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Old 11-30-2011, 05:02 PM   #551 (permalink)
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As December begins, with only twenty-three shopping days to Christmas, we thought we'd give you headbangers an early Xmas pressie. As mentioned on Journal News, here's the inaugural dance at the Devil's Ballroom!

Here you will find only the loudest and heaviest music. Many heavy metal bands are capable of writing really sensitive ballads and slow songs, but you won't find any of those here! If you can't shake your head to it, it ain't got a place here. Loud, fast (usually), hard and heavy is the name of the game in this section, which will be the largest selection we've ever attempted, usually thirty videos per session, with seven videos from our “featured artist”.

Along the way, we'll be doing our best to fill you in on who the bands are (in case you don't know them), what albums the music is from, and so on. The intention is to feature a good mix of old, classic, new and obscure bands, so that there's something here for everyone. The only unalterable criterion is that the band MUST be Heavy Metal, and recognised as such.

So drag on your raggiest jeans or try to squeeze into those old leather pants, let your hair down (any who have it, unlike me!) and turn your amp or headphones up to 10, cos this is gonna be LOUD!

The Devil's Ballroom: Inaugural Dance, December 1 2011: “If it's too loud you're too old. I SAID, if it's too LOUD...”

And to get things off to a rockin' start, here's Megadeth, who are of course the rival band formed by Dave Mustaine after he was kicked out of Metallica. This is from their contribution to the Black Sabbath tribute album “Nativity in black II”, and their version of Sabs' “Never say die”.


And if THAT didn't get you headbangin', how about something from the real deal? Here are Ozzy and the boys, back in '71, when they were arguably the heaviest band around. This is from “Master of reality”, a great album, and a powerhammer called “Children of the grave”.


Time for some new blood on the dancefloor! The Gate are a band from a country which has long been a bastion of metal, Germany, and which is also the native land of our featured artist, Helloween. But though they've been together since 2009, The Gate only released their debut album, “Earth cathedral”, last month. I'm working through it, but what I hear I like! This is a taster, called “Face your fear”.


Something from Anvil's new album “Juggernaut of justice”, this is “Not afraid”.


Time for the first track from our featured artist. Helloween are a metal band from Germany, who have been together for over twenty-five years now, and are still turning out class albums. They are seen as one of the pioneering influences on metal in Germany, along with bands like Scorpions, Accept and Kreator. They have had, to date, thirteen albums (not counting live and compilations), their most recent being last year's “7 sinners”. This is taken from their third album, released back in 1988, “Keeper of the seven keys part 2”, and one of their best-known songs, this is “I want out!”


Great stuff! More from Helloween later. But you couldn't really expect to have a Heavy Metal disco and NOT invite the Gods of Heavy Metal, now could you? So here they are...


One of my favourite metal bands around at the moment is these guys from Spain, who call themselves Cain's Dinasty. Dodgy spelling and lyrics apart, they sure know how to rock the house! Here they are with a track from their current album, “Madmen, witches and vampires”, this is “Devil may cry”.


Dragonforce get a hell of a slagging, and no-one seems to consider them proper metal. Not sure why, with tracks like this!


Time for another classic from another classic metal icon. This is Thin Lizzy, from the album “Chinatown”, and “Killer on the loose”. We miss ya, Phil!


One of the loudest bands to come out of the NWOBHM --- and that's saying something! --- this is Tank, from their album “Filth hounds of Hades”, with “Run like Hell”.


Time for some more from our featured artist, Helloween. This is taken from their most recent album, last year's “7 sinners”, and it's a question we all know the answer to: “Are you metal?”


Crossing over the Atlantic now, here's Kiss with the title track from their album “Creatures of the night”.


Personally, I loved Manowar for about the first two albums, then I thought they became a real joke, but there's no faulting their music. Title track from the album “Sons of Odin.”


Back over to this side of the pond now, for Germany's favourite sons, the Scorpions, with a belter of a track entitled “Speedy's coming”. Sadly, the Scorps are due to disband this year, but they've left us a hell of a lot of great metal to remember them by.


What happens when you get “Fast” Eddie Clarke from Motorhead together with Pete Way from UFO? Fastway, that's what. They released their debut album in 1983 and they're still going strong. This is from that album, self-titled, and it's “We become one”.


And speaking of Motorhead, here they are with the bombastic “Overkill”!


