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Bert's Album Reviews - Page 1

Bert's Album Reviews

Posted by: Bert
Date: 2013-09-02 17:52:01
So hey I like music or something. I figured that since Tachi's doing video game reviews, I'd try reviewing albums or something. They might or might not be recent releases, it all depends really.

DragonForce - The Power Within
2010 was a dark year for DragonForce fans, with the announcement that vocalist ZP Theart had left the band due to creative differences. A year later, a new singer, Marc Hudson, joined the band, and did a short tour with him. Two new songs were played, 'Fallen World' and 'Cry Thunder.' DragonForce fans became very excited, and The Power Within was hyped up as a reinvention for DragonForce.

Unfortunately, this is not a reinvention in any way, shape, or form. DragonForce also announced that songs were going to be shorter, around 4:30 on average, instead of the usual 7-minute epics everyone had grown to love. "That's okay!" us fanboys said. "It's always nice to see bands try something different!"

See, a reinvention implies that the band is trying something new here, and is more associated with sound than song lengths. Other than Marc, there is nothing new here, and the outrageously positive reception this album's gotten is somewhat perplexing. We all fell for the whole reinvention bit, yes, and it took a while for us to actually think about the album after the "YAYNEWDRAGONFORCEALBUM" stuff went away. People have said that DragonForce haven't sounded this metal before, but it's the same fucking sound featured on Ultra Beatdown.

As mentioned before, the songs are much shorter and Zippy isn't on the album. These two factors actually hurt the album most. Since the songs are shorter, there aren't any three-hour guitar solos and the songs now have to stand on the lyrics and riffs. While guitarists Sam Totman and Herman Li haven't been able to write a decent riff since the 'Valley of the Damned' album, the lyrics have to try and take over, which are garbage even by DragonForce standards. They come off as completely uninspired and unimaginative, as if Sam wasn't even trying anymore. Actually, these all sound like rejected Power Quest songs (another band Sam played in).

As for Marc… he's certainly got more range than Theart, but this is the least of his problems since his voice lacks any personality when compared to ZP, and there's an alarming amount of insincerity when he sings. He almost sounds bored a lot of the time, most notably on 'Seasons.' He's obviously not used to this sort of thing yet, but come on, at least try to keep me interested.

It's not all bad though. The choruses are still catchy, like every other DragonForce song, and the production is squeaky-clean. The bass, which had been all but buried in the mix on previous albums, can actually be heard here, and there's even some bass solos. Marc shines on the tracks 'Fallen World,' 'Die By the Sword,' and 'Wings of Liberty,' and provides many metal screams.

All in all, this album's fairly middling, and I don't want to listen to it as much as Valley of the Damned or Inhuman Rampage. It's a decent album, at best.

Bert's Rating: 50/100
Recommended Songs: Fallen World, Wings of Liberty, Die By the Sword, Last Man Stands.

Re: Bert's Album Reviews

Posted by: Bert
Date: 2013-09-13 17:11:03
So, I'mma review RATM's three albums.

Rage Against the Machine (1991)
The '90s were an interesting decade. Meat Loaf released the greatest album of all time in '93, Pokémon came out, and the cops decided they could beat the s**t out of whoever they wanted on the grounds that they're the cops.

1991 saw the formation of the band Rage Against the Machine. The band, Zack de la Rocha (vocals), Tom Morello (guitar), Tim Commerford (bass), and Brad Wilk (drums), releaed their debut album in '92 to commercial and critical success. It was a landmark in the rap metal genre, which grew respect over time, until Limp Bizkit s**t all over it.

The album's success was propelled by its lead single, 'Killing in the Name,' a mini rap-opera which discusses racism within government agencies, ending with the repeated declaration of "f**k YOU, I WON'T DO WHAT YOU TELL ME!,' culminating in a loud "MOTHERFUCKEEEER!"

Rage's sound is brilliantly showcased here, and Tom Morello is easily the standout, with his funky guitar work and peculiar sounds. The biggest problem I have with it is Zack, whose voice fits the "angry 13 year old with staunch opinions on things he knows nothing about" category to a T, but the difference is he actually knows what he's talking about, unlike that one fucker in grade seven who watched Alex Jones' show.

In closing, it's a fantastic album, and you should give it a spin if you're interested, although its intensely political lyrics might frighten you away.

Bert's Rating: 80/100
Recommended Songs: Killing in the Name, Township Rebellion, Know Your Enemy, Bullet in the Head, Freedom

Evil Empire
In 1996, Rage released their sophomore effort, Evil Empire. It had a slight change in lyrical content, focusing on social issues instead of solely political topics, although such content is still promintent.

