The Playlist of Life --- Trollheart's resurrected Journal - Music Banter Music Banter

Go Back   Music Banter > The MB Reader > Members Journal
Register Blogging Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read
Welcome to Music Banter Forum! Make sure to register - it's free and very quick! You have to register before you can post and participate in our discussions with over 70,000 other registered members. After you create your free account, you will be able to customize many options, you will have the full access to over 1,100,000 posts.

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 10-13-2014, 12:37 PM   #2341 (permalink)
Born to be mild
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: 404 Not Found
Posts: 26,970
Default




So we've gone through in some detail what Viking Metal is, now it's time to check out some of the major --- and minor --- players in this field. There are some who stand head and shoulders above the rest, glaring down with battle-maddened eyes filled with bloodlust as they swing their heavy, two-handed broadswords in one hand with the practiced ease of a warrior born, laughing darkly as they stand there, spattered from head to toe in blood. Some of it may be theirs, most is probably that of their enemies: it matters not. These men live for the fight, the hunt, the chase and most of all, the gory, bloodsoaked and glorious victory. They are the spearhead of Viking Metal, the shock troops, the berserkers. These men are always first into any fray, and never leave until all their enemies are dead at their feet, or they have given their own lives --- while making their foes pay dearly for their prize --- and assured themselves of a place of honour in Valhalla.

So where else would we start but with one of these, perhaps the greatest of them all, and acknowledged as a driving, even creating force, in the world of Viking Metal? They could quite literally be called the fathers of the subgenre, and they are generally credited with releasing the first ever Viking Metal album.

Starting off as a Black Metal band, Bathory's Quorthon became interested in the tales of the Scandinavian gods and the mythical battles of both the Aesir and the more earthly Vikings, and after four albums he turned his creative focus towards fashioning a style of metal that would encompass, glorify and remember those ancient warriors and their gods. In total, Bathory released six albums that could be said to be Viking Metal; though “Blood fire death” does have elements of the subgenre, it's mostly seen as a Black Metal album. Quorthon was preparing a four-volume epic when he passed away in 2004, so sadly only two albums were finished.

The first one I want to look at is the album that showed the transition from Black to Viking Metal. It's that one I mentioned above, “Blood fire death”, and it's our first guest review, courtesy of Briks.



Artist: Bathory
Album: Blood Fire Death
Year: 1988
Genre: 1st wave black metal
Chronological position: Fourth album

I have written about Bathory twice before, including a review of this album. I gave it a 4/5 rating (which really was too high, as it didn't really grab me at the time) and moved on. It was the third black metal album I heard, so I was not yet used to the extreme subgenre. I liked the long, epic tracks: “A Fine Day to Die” and “Blood Fire Death”, but I dismissed the rest as uninteresting, generic black metal stuff (even though I didn't know crap about black metal).

Oh, how wrong I was.


Recently, I've started to appreciate black metal. So I revisited the album, and thought “wow, this is actually pretty cool”. Then I listened to it again. And again. Then I yanked the 4/5 rating right up to the deserved 5/5.

Blood Fire Death is credited with being the first viking metal release ever, but that's not really accurate, as there are only two viking metal tracks on it. After a three-minute long intro, “Odens Ride Over Nordland”, we are introduced to the first one, “A Fine Day to Die”. It starts out with some mellow singing over acoustic guitar and then turns into a fist-raising war anthem that makes me want to go out and buy a sword, hang it up on my bedroom wall right beside my grim Brvce Springsteen poster, and maybe take it down once in a while for cutting carrots in the name of Odin. Then we enter the middle area of the album, AKA the one I didn't learn to appreciate before just recently. Tracks three through seven are all brutal thrash songs that make Reign in Blood sound like a Beatles album. “For All Those Who Died” might be my favourite of the lot: that steady-pounding drum beat and repetitive buzzsaw riff makes me want to bang my head till my neck snaps. The closing track (if you exclude the outro), “Blood Fire Death”, is my definite favourite song on the album. It's the second viking metal epic, and it makes me want to take my carrot sword out in the woods and start furiously striking a tree while I'm dressed in a nerdy, black cape. It's that great.

/5

TRACKLISTING

1. Oden's ride over Nordland
2. A fine day to die
3. The golden walls of Heaven
4. Pace 'til death
5. Holocaust
6. For all those who died
7. Dies irae
8. Blood fire death
9. Outro

Trollheart says:
Thanks Briks for that. Appreciate it. I said I wouldn't alter your text and I didn't, apart from spellchecking (which was again unnecessary), though I did add in a tracklisting as I prefer there always to be one. Great job!


After this Bathory went in a completely Viking Metal direction which would only be broken by a two year spell when they would release two albums that fell outside the Viking Metal remit, 1994's “Requiem” and the following year's “Octagon”, after which Quorthon would return to the themes of Viking Metal.


Hammerheart --- Bathory --- 1990 (Noise)

As in most of his albums, Quorthon is the man here: he writes and composes all the music, plays everything except bass and drums, and even produces the album. I'm not quite sure what the opening sound effect is meant to convey --- a sword being cooled in water at a smithy? --- but “Shores in flames” starts off with acoustic guitar and a very clean vocal, something which later bands would ditch in favour of more shouted, grunted, snarly vocals. A heavy electric guitar then comes in with attendant percussion as the song ramps up, and it's one of two which are the longest tracks, almost eleven minutes apiece. Well, this one is the longest, at a few seconds over that. Mind you, of the eight tracks that make up this album, few dip below the seven minute mark, leaving aside the closing instrumental. There's power and grandeur in the song now as it sweeps along, a darker but still intelligible vocal relating the tale of the Norsemen as they make ready to set out on another raid: ”It says: Set your sails/ And let me take your ship to foreign shores/ Take farewell of those near you/ And your land of the North!” Backing vocals swell in a kind of tribal chant, perhaps the sort of thing the Vikings would sing as they rowed towards their next conquest.

This song is so good and entrancing that it's already approaching the eleven-minute mark before I realise it, and it's succeeded by one almost as long, as the men of the North give praise to their gods in “Valhalla”. I'm sure you all know, but just in case you don't, Valhalla was the place where every Viking hoped to go when he died; the hall of the brave, where men could sit side-by-side with warriors of legend, heroes and perhaps even the gods of Asgard themselves. But only the brave and the valorous got to reach that place, taken there by the Valkyries (remember Battleroar?) who would ift them from the battlefield and carry them to their honoured place. It's a heavy, powerful opening, very dramatic and portentous, till it begins rocking along on guitar riffs and mid-paced drums, though as yet no vocal as we head into the third minute.

”God of Thunder! cries Quorthon when the vocal does begin, ”Who crack the sky/ Swing your Hammer /Way up high!” Not the most original of lyrics I'll grant you, but they capture the worship of Thor, Norse god of thunder and of battle, whom all the Vikings revered as one of the most powerful and strongest of the gods, and upon whom they would call to bless their attacks. The chant accompanies the singing and really gives the impression of an army heading into battle, singing gloriously, unafraid of death and with only bloodlust and the desire for plunder on their minds. As befits any prayer evoking the thunder god, loud booming peals roll across the sky as Thor gives his answer, and the Vikings plunge on. And again, a ten-minute track is over before I even realise it.

