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Old 09-11-2009, 05:47 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Default Squirrel Nut Zippers - Perennial Favorites (1998)

Squirrel Nut Zippers - Perennial Favorites (1998)


  1. Suits Are Picking up the Bill (Mathus) – 3:04
  2. Low Down Man (Mathus) – 4:14
  3. Ghost of Stephen Foster (Mathus) – 3:32
  4. Pallin' With Al (Maxwell) – 2:41
  5. Fat Cat Keeps Getting Fatter (Mathus) – 2:47
  6. Trou Macacq (Maxwell) – 3:17
  7. My Drag (Mathus) – 3:27
  8. Soon (Maxwell) – 3:02
  9. Evening at Lafitte's (Mathus) – 2:48
  10. The Kraken (Maxwell) – 3:40
  11. That Fascinating Thing (Mathus) – 2:43
  12. It's Over (Mathus) – 1:49


Introduction :

Members on this album : James Mathus, Tom Maxwell, Katharine Whalen, Ken Mosher, Chris Phillips, Stuart Cole, Don Raleigh, Je Widenhouse (+ Andrew Bird as honorary member). James Mathus and Katharine Whalen (husband and wife) do the bulk of the vocals.

Squirrel Nut Zippers (named after a candy) formed in 1993 and is based in North Carolina. Although they play a mixture of styles and draw on many different influences, they are regarded as one of the bigger bands in the Swing Revival movement for their various takes on big-band-ish 1920s and 1930s sounding swing jazz. Their first album, The Inevitable, was released in 1995. After their debut, they released an album a year until in 1998 when they released their fourth album, Perennial Favorites.

The Swing Revival scene is riddled with bands of varying quality. Many seem mix nostalgia with modern influences and often a slightly parodic feeling. Squirrel Nut Zippers were never happy about being associated with that lot (they were certainly more than just swing) and come across as a bit more genuine and more varied than most of their hipster revival contemporaries such as Brian Setzer Orchestra and Cherry Poppin' Daddies. While it certainly sounds like they have a lot of fun with their works, you get the impression the music they make not only adheres to styles they like, but also their way of life.

I discovered Squirrel Nut Zippers just after the release of Perennial Favorites and I was very much looking forward to their sixth (and final) album Bedlam Ballroom. Still, after having made myself familiar with most of their work, in my opinion - their fourth album still stands a head and possibly a shoulder above the rest.


Song for Song Review :

While most of the songs on the album could be said to have a touch of swing jazz, the different songs draw from a range of influences and every song sounds different from the others. The album opens with the classic Suits are picking up the bill. Jim Mathus sings a somewhat cryptic but upbeat commentary on capitalism. The song is fun and catchy - definetly a good start! The next song slows things down a bit with a wonderful little intro on the piano before it opens up to you. Low Down Man is a beautiful, melancholic, country-bluesy ballad carried well by Katharine Whalen's wonderful vocals and a haunting steel pedal guitar. This is my girlfriend's all-time favourite SNZ track. The third track, Ghost of Stephen Foster opens up with Andrew Bird playing an eerie, suspense building intro on his violin before things suddenly spiral into a crazy, slightly eastern european sounding polkaish jazz with shouting chorus and a lot of hoompf!. The lyrics are cryptic but seem to deal with a meeting with the ghost of Stephen Foster and the things the ghost says.
If we were made of cellophane, we'd all get stinking drunk much faster, hahaha!
Enjoy the video if you want.

.


Pallin' With Al is another upbeat song with a lot of violin and is certainly another potential album favourite. Fat Cat Keeps Getting Faster, a fast jazz-duet between Jimbo and his wife Katharine and Trou Macacq are are not among my favourite tracks on the album, but they're still good songs. My Drag is another intriguing, melancholic lament by Katharine Whalen which might just be about recurring depression. Soon brings back the hoompf! and sounds like a somewhat paranoid song about portents and bad omens. It includes quite a bit of shouting and some rather memorable lyrics
.. But if you draw a bow, draw the strongest! - Yeeahh!! - And if you use an arrow, use the longest! - OH YEAH!
Great stuff!

Evening at Lafittes is, for me, the album's brightest gem. It is my all-time faovurite SNZ song. I'm a bit scared of writing about it because I'm not sure how to describe this song to people who have not heard it before. It's a relatively uncomplicated song about a place called Lafittes, a great place for dancing and romancing. Katharine Whalen does wonderful, jazzy vocals and you can dance to it, especially if you have a partner. I don't think I want to say much more about it except - if you're only gonna listen to one song from this album, give this one a shot.