Sometime between their self-titled album and Empire, the group (especially Zack) became affiliated with the ELZN, or the 'Zapatista Army of National Liberation,' described by Tom as "a guerrilla army who represent the poor indigenous communities in southern Mexico who, for hundreds of years, have been trodden upon and sort of cast aside and which really are the lowest form on the economic-social ladder in Mexico."

Their support for the Zapata's struggle is evident in the songs 'People of the Sun,' 'Without a Face,' and 'Wind Below.' The ELZN's flag has been used as a backdrop for Rage's shows on occasion.

As for the album itself, it's still as energetic and sincere as their debut album, but there's lots of experimentation here, easily spotted on songs like 'Down Rodeo' and 'Year of tha Boomerang.' Zack still sounds like a 13-year old, but I'd say this was part of the album's (and their debut's) charm. The bass is quite promintent and even has some solos, and, unlike other metal bands at the time, isn't buried within the mix.

It's evident here that Rage were somewhat drained after the tour for their self-titled release, since there's a shitload of filler here. 'Revolver,' 'Snake Charmer,' 'Roll Right,' all fall hard into this category, and are barely memorable. 'Roll Right' in particular does nothing for me, but at least I can remember what the other two sounded like.

While this album may be a decent sophomore album, it's not that memorable when compared to their first album, but there are many awesome tracks here.

Bert's Rating: 60/100
Recommended Songs: People of the Sun, Bulls on Parade, Tire Me, Down Rodeo, Year of tha Boomerang.

The Battle of Los Angeles
Many people thought that Rage would break up after their Evil Empire tour, and the group proved those naysayers wrong by delivering a dose of in-your-face-no-bullshit metal with their third and final album (thus far, anyway), 'The Battle of Los Angeles.'

Unlike E.E., which featured lots of experimentation, 'Battle' has a more formulaic vibe, going for a more consistent sound and songwriting structure. That's not to say it's a boring album, no. This actually pays off in the end, and is sure to keep you interested.

One of the biggest improvements here is Zack, who actually sounds like a 20-year old here. It's easier to take him seriously here, because really, who the f**k didn't laugh while hearing "f**k YOU I WON'T DO WHATCHA TELL ME!!1 MUTHAFUCKAAAAAAAAAAAAH!" for the first time? He's still got the passion and anger, too!

Now, since E.E. had a shift in lyrical themes, Zack decided to do to the same here, with tracks like 'Guerrilla Radio,' (IIRC it's about a politician trying to scare his opponents through radio broadcasts or something), 'Sleep Now in the Fire' (greed),' 'Maria' (prostitution/rape), and 'Born of a Broken Man' (Zack's father, who…didn't exactly have the best methods of raising his son), and 'Ashes in the Fall' (child labour) being a noticable change. 'Sleep' in particular is one of the best tracks on the album and has a fantastic riff, probably the closest to a pure-rock riff Rage has ever gotten.

There's also support for the Zapata's on the track 'War Within a Breath,' which is my favorite Rage song alongside 'Township Rebellion.' The group have been longtime advocates for the release of Mumia Abu-Jamal, whose incarceration for killing a police officer has garnered controversy regarding its circumstances. Their advocation for his release is the lyrical theme for 'Voice of the Voiceless.'

Much like 'Empire,' there's some uninteresting filler here, like 'Mic Check,' 'Born as Ghosts,' and 'Maria,' although these don't really detract from the album, they're just kinda there.

This is my favorite RATM album, and I just wanna listen to it again and again. You should definitely check it out if you've got time.

Bert's Rating: 90/100
Recommended Songs: Testify, Guerilla Radio, Calm Like a Bomb, Sleep Now in the Fire, War Within a Breath, No Shelter

Re: Bert's Album Reviews

Posted by: tachi
Date: 2013-09-13 17:26:34
You wouldn't recommend Vietnow on evil empire?
Or No Shelter on the battle for los angeles?

Re: Bert's Album Reviews

Posted by: Bert
Date: 2013-09-14 15:10:50
Vietnow's all right, but it's far from being one of my favorite songs.

As for No Shelter - that's a good one. Added it to the recommendations.

Guys, please don't take my reviews as facts or any of that shit. I'm sure some of you would enjoy 'Roll Right' or 'Mic Check.'

Re: Bert's Album Reviews

Posted by: tachi
Date: 2013-09-16 21:56:17

Vietnow's all right, but it's far from being one of my favorite songs.