Pounding drumming is joined by chugging guitar as “Baptised in fire and ice” takes it to another level, and although it's a heavy, almost angry song, it's important because it shows us the other side of the Vikings, the side in tune with nature and explains their respect for their land: ”I grew and learned respectfully/ The Earth, Wind, Water and the sky/ The powers that decided the weather/ And rules both the dark and light/ I heard the voices of the spirits/ Of the forest call my name/ I saw the Hammer way up high/ Cause lightning in the rain.” We hear of the youth of a young Viking and how he is brought up, not only to be brave and fearless, but to respect the traditions of his people. There's also a seriously killer guitar riff throughout the song. “Father to son” opens like a movie, with the sounds of a village, a baby crying, steps walking, a dog barking before machinegun guitar punches through as the blacksmith looks at his newborn son, determined to ensure he grows into a fine young warrior. The beat slows a little, though not much, making this more a cruncher and less a heads-down fretfest, though there's plenty of guitar in it.

The shortest track then, bar the instrumental at the end, “Song to hall up high” is a hymn to Odin (or Oden if you prefer) as a warrior gives praise and hopes to die gloriously and earn his seat in Valhalla. It's almost acoustic, with choral vocals backing the guitar in a chant that echoes the warrior's prayer. A full Viking chorus then accompanies Quorthon (though in reality they're probably all his own voice) before we slam into “Home of once brave”, which swaggers, marches and strides along with the arrogance of warriors born claiming their birthright. Vvornth really does well here on the drumkit, creating the atmosphere against which Quorthon's guitar growls and snarls its way. A great sense of pride and power in this song, and the melody is really catchy. There is a lot of perhaps unnecessary roaring at the end though. Finally we come to “One road to Asa Bay”, the other track that vies with the opener for the title of longest, just missing out on the eleven-minute mark. With a jew's harp and the sounds of birdsong and then galloping hooves, it's obviously another epic, which should serve to --- almost --- close the album well.

After about a moment soft guitar comes in with what I guess I should be referring to now as “The Viking Chorus”, then harder guitar pushes it aside and keyboards add to the melody, like a battlesong to accompany warriors as they ride. It's a slow, crunching, marching song, but in a departure from the lyrical themes of the rest of the album, which speak of and glorify the raids and the life of the Norsemen, this song tells of Christian priests and missionaries who came to Scandinavia to enforce their religion upon the Vikings. ”And the bold man carrying cross /Had told all one of Asa bay/ The God of all man woman child had come/ To them all save/ And to thank Lord of Heaven/ One should build to God a house/ And to save one's soul from Hell..”

But even though, after resisting the new religion, the Vikings capitulated and hoped the Christians would go away and leave them in peace, it was obviously never going to be that easy. ”Now this house of a foreign God does stand/ Now must they leave us alone/ Still he heard from somewhere in the woods/ Old crow of wisdom say /...people of Asa land, it's only just begun...”

Indeed.

A tiny, twenty-second instrumental ends the album, but it's so almost inconsequential --- barely a few notes --- that it's hardly even worth mentioning.

TRACKLISTING

1. Shores in flames
2. Valhalla
3. Baptised in fire and ice
4. Father to son
5. Song of hall up high
6. Home of once brave
7. One road to Asa Bay
8. Outro

Is the case for Bathory being the progenitor of Viking Metal strong then? I'd say it's debatable. Although hardly what you would quite term Viking Metal, Manowar were including lyrics about Odin and Asgard as early as 1982, a full eight years before this album saw the light of day, and other bands, notably based in the power or progressive realm, have also dallied with deities in their lyrics. Even Blind Guardian --- whom nobody would call a Viking Metal band --- had songs about the Norse legends before Quorthon got deeply into it.

But what can't be argued is that, as a bona fide subgenre of metal, Bathory certainly did more than most to bring this collection of stories, legends and musical ideas together into one cohesive whole, and it was this blueprint that the bands who followed would look to for their inspiration. Quorthon pulled all the threads together and wove a pretty impressive tapestry that has lasted long past the death of the man himself. And for that alone, as a legacy of the man known as Quorthon, it's probably fair to place the crown of Viking Metal upon his head. No doubt he now sits in the halls of Valhalla, discussing musical theory with Odin and Thor. He's certainly earned his place.

The album to follow “Hammerheart”, and to expand upon Quorthon's Viking Metal ideas, was “Twilight of the gods”, but I already reviewed that in the first Metal Month, which was actually where I first heard Bathory and was pleasantly surprised. If you want to read it, it's here

http://www.musicbanter.com/members-j...ml#post1374102.

A two-year gap would ensue, wherein Bathory returned more towards their original black metal roots, with a flavour of thrash, before returning with another Viking-themed album in 1996.
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-13-2014, 02:41 PM   #2342 (permalink)
Born to be mild
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: 404 Not Found
Posts: 26,970
Default


Blood on ice --- Bathory --- 1996 (Black Mark)

This is a concept album, not based on a Norse or other tale but written by Quorthon himself, about a child who is the only survivor of a raid and returns to wreak his revenge. The album opens on “Intro: Blood and ice” and has a confusing mix of drums, sound effects, baby crying and then finally explodes into life on thundering drums and hard guitar with a “Viking Chorus” leading in the main vocal. With a slow, almost loping gait the song relates the attack, as ”Bursting through the icy morning/ Four times five black shadows ahorse/ Steel glimmering in the awakening sun's light/
And blood colours the white snow red.”
Quorthon uses a dark, almost black metal vocal for much of the song but then reverts to a more listenable one. Since the song depicts the slaughter of the child's family and the destruction of his village, the moments of dark vocal actually work very well.

After all the men of the village have been slain and the women and other children taking hostage north, the unnamed protagonist hides out in the forests and learns the ways of the wood, growing strong and wise. “Man of iron” reflects this, with a medieval style of melody on acoustic guitar and with a clear vocal from Quorthon as he tells his story. ”I have learned to speak the tongue of the animal/ I have learned to read the signs in bark and snow.” It's a short song and leads to his encounter with the father of the gods, Odin, in “One eyed old man”, who tells him he has been chosen as a champion and will be trained to fight the great beast who was on the banners of the men who killed his family. A much harder, rocking, uptempo song with killer guitar, it flies along but not in speed metal territory. Great guitar solo from Quorthon here, and again a clear vocal, supplemented by the Viking Chorus.

In the middle it slows down to a single drumbeat as Odin speaks to the hero, explaining what is expected of him: ”And I see you riding up on a stallion as white as snow/ With the speed of the winds and endurance untold/ And you wield a sword of steel forged in fire and ice/ And the cry of a warrior you sound/ And victory is in your eyes.“ There's some lovely soft organ backing this, then it all breaks out in a big guitar riff as we head into “The Sword”, the tempo remaining high and heavy as Odin presents the hero with a magic sword that will help him defeat his enemy. ”A sword to protect the peace in troubled times/ A sword made to battle and to take a life”. A very Manowar-ish romping beat then takes the tune, like a warrior galloping along on his horse, and the Viking Chorus add their approving voices to his training.

