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Monday, December 27, 2010

Album Review: Def Leppard - Hysteria (1987)

I'm pretty sure I wrote a review for this particular album before, many eons ago, and I may have either deleted it or a system boo-boo may have wiped it from existence. Who knows. Anyhow, let's get down to the reviewing.

Few heavy metal bands turn their back on the genre and continue to exist as a band, let alone record as one. The ones that do quickly become marked men, given the genre's reputation as a religion of sorts and its fans (fanatics) being akin to pious worshipers with little tolerance for apostasy. And it's not just bands either - some former band members go on to record music that bears little resemblance to that of their former respective groups. Michael Bolton, for example, was a member of a band called Blackjack. Admittedly, they recorded mostly songs with the word love in them, so we can probably disregard them anyhow, just like how most people under 45 disregard Michael Bolton himself.

80s Brit rockers Def Leppard released in 1987 what is arguably their greatest album ever, Hysteria. And it isn't heavy metal at all. More like "arena rock." And it is noted not just for being their magnum opus, but for being the album in which Rick Allen plays drums after losing his arm in an accident. Oh, and of course, the lengthy production time between its release and the release of its predecessor, Pyromania. Most of the songs were released as singles - seven, in fact, and each one has its own charms, even with that distinctive vocal climax we've come to expect (and love) from this band. From "Hysteria", "Animal" and "Armageddon It", the staple airplay promo tracks, to "Love and Affection", "Run Riot" and "Don't Shoot Shotgun", this album has well and truly earned its classic status and should therefore be in the record collection of every respectable hard rock fan. A

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Album Review: ZZ Top - Eliminator (1983)

From singing about pearl necklaces to velcro to the best little whorehouse in Texas, there's always something that can be mysteriously (or perhaps not?) attributed to the works of the Texas weird-beards. And going from a largely blues-rock based sound to a synth-infused hard rock one would surely set the odds of a complete flop on ZZ's part somewhat high. But the odds have been defeated with their magnum opus Eliminator, and it's so obvious why. I love this album, primarily as there is not one song I don't like (in fact I love all of them), but also because it opened doors for me. Had I not heard this album or any of its songs, but I probably wouldn't have got past the pansy-ass pop music I so enjoyed delving into. Heck, I probably wouldn't have gotten into heavy metal, and some might argue that is a good thing. Still, with tracks like "Sharp Dressed Man", "Legs", "Gimme All Your Lovin'" and "TV Dinners", you'll wanna put down the Madonna CD and listen to something more suited to your gender. A+

Album Review: Megadeth - Killing is my Business...And Business is Good! (1985)

Breaking your neck couldn't be simpler with the classic debut album by thrash metallers Megadeth, Killing is my Business...and Business is Good! Pure thrash in it's finest form, and unlike Slayer's Reign in Blood, this album isn't written solely for the purpose of inciting people to break stuff in a fit of rage. This album for me, at least, is more for the fun factor. In analysis, the album bears some thematic similarities to Metallica's Kill 'em All, and interestingly, "Mechanix" and "The Four Horsemen" are essentially the same song with alternate lyrics. Of course, this is due to Dave Mustaine's previous stint as lead guitarist for Metallica. In short, "Killing is my Business...and Business is Good", "Rattlehead", and "Last Rites/Loved to Deth" are the songs to look out for. A must-have album for thrash happy bogans. A

Album Review: Slayer - Reign in Blood (1986)

Supposedly devoid of any Satanic overtones and more centered around issues such as religion and genocide, Slayer's 1986 masterpiece Reign in Blood's album cover suggests otherwise. However, it is pretty freaking fast, infectious, and it's small wonder it's held in such high regard by Satan worshiping metalheads and bogans with temperament issues. Muscially, it is brilliant, bar the flat vocals and crude lyrics that spew pure anger and rage rather than any real attempt at constructive lyricism. And it's insanely short too, with its total time being perilously close to that of an E.P. Mind you however, the average song length is roughly two minutes long. In a nutshell, a brilliant album in terms of quality, downright evil in terms of everything else. "Angel of Death", "Postmortem" and "Piece by Piece" are the top three picks of this album. Oh, and "Rain in Blood." And if you think these guys are Satanic, or even Deicide or Rotting Christ for that matter, listen to modern pop music with it's sexual overtones and subliminal messages of promiscuity. As the saying goes, the devil is in the details. A+

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Album Review: Stryper - To Hell With the Devil (1986)

Christian heavy metal, you say? Inherently antithetical, you may add? Bah, what tripe. The latter, I mean, of course. OK, 95% of all heavy metal deals with dark subjects, most notably anti-Christian themes, and of course, as bands like Slayer and Venom will testify, Satan worship. But even Christianity has ironically made its mark on this controversial genre, and in the case of Stryper, as an evangelism tool. 1986's To Hell With the Devil is a classic example of such a radical method. It sounds like a convincing metal album too; if the mainstream metal lovers can get hooked on numbers like the title track, "Free" and "Honestly", then they must've been doing something right. The bottom line - not a bad album at all, and FYI, the devil does not look like Mr Tumnus - in fact, he makes whoever is regarded as the 'sexiest' man in the world look like me with no shirt on. Shudder. B+

Album Review: Bee Gees - Still Waters (1997)

Call me slightly ignorant, but Barry Gibb will go down in my music history books as being the best, if not the only artist to have so many songs all sound the same and get away with it. Listen to "Stayin' Alive" and you've also heard "Night Fever", "I Started a Joke", and you've heard "Run to Me", "You Win Again" and you've also heard "One." And, along with his group the Bee Gees, they're also credible proof that you can still win a singing competition after being kicked in the plums. Now admittedly you can call me ignorant, as this is the first proper Bee Gees album that I've listened to, the rest were "greatest hits" compilations. And you may also question my sexual orientation, but I also like it. But why should I care what you think, after all, there is nothing camp about being blown away by Slayer's Reign in Blood. "Alone", "I Will", "Still Waters Run Deep", "Irresistible Force" are the closest thing to tear jerkers you'll find on this album. Oh, and one more thing, this album sounds dated, like it was stuck in the 80s, despite being made in the 90s. And why should I give a rat's proverbial? A