As for No Shelter - that's a good one. Added it to the recommendations.

Guys, please don't take my reviews as facts or any of that shit. I'm sure some of you would enjoy 'Roll Right' or 'Mic Check.'

Reviews are never facts, they're opinions. I happen to find your opinion pretty fair however.

Re: Bert's Album Reviews

Posted by: Bert
Date: 2013-10-22 14:11:00
Blind Guardian: A Night At the Opera
Strap yourselves in folks, this is the most over-the-top album ever made in the history of everything. Even Meat Loaf, with all his six-hour songs about motorcycles and fucking, never dared to venture this far into the world of ham.

The turn of the century revived people's interest in metal, after all the grunge and tryhard edgy horseshit went away, although for some reason Nickelback didn't. I apologize. Dio made a stellar comeback with Magica, DragonForce made a landmark in power metal with Valley of the Damned, Rhapsody of Fire made more high-fantasy stories about dragons and swords, and Blind Guardian made…this.

I can't really think of ways to describe this album. Bombastic? Yes. Over-the-top? Absolutely. Awesome? It's Blind Guardian, so of course it is. But even those phrases and words don't do the album justice.

The Bards released several power metal classics in the '90s, firmly cementing themselves in the genre with behemoths such as Somewhere Far Beyond, Tales From the Twilight World, and Imaginations From the Other Side. 2002 saw them taking a more progressive approach, shying away from their speed-power metal roots, but they came out mostly unscathed from fan reaction.

A Night at the Opera still has songs based on literature and mythology, such as 'Battlefield' (The Lay of Hildebrandt), 'The Soulforged' (about Raestlin Majere from the Dragonlance novels), and 'Punishment Divine' (Galileo's death). All these are standout tracks, but the song people talk about most is 'And Then there was Silence.'

'Silence' is an utter mammoth of a track, clocking in at a little over 14 minutes. It has become one of The Bard's most popular songs, but any newcomers to the band will probably find it a little unnecessary and bloated, even for its subject matter (The Trojan War). It's certainly not a horrible song by any means, but it makes the criminal mistake of not giving you a minute to catch your breathe as it plods along. There's nothing you could call a guitar solo in the track, which would make a perfect opportunity to do so, but there is a 30-second progression at eight minutes in, but your face is probably purple by then.

Lyrics are typical Blind Guardian fare, as mentioned above. The band is in top form here, and you can basically hear singer Hansi Kursch running around, looking for more scenery to devour. The mixing leaves much to be desired, and it seems like the producer tried to create some kind of orgasmic wall of sound but didn't quite know what he was doing. Many of the songs are catchy, particularly 'The Soulforged' and 'Under the Ice.'

There's some weird shit going on with the album's ballad, 'The Maiden and the Minstrel Knight.' Blind Guardian, who've given us stellar ballads such as 'The Bard's Song - In the Forest,' and 'A Past and Future Secret,' created this blunder of a track that wants to be 'A Past and Future Secret II,' but it didn't quite make it.

This album is certainly awesome by Blind Guardian standards, but people unfamiliar with the band might be pushed away from its utter ridiculousness. You should probably check out their previous efforts before checking out this one.

Recommended songs: Battlefield, Under the Ice, The Soulforged, Punishment Divine, Sadly Sings Destiny

Re: Bert's Album Reviews

Posted by: Bert
Date: 2013-10-26 16:46:55
Here's a band nobody but me knows about, called Dragonheart. They're from Curitiba, Brazil. Have fun trying to get their s**t without paying $50!

In 1997, four dudes got together, watched a bunch of fantasy movies, and decided to form a band. Laughs were had, solos were shred, and the end result was Dragonheart.

They recorded a demo titled 'Gods of Ice,' and were given a contract with Megahard Records. The demo's title track, Night Corsairs, Mists of Avalon, Dynasty and Destiny, and Tied in Time, were re-recorded for their debut album. Five new songs were recorded: Arcadia Gates, Battlefield Requiem, Sir Lockdunam, Underdark, and New Millennium. The album was titled 'Underdark.'

To put it bluntly, it's an odd album. The mixing makes it sound like a demo CD, there's a guy (Eduardo Marques) who sounds like he's in an opera, the guitar solos are schizophrenic as hell, and the ballad, 'Sir Lockdunam,' has flutes and lutes everywhere.