Quorthon may have written this tale but he obviously borrowed heavily from Norse myth, as the eight-legged steed proferred by Odin in “The Stallion” can only be Sleipnir, the horse of the father of the gods himself. After all, how many horses do you know with eight legs? Parts of the melody here remind me of Manowar's “Blood of my enemies”; just in places. It's another hard, but not fast, song, guitar and drum-driven as Vvornth again gives it his all, Kotthar thundering on the bass beside him. Really, if there's a song I've heard from Bathory up to now that reeks of Manowar, this is it. Not saying he copied them or anything, but if anyone wanted to hear something similar to this I would play them “Hail to England”.

In order to steel him against his adversary, Odin has the hero meet the witch woman, as we move into “The Woodwoman”. She takes his heart, making him impervious to any weapon. ”She offers me the ability to take a fatal wound/ Every cut by sword or spear will be /Absorbed by her tree-womb/The magic will remain until it's time/ For me to part with this mortal world/ And all she'll claim is my young heart.” Yeah. Look, it's mythology, okay? Gotta wear your suspenders in disbelief, or something. It's a hard, marching track with powerful drumming and punching guitar and some nice tinkly guitar too, plus a smooth solo at the end. I tell you one thing though: it's the longest preparation for a quest I've ever heard of: thirty-odd minutes to get ready and the final battle only takes less than ten! Ah, sagas!

With the sound of wolves baying it's on to “The Lake”, where in a complicated game of one-upmanship Odin casts his eye into Mimir's Well, and his champion casts both his eyes in. Uh-huh! Remember what I told you about wearing suspenders? Okay, then, let's see if Quorthon can explain it: ”The one eyed old man told me that the face that I will see/ Has paralysed a thousand brave men sure of victory/ I cannot fight blindfolded and I'd freeze if I should see/ So I need to sacrifice my eyes to see all from within.” Yeah, seems clear enough. Kind of like Perseus using his magic mirrored shield to prevent him from gazing into the Gorgon's deadly eyes, except this guy takes his eyes out and throws them in a lake. Um. Anyway, our hero is now finally nearly ready to take up his quest, but first he entreats Thor for his blessing, in “God of thunder, of wind and of rain”.

A gong at the end of “The Lake” signifies that the time for preparation and training has come to an end, and a bluesy guitar accompanies sounds of wind, wolves, footsteps and rain before a hard driving beat takes the song as the hero looks to the sky and begs the thunder god for the strength and fortitude he needs to see his quest through. The Viking Chorus sing in unison (how else would they sing, now really?) and Vvornth pounds away enthusiastically as the hero sets off on his mission to ... I don't know. Something to do with descending to the Underworld and fighting this big two-headed beast he's been told he has to fight. With the twin ravens Hugin and Munin by his side, and wielding his mighty sword while astride Sleipnir ---- quite how he's supposed to see with no eyes I'm not quite sure, but this is myth and imagery after all --- the hero charges into Hel, the abode of the dead.

A gentle acoustic guitar carries the short “The ravens” before we hit the climatic battle in “The revenge of blood on ice”, the longest track, just short of ten minutes. It seems Quorthon has borrowed a little from Greek myth here too, as Hel is traditionally not guarded by any monster, but Hades is: Cerberus, the triple-headed dog. Guess he's lost one of his heads in the story, but this is the closest I can come to the inspiration for the hero's demonic adversary whom he plunges beneath the earth to do bloody battle with. As you'd expect, it's a rocking, rollicking, sinews-charging, chest-thumping battle anthem that describes the journey into Hel, the meeting with and eventual defeat of the two-headed monster and the victorious .... death of the hero? Well he sings about going to Valhalla at the end, so we must assume that though he defeated the monster he dies of his wounds in the end. Quite typical Viking ending I guess.

In the sixth minute most of the music drops away to just the sound of what I guess could be breathing, and the hoofbeats of the horse, backed by the bass of Kothaar, imparting quite an eerie impression and making you feel almost as if you are riding with the hero through the dark underworld. Battle is joined then and the music swells, tough and hard, the Viking Chorus back in full voice, and a big powerful dramatic ending as the hero's horse carries him, victorious, towards the gates of Valhalla.

TRACKLISTING

1. Intro
2. Blood on ice
3. Man if iron
4. One eyed old man
5. The Sword
6. The Stallion
7. The Woodwoman
8. The Lake
9. God of thunder, of wind and of rain
10. The ravens
11. Revenge of the blood on ice
12. Outro

Perhaps the pinnacle of Bathory's Viking Metal output, though I can't really say as I have not heard the older stuff. And I would like to do more here, but time is pressing and I have other bands to listen to. Although the story is derivative and pieced together from legends and tales from several cultures, and hardly an original work, it comes together quite well, and almost throws in a bit of Star Wars for good measure. The music is excellent and the vocals, despite my reservations, are all very clearly audible and understandable. A real triumph of the subgenre.

So, again, we must ask the question: are Bathory deserving of the accolade of the fathers of Viking Metal? Did Quorthon almost single-handedly create the style? To that I'd have to say no, but there's no doubt that he refined and improved it, streamlined it and threw down a marker for other bands who came later to try to measure up to. Did they, or do they? That question can only be answered in the next part of this feature. For now, as I think Batlord would agree, all I can say is: Bathory rule, man!
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-13-2014, 02:54 PM   #2343 (permalink)
Born to be mild
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: 404 Not Found
Posts: 26,970
Default


In something of a change for Slayer, the next album would not come out for four years. Given that they were perhaps trying to win hardcore fans back this seems a little odd, but then when you listen to the album and hear how lovingly crafted it is, what a masterpiece of sound engineering and songwriting it is, and how Slayer began to really tackle proper world issues, maybe four years was not too long to have to wait.


Divine intervention --- Slayer --- 1994 (American)

If ever the sticker “Parental Advisory” was created for one band, you would have to believe it was for Slayer, and with this sixth album featuring songs about everything from the SS to Jeffrey Dahmer, you can see why some parents --- most parents --- would not want their little precious buying and listening to it. And why all the little preciouses would be eager to do just that. With another powerful guitar intro, “Killing fields” explores the psyche of a serial killer, Araya hoarsely shouting the lyric with all the lack of control of a madman on the hunt for his next kill. New drummer Paul Bostaph adds a sense of fire and anger to proceedings, and King as ever is a master of the frets, his guitar screaming in pain as he racks out the solos. Coming it at a mere one minute fifty seconds, “Sex, murder, art” nevertheless squeezes a lot into its extremely short runtime, managing to reference BDSM --- ”Shackled, my princess/Dangling in distress/Here to discipline” --- fisting --- ”The urge to take my fist/ And violate every orifice” ---imprisonment and enslavement --- ”Caught, now you're mine/ The master of your whipping time!” and their usual healthy disregard/contempt for religion --- ”God is dead/ I'm alive!” Those PA stickers are seeming justified already! The music suits the raw, angry lyrics, pounding, screaming, violating. Heavy stuff.