The Kraken is an intriguing, unpredictable song and differs quite a lot from the rest of the album with it's quirky weirdness. It's humpty-dumpty almost comical first half eventually gives way to the most haunting vocals on the album, a love song sung by the Kraken (aka Katharine). Being a norwegian, the Kraken is one of my favourite monsters, and I find the romantic take on the old squid to be quite intriguing - and a little captivating. Good song and a great curiosity!

That Fascinating Thing is a vulgar-bluesy-sounding jazz song and - one of the weaker tracks on the album, if not the weakest. It has it's moments, but it pales compared to the quality of the rest. It's Over is just that, a short song announcing the album's end.


Review Summary :

Perennial Favorites, although it has a couple of weak tracks, is an awesome and varied album. It has big band, polka, country, blues, eastern european, harlem, etc etc influences and I find it makes it quite hard to accurately describe this album to someone who has not yet listened to it. Lumping it in as another album from the hipster Swing Revival crowd does not do it justice. If you've read through the review up to here, I hope I've at least managed to make you curious enough to get your hands on this album. I think it's the finest they ever made and worthy a spot in anyone's collection.

Toretorden's Treasure Trove score : 5/6

Favourite tracks : Suits Are Picking up the Bill, Low Down Man, Ghost of Stephen Foster, Pallin' With Al, My Drag, Evening at Lafittes
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Old 09-12-2009, 07:29 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Default Sisters of Mercy - Floodland (1987)

The Sisters of Mercy - Floodland (1987)


  1. Dominion/Mother Russia – 7:01
  2. Flood I – 6:22
  3. Lucretia My Reflection – 4:57
  4. 1959 – 4:09
  5. This Corrosion – 9:08
  6. Flood II – 6:47
  7. Driven Like The Snow – 6:27
  8. Never Land (A Fragment) – 2:46

Listen : Spotify
[/CENTER]


Introduction :

Leeds rock band Sisters of Mercy rose to fame in the goth underground of the 80s and gained a strong cult following despite their attempts to discourage any associations with the goth culture. Their music is often gloomy, industrial, occasionally pompous and often danceable. Frontman Andrew Eldritch's deep and, shall we say - unusual voice - adds to their uniqueness and makes them very recognizable. He's probably not an easy man to get along with either. Andrew, Godfather of Goth, is the only permanent member of the band and aside from compilations, they released 3 albums, all with different line-ups. After their first album, First and Last and Always from 1985, everyone except Andrew and the drum machine Doktor Avalanche, left the band. Eldritch's deteriorating mental health is cited by band members as one of the reasons for the split. The ex-members started a new group, The Sisterhood, causing Andrew Eldritch to file a lawsuit against them because of the name, a lawsuit which he won and the ex-sisters eventually became known as The Mission.

Anyways, this is about Sisters of Mercy. After being left by his bandmates, Andrew Eldritch recruited tall-haired goth-icon Patricia Morrison on bass and recorded The Sisters of Mercy's second album, Floodland, in 1987.


Song for Song Review :

The album opens with the slightly epic track Dominion/Mother Russia, a classic in the Sisters catalogue. It's a neverending, pompous, beat-steady, catchy and a bit gloomy rock classic and showcase what I consider the trademark Sisters of Mercy sound. Andrew Eldritch's singing works quite well on this song and it's a good opener, one of the many from this album considered a classic by fans. Note that the video, both for this song and the others are not the same versions as are on this album. The album versions are, among other things, much longer.




Flood I continues the gloom and the industrial beat-steady feel, but loses some of the drive and charm of the opening track. It is heavily dominated by synth and drum machine and has quite a lot atmosphere. This song would fit right into some late 80s/early 90s goth movie where children of the night dance in some San Fransiscan goth club. However, it also comes across as a bit of a filler for me. When the track reaches it's end, the heavy, hard-hitting and steady drum and bass of Lucretia My Reflection comes on. Lucretia is, without a doubt, my favourite song on the album, possibly my favourite sisters song ever. It's as hard-hitting as a locomotive and it's heavy, unstoppable, industrial feel and energy is mixed with the best qualities of Andrew Eldritch's voice for a memorable result. Check out the cheesy video if you want.




I quite like the lyrics too although I've no clear idea what they're about.
I hear the roar of a big machine
Two worlds and in between
Love lost, fire at will
Dum-dum bullets and shoot to kill, I hear
Dive, bombers, and
Empire down
The next song, 1959, is an emotional piano ballad by Mr. Eldritch. For me, it is a song that has almost none of the Sisters charm and it mixes that with the worst qualities of Andrew's voice. As was written in a review in noted pop magazine Smash Hits, Andrew's singing on the piano track sounded like a goblin being sick in a bucket. Although that's a bit exaggerated, I can see where the reviewer is coming from. Still, it's not a horrible song, just not good. However, Floodland quickly redeems itself with the next track This Corrosion that opens up with a frankly awesome(!) bit of choir before the trademark sisters of mercy industrial sound comes back, tinged with some playful, lighter guitar notes. Like the opener, this track is pompous as hell, endless and driven. Another classic song from the sisters catalogue. It also has a cheesy music video, here presented in ****ty quality.

