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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Album Review: Metallica - Ride the Lightning (1984)

My faith in old-school thrash metal and its inherent superiority to the likes of nu-metal and rap-metal makes my eyes water in sheer ecstasy whenever I listen to a masterpiece such as Metallica's 1984 effort Ride the Lightning. Revolutionary in numerous aspects, including, of course, the establishment of that sound Metallifans 'round the world have grown to know and love, and fulfilling the prophecy that the Metal Militia in Hetfield, Hammett, Ulrich and Burton would indeed conquer the land, Lightning proves that, despite often being confined to the back-burner in favor of Master of Puppets and ...And Justice for All, it is still one bad-ass son-of-a-bitch that ranks amongst the genre's greatest. Where would we be without the likes of "Fight Fire With Fire", "For Whom The Bell Tolls" or "Creeping Death?" I dare not to ponder such a possibility. Oh, and it makes for better t-shirts and posters than its predecessor, Kill 'Em All, as well. Truly magnificent. A

Monday, May 16, 2011

Album Review: Metallica - Death Magnetic (2008)

Between 2003 and 2008 Metallifans around the world including myself eagerly awaited what invariably would've been a better album than the disastrous St. Anger. And indeed it was. The snare drum got taken down a peg, the songs were better written, and guitar solos once more made their return. And they brought back the traditional Metallica logo, albeit in computer generated form. On the whole, 2008's Death Magnetic is a good album, but not like "Justice" was; I don't listen to it nearly as much as their eighties and early nineties stuff, and perhaps this is due to the crappy sound quality, the exceedingly long song durations (which worked better on previous albums) or the fact they've still retained the bouncing grooves, all of which hold this record back from greater recognition. The highlights of this album? "The Day That Never Comes", "All Nightmare Long", "Cyanide" and the instrumental "Suicide & Redemption", "The Judas Kiss" and "My Apocalypse." And the dud? "The Unforgiven III." This version is, in my opinion, far inferior to the previous two. B+

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Album Review: Phil Collins - ...But Seriously (1989)

It may be seen in certain music snob circles that to appreciate Phil Collins and all his works is punishable by either scaphism, being made to join the Navy and subject to flogging around the fleet or hanging, drawing or quartering. Or by being forced to admit to the world that you still live with your mother, and despite being 35, have to be home by half six and in bed by eight. Well, I'm 28, flatting, and go to bed at 4 in the morning. And given the size of the New Zealand Navy, being flogged around the fleet would ultimately mean being slapped on the wrist with a wet shoe lace. Oh, and I do like Phil Collins' music. A lot, actually. I partially credit him for introducing me to popular music at an early age back in the mid-eighties, long before the Spice Girls or the Backstreet Boys came along and buggered things up big time. Any music critic who says the Spice Girls were the best thing since sliced bread should be crucified upside down, in my opinion.

Now, I've been listening to Phil Collins well before 1989's ...But Seriously. But this particular album I hold dearly above many other records on account of the fact that there are so many good songs on it, including ones that got bugger all to zip radio coverage. And just like the low profile songs, there's bugger all bad songs here as well. From "Hang in Long Enough", to "Another Day in Paradise", this is an album that I would play if the stop and fast forward buttons on my CD player were shagged. My verdict - a better album than what most critics would call it, and possibly one of Phil Collins' best. A

Album Review: Judas Priest - Ram It Down (1988)

The stereotypical sound of heavy metal for me in the eighties, and that very stereotypical sound I also loathed in the eighties, belongs to no other than Brummie metal legends Judas Priest. The album outwork, the dual guitar format and Rob Halford's brilliantly operatic screaming is what would come to mind whenever I heard of the music that, at the time I despised just as much as a fundamentalist King James Only pastor would have. Nowadays, however, it is a different story; I think heavy metal rocks, and Judas Priest are epic. From the breakthrough British Steel to their 1990 masterpiece Painkiller, Judas Priest defined metal more so than Black Sabbath ever did. But like all epic trendsetting bands they did have their weak spots, such as 1988's Ram It Down. Granted, there are a couple of good songs on here, such as the powerful "Ram It Down" and the appreciable "Heavy Metal", but it is also marred by the likes of a cover version of Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode", which might have sounded like a good novelty thing, but in practice has proven nothing but to prove that this cover attempt simply didn't work. The album is certainly not rubbish, and is listenable, but it is far from being a highlight of their career. Stick to the likes of "Ram it Down", "Heavy Metal" and perhaps "I'm a Rocker" and "Monster of Rock." B