No real letup then for “Fictional reality”, with a chugalong beat where the guys once again turn their hand to political lyrics, sneering at the notion of government --- ”Consumed democracy returns/ A socialist regime” --- with big, Iommi-style guitar riffs and a growling vocal, and the anger against society hits into overdrive as they pile into “Dittohead”, with one of the fastest vocals I have ever heard! How does he sing that fast? The music matches him as it hurtles along, but of course they can't keep this up forever and in a short time the beat has softened somewhat, settled down into a proper groove as Slayer rail against the leniency of prison sentences --- ”Slap your hand and you'll do no time” --- with the tempo increasing madly again and then spilling over into the title track, which seems to slow things down a touch.

Another long guitar intro and then Tom screams the vocal like a man in pain, which is appropriate as the lyric seems to hark back to “Angel of Death” on the third album, though here it would appear that God Himself is the torturer. Araya screams ”Violated, naked before you I stand/ Shattered shrine of flesh and bone/ God is piercing through my soul!” A machine-gun guitar assault accompanies him, but if pain characterises that song, anger sears through “Circle of beliefs” like a cleansing fire as Slayer return to beat on their old whipping-boy, Jesus and God, decrying the stupidity of those who follow the Christian religion. The tempo is breakneck --- though nothing comes close to at least the first minute or so of “Dittohead”! --- and again, for a song that runs for four and a half minutes it's over pretty quickly as we plunge into the infamous “SS-3”. Another song that would do nothing to dispel the accusations of Nazism, this chronicles the exploits of the SS and Gestapo during Hitler's reign.

Bringing the tempo down somewhat this track blasts along with fire and anger, and of course is open to misinterpretation, but for my money, unless they're singing “Heil Hitler!” (and not ironically) you can't really say someone is a Nazi sympathiser for writing a song about the SS any more than you can accuse the filmakers who wrote screenplays for World War II movies of the same. It's horrible, it's evil, but in the end it's just a lyrical theme for a song. It's not as if Slayer go on stage in Nazi uniforms giving the Hitler salute now is it? The song picks up speed about halfway through, and oddly King's solo seems a little distant --- bad production? --- but the second solo is crisp and pristine. Staying with controversial themes and a real two-fingers to the world of radio airplay, “Serenity in murder”, while probably the slowest song on the album and with a sort of odd droning vocal returns to the subject that opened the album, that of serial killers, while “213” shoots for the moon --- or the gutter, depending on your viewpoint and your intention --- crawling inside the polluted and dark mind of serial killer and cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer.

With a deceptively laidback guitar and a slow rhythm, it's not really that hard to see how Tom Araya sees this as a love song, because in a very twisted, special way it is. But not a love song you'd want anyone singing to you! It gets going with a sort of boogie beat and hard, biting guitars, a yelled vocal recalling the pained one Araya used in the title track, getting more and more manic as the song progresses. It's one of the few Slayer songs I've heard, at least so far, without a solo from Kerry or Jeff. “Mind control” then kicks over the tables, sets fire to them and legs it out the door as the place burns down to the ground and Slayer paint the last daubs of freshly-harvested blood over the ending of the album, proving the only pussies they tolerate reside either side of a woman's legs.

TRACKLISTING

1. Killing fields
2. Sex, murder, art
3. Fictional reality
4. Dittohead
5. Divine intervention
6. Circle of beliefs
7. SS-3
8. Serenity in murder
9. 213
10. Mind control

The speed, power and raw aggression on this album is frightening to behold. Gone are the complicated progressive song structures of the last album, gone too the references to Satan worship and any other fantasy elements. Having spent “Seasons in the abyss” Slayer have looked deep into it, it's looked deep into them, and neither has liked what they see. But a very real and disturbing truth has become apparent, and that is that whatever awaits us beyond the veil, what we suffer here --- and the suffering we cause here --- on Earth makes that pale by comparison. The realities of life, the prejudices, the hatred, the wrongs and the evils, all combine to make us think there can't be anything worse waiting for us than what we've created here ourselves.

All very deep and existential, I hear you say, but Slayer surely don't give a fuck And you're most likely right. They don't. What they will have given a fuck about though is that with “Divine intervention” they came right back on track; the fans flocked back in their droves, even more young men were encouraged to start their own bands, and even more parents hid their faces in their hands in despair at this trash their kids were listening to.

And for them, worse was to come.
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-14-2014, 05:12 AM   #2344 (permalink)
Born to be mild
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: 404 Not Found
Posts: 26,970
Default


All right, haters, get ready to hate...

Maximum overload --- Dragonforce --- 2014 (Metal Blade)

Yeah, that's right, I said Dragonforce. You got somethin' to say? Look, it's my journal and I'll review what I want, and you can all say what you like that this band don't belong in Metal Month II, but they're categorised as power metal, and whether you like it or not, they're getting covered. I've never understood the vitriolic hatred and the sneering contempt this band inspires from almost everyone on this forum. I mean, it's not like they don't play fast, hard and heavy, and unless you hate power metal I can't see any reason to put them down. But then, even those who adore power metal seem to keep a special part in their heart where they would like to lock away and torture these guys. I seriously do not get it.

If somebody plays music I enjoy, as long as that music is not sampled or copied from someone else, as long as it's original (unless of course we're talking about a covers or tribute band) then I have nothing against them. I have a feeling this review is going to spark mercurial debate across my journal as member after member tells me, in graphic detail, why they hate Dragonforce and why I should not listen to them, but I don't care. If nothing else, it will inspire comments and controversy, and conversation, which can't be bad. I'd rather have a review spark a debate --- civilised or otherwise --- than have it pass unnoticed and unremarked upon. So do your worst guys: I'm going in!

This is Dragonforce's sixth album, and just to add to the hate factor for some people (cough!) Batlord (cough!) they're joined on vocals by Trivium's Matt Heafy, who sings on three of the tracks. I've already reviewed “Ultra beatdown” and “Inhuman rampage”, and while I would never place them as my favourite metal albums, or claim they were classics or anything, I certainly did not hate them and could see no reason why anyone would. At any rate, we kick off with a squealy guitar solo which brings in vocals from Heafy as “The game” gets going with a lot of progressive metal in it. Okay, the squibby sound effects on the keyboards are already a little annoying. Oddly enough, Dragonforce say this song was inspired by Sepultura and Slayer, but I don't see it.

The importance placed on the speed of the song --- “the fastest we've ever played” --- gives something of an inkling to me as to why these guys get such bad press. I don't know any band who say that. Sure, thrash, death, black and of course speed metal, and much power metal put an emphasis on speed, but that's not the most important aspect of their songwriting, so far as I know. It's just a byproduct of it, and not something to actually be proud of or to strive towards. Bit hollow really. Given that, this is a decent opener with a typical chorus which surely will go down well onstage. Given that, I don't see it as any better or worse than a hundred other power metal songs I've heard. “Tomorrow's kings” at first fools me into thinking I'm listening to Jeff Wayne's “War of the Worlds”, with a very similar sound effect opening it, then explodes into another power rocker with galloping guitars and cannonball drums, a big chorus but in some ways it's sung too fast, and I get the feeling the guys are just trying to get to the end of the song as quickly as possible. I don't hear any passion or sincerity here I must admit. Heafy is back for “No more” ([i]”If only!” shout all the Dragonforce-haters!) and though we're only three tracks in I can see a pattern developing here, with each song sounding quite similar to the others.

