that Depeche Mode then went on to do a monstrous world tour, score even more hits in America and elsewhere than ever before, and pick up a large number of name checks from emerging house and techno artists on top of all that. As for the music the masses got this time around, the opening cut, "Never Let Me Down Again," started things off wonderfully: a compressed guitar riff suddenly slamming into a huge-sounding percussion/keyboard/piano combination, anchored to a constantly repeated melodic hook, ever-building synth/orchestral parts at the song's end, and one of David Gahan's best vocals (though admittedly singing one of Martin Gore's more pedestrian lyrics). It feels huge throughout, like they taped Depeche recording at the world's largest arena show instead of in a studio. Other key singles "Strangelove" and the (literally) driving "Behind the Wheel" maintained the same blend of power and song skill, while some of the quieter numbers such as "The Things You Said" and "I Want You Now" showed musical and lyrical intimacy could easily co-exist with the big chart-busters. Add to that other winners like "To Have and to Hold," with its Russian radio broadcast start and dramatic, downward spiral of music accompanied by Gahan's subtly powerful take on a desperate Gore love lyric, and the weird, wonderful choral closer, "Pimpf," and Depeche's massive success becomes perfectly clear.

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Depeche Mode - Violator (1990) ☠

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Synth Pop, Electronic
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☠: Selected by Lass
© 1990 Sire/Mute Records
AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett
In a word, stunning. Perhaps an odd word to use given that Violator continued in the general vein of the previous two studio efforts by Depeche Mode: Martin Gore's upfront lyrical emotional extremism and knack for a catchy hook filtered through Alan Wilder's ear for perfect arrangements, ably assisted by top English producer Flood. Yet the idea that this record would both dominate worldwide charts, while song for song being simply the best, most consistent effort yet from the band could only have been the wildest fantasy before its release. The opening two singles from the album, however, signaled something was up. First was "Personal Jesus," at once perversely simplistic, with a stiff, arcane funk/hip-hop beat and basic blues guitar chords, and tremendous, thanks to sharp production touches and David Gahan's echoed, snaky vocals. Then "Enjoy the Silence," a nothing-else-remains-but-us ballad pumped up into a huge, dramatic romance/dance number, commanding in its mock orchestral/choir scope. Follow-up single "Policy of Truth" did just fine as well, a low-key Motown funk number for the modern day with a sharp love/hate lyric to boot. To top it all off, the album itself scored on song after song, from the shuffling beat of "Sweetest Perfection" (well sung by Gore) and the ethereal "Waiting for the Night" to the guilt-ridden-and-loving-it "Halo" building into a string-swept pounder. "Clean" wraps up Violator on an eerie note, all ominous bass notes and odd atmospherics carrying the song. Goth without ever being stupidly hammy, synth without sounding like the clinical stereotype of synth music, rock without ever sounding like a "rock" band, Depeche here reach astounding heights indeed.

tags: depeche mode, violator, 1990, flac,