Otherwise, the album is very consistent in its songwriting and formulaic in structure, but this is fore the best. It's not particularly heavy power metal, but it's kinda melodic. It's a very riff-heavy album, with notable examples being 'Battlefield Requiem,' 'Night Corsairs,' and 'Gods of Ice.' As mentioned before, the guitar solos are all over the place, and it's entirely possibly you'll get whiplash from them.

There are two vocalists here: Eduardo Marques (guitar, clear vocals) and Mauricio Taborda (bass, growling vocals). There's a third vocalist, Marco Caporasso (guitars, and some kind of odd screaming-roar thing), but he doesn't take lead vocal duties until their second album. Although Marques does lead vocals on most songs, he and Mauricio form a vocal tag-team on the title track, 'Underdark,' which is more or less a Dungeons and Dragons fanfic in song form. It's pretty cool.

The album's mix is… dire. It's a bit of a mess. They were probably trying to sound raw, but it sounds more like a demo recorded in a garage. It's funny, 'cause the Gods of Ice demo had better mixing. Because of this, the instruments are held at each other's mercy, and it sounds like they're all trying to overpower one another. Eduardo Marque's gentle yet operatic voice is buried in the mix, but that's the least of his problems. His accent terribly thick, and it's damn-near impossible to understand what he's singing most of the time. Taborda's growls, however, are easy to understand.

In closing, it's certainly not a bad album, despite its many problems. I'd recommend it to anyone looking for new power metal.

Recommended tracks: Battlefield Requiem, Dynasty and Destiny, Underdark, New Millennium, Mists of Avalon.

Throne of the Alliance
The band left Megahard Records since they weren't paid for Underdark. They were given a deal by Hellion Records, who treated them a lot better.

I'm guessing this album came about after listening to Blind Guardian's 'Nightfall in Middle Earth,' 'cause this is a concept album with a few interludes scattered around. Most of these are about half a minute long, and hammy as f**k.

'Throne of the Alliance' tells the story of the union between two kingdoms, and a wacky adventure by General Dragonheart, the heroic protagonist, is sent to finalize it or something. The album opens with a hilarious narration: (Spelling errors and such are intact)

"A long time ago in an era almost forgotten by the gods, there were two kingdoms: Claymored, famous for its sharp-edged tools and Fhalkior, specialized in shields and armors. They were feared and envied by their enemies becaose of their power. One day when the two kingdoms were celebrating an alliance of great proportions, without any motive, the sky turned black and brought an unbelievable fear never felt before by those people. A cold darkness took the place of the daylight and from the sky terrible winged creatures of incredible size and demoniac forces came down to earth. An endless massacre was spread out on the two kingdoms, and the armies had no chance, nor time to take care of the wounded and survivors. They protected themselves in a castle that was still standing up. The Claymored castle served as shelter for the people of the two kingdoms. Inside the ruined castle, the King of Claymored, Theodoric, swore revenge with a fury that would scare the Devil himself. But his army was not prepared for such battle. Theodoric had to search for help in a friend nation, Akronis, situated five thousand miles from Claymored. Their armies alone were not enough for such a journey. So, there was only one possible solution, create one single nation, one single kingdom, based on the proud of its people, on the honor of its dead soldiers and on the fury of its king. This is the way that our fantastic journey starts… This is how starts the Throne of the Alliance…"

Yes, it's that awesome. The album's lyrics come with liner notes that tell you what's going on, because, honestly, why the f**k not. Their English has improved, but it's of little consequence.

So anyway, there are 12 songs on this album, counting the three narrations where the band eat as much scenery as they can in a short amount of time. The story is cliché as hell, but at least it's interesting. They fight ghost pirates at one point! No, seriously. There's a song called 'Ghost Galleon' where they do just that. It's awesome.

The first thing you'll notice (other than how hard you're laughing at that narration, titled 'The Beginning…'), is that the mixing is much, much better here. You can actually here Eduardo's voice, but he's still got that dreadful accent. Marco Caporasso also sings here on a few songs, most famously, 'The Blacksmith,' where he's basically doing some kind of screamed growl. I don't really know what to call it, so I just call it a dragon's roar. Apparently this blacksmith dude makes, like, super crazy awesome weapons and stuff. You will inevitably find yourself chanting, 'Hail the blacksmith!" as you listen to the song. On their journey, they fight evil wizards and some guys in rubber monster suits (Mountain of the Rising Storm), their king dies in said battle, he's mourned for about two minutes (Mystical Forest), and he returns from the dead (Hall of Dead Knights)