It'll be interesting to see if they try a ballad, but so far it's all speed and power, and to be honest I haven't found my old friend the Hook; when I listened to “Through the fire and the flames”, one of their best-known and successful songs, I instantly heard the hook in the melody, but here, no. I don't hear it. The solos of course are fretburning but again there's something missing and the sort of videogame effects on the keys are getting increasingly annoying. Now it slows, which was unexpected, though I don't expect it to last, and a chugging guitar rising in the background presages the resurgence of those breakneck riffs ... and here they come. Again.

Yeah. Well, so far, so meh. “Three hammers” has a nice sort of striding passage to open it, with marching drums, and I wonder if maybe they're going to cut down on the speed a little? Some soft acoustic guitar would seem to add weight to that possibility, and indeed this could even be a ballad. The harder electric guitar is now coming in, but the tempo, while rising slightly, remains relatively slow, compared to the rest of this album so far. Probably not a ballad but not a speed race either. Not too bad. Still, Manowar and Virgin Steele do this sort of thing so much better, and with far more conviction and belief.

Oh well, it was never going to last, was it? Here come the screaming, flaming guitar solos as the song kicks up, and to be fair, they sound quite inappropriate and out of place in this song, as it slows back down again, making it pretty obvious that the solos were pure indulgence on the part of Herman Li and Sam Totman, just written in so they could show off. I've seen it before with Dream Theater, and I never like it. There's an acoustic guitar and gentle vocal to open “Symphony of the night”, but as you would expect by now, it punches up into another heads-down, breathless battle between Totman and Li as each tries to outdo the other. Lordy!

“The sun is dead” has at least some nice ideas in it, and it's not played at Mach II all the time. The solos in it are actually interesting and attractive; see, these guys can play when they stop messing around like kids. This is actually the longest track on the album, so I'm sort of glad it doesn't follow what's rapidly becoming obvious as the standard Dragonforce format. There's a nice bit of organ there near the end, and it's devoid of game effects, so it works much better. If I have to choose a favourite track on the album, I'd doubt there'll be anything to top this. Mind you, there's not been a lot to choose from. But so far, definite standout.

And on we go. I'm rapidly losing interest now. Heafy returns for his final vocal appearance on the frankly awful “Defenders”, another by-the-numbers speedfest with a chorus that tries to sound hard but has no spine, “Extraction zone” the same. Sometimes this is more like playing a video game than listening to music. The speed of this one is pretty ridiculous. The bit in the middle doubly so. If I want to play a video game I'll plug in my Playstation. If I want to play a video game I'll buy a Playstation, then plug it in. “City of gold” is just the same; decent chorus and something of a hook, but I can't imagine myself listening to this again. The album, I mean, not just the song. Of all things, there's a cover of The Man in Black's “Ring of fire” just to finish us off. Why, oh why did they bother? That song is perfect, and they certainly didn't do Cash any favours with this ludicrous attempt at a cover. Not so much walk the line as staggers along blindly. God save us.

TRACKLISTING

1. The game
2. Tomorrow's kings
3. No more
4. Three hammers
5. Symphony of the night
6. The sun is dead
7. Defenders
8. Extraction zone
9. City of gold
10. Ring of fire

You know, I'm beginning to get it. The two albums I reviewed seemed okay, and I found it hard, as I said in the intro, to justify or explain all the hatred for Dragonforce, but it's getting clearer now. On this album, as I said, there's a real sense of everything being done to a plan, a blueprint; every song, with small variations, sounds pretty much the same as the others, with the exception of “The sun is dead”. That song is the one shining jewel, or at least bright spot in an otherwise lacklustre pile of cr --- er, paste. The ability to play faster than everyone else does not make you a better player, guys: you need to have proper melody and heart in your songs. Oh yeah, and you need to sound like you believe (in) what you're singing, not like you're running off a teleprompter, which some of this does.

Sorry, that's not fair. Which most of this does. I was very disappointed overall with the album, and apart from the odd good bit and one decent song I fail to see how these guys are so popular. I'm not going to say I'm signing up right away for the Dragonforce Haters Club, but right at this moment I'm standing outside the recruitment office, looking at the poster and thinking about it.
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-14-2014, 05:33 AM   #2345 (permalink)
Born to be mild
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: 404 Not Found
Posts: 26,970
Default



Hmm. English lyrics, eh? Okay then, these guys will do. They sing in English and it helps that they’re the top of some nobody’s Best German Metal Bands list, so they must be at least half decent. The only thing that concerns me is their subgenre, which is described as "melodic death metal”. The last band of that type I listened to was Carcass, and there was nothing melodious about them! However, we’ll see. In existence since 1994 and with six albums to their credit, Burden of Grief hail from Westphalia, north of the Rhine, and seem to share a love of and respect for Slayer, Metallica and Maiden, so there’s some hope.



Death end road --- Burden of Grief ---2007 (Remedy Records)

I have no idea which is their best album, so I’m choosing this one purely on the basis of the name, and also that the previous one from Rammstein was released in 2004, so I want to avoid reviewing another album from the same year, otherwise I might have looked at “Fields of salvation”, which I was looking at first. But this is the one I’ve chosen, so off we go.

The opener --- and title track --- is an instrumental, so I don’t yet know what sort of vocals we’re going to be dealing with, but the guitar work is pretty good. It’s a short track and leads into “Vita reducta”, a harder, faster song and the vocals are those shouty, screamy ones I don’t like, but I’m going to try not to let them ruin the album for me. Just my luck to get an album sung in English when I can’t understand the vocals! Checking out the lyrics, I see this song is apparently about someone being buried alive. Nice. Guess we’re looking at some Doom Metal influences here, at least in the songwriting.

“Swallow the sun”, another cheerful title, does at least bounce along nicely with the guitar of Johannes Rudolph and Philip Hanfland to the fore, while vocalist Mike Huhmann is at least discernible, even if his vocals are very raw and raspy. Good overall melody to the song, and at least this time the term “melodic death metal” would appear to be deserved. Without the growly singing I could almost see this as a harder form of progressive metal to be honest. It’s not blindingly fast, there’s not so much emphasis on shredding as there is on “proper” playing, and the songs generally seem to be well constructed. Which is not to say that other melodic or even pure death metal bands do not put a lot of effort and thought into their music --- I’m sure they do. It’s just I can usually not follow it, the speed being too much for me.