Back to our featured artist now, for another sampling of the delights served up for over a quarter of a century by Helloween. This is the song that they take their name from, or vice versa. Or something. Anyway, it's from their second album, “Keeper of the seven keys, part 1”, and it's called --- anyone?


Some classic metal now, from Budgie, this is taken from the album “Power supply”, great song called “Gunslinger”.


And from budgies to tigers, here are the Tygers of Pan-Tang, before they went all AOR. This is from their debut album “Wild cat”, featuring original vocalist Jess Cox, with “Suzie smiled”.


Time for another trip across the ocean, but this time it's the Pacific, as we travel all the way to the land of the rising sun, where Vow Wow were flying the flag for heavy metal in the eighties. This is “Rock me now”.


And staying in Japan, here's the shredder king himself, Yngwie J. Malmsteen, with a stormer of a track called “Far beyond the sun”.


Back to Hell(oween) we go, this time it's a track from our featured artist's album “Rabbit don't come easy”, and it's called “Back against the wall”.


On the anniversary of the sad death of the great Ronnie James Dio, here's a doubleplay from him, first with his own band, Dio, from their “Sacred heart” album, this is “Hungry for Heaven”.


And this is him with Rainbow, with the powerful “Kill the king”. RIP Ronnie.


How about something from Zakk Wylde's Black Label Society? This is “Concrete jungle”.


The blackest of black metal now, here's Venom!


Coming slap bang up to date now with Swedish metallers Coldspell, this is from their current album “Out from the cold” and it's called “Save our souls”.


I don't think anyone is likely to ever mess with Ted Nugent! Here he is with a rant against gun law, snarling “Kiss my Glock!” Gulp!


Let's have two tracks back-to-back from our featured artist now. First, here they are with a track from the album “The dark ride”, the hilarious “Mr. Torture”.


And now a track from 2007's “Gambling with the devil”, this is “Paint a new world”.


Back to the NWOBHM we go, for one of Diamond Head's best, this is “It's electric”.


Finland isn't normally a place you think of as shaking with heavy metal, but these guys are good! This is Excalion, from their second album “Waterlines”, and a track entitled “Ivory tower”.


Getting near time to wrap things up, guys, but we couldn't leave without something from the mighty Saxon! Here's one of their best, the thundering “Princess of the night”.


Just time for one or two more. Let's squeeze in Damn the Machine, from their self-titled, this is “The fall of order”.


Time for the last track from our featured artist, Helloween. This is from the album “Time of the oath”, released in 1996, and it's simply, and appropriately, entitled “Power”!


And we'll leave you with another German band, this is Avenger, from their album “Prayers of steel”, and “Rise of the creature”. Hope you enjoyed our first Devil's Ballroom, and haven't hurt your neck headbanging or wrecked your fingers playing air guitar! We'll be back with another selection after Christmas, with a new featured artist. Until then, keep rockin' and keep it metal!
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Old 11-30-2011, 05:03 PM   #552 (permalink)
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Thursday, December 1 2011
Still believe --- Lunatica --- from "Fables and dreams" on Frontiers


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Old 12-01-2011, 06:06 PM   #553 (permalink)
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Friday, December 2 2011
Dry lightning --- Bruce Springsteen --- from "The ghost of Tom Joad" on Columbia


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Old 12-01-2011, 06:09 PM   #554 (permalink)
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A song that became synonymous with the ad for Vodafone, this is the Dandy Warhols, and “Bohemian like you”, a song that made it cool to shout “Woooo!”
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Old 12-02-2011, 08:39 AM   #555 (permalink)
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Bridge of spies --- T'Pau --- 1987 (Siren)


How can you be a Star Trek fan and not like a band who take their name from one of the characters? So I was already leaning towards liking, or hoping to like T'Pau, and when I heard their debut single, “Heart and soul”, I knew that I was going to like them. Naturally, when their debut album was released I bought it, and though it's not perfect from start to finish, it's more than a worthy first effort, and I was impressed with the quality throughout.

It opens with the aforementioned “Heart and soul”, which you probably already know as it was a big hit single on both sides of the pond. It starts off with a chunky bass, nice keyboard and a sort of double-vocal, one low and kind of chanting which continues on a track independent of the main vocal, which comes in soon after, both taken by singer Carol Decker, and the song becomes a mid-paced rocker, very commercial, and not surprising that it was a hit, as it's very catchy and memorable. It leads into “I will be with you”, the first ballad on the album, with digital piano and nice guitars, the double-vocal not repeated again as Decker settles into “normal” singing.