.


Flood II is another excellent song. It has everything you should expect from the Sisters sound and Andrew's performance on this track is full of emotion. The acoustic guitar here is nice touch and the track is melodic, slightly desperate and with what I think is a subtle hint of romance and beauty. I also like the song's lyrics.
Like a million voices call my name
Like a million voices calling
Not now, not never again...
Sitting here now in this bar for hours
Strange men rent strange flowers
Seconds to the drop but it feels like hours and I
Think I'm going to...going to...
If this isn't goth rock, I don't know what is.

Driven Like the Snow continues a bit in the same vein as the previous track, also with acoustic guitar, which is just fine with me. It has the beats, the bass and the driving quality of most Sister classics, but comes across as relatively soft. It also has some memorable lyrics. Never Land is the album's shortest song and marks the end of the album .. unless you have the bonus tracks which I've decided to leave out. It's heavy, slow, atmospheric and again sounds like it should be on the soundtrack for some gloomy goth movie. The fact that it's short and quickly fades out makes it a good track to end an album with, but maybe not something you wanna put on your all-time favourite sisters mix-tape.


Review Summary :

I like Sisters of Mercy and as Andrew himself has said, Floodland is a fine album, but I think that it's sound will probably be a little hard to get into for newer and younger audiences. Andrew Eldritch is not a very good singer and the songs have a machine-like tendency to drone on and get a bit repetitive. My guess is that if you don't like it, you will soon hate it if you force yourself. However, if you do like it and are able to get into this album, you may find that although Andrew's voice is not beautiful, aside from a touch of goblin, works very well with this particular sound and the sometimes repetitive quality of the songs only make them better. I also like the songs gloomy themes and lyrics. The album has perhaps a filler or two or three, but when it's good - it's awesome - and so the album's overall impression is good. It's easy to imagine this album's gems being played in 80/90's goth clubs. Actually, they're probably still played - at least if goth club-goers have any integrity. If you wanna know what true goth rock sound sounds like, you should get your hands on Floodland.

Toretorden's Treasure Trove score : 4/6

Favourite tracks : Dominion/Mother Russia, Lucretia My Reflection, This Corrosion, Flood II, Driven Like the Snow
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Old 09-13-2009, 06:12 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Ah, the Sisters Of Mercy! Not only the name of a sublime Leonard Cohen song, but a name that's been recommended to me for years now (by some geezer I used to know who, incidentally, told me he was a mate of Martin Degville's from Sigue Sigue Sputnik). I've definitely come across that Lucretia song before as well - wasn't it sent in to one of the MB comps a while back? They're a name that's been on my radar for a while then but, like a lot of others, one I haven't looked into just yet.

Cracking write-up anyway. Good thread too.
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Old 09-13-2009, 08:25 AM   #14 (permalink)
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That review would've been really helpful two months ago. There was a Sister of Mercy concert in here, but I didn't know anything about them so I didn't go. I researched them, but it was hard to see from where to begin. Anyway, great review!
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Old 09-13-2009, 09:02 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bulldog View Post
Ah, the Sisters Of Mercy! Not only the name of a sublime Leonard Cohen song, but a name that's been recommended to me for years now (by some geezer I used to know who, incidentally, told me he was a mate of Martin Degville's from Sigue Sigue Sputnik). I've definitely come across that Lucretia song before as well - wasn't it sent in to one of the MB comps a while back? They're a name that's been on my radar for a while then but, like a lot of others, one I haven't looked into just yet.

Cracking write-up anyway. Good thread too.
Thanks a lot! I believe I did enter the Lucretia song into one of the comps, but I can't remember which one. I've often put stuff I've reviewed in those.

While Floodland is my favourite album, their other stuff isn't all bad either. Their debut is brilliant, especially the title track. Vision thing which was their third is not as good, but it does have some redeeming qualities. The song "more" is rather good from that one, I think. The first time I heard about the sisters was sometime back in the 90s and the song that got me interested in the group was "temple of love" which featured guest singer Ofra Haza. I found the video on youtube, though it's highly edited from an 8+ minutes song into a 3 minutes one.