The guitar attack continues and intensifies in “The game”, on which drummer Sebastian Robrecht really lets loose, and “Running scared” keeps the tempo high with the Duracell Bunny -- sorry, Herr Robrecht! --- still going strong, perhaps unaware the previous song has ended. Okay, let’s check back in on the lyrics and see what’s going on. I see, despite the seemingly bleak nihilistic title, “Swallow the sun” is in fact a rage against the injustices in the world ---”I ask myself why/ Why there's so much pain and rancor /Why there's war and poverty outside today?” --- while “The game” details the things one has to go through just to survive from day to day, and this track again reflects a sense of hopelessness mixed with the desperation to survive.

There’s no need for deep interpretation of the lyrics to “The killer in me” though, and it’s a pretty hard and fast fretfest with bombastic drums, the speed of the track edging into Slayer territory at times. “Drown in sorrow” seems to follow on from that, with the killer waking up the morning after and trying to come to terms with what he has done. ”What can I do?” he asks, ”What have I done?/ Is it just a joke/ Or have I killed someone?” More back on the lines of traditional metal this, with a big slice of Maiden in the song, perhaps even referencing the last line in “Killers”. Powerful stuff, even though we learn at the end that the guy is no killer, that this is just a bad dream.. There’s even an extended guitar passage here again reminiscent of Murray/Smith, yet no real solos. I don’t know if that’s something endemic to melodic death metal, but I’ve yet to hear a proper solo, and wonder if I will.

Another song that leaves you in no doubt as to what it’s about is “Schizophrenic”, with a big, tortured roar from Huhmann and another galloping beat. I’d like to say the BoG singer puts in a great performance as the man torn in two by conflicting personalities, and he probably does, but his usual vocal style just persists through this track so it’s hard to award him any extra points. Oh look! There’s a solo finally! Nice too. Worth waiting for, even if it does come at the end of the song. Now personally I find a song title like “Passion of the night” slightly incongruous here, but never fear! It’s no ballad (not sure Burden of Grief do ballads) and follows the basic format of their songs so far, most of which, while decent, have seemed quite similar to me, not much in the way of variety.

See, the problem is that in this penultimate track Huhmann is speaking in the persona, it would seem, of Satan, and yet he uses the very same voice for the schizo in the track before that. Now if you’re going to play the Evil One, shouldn’t you make your performance just a little darker, more evil, scarier? But there’s little or no difference between the two. “Road of visions” wraps things up --- you know, I’ve just now got the pun in the album title! --- and it’s basically more of the same, though the guitar is a little more restrained at times. But not that much.

TRACKLISTING

1. Death end road (intro)
2. Vita reducta
3. Swallow the sun
4. The game
5. Running scared
6. The killer in me
7. Drown in sorrow
8. Schizophrene
9. Passion of the night
10. Road of visions

Yeah, this really isn’t for me. I’m sure Burden of Grief are great at what they do and all, but this sort of music is never going to be my cup of tea. Mind you, as melodic death metal goes it’s far better than Carcass, but then that wouldn’t be hard. I guess you need to be into this sort of subgenre to appreciate nuances in the music and vocals I’m not hearing, but if they’re there they escape me. As it happens, there are two extra tracks on the album, but they’re remixes of songs off their debut, and as such I have no real interest in hearing them.

Bit of a disappointment, given that at least one person in the world cites them as the best German Metal band ever, but then, taste is subjective of course, and Burden of Grief are definitely not to mine. But if you like this sort of thing, they could be to yours.
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-14-2014, 06:19 AM   #2346 (permalink)
Zum Henker Defätist!!
 
The Batlord's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Beating GNR at DDR and keying Axl's new car
Posts: 48,199
Default

Dragonforce gets hate because they can't write songs. Your average DF song is just a two-dimensional parody of a Stratovarius song without any kind of depth. The only real reason they're popular is because they just sound like a power metal stereotype that appeals to people who don't actually listen to power metal. They're a novelty band and nothing more. For a song or two they're not much more than boring, but an entire album is like an endurance test.
__________________
Quote:
Originally Posted by J.R.R. Tolkien
There is only one bright spot and that is the growing habit of disgruntled men of dynamiting factories and power-stations; I hope that, encouraged now as ‘patriotism’, may remain a habit! But it won’t do any good, if it is not universal.
The Batlord is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-14-2014, 08:05 AM   #2347 (permalink)
Born to be mild
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: 404 Not Found
Posts: 26,970
Default



And so we come to mythsofmetal, who has suggested this album for me. Now, due to running “The International Language of Metal” I’ve experienced some non-English-speaking bands, so this is not going to turn me off, but unfortunately I can dig up little information about the band other than that this is their second album, the first in four years, and that according to their website they will be releasing one more and then calling it a day. They hail from Austria but apparently sing in German, not that I’d know the difference!



Seelenwund --- Mondstile --- 2012 (Indeendent)
Recommended by mythsofmetal

A quiet opening, with what sounds like surf and maybe wind, then a rolling drum and guitar fade in, getting louder and taking over the track as “Ich hab geträumt…” opens the album. A quiet, low-key vocal speaks in German, though as with Flaming Bess, reviewed in the Top 100 Prog albums in my journal, I have no clue what he’s saying. The track quickly becomes a fast sort of death metal affair, with roared vocals and much faster guitar, though still good. At this point I realise we’ve overlapped with “Mein inner sturm”, which must surely mean “my inner storm”? I guess the first track was a kind of introduction. This has real machinegun guitar and thumping drums, a lot of energy and power.

In the fourth minute it rather surprisingly drops to an acoustic guitar which is augmented by piano and violin, courtesy of Lundar, a real change in direction, everything slowing down before of course it all kicks back up with hammering drums and kill-em-all guitar as the last few minutes of the track wind down, taking us into “Im trauerhain”, where everything flies along at top speed, vocalist Wrath growling out the lines again while guitarist Leandin fires off some impressive shredding. I think in a way Panopticon prepared me for this sort of music and I’m beginning to get it now, to look beyond the unsetting vocal and listen to the music. Which is overall pretty good. Lundar’s violin comes back in here, but it’s kind of drowned out by the nuclear guitar and not half as effective as it was on the previous song.

Another acoustic guitar piece opens “Zeitenwandre”, with the beautful violin adding its voice too, but I can’t help but feel it won’t last. And it doesn’t. Another aural assault as the drummer (uncredited here) tries to destroy his kit, and even the re-emergence of the violin can’t stop the chaotic guitar. But it’s all in tune, and quite melodious really. Next up is “Die seele frie”, which opens with a solo violin before the guitar and drums crash down like avenging angels, but this time Lundar refuses to be beaten into submission, and the violin holds it own and joins the rocking melody, actually leading it at quite a tempo for such an instrument. Leandin’s guitar does take over though about halfway through, as Wrath continues to bellow before everything stops for another acoustic guitar line joined by the violin. It lasts longer this time but is still nevertheless kicked aside by electric guitar and stomping drums.