She has a strong, distinctive voice, and it was both her voice and her image that characterised T'pau and allowed them to keep something of a stranglehold on the charts in the latter part of the eighties, gaining a total of five hit singles --- of which this was one --- from this album, an impressive feat. In my opinon a vastly inferior song to “Heart and soul”, it was third track “China in your hand” which made it to number one, and for which now T'Pau are best remembered. It's a good song, but it just doesn't strike a chord with me. The pizzicato-string keyboards, deep piano and mostly restrained guitar take, I feel, from the style of T'Pau's music, and though it's a cleverly constructed song and was their biggest hit, I just don't like it. Probably the only one who doesn't, but so it goes. Nice sax solo at the end, all right.

“Friends like these” is more uptempo, but to be honest doesn't restore the confidence engendered by the first two tracks, with its almost reggae/calypso beat, and “Sex talk” keeps up the fast rhythm for a real brass-driven rocker with some great keyboard arpeggios, and the guitarists Ronnie Rogers and Taj Wyzgowski get to finally let loose! Ooh yeah! The title track follows, and although there's only one real standout track for me, it being the opener, I must say this comes damn close.

In fact the longest track on the album (I know: here he goes again!) “Bridge of spies” is a great little tune, built on a perfect little guitar riff with some really impassioned singing from Decker, a great hook, pure AOR magic. Really impressive guitar solos from one, or other, or both, of the axemen. Drumbeats are very military-style, suits the melody very well. Nice false ending, a minute before the actual one, and a lovely instrumental ending that almost fades but instead ends abruptly and bursts into “Monkey house”. Now, I could have done without that. I thought the song was finishing well, and it was a bit jarring to have the sudden shout of “Oh yeah!” at the end, then rushing without a pause into the next track. Not how I would have preferred it.

For what it is, “Monkey house” is a good rocker, down and dirty as the band lets loose, with some inspired guitar work, and Carol at her most raunchy, but I still wouldn't consider it one of the better tracks on the album. That, however, cannot be said for the next one, the beautiful ballad “Valentine”, which firmly re-establishes T'Pau as a band of class and craft, and made a great single. With its gentle guitar intro and Carol's gentle, soulful voice this was always going to become a classic. The guitar gets unleashed further into the song, pulling off a sublime solo, and Decker's voice becomes stronger and more strident as the song proceeds.

“Thank you for goodbye” is another good one, halfway between a ballad and an uptempo rocker, with some very effective keyboards and again nice sax breaks, with a feel of Las Vegas nightclubs about it, somehow, and the album finishes strongly with “You give up”, a raunchy, boppy uptempo rocker with a keyboard riff that's right out of Springsteen's “Glory days” from “Born in the USA”. Naughty, naughty! Great closer though.

I say closer, but in fact it's not the final track, as there is a reprise of “China in your hand”, but it's barely worth mentioning, just fifty-two seconds of the sax outro from the track itself: why it's included I have no idea, and for me it takes from the strong closing of the album, and would have been better left off.

T'Pau never again reached the heights they scaled with their debut album. People got bored, forgot them, looked elsewhere. Times were changing, music was changing, and it was kind of hard to fit Carol Decker and her cohorts into any real pigeonhole, so people seem to have stopped trying, and in so doing, stopped caring. They released two more albums after this, but neither were very successful, and they split in 1988, which is a pity, as for a moment there, they shone like diamonds in the sun. But I guess in the end, the bridge of spies is something that can only be crossed once.

TRACKLISTING

1. Heart and soul
2. I will be with you
3. China in your hand
4. Friends like these
5. Sex talk
6. Bridge of spies
7. Monkey house
8. Valentine
9. Thank you for goodbye
10. You give up
11. China in your hand (reprise)
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Old 12-02-2011, 09:40 AM   #556 (permalink)
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Once again we're looking at an album that, while not quite the bottom of the barrel, doesn't rise to anywhere near the top either. The best that can be said is that it's all right, neither terrible nor brilliant, but in general leave you with a general overall sense of a shrug of the shoulders, an album which is unlikely to get played more than once all the way through, an album, in short, that left me feeling “meh...”