Quote:
Originally Posted by NumberNineDream View Post
That review would've been really helpful two months ago. There was a Sister of Mercy concert in here, but I didn't know anything about them so I didn't go. I researched them, but it was hard to see from where to begin. Anyway, great review!
Begin with their debut or Floodland!

This review was actually here two months ago .. My old journal which had this review in it was hard deleted a month ago, so this is an old writeup.
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Old 09-13-2009, 02:18 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by toretorden View Post
Begin with their debut or Floodland!

This review was actually here two months ago .. My old journal which had this review in it was hard deleted a month ago, so this is an old writeup.
The review was here, I wasn't :P
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Old 09-13-2009, 03:15 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Default Passengers - Original Soundtracks 1 (1995)

Oh right, knew you were new actually Anyways, here's my next review ..


Passengers - Original Soundtracks 1 (1995)



  1. United Colours
  2. Slug
  3. Your Blue Room
  4. Always Forever Now
  5. A Different Kind of Blue
  6. Beach Sequence
  7. Miss Sarajevo
  8. Ito Okashi
  9. One Minute Warning
  10. Corpse (These Chains Are Way Too Long)
  11. Elvis Ate America
  12. Plot 180
  13. Theme from The Swan
  14. Theme from Let's Go Native

Listen : Spotify



Introduction :

Members : Brian Eno, Paul Hewson (Bono), David Howell Evans (The Edge), Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen & guest singer Luciano Pavarotti

Passengers is the name of a collaboration project between Brian Eno and the members of U2. Neither artist nor group should need an introduction, but if you for some reason haven't heard about them, Brian Eno rose to fame first and foremost with the band Roxy Music. He's sometimes called the father of ambient music had a successful solo career as well as numerous (and I mean numerous) collaborations with other artists over the years. U2 with leadman Paul Hewson, stage name Bono, is a four-man pop-rock monster band that came out of Dublin in the early 1980s. They are frequently found on the charts.

The passengers collaboration has so far only released one album, Original Soundtracks 1. It is a highly experimental album of concept songs where every song belongs in the soundtrack of a movie. Some of these movies are real, but most are imaginary, though complete with fictious descriptions in the album sleeve. Original Soundtracks 1 produced one hit, Miss Sarajevo, which features vocals by the somewhat recently diseased Luciano Pavarotti, world renowned italian tenor. Larry Mullen, U2's drummer, openly dislikes this album and says that it's self-indulgent. Bono jokingly says it's because they didn't let him play the drums.


Song for Song Review :

The album starts off with the strange United Colours. It's a instrumental song with a lot of synth and various pseudoalien noises. There's a steady conventional beat and an industrial feel. The song is not very melodic and some of the sounds are almost ugly. Still, the overall impression is enjoyable. It's not a great song, but it's different and should make you curious enough to check out the next couple of tracks. Both Slug and Your Blue Room inherit some of the sound of Brian Eno's more relaxed works (sometimes in collaborations) with added vocals by Bono. Both tracks are mellow and enjoyable, particularly Your Blue Room which is one of the gems from this album. Always Forever Now is a weird drum and base synth thing that has a drive behind it. It ends up with a vocal part repeating the title of the song over and over again. It's a bit weird, slightly more good than bad, but not anything to be excited about. A Different Kind of Blue is just some pretentious dribble that would never work outside this album, but is thankfully rather short. More soothing sounds follow on the Beach Sequence, a rather enjoyable piano piece. When that's over, it's time for the album's star, Miss Sarajevo. This is the only song that qualifies for the pop label on the album and I think it's a good one. Like many of the other songs on the first half, it is soothing and warm and combines the strength of both Brian Eno and U2, particularly Bono's singing. Luciano Pavarotti's contribution, while slightly cheesy, adds to the song and it just works for me without being over the top. The song charted in Norway when this album came out. There's a video which I would post here had I found it on youtube .. Oh well.

Ito Okashi (which means Something Beautiful, I think) is a bunch of random tinkly sounds and some strange japanese vocals following a melody which is not immediately coherent. It's not awful, but it doesn't entirely work as a song. Overall impression is self-indulgent and somewhat pretentious. One Minute Warning is another minor gem and was made for the anime movie Ghost in the Shell that you might be familiar with. The song has a rather good, steady beat and a lot of tin-cannish distorted vocals that are impossible to make out. Associations of grinding metal and vast metallic space and acoustics add to that robotic feeling. Not a classic, but an interesting song and that I think manages everything it attempts. Corpse and Elvis Ate America with Bono singing go for a trip back to self-indulgent land and are frankly boring. Plot 180 is a repetitive, boring Eno-esque piece who's only strength is that it sounds a bit like it could be background music for something out of Shadowrun. Theme from the Swan are more boring drawn out sounds and Theme From Let's Go Native's return to a steady beat is refreshing, but ultimately sounds too much like background music to interest anyone. Sorry for not being very descriptive, but most of these songs are just not worth your time.