“Flammend” (flaming? On fire?) goes right for the jugular from the off, with a thunder of drums and a big nasty guitar reaching for your throat, It hammers along, but then .. you know what? I’m bored now. It was interesting for a while but the novelty’s worn off. Every song is the same basic pattern: start hard and fast then go slow then back to the original pace, or vice versa. But there’s not enough there. It’s good music but it’s too limited. It’s like trying to write a bestselling novel with only a handful of phrases or writing a TV screenplay with two scenes and one character. It’s a case of moving the same blocks around to make new structures, but the same basic shape remains, and while the violin is nice, as is the piano, they’re not used enough and when they are used, it’s more to break up the general guitar and drum attack. I need more than this to keep me interested.

So again we begin with acoustic guitar, a nice romping beat and violin as “Sehnsucht versus Leben” starts, but quickly it fulfils the expectation and hammers into another aural assault. Yawn. Could have told you that was going to happen. Tell you what: I’m just going to listen to the rest of the album --- there are six tracks left, including this --- sort of on autopilot, and if anything unexpected or out of the ordinary happens I’ll let you know. But I have a feeling it’s all going to be more of the same.

It can’t be denied that when they cut back with the violin and acoustic guitar Mondstille sound absolutely gorgeous, and both the guys are superbly talented, and by extension when they rock/metal it up they’re also great. I just don’t feel the two should be mashed together they way they’re doing here. It’s too jarring: you’re just chilling to a nice violin when suddenly there’s a big nasty roar and a guitar hammers you over the head. I would prefer if they kept these separate, or even as different pieces on the one track, rather than jump from one to the other. Now, as an example, “Der stille mond” (Silent world?) has a really nice laidback intro but you just know it’s going to explode in death metal madness … and there it goes. Makes no sense to me and hurts my ears, the sudden transition. Meh. Once might be seen as clever, bold. Every other track? That's just lazy or unimaginative.

I can’t even divert myself by concentrating on the lyrics, as I don’t speak or understand German, so I’m left to listen to the sudden shifts in each track, rolling my eyes --- see? There I go! --- as each slow part succumbs to a fast, or each fast slows down to be sped up again before the track ends. This does not mean the guys are not good musicians: they are, really good. But I’m not used to things changing this dramatically and this suddenly. Panopticon know how to do it. Mondstille, in my admittedly very limited opinion, do not.

Title track has a nice melody to it but generally speaking it’s more of the same with not too much in the way of a change; it is an instrumental, and seems to keep, for once, the same basic tempo and mood throughout, which is nice. The closer is also an instrumental, lovely piano with the violin coming in to accompany it as “Erwachen…” brings down the curtain.

TRACKLISTING

1. Ich hab geträumt ...
2. Mein inner Sturm
3. Im Trauerhain
4. Zeitenwandrer
5. Die Seele frei
6. Flammend
7. Sehnsucht versus Leben
8. Ich, der Pan
9. Der stille Mond
10. Seelenwund
11. Träumers Flucht
12. Erwachen …

This album is odd. There’s a lot to like about it, and my own complaints notwithstanding, the harsh jarring of I guess death metal with softer, almost classical music is really refreshing. It’s just that every track does something similar and after a while you get bored with it. I said at the beginning that Mondstille had said the next album would be their last. If it’s constructed the same way as this one, then I won’t mourn their passing.

But the potential for greatness is, or was, there. If they only had made it more interesting and a little less predictable after three or four tracks, leading to boredom and a general lack of desire to see the album through, which I did, but I was glad when it was over.
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-14-2014, 09:05 AM   #2348 (permalink)
Born to be mild
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: 404 Not Found
Posts: 26,970
Default

So why should Slayer get all the coverage during Metal Month II eh? Eh? Tell me that. You can't, can you? Thought not. In that case, I'm going to take a leaf out of young Justin's book (see his really cool journal here)

http://www.musicbanter.com/members-j...-endeavor.html

and look into how it all began for Metallica.



Kill 'em all --- Metallica --- 1983 (Megaforce)

So what was the first indication impressionable young kids had on first playing this album that something amazing was happening to heavy metal music? The opening track acts for me like a mission statement, as indeed does the title of the album. Raw power, aggression and passion, but imbued with the kind of drama that opens operas and symphonies. The lead guitar of Kirk Hammet and the rolling, thundering drums of Lars Ulrich are the first sounds you hear, and as they pound out the introduction to “Hit the lights”, the general feeling I get, putting myself in the place of someone listening to this for the first time in 1983 in America is, hold tight, because you ain't never heard this shit before!

And they hadn't. Before this, metal in the USA was still more or less faffing about trying to decide if it was hard rock or AOR. The likes of Kiss, Aerosmith, Journey and REO hd a firm grip, even a stranglehold on American stadium rock, and the NWOBHM, despite being four years old at this stage and beginning to wind down across the water had yet to make any sort of substantial inroads on the US, with only Iron Maiden and Saxon making the big leap over the pond and bringing the exciting new music of the UK to the land of the free. In fact, Maiden were one of Metallica's biggest influences when they decided to get together and play.

With Slayer's debut not hitting till four months later, and Anthrax actually supporting them on one of their first gigs, Metallica were truly the very first American thrash metal band, and in fact the term thrash metal was coined to describe their sound. The album, originally to have been titled “Metal up your ass”, could not get a release due to worries on the part of their record label and so they changed the title to “Kill 'em all”, referenced I guess in the fact that there is no track on the album with that title. I would have called in “The Four Horsemen”, but there you go. They didn't, and metal history was made.

In more ways than one, really. I may be wrong, but I can't recall another instance of a band member being fired before the debut album, as happened here. Dave Mustaine, who had written much of the original music for half of the songs, was fired in April, two months before the album was released and while it was still being recorded, and replaced by Kirk Hammet, who would go on to be Metallica's mainstay guitarist. Mustaine then huffily formed his own band, Megadeth, and the two have been at loggerheads ever since. As a result, Mustaine never actually plays on any Metallica album other than the demo “No life till leather”, and would not cross paths with his ex-bandmates for another twenty-eight years, when Megadeth would play onstage with Metallica, Slayer and Anthrax in Poland as “The Big Four” that they had become, and been dubbed as.

Back to “Hit the lights”. With a big guitar growl it then piles into full speed, the drumming of Ulrich driving the tune along as he roars the vocal, Hammet racking out riffs that were partly his, partly those of departed guitarist Mustaine. There's no real attempt at finesse --- this is, after all, what would grow to be known as thrash metal, and that's characterised by speed, power, aggression and often a sort of controlled chaos. The faster and harder you can play, seems to be the accepted wisdom, the better a thrash band you are. And Metallica certainly play fast here, with Hammet racking off some scorching solos, then slowing the pace down very slightly we're into “The Four Horsemen”, a song with lyrical fare that would become a favourite of Metallica and their contemporaries, the end of the world.

A kind of chugging guitar riff pulls the song along, and you can hear the influence of British band Diamond Head in it, also the vocal stylings of original Tygers of Pan-Tang vocalist Jeff Cox. In the middle it slows down into a sort of southern boogie style, which Mustaine has, perhaps snipingly, referred to as being based on the riff to Lynyrd Skynyrd's “Sweet home Alabama”, and you know, I can hear it. Mustaine did not write this part when he wrote the song, hence the perceived sense of annoyance. A superb guitar outro from Hammet takes us out and into “Motorbreath”, a fast heads-down rocker, possibly a tribute to Motorhead, though I don't know. One of the two singles to be released from the album, “Jump in the fire”, is up next.