Anyway, at one point some dude gets drunk and meets a super shady character who asks what Dragonheart and his team of LARPers are doing, and he blabs about how they're trying to unite the kingdoms of who gives a f**k. Naturally, everyone is pissed that their journey and many innocent people are in danger, so what do they do? Nothing. They basically just tell him, "Don't do that again, m'kay?" And then they're off their merry way. Suddenly, the plot happens! The team enter some place called the 'Dark Valley,' where they fight a giant army of monsters and kick their asses with the Weapons of Plot Advancement they got from THE BLACKSMIIIIIIAAAAAATH! Anyway, the Dark Valley burns and the enemies run away, fearing a bunch of dudes wearing dollar-store armor and carrying plastic swords. Then there's a celebration (Sunrise in the Akronis Sky), and everyone lives happily ever after. The end.

I really wish I was joking. That's seriously what happens. It is definitely more amazing than it sounds, and will definitely win all the Grammys, Emmys, and Oscars one day.

Recommended tracks: Fucking all of them.

Vengeance in Black
Eduardo Marques left after 'Throne of the Alliance' to join some black metal band called Cromathia for about a day, and he was replaced by André Mendes, who took up guitar and clean vocal duties.

Anyway, the plot, since that's obviously what you want to hear about. It revolves around some eeeevil king named Lynkhor, who wants to plunge the world into darkness because he missed a TV marathon of Perfect Strangers.

Anyway, the album begins with some guy going to take souls from the Ghost Galleon, but then something happens and some random guy says that Dragonheart and co. should go meet the God of Steel (Eyes of Hell). So they do. The God, master of trickery and riddles, asks Dragonheart some incredibly obvious questions, such as "What color is the sky?" and "What is 2 + 2?" When Dragonheart answers these questions properly, the God is utterly flabbergasted that someone in the world of metal has an IQ that isn't double digits. As a token of his appreciation, he gives Dragonheart a razor blade that serves no purpose to the story (Silent Sentinel).

The Alliance celebrate this stupid victory with a party (Crusaders March). The next day, Dragonheart and some meat shields go and meet the Ancient Oracle, who explains that one of their own is a traitor. Lynkhor, in a fit of complete stupidity and paranoia, uses his CRAAAAZY demon magic to trap Dragonheart in the pyramid Queops (The Ancient Oracle). But, because of his stupidity, Dragonheart uses a trail of breadcrumbs that Lynkhor left behind to escape (Queops Escape).

Lynkhor, in a fit on genre unsavvyness, goes to a secret cathedral. He harnesses its power so that he can access and control various dimensions and portals. Unfortunately for him, the heroes breach the cathedral in their hunt for him, but he disappears. (Secret Cathedral).

Now that Lynkhor has UMLIIIIMITED POWAAAAH!, he uses it to summon wolves for Dragonheart and the Oracle's daughter to fight. It's a tender acoustic ballad, featuring Olaf Senkbiel on lead vocals and a beautiful electric guitar solo, and Dragonheart and Oracle Jr. fall in love with each other. This romantic subplot is forgotten the second the song is over (Heart of a Hero).

Once the wolves are beaten, mood whiplash ensues and Lynkhor explains his grand scheme: To plunge the world into darkness so he can rule, and begin and endless war. According to him, the Akronis Kingdom will fall into disgrace and he will spread his grey disease, whatever that is. I'm guessing its the cold he has (Vengeance in Black). Realizing that Lynkhor is a threat, Dragonheart and the Alliance meet the Red Dogs clan, a group that is only mentioned in the liner notes and is clearly an afterthought. Dragonheart summons some bitchin' dragons to aid the Alliance in battle, and they go off to find Lynkhor (Calling the Dragons).

Dragonheart and his merry LARPers find Lynkhor in cyberspace, and a massive, bloody flame war ensues. Lynkhor infers that the mothers of the Alliance are morbidly obese and lacking intelligence. Dragonheart retorts by questioning Lynkhor's sexuality. More shots are taken, resulting in Lynkhor calling them gay, ragequitting and promising revenge (Spreading Fire).

The album is a lot heavier than 'Underdark' and 'Throne of the Alliance,' and it does a great job of catching the feel of desperation the heroes face. Andre's voice is a lot rougher-sounding that Eduardo's, but he has a massive vocal rage, which he flaunts at the end of 'Spreading Fire.' You can also understand what he's saying.

Marco Caporasso, who only sang lead vocals on one song on 'Throne of the Alliance,' sings lead on 'Silent Sentinel,' 'Vengeance in Black,' and 'Calling the Dragons. 'Crusaders March' and 'Spreading Fire' feature all three vocalists. It is glorious.