Review Summary :

First of all, let's establish that this is not a U2 album. If anything, it sounds much more like Brian Eno's earlier works. Furthermore, Larry Mullen is right when he says the album is not just experimental, but downright self-indulgent. The last half contains some of the most pretentious music I think I've ever heard. However, it's not all done entirely without charm. The first half of the album up to and including Miss Sarajevo has a lot of soothing sounds and some enjoyable moments. The last half is all pretentious crap save for One Minute warning. I'd say the first half deserves a 3 out of 6 (mediocre) while the second half deserves a 2 (bad). The overall impression is :

Toretorden's Treasure Trove score : 3/6

Remember that these songs are all very concepty. It's probably not music you'd listen to in your car or in a pub, but if you want something that borders on background music without being quite as soundscapish as Eno's ambient albums, the first half may be an okay listen. Although the album can be safely skipped, some might want to pick this up out of curiosity. If you don't want to struggle with the whole thing, check out my favourite tracks first.

Favourite tracks : Slug, Your Blue Room, Miss Sarajevo, One Minute Warning

Added Trivia : The album pamphlet or what you call it had descriptions for all the movies, including the fake ones. Among these descriptions are lots of easter eggs that might be of interest to die-hard fans of U2. You can read about them on the album's wikipedia article.
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Old 09-13-2009, 03:36 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Default Megadeth - Countdown to Extinction (1992)

Megadeth - Countdown to Extinction (1992)


  1. Skin o' My Teeth
  2. Symphony of Destruction
  3. Architecture of Aggression
  4. Foreclosure of a Dream
  5. Sweating Bullets
  6. This Was My Life
  7. Countdown to Extinction
  8. High Speed Dirt
  9. Psychotron
  10. Captive Honour
  11. Ashes in Your Mouth

Listen : Spotify



Introduction :

Members on this album :

Dave Mustaine - guitar, lead vocals
Marty Friedman - guitar, backing vocals
David Ellefson - bass, backing vocals
Nick Menza - drums, backing vocals


Most know about Dave Mustaine and have some opinions about his music, but few aside fans know where the guy's really coming from. When he was little, his family was on the constant move, trying to get away from his sometimes violent, alcoholic father. When Dave was 15, he moved away from his mother and violent step-father and financed a flat on money he got for selling drugs. His supplier was a woman working in a record store who would drop by his apartment and give him drugs and albums and also had sex with him. Thus, Dave Mustaine was introduced to the music of bands like Motorhead and Iron Maiden as well as a rather destructive lifestyle with alcohol and hard drugs. In 1981 after seeing their ad in a magazine, Dave went to audition as lead-guitarist for Metallica. He didn't even get to audition as he was hired already after his warm-up on the guitar. Dave saw himself as the frontman of Metallica and eventually, his excessive substance abuse made him hard to get along with as well as a danger for the band. One day in 1983, they woke him up in their tour trailer, said his days with Metallica were over and dumped him at a buss station. Dave was pretty upset about that, especially after Metallica released their debut which had some of his stuff on it. Part as an agenda for revenge on Metallica, he formed the band Megadeth who's lineup for the 1985 debut My business is killing... And business is good had David Ellefson on bass, Chris Poland on second guitar and now deceased Gar Samuelson on the drums.

Megadeth has since been a drugged up heavy metal ride with several line-up changes. They often play fast and have enjoyed a reputation for being technically skilled. Dave's songs are often pessimistic and mistrustful of those in power and themes might deal with large-scale problems like tyranny and war or personal problems like suidical thoughts. During much of his career, Dave has been in a self destructive spiral and has been to rehab 15 times for various addictions including heroin. After a concert in Oregon which ended in a riot, Dave swallowed a handful of valium and was rushed to the hospital where he died, but was successfully resuscitated.

In the late 90s, he managed to sober up one final time and has stayed clean since. In the years after, he has announced his christian faith and now lives on a farm with his wife and two daughters Justis and Electra Mustaine .. Or did, I think he might be going through a divorce. Anways, although he's no longer a rock 'n roll dope-fiend, he still makes excellent music. Countdown to Extinction was Megadeth's fifth album and is the best-selling from their catalogue. It contains the band's most successful singles and was the first time they got massive media exposure like music videos played on MTV.