Love scenes --- Beverley Craven --- 1993 (Epic)


The more disappointing considering her stunning debut three years previous, which gave her a huge hit single in “Promise me” and made people take notice of her. Possibly due to that, the ever-awkward second album syndrome, “Love scenes” is a big let-down. Hardly prolific, Craven has only released a total of five full albums in almost twenty years, and it would be six more years before her third was completed. A lot of this has to do with the birth of her children, and you can't blame any mother for taking time off to make sure she shares the golden years with her kids, but her music certainly seems to have suffered from the hiatus, and any hope she had of making it big soon disappeared. Music fans are a fickle and impatient lot, and you can't expect (most of) them to wait six years between albums --- even three is asking a lot, especially following a debut.

But I had enjoyed that self-titled first album a lot, even if much of it is somewhat indulgent and more than a little depressing. I thought a new star might have arisen on the horizon, and perhaps she would have shone a lot brighter and more powerfully had she followed up her debut more quickly, and with a stronger second album. As it is, what we have is a lot of rehash from the first, with some it has to be said pretty dire tracks, a lot of filler and one or two decent songs.

“Meh”, say I.

It opens, in fairness, with one of the better tracks, the title in fact. It's a nice guitar and string-driven semi-ballad with a good hint of bitterness in it, as Bev sings ”You're playing love scenes without me/ And she's got my role.” It's quite similar in pace and melody to her huge hit “Promise me”, and as this is one of the better tracks on the album, that's really not good. If you can't write new material without recycling your better songs, it's a bad start. Second track “Love is the light” is another ballad, though this time a full one. This is another shortcoming with Craven's material. She always risked her music being forced into the “easy listening” category (surely death for any emerging artist!) due to the overpreponderance of ballads on her albums --- her debut had five out of a total ten --- and the opening of the album does little to dispell this practice, despite a spirited guitar solo halfway through “Love is the light”.
The shining diamond on this album is the utterly amazing “Hope”, which unbelievably was not chosen for release as a single. A tender, touching, tragic ballad, it focusses not on love and men, but the wrongs in the world, the injustices and the crimes against humanity practiced on a daily basis, often closer to home than we would wish to admit. Opening lines ”The martyrs of democracy/ Are lying in the streets/ People with the power/ Will kill to keep the peace” lay down the marker right away, as a lonely but effective piano is slowly joined by slowly-building strings, as a sad bell of doom tolls in the background. The strings surge on the back of powerful drums as the song increases in intensity, and this is, without question, one of the finest songs ever written by Beverley Craven, indeed, one of the finest songs on democracy and human rights ever recorded, and it should be far better known than it is.

Unfortunately after that it's pretty much downhill for the rest of the album. “Look no further” is a pretty awful reggae-styled song in the vein of “You're not the first” from the debut, while “Mollie's song”, written for her daughter is touching but I prefer Phil Lynott's “Growing up”. Still, you can't really pick too much fault with an artiste when they write a song for their children, and it's not a bad song, but doesn't stand out: perhaps it's a little overindulgent, though as I say we'll allow her that indulgence. Hey, at least it isn't “Kathleen!”

The ballads continue with “In those days”, more acoustic piano and to be fair Craven has a lovely clear and almost spiritual voice, even if it does often stray into Judie Tzuke territory. There's a nice touch with the addition of what sounds like oileann pipes, and the song is a nice look back to her childhood, while digital piano abounds on “Feels like the first time” (not, sadly, a cover of the stomping Foreigner song!), a ballad that owes much of its melody to “Castle in the clouds” from her first album, and then she attempts --- rather unsuccessfully in my opinion --- to fuse reggae and rock stylings with a good slice of jazz on the first real uptempo number, “Blind faith”. It's a worthy effort, but I think she's trying to step too far away from what she's best at here, and it comes across as too earnest, a real “look at me, I can rock!” song. And sadly, no Bev, you can't, not really.

There's not much left to say really after that. Although far from perfect, “Blind faith” does come as a welcome break in the ballads, but then we're right back into weepy territory with “Lost without you”, and the album ends with an unlikely cover of ABBA's “The winner takes it all”. One of my favourite songs from them, I'll never forgive her for reggae-ing it up! It's strangely prophetic really, as this album really didn't win her any new fans, any hits or any continued success, and when she took a six-year break --- twice the length between her debut and this --- before her third album, the writing really was on the wall.