While this album may not be as over-the-top as Throne of the Alliance and lacks interludes, it's still full of ham, and it's great fun.

Recommended songs: All of them.

Re: Bert's Album Reviews

Posted by: Bert
Date: 2013-11-07 18:05:16
Look at me, pretending I know what I'm talking about.

TNT: All the Way to the Sun
Ah, the '80s. A time when you could have your hair puffier than a feather duster and nobody dared queation your sexuality. Glam rock and songs about fucking were the norm, unless you were Queen, in which case you, like, didn't conform, man.

Now then. There was this band called TNT. They were led by Tony Harnell (he sang 'It Doesn't Matter' and 'We Can' from the Sanic series) on vocals, Ronni le Tekro on guitar, and some other dudes on filler instruments. They were one of the most criminally underrated glam bands, being shoved aside for faggotry such as Deaf Leopard. They released their debut album in '82 with singer Dag Indebrigsten, who fucked off after a Yank by the name of Tony Harnell joined. And history was made.

Their second album with Tony was 'Tell No Tales,' which had their biggest hit, '10,000 Lovers (In One).' They released seven albums with Harnell in total: Knights of the New Thunder, Tell No Tales (geddit?), Intuition, Realized Fantasies, Firefly, Transistor, My Religion, and this one, All the Way to the Sun, their last album with him…thus far.

After being pushed aside in the '90s for faggotry such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Tool, they reunited in 2003 and released My Religion, a hell of a comeback. After My Religion, they released 'Sun,' which is basically Tony saying farewell to the band's fans. He didn't die or anything, he left so he could form a new band every two weeks.

The songs are typical of TNT, with lyrics about love and life, and society. They're not even pretending that Tony isn't leaving; several songs, notably 'Ready to Fly' and the title track, are goodbye songs. You could also count 'Driving' and 'Sometimes,' depending on how you look at them.

As for the album itself, it's got a pretty solid production and squeaky-clean mixing and mastering, with a more modern sound than the glammy 'My Religion.' Tony Harnell, who was 43 when the album was released, sounds amazing. He's got a hell of a range spanning over 4 octaves, and, although he doesn't sing in a scream like he did on 'Tell No Tales' or 'Intuition,' there are plenty of high notes to go around. Ronni le Tekro, one of the most underrated guitarists of all times, dishes out solos like they're candy. There aren't really any tricks here, other than Tony's layered vocals, but he's done that since 'Knights.'

Like every other album with Harnell, the songs are extremely catchy. 'A Fix,' 'Sometimes,' and 'Save Your Love' will get stuck in your head for days if you aren't careful. The album's obligatory ballad, 'Sometimes,' is easily the best song on the album, with a heartfelt and emotional performance by Tony. It's a shame they never performed it live…Actually, it's a shame only 'A Fix' and 'Black Butterfly' were mainstays for this album's tour. I'd go into a rant about this, but that's for another thread.

For some reason, the band decided to cover 'What a Wonderful World,' by Louis Armstrong. Nobody really knows why but the band. As far as covers go, it's pretty good, but totally unnecessary. Nothing would be lost if it wasn't included, but whatever.

It's a really good album, but if you're expecting something over-the-top like 'Intuition' or 'Tell No Tales,' you'll be disappointed.

Recommended songs: A Fix, Driving, Sometimes, All the Way to the Sun, Black Butterfly

Re: Bert's Album Reviews

Posted by: Bert
Date: 2014-03-09 17:33:19
I don't even know why I'm still posting in this thread.

3 Inches of Blood: Fire Up the Blades


If the album artwork doesn't give it away, this is the edgiest album I have ever heard. Edgier than corner cutting time at the apeirohedron factory.

3IOB shook the metal world with their sophomore "Advance and Vanquish," which also happens to be the second manliest metal album ever. It lost to all of Dragonheart's albums. So after that, they listened to a bunch of shitty death metal bands from Argentina who released on demo with lyrical themes of "Death, murder, Satan, hatred, and being an edgy 13 year old" (like there's any other kind). The result of this was Fire Up the Edge, which is a good example on how not to experiment with other genres of metal.

What hurts the album (flogs it, rather) is the godawful sound. Joey Jordison of Slipknot basically made the power metal equivalent of St. Anger, but at least that was consistent. Fire Up the Grimdarkness lacks any real cohesiveness and instead focuses on the potential brutality Advance and Vanquish could've had, but logically didn't.