Song for Song Review :

The album opens strong with the classic Skin o' My Teeth, one of the faster songs on the album. I find it quite catchy and easy to like. In Dave's own words; This song is about how many times I've tried to kill myself but just couldn't get the ****in' job done. The theme is rather gloomy, but it made for an excellent song. Second track, Symphony of Destruction should need no introduction since most metal fans already know it and those who don't like metal may have been exposed to it through the video games like Guitar Hero. Fans may have grown tired of this song because of it's hype, but it doesn't change the fact that it's brilliant. The catchy guitar riff and machine-steady beat works extremely well with Dave's snarling vocals. The lyrics, dealing with the theme of dictatorship, are immediate ear catchers. Pure awesome. Watch the video if you want.




Architecture of Aggression is another good song which is roughly about war. It's another example of catchy riffs and good songwriting.
Great nations built from the bones of the dead,
With mud and straw, blood and sweat,
You know your worth when your enemies
Praise your architecture of aggression
Foreclosure of a Dream opens with a lovely, moody, melodic piece on the guitar which gives excellent impact to Dave's singing. David Ellefson wrote a lot of the lyrics and the song is supposedly about farming corporations driving family farms out of business as well as the rise and fall of political ideologies. They are delivered in the typical bleak Mustaine manner and the song bears the hallmarks of an instant metal hit. They also made a video. The music video version is not exactly the same as on this album, but check it out!




Sweating Bullets is another single from the album, but I consider it inferior to foreclosure and symphony. It deals thematically with schizophrenia and in the song and music video, different Dave Mustaines are having an argument among himself. It's not a bad song, but I prefer the tracks up to this point, possibly because I think this song feels unintentionally parodic.

This Was My Life is good, but aside from some memorable guitar, slips into the background on this album. The title track Countdown to Extinction deals with trophy hunting/poaching and resulting extinction of animals. The song actually won them the Humane Society of the United States Genesis Award for it's dealings with animal welfare. The sound is a bit more laidback and has a catchy bass-bit by Menza. Good stuff! High Speed Dirt is back with some dirty, screeching guitar and some higher pitched vocals by Dave. The song sometimes reminds me of Foreclosure of a Dream, although it has not nearly as much charm, so for me this is filler. The lyrics are about skydiving to your death, but I miss the conscience from the other songs. On the plus side, it has a lot of drive and energy, it's just missing some impact. Psychotron is about a man-robot killing machine by the same name. Again, I miss some depth in the lyrics, but by all means, in metal - songs about killer manrobots should be okay. Captive Honour is another album highlight for me and contains some absolutely kickass sounding guitar. It's also slightly more relaxed and while I don't fully understand the political lyrics (though they certainly deal with crime and punishment), there are some very memorable lines from this song.
And if you kill a man, you're a murderer ..
Kill many and you're a conqueror
Kill'em all - Ooh, you're a God
Despite all that it's got going for it, they decided to fill it with some rather silly sampled dialogue which at worst feels a bit parodic. While I do think it's slightly inappropriate, it can't ruin the song. It's too awesome for that. Ashes in Your Mouth opens strong with some fast guitar and drums. Again, the lyrical themes turn rather bleak in a song that I think is about the futility of humanity's future and how we always descend into war. The song also contains some good solo play. Nothing wrong there. By now, the album should be over .. Unless you have bonus tracks cued up, but as usual, I've chosen not to review those.


Review Summary :

Countdown for Extinction marked a change in the sound of Megadeth as some songs were a bit slower and adopted more typical hard rock structures. The result was a fairly accessible album and it's the band's biggest seller. While diehard fans may be a little turned off by this new direction, there's no denying that it was an extremely important album for Megadeth and resulted in many new fans. Perhaps unfortunately, Metallica's Black Album was popular around the same time and may have stolen some of the potential thunder. I know Dave felt agonized by this after the album's release. It bothers me a bit when people only know of Dave as the guy who hates Metallica. Megadeth is awesome and Dave is an extremely talented musician who, despite all his demons, shows a deep sense of morale in his songwriting. Countdown to extinction, aside from having pushed them to the height of their popularity, showcases that talent and combines it with accessibility, making it a great album and a good entry-point for new listeners.