One of many later metal songs to be written from the viewpoint of the Devil, it's a fast rocker with frenetic guitar and postulates the question “who needs Hell when you have humanity?” In other words, people by their actions are sealing their own doom, while Satan sits back and laughs. Ulrich has said that it was inspired by Maiden's “Run to the hills”, and though the two songs are nothing alike, you can see what he means. “RttH” is about man's inhumanity to man, and “JitF” is about man sealing his own fate by his treatment of others, and by the sins he commits. A sweet guitar solo in the middle, it's another of the songs Mustaine had worked on before being fired, and he's credited with it as co-writer, as he is with the other three tracks he partially wrote.

Next we get the rather odd “Anesthesia (Pulling teeth)” which, rather like in ways Manowar's “William's tale” is completely played on bass by Cliff Burton, who makes the bass sound like a guitar, and is helped out by Ulrich keeping the beat on parts of the piece. It's pretty amazing: you would think it was a guitar he was playing, but even so it comes across as just a little self-indulgent, and I believe it's far too long. Very impressive though. A sad loss to the world of metal. “Whiplash” then comes in on his bass lines, before Hammet's scattergun guitar takes over and the song begins to belt along, with a full minute of instrumental before James Hetfield comes in with the vocal. I must say, I hear echoes of “Ace of spades” in there ...

Another fast thrasher in “Phantom lord”, with a blistering solo from Hammet, and then rather unexpectedly slows right down in a sort of blues frame of mind to perhaps presage one of their biggest hit singles, “Enter sandman” before Hammet's chugging guitar again takes it off into the sky, screaming like a pterodactyl who sees her nest under attack. There's a blast from my past for me in “No remorse”, as I'm told the song is the inspiration for the music from the computer FPS “Doom”, which is one of the few games I ever played and on which I wasted quite a lot of my younger life. With a fast, powerful, wailing guitar intro that takes it into the first minute, it marches along with a rocking beat and an unapologetic lyric: ”No remorse, no regrets/ Another day, another death” Yeah. I don't see the "Doom" connection, personally.

“Seek and destroy” starts slower, with a more almost low-key vocal from Hetfield. Again it's introduced by a minute-long guitar passage, and oddly enough, given the title, comes across to me as one of the least angry or aggressive tracks on the album. Not that I don't like it, but it just doesn't seem to have the same unbridled energy that the rest of this debut does. Also, I feel Hetfield's voice is slightly strained especially on the chorus. It does speed up in the midsection, a fast powerful solo injecting new life into what had been up to now not quite a boring track, but not as exciting as everything that has gone before. The song actually improves without the vocal, which comes back for the last two minutes of the just short of seven it runs for.

The album closes on the final track into which Dave Mustaine had any writing input, “Metal militia”, which ramps the energy and passion right back up after the somewhat lacklustre “Seek and destroy”, returning to the speed of songs like “Jump in the fire” and “Whiplash”, Hetfield back on form vocally. It's well named, being a virtual aural assault on the ears and ends the album well. I must however take note of one extra track. You all know I don't usually include bonus tracks, but this one is so important I feel I must. Of course, I've related the story before (in the section on them in “Witches, Bitches, Maidens and Monsters: the bands of the NWOBHM”) of how Diamond Head got a new lease of life, after disappearing from public view for years, with the cover Metallica did of their song “Am I evil?” Here it's included as a bonus track, and though they drop my favourite part, the “Mars: the bringer of war” intro, they do a decent job of it but I still prefer the original. Nevertheless, I must thank them for bringing a band who were pretty much dead at that point back into the light of publicity. The fact that Diamond Head never capitalised on that second chance says all you need to know about them, really.

TRACKLISTING


1. Hit the lights
2. The Four Horsemen
3. Motorbreath
4. Jump in the fire
5. Anesthesia (Pulling teeth)
6. Whiplash
7. Phantom lord
8. No remorse
9. Seek and destroy
10. Metal militia

Try to imagine --- if you weren't there at the time --- what it must have been like for Americans --- and for kids this side of the water too --- to have first heard “Kill 'em all”. Oh, we had Iron Maiden, Saxon, but they didn't have the raw power and aggression that was leaking from the pores of this new kid on the block like angry sweat. Sure, Motorhead were fast and loud, but I've never seen them as angry: Lemmy always seems to treat the whole thing as one sort of massive joke. Not that he's not serious, but when he sings “Iron horse” or “Overkill” or even “Ace of spades”, I don't hear anger or rage or frustration in his voice. It's just music.

Metallica were one of the new breed of bands who were going to shake up the whole world of metal. It would be fast. It would be angry. It would be fucking LOUD! Soon, they would be joined by contemporaries Slayer, then Anthrax and of course a disgruntled Dave Mustaine would eventually get his shit together and form Megadeth, leading to the four bands being dubbed “The Big Four” of Thrash Metal. And thrash metal itself would be born on on the tattooed arms and roaring lips of these fresh new faces on the US music scene; a whole new subgenre that would spawn countless bands, some good, some not so good, and lead to a total cosmic shift in the appreciation, playing and dominance of heavy metal for nearly ten years. Iron Maiden may have sown the seeds three thousand miles away, but Metallica were genetically altering and then harvesting them, and sharing them with the world. From this dark crop a world of teenagers, hungry for music they could identify with, could believe in, could perhaps one day emulate, would be fed, and would crowd greedily and eagerly at the trough, sating their hunger.

The revolution had begun, and it started right here.
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-14-2014, 09:07 AM   #2349 (permalink)
Born to be mild
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: 404 Not Found
Posts: 26,970
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Batlord View Post
Dragonforce gets hate because they can't write songs. Your average DF song is just a two-dimensional parody of a Stratovarius song without any kind of depth. The only real reason they're popular is because they just sound like a power metal stereotype that appeals to people who don't actually listen to power metal. They're a novelty band and nothing more. For a song or two they're not much more than boring, but an entire album is like an endurance test.
Yeah, I'm finally beginning to see that. Took me a while. Now, where do I sign up?
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-14-2014, 09:49 AM   #2350 (permalink)
Zum Henker Defätist!!
 
The Batlord's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Beating GNR at DDR and keying Axl's new car
Posts: 48,199
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trollheart View Post
Yeah, I'm finally beginning to see that. Took me a while. Now, where do I sign up?
I'd also like to point out that their solos go on for entirely too long. I used to have Inhuman Rampage, and I actually timed the solos after the second chorus of each song, and they all, ALL, last for at least two minutes. Over two minutes of pointless wank. ****. That.
__________________
Quote:
Originally Posted by J.R.R. Tolkien
There is only one bright spot and that is the growing habit of disgruntled men of dynamiting factories and power-stations; I hope that, encouraged now as ‘patriotism’, may remain a habit! But it won’t do any good, if it is not universal.
The Batlord is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Similar Threads



© 2003-2024 Advameg, Inc.