Although 3IOB stuck with a formula when writing their songs, they instead tried to add some progressive elements into the mix, which is just as hilarious as it sounds. As a result, we get songs that start out promising, but go nowhere after the second minute and plod along for another two. The biggest offender is The Goatrider's Horde, a speed metal track that has its guitar solo kick in at the first minute. They really could've just ended it there and nothing would've been lost.

Most songs are like this: Verse/chorus/verse/verse/solo/verse/chorus/verse. This is where the whole "progressive" shit comes from, and it's fucking terrible in every possible way. Any substance a song has is ruined by the solo, and the band basically go "aw shit what now oh God why." There are two songs that escape this: "Trial of Champions," and "The Hydra's Teeth," which follow typical verse/chorus/verse/chorus/solo/verse/chorus structure.

As I said, this is the power metal version of St. Anger. The drums outrageously overpower the guitars on most songs, which is a crime because there are some awesome riffs to be found on this album. There's only once instance where the bass is audible, which is on "Forest King," where it has its own solo. Cam's falsetto and Jamie's screams have been processed to the point where they barely sound human, which leads to their vocals clashing with the guitars. On the other hand, the screams sound way more inhuman, which fits with the lyrical content.

Seven songs basically deal with the end of the world and Satan coming to kill everybody. The songs "Trial of Champions" (a gladiator fighting for his freedom), "God of the Cold White Silence" (about Ithaqua, a Great Old One) and "The Hydra's Teeth" (based on the movie Jason and the Argonauts, which also gets several parts of the myth wrong) avert this, making them much more enjoyable to listen to. Mind you, songs like "Night Marauders" and "Infinite Legions" are still fun, but they're held at the mercy by the album's sound and whatever pretentious edgy message the band were trying to convey. "Forest King" and "Black Spire" are utter wastes of album space and could've gone to other songs that weren't terrible. "Infinite Legions" holds the honor of being 3IOB's heaviest song (thus far), and, although it shares structure problems plagued by the likes of "Demon's Blade," "Black Spire," and "Great Hall of Feasting" (a song I forgot existed until now), it's still a great song.

So basically, it's a middling album. The lyrics are moronic and a terrible representation of the band, the mixing is horrendous but I guess it's balanced for the most part. I would not recommend this if you're looking for something by the band, and I say you should get this only if you have the rest of their discography.

Recommended songs: Trial of Champions, God of the Cold White Silence, Infinite Legions, The Hydra's Teeth, Nocturnal Command (bonus track).

Re: Bert's Album Reviews

Posted by: Bert
Date: 2014-09-22 17:22:55
DragonForce: Maximum Overload
I won't deny that I approached this album with extreme trepidation. After the banality of The Power Within, I assumed that this one would be just as dull. 'Power' was basically DragonForce with bulimia: it was stripped down, completely unimaginative, and its efforts to improve itself were instantly obliterated when the next song started playing.

Because the album left such a bad taste in my mouth, I was weary of this one. The title certainly didn't help matters, and a statement by Herman Li saying the title was inspired by how engrossed we are by technology was a gigantic red flag, one of the biggest I've ever seen in metal. DragonForce are the last band who should be trying to make statements, even though they've tried before.

Thank fucking Dragonite there's no bullshit like that on here.

Although 'Overload' is an improvement in many ways, it still shares a slew of problems with its predecessor. Due to the shortened song lengths, the group tries to shove as much flashiness into the songs as possible, which proves disastrous since there's a lot going on in them. There's a song on here - an original song - that is under four minutes long. It's called 'No More,' and because of the aforementioned flashiness, is damn near impssible to comprehend even after the fifth listen.

I still don't care for Marc. Even though he sings with passion here and is clearly having a blast, he still lacks an identity, and if he were suddenly replaced with a different singer I wouldn't give a flying fuck. Oh, sure, he can hit those high notes, but that should be the least of his priorities. He should instead focus on being a part of DragonForce, instead of acting like a guest musician.

Sam and Herman get big props for actually fucking trying with the songwriting here, since there's something memorable about every song. Opener 'The Game' is a speedy number that sucks you right in, no ifs, ands, or buts. Hell, the album finally acknowledges the keyboards, throwing them right up there instead of leaving them behind, so you can hear Vadim's insane fingerwork. 'Tomorrow's Kings' is one of the catchiest songs this band has put out, rivaling 'Heart of a Dragon' in terms of ear wormy goodness. 'City of Gold' and leading single 'Defenders' are thunderous numbers that prove DragonForce won't be going away any time soon.