Toretorden's Treasure Trove score : 5/6

Favourite tracks : Skin o' My Teeth, Symphony of Destruction, Architecture of Aggression, Foreclosure of a Dream, Captive Honour
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Old 09-14-2009, 05:37 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by toretorden View Post
Megadeth - Countdown to Extinction (1992)


  1. Skin o' My Teeth
  2. Symphony of Destruction
  3. Architecture of Aggression
  4. Foreclosure of a Dream
  5. Sweating Bullets
  6. This Was My Life
  7. Countdown to Extinction
  8. High Speed Dirt
  9. Psychotron
  10. Captive Honour
  11. Ashes in Your Mouth


Introduction :

Members on this album :

Dave Mustaine - guitar, lead vocals
Marty Friedman - guitar, backing vocals
David Ellefson - bass, backing vocals
Nick Menza - drums, backing vocals


Most know about Dave Mustaine and have some opinions about his music, but few aside fans know where the guy's really coming from. When he was little, his family was on the constant move, trying to get away from his sometimes violent, alcoholic father. When Dave was 15, he moved away from his mother and violent step-father and financed a flat on money he got for selling drugs. His supplier was a woman working in a record store who would drop by his apartment and give him drugs and albums and also had sex with him. Thus, Dave Mustaine was introduced to the music of bands like Motorhead and Iron Maiden as well as a rather destructive lifestyle with alcohol and hard drugs. In 1981 after seeing their ad in a magazine, Dave went to audition as lead-guitarist for Metallica. He didn't even get to audition as he was hired already after his warm-up on the guitar. Dave saw himself as the frontman of Metallica and eventually, his excessive substance abuse made him hard to get along with as well as a danger for the band. One day in 1983, they woke him up in their tour trailer, said his days with Metallica were over and dumped him at a buss station. Dave was pretty upset about that, especially after Metallica released their debut which had some of his stuff on it. Part as an agenda for revenge on Metallica, he formed the band Megadeth who's lineup for the 1985 debut My business is killing... And business is good had David Ellefson on bass, Chris Poland on second guitar and now deceased Gar Samuelson on the drums.

Megadeth has since been a drugged up heavy metal ride with several line-up changes. They often play fast and have enjoyed a reputation for being technically skilled. Dave's songs are often pessimistic and mistrustful of those in power and themes might deal with large-scale problems like tyranny and war or personal problems like suidical thoughts. During much of his career, Dave has been in a self destructive spiral and has been to rehab 15 times for various addictions including heroin. After a concert in Oregon which ended in a riot, Dave swallowed a handful of valium and was rushed to the hospital where he died, but was successfully resuscitated.

In the late 90s, he managed to sober up one final time and has stayed clean since. In the years after, he has announced his christian faith and now lives on a farm with his wife and two daughters Justis and Electra Mustaine .. Or did, I think he might be going through a divorce. Anways, although he's no longer a rock 'n roll dope-fiend, he still makes excellent music. Countdown to Extinction was Megadeth's fifth album and is the best-selling from their catalogue. It contains the band's most successful singles and was the first time they got massive media exposure like music videos played on MTV.


Song for Song Review :

The album opens strong with the classic Skin o' My Teeth, one of the faster songs on the album. I find it quite catchy and easy to like. In Dave's own words; This song is about how many times I've tried to kill myself but just couldn't get the ****in' job done. The theme is rather gloomy, but it made for an excellent song. Second track, Symphony of Destruction should need no introduction since most metal fans already know it and those who don't like metal may have been exposed to it through the video games like Guitar Hero. Fans may have grown tired of this song because of it's hype, but it doesn't change the fact that it's brilliant. The catchy guitar riff and machine-steady beat works extremely well with Dave's snarling vocals. The lyrics, dealing with the theme of dictatorship, are immediate ear catchers. Pure awesome. Watch the video if you want.

Countdown for Extinction marked a change in the sound of Megadeth as some songs were a bit slower and adopted more typical hard rock structures. The result was a fairly accessible album and it's the band's biggest seller. While diehard fans may be a little turned off by this new direction, there's no denying that it was an extremely important album for Megadeth and resulted in many new fans. Perhaps unfortunately, Metallica's Black Album was popular around the same time and may have stolen some of the potential thunder. I know Dave felt agonized by this after the album's release. It bothers me a bit when people only know of Dave as the guy who hates Metallica. Megadeth is awesome and Dave is an extremely talented musician who, despite all his demons, shows a deep sense of morale in his songwriting. Countdown to extinction, aside from having pushed them to the height of their popularity, showcases that talent and combines it with accessibility, making it a great album and a good entry-point for new listeners.

Toretorden's Treasure Trove score : 5/6

Favourite tracks : Skin o' My Teeth, Symphony of Destruction, Architecture of Aggression, Foreclosure of a Dream, Captive Honour
I`m a huge fan of Megadeth as well and would far sooner listen to their stuff than say Metallica for example, this has largely to do with Dave Mustaine and his brand of Thrash along with his unique signing style.

I think you must have watched the same Megadeth documentary as me as knew everything that you had written about Dave Mustaine, stuff that makes him one of the most interesting personalities in the history of rock.