After a successful and impressive debut, Beverley made the decision to put her children before her career. You can't argue that kind of decision --- so often it's the other way around --- and paid the expected price. After the last strains of “Promise me” had faded into the background, people forgot her and although her last album was released in 2009, for most people she'll forever be classed as a one-hit wonder, proving the old adage that if you stand still, the world moves on without you.

TRACKLISTING

1. Love scenes
2. Love is the light
3. Hope
4. Look no further
5. Mollie's song
6. In those days
7. Feels like the first time
8. Blind faith
9. Lost without you
10. The winner takes it all

Recommended further listening: For a far superior album check out her debut “Beverley Craven”
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Old 12-02-2011, 05:20 PM   #557 (permalink)
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Saturday, December 3 2011


Stand --- Poison --- from "Native tongue" on Capitol


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Old 12-02-2011, 05:25 PM   #558 (permalink)
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For once, the worm and Stacey-Lynn have got together (urgh! Not like THAT, you sick sonofa...) and we're both featuring songs from Poison --- okay, so hers is a random choice, but when she told me she had turned up Brett and the boys, the worm thought sure why not?
So here they are again, and yah boo sucks to any Poison-haters, with their massive international hit, a real cowboy theme, of course it's “Every rose has its thorn”.
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Old 12-02-2011, 05:28 PM   #559 (permalink)
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Arrive alive --- Pallas --- 1981 (Cool King)


(Note: this is not part of the review, so doesn't count towards the 200-word limit. Whaddya mean, cheater?)Here's where I reveal how old I am. When I bought this album originally it was on vinyl, and though the CD versions seem to have had a lot of extra tracks, they weren't on my copy, and as the initial impression I got of "Arrive alive" is what I want to recreate here, that's what I'm going to use.

I was disappointed with the opener and title track, the only track not recorded live, and "Heart attack", which seems to have disappeared from the later CD releases, was similarly unimpressive. But then...

"Queen of the deep" is a prog masterpiece, with many changes along the way, excellent keyboard work from Ronnie Brown, as well as frenetic guitar from Niall Mathewson. "Crown of thorns" is a painfully lovely ballad, which speeds up at the end to some amazing synth work, but the standout is reserved for last, with the fractured history of a serial killer in a song that has since become a fan favourite.

"The Ripper" starts with disjointed piano and a childlike vocal, then roars into life as the eponymous killer goes on his spree, guitars screaming like his victims, and ends as it began, nursery-rhyme style piano with a chilling maniacal laugh from frontman Euan Lowson against a backdrop of discordant keyboard from Brown. It's also the longest track, at almost fifteen minutes. Pure brilliance.

Between these three, they make "Arrive alive" a triumph, rather than the damp squib promised by the two opening tracks. Glad I perservered, but better opening tracks would have ensured top marks.

TRACKLISTING

1. Arrive alive
2. Heart attack
3. Queen of the deep
4. Crown of thorns
5. The Ripper
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Old 12-02-2011, 07:13 PM   #560 (permalink)
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Let's have one more poke at the Eurovision before the year ends. Come on, it's Christmas! Well, nearly...

Coming right up to date with this one, just to prove that Eurovison hasn't improved with the passage of time, here we have Ukraine's entry for 2009, a lady who thinks she's Cher, Madonna, Britney Spears and Lady Gaga all rolled into one unholy entity, with a song so bad even Rhianna might (might!) turn it down were it to be offered to her for her next album, “Making money with my body, Vol IX”!

I guess you'd have to say they're only relatively recent entrants to the contest, as they only achieved their independence after the breakup of the Soviet Union, and they obviously wanted to make a splash. Well, they certainly did that. If theatre was one of the criteria for the Eurovision (it isn't?) then this performance would have gone a long way towards gaining the former Soviet republic their first victory. Oh, sorry, their second. Apparently they won in 2004, the second year they entered. Well, sue me. I'm not a fan of Eurovision, just a fan of making fun of it!

Mind you, she can play the drums pretty well, can't she? And at least she looks sexy! Don't quite know what's going on with those dancers dressed as Roman soldiers, though. Still, gotta envy that guy at 2:06!

Anyhow, this is their entry for the 2009 contest. It came twelfth, but at least it's in English!


2009 --- Ukraine --- “Be my valentine! (Anti-crisis girl)” by Svetlana Lobada
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