As far as their albums go, Rust in Peace is their definitive work, hey! I would even say its one of the greatest metal releases ever, the album also has a manic energy that is unbelievable at times. As for Countdown to Extinction, its also a great album but the group are pushing in a more commercial direction and as you say, was around the same time as the Black album and that took some of its thunder away, even though I think its a far more enjoyable album. I think the opening riff on "Symphony of Destruction" followed by Dave`s vocals to be unforegettable.

I`ve never decided on their best line up, whether it be Chris Poland or Marty Friedman on Guitar, or Gars Samuelson or Nick Menza on drums.

Megadeth are one of those groups that I can listen to all day and every day.
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Old 09-14-2009, 01:28 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Default The Earl Scruggs Revue - Anniversary Special Vol.1 (1975)

The Earl Scruggs Revue - Anniversary Special Vol.1 (1975)


  1. Banjo Man
  2. Swimming Song
  3. Gospel Ship
  4. Bleeker Street Rag
  5. Royal Majesty
  6. Rollin' in My Dreams
  7. Song to Woody
  8. Third Rate Romance
  9. Hey Porter
  10. Passing Through


Introduction :

Artists on this album : Earl Scruggs and his two sons, Johnny Cash, Joan Baez, Billy Joel, Anita, Ruth and Issa Pointer (The Pointer Sisters) and many more

Most famous for his work with Lester Flatt (Flatt & Scruggs), Earl Scruggs is a country giant and considered a pioneer in the bluegrass genre for his influence on banjo playing. He started playing the instrument at 4 years of age and when he was 10, he invented the Scruggs-style picking, a play-style utilizing three fingers instead of the two-finger style. He rose to fame after he joined the band Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys in late 1945. In 1948, Earl and fellow bandmate Lester broke out and started the duo Lester & Flatt who's most famous song is Foggy Mountain Breakdown.

If you haven't watched this video of Scruggs and various other musicians performing the Foggy Mountain Breakdown, then .. get to it! It is awesome!

Anyways, in 1969 he left the Flatt and Scruggs duo and instead started The Earl Scruggs Revue with his two sons and more guest artists than you can throw a very large stick at. They produced a handful of good albums, Anniversary Special Vol. 1 being one of them. It features a small heap of popular guest artists like Johnny Cash and a good selection of well-chosen cover songs, many or most written by the various guests.


Song for Song Review :

The album starts out with a catchy bluegrass banjo tune called Banjo Man, a great bluegrassy and loveable song about listening to your favourite banjo picker on the radio. The album then continues in the same vein with the absolutely lovely Swimming Song which is a feelgood song about swimming. By the sound of it, it might also be about overcoming the fear of swimming. Ghospel ship features a variety of guest artists doing vocals, among them Mr. Cash and Bleeker Street Rag is a fast banjo-driven instrumental piece which will make your head bop and your legs move. Royal Majesty is a ghospely, soulful, southerny hymn to Jesus, the kind I imagine might have been sung in american baptist churches. I'll admit it's not the kind of thing I usually listen to, but this track nails just that clichθ sound and that makes it sort of enjoyable for me.

Rollin' in my Dreams is a relatively straightforward rock ballad while Song to Woody again cranks up the bluegrass feel. Third Rate Romance is a rock 'n roll tune with some great performances by what I guess must be the Pointer Sisters. Hey Pointer is another song that Johnny Cash has almost all to himself. He gets quite a lot of time on this album and this may be his most enjoyable contribution. Passing Through is another Jesus-song that, aside from not wanting my neighbours to think I've seen the light, makes for a better listen than I thought it would be. It feels slightly parodic with some funny vocal performances, but what the hell. It's overall impression is good.


Review Summary :

Needless to say, the Scruggs happily pick their way through most tracks on the album and gives that extra touch of bluegrass to the songs. The overall impression is that it's a feelgood album. It makes me think of hot days in the sun and I just wish I had a piece of straw to chew on and a banjo of my own. The songs are not all amazing, in fact there are few here that will stick with me long after a couple of spins on this album, but they are good even if they are not the kind of songs you'll take to heart and love forever. Banjo Man and Swimming song are definetly my favourites and are both swell tunes, but the latter being made up almost entirely of refrain makes for a lack of replay value.

Anyways, the album has some range, from feely rock songs to ghospels to bluegrass, so most should find a song or two that they like here. If you're not a fan of Earl Scruggs, then admirers of Johnny Cash should at least find several exciting bits here. Recommended!

Toretorden's Treasure Trove score : 4/6

Favourite tracks : Banjo Man, Swimming Song, Bleeker Street Rag, Hey Porter
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