…However, if there is one song you should ignore, it's the violently stupid cover of 'Ring of Fire.' Yes, 'Ring of Fire.' DragonForce covered a fucking country song. Hell, even the bonus tracks on their other albums, 'Strike of the Ninja' and 'Power of the Ninja Sword' were composed by Totman originally for a side-project called Shadow Warriors. However, this half-assed cover shows exactly why DragonForce shouldn't cover anything: the drums are right at the front of the mix and mash along aimlessly while the guitars fail to do anything interesting, and Marc sounds more bored than usual.

The deluxe edition includes five(!) bonus tracks of varying quality. Actually, the only one I don't care for is 'You're Not Alone.' Not because of the title or message, but because it's just lame. 'Power and Glory,' 'Chemical Interference,' and 'Fight to Be Free' (another Shadow Warriors song) are awesome otherwise, especially 'Fight.'

There's an improvement in the lyrics, too! The fantastic dreamscapes of 'Ultra Beatdown' and 'Sanic Firestorm' are back and triumphant as ever, and, despite the title, the album is completely lacking in morals. Now that's the DragonForce I know and love! Hell, look at the chorus for 'Tomorrow's Kings':

"In this life we're running out of days
We're running out of time ignoring it's a crime
No regrets just one shot at glory is all we get before we die
Sands of time are slipping through our hands
So try and understand and do it while you can
Don't look back just one shot at glory is all it takes to feel alive!"

Awe-inspirint and triumphant! Yes, DragonForce! That's how you do it! None of this "we shall rise again" horseshit from 'Power,' you show us why you'll get that shot of glory!

Sooo, in closing, I like this more than The Power Within. It's an improvement in several ways, even if the songs are a little too dynamic.

Bert's Rating: 75/100

Recommended songs: Tomorrow's Kings, Three Hammers, Tomorrow's Kings, Symphony of the Night (Yes, it's about the Castlevania game of the same name), Tomorrow's Kings, Defenders, Tomorrow's Kings, Fight to Be Free (even if it is technically a cover), and Tomorrow's Kings.

Re: Bert's Album Reviews

Posted by: Bert
Date: 2014-11-14 16:19:11
The Trews: The Trews
Up here in Bagged Milk Land is a band known as The Trews. They're a hard/alt. rock band with a big slab of hits under their belt, like 'Not Ready to Go,' 'Every Inambition,' 'Poor Ol' Broken Hearted Me,' 'So She's Leaving,' 'Hold Me In Your Arms,' and 'Paranoid Freak.' All their singles have charted in Canada, and we adore them. I saw them live a few months ago and it was a fucking awesome show!

A short musical history: Their first three albums, House of Ill Fame, Den of Thieves, and No Time for Later featured the hits mentioned above and were critcally praised. Their fourth album, Hope & Ruin, was sort of an oddball in that, while its singles ('Hope & Ruin,' 'The World I Know,' 'Misery Loves Company') were successful, none of them, barring the title track, are really remembered. Which is odd, because they follow the same formula as every Trews song: catchy choruses and big riffs.

Their fifth full length effort, also the self-titled The Trews, is a weak link in that regard. The biggest problem is that, after a while, all the songs start to sound similar. Think DragonForce, but shorter. It certainly isn't helped that, after years of bombastic songs like 'Every Inambition,' 'I Can't Stop Laughing,' 'Not Ready to Go,' and 'Hope & Ruin,' the songs on The Trews are primarily midtempo fares. Even the speedy, borderline heavy metal song 'New King' suffers from this, and it's one of their most aggressive songs, aside from 'Burning Wheels.'

What results is an album which is strong musically, but not enough to garner a trillion repeated listens. It isn't helped that the songs sound muffled, like the songs were recorded behind a brick wall. No, really. This odd production affects every song and it's the worst thing about the record. The only song that almost gets away from this is the acoustic ballad '65 Roses,' but even it sounds restrained. If I had to guess, I would say the band is trying to take the crystal-clear sound of their previous albums a step further, but… it didn't work and instead made everything harder to hear. The sad part is, one of the band members has co-produced all their albums, this one included. What the hell happened?

If you manage to ignore the literal brickwalling, the songs themselves are pretty good. The riffs, hooks, melodies, and choruses are still there and triumphant as ever, even though it's a bit of a step backwards. There's no thundering drums, no roaring guitars, no soaring vocals to be found here. Only two songs are actually heavy and resemble past efforts, and those are opener 'Rise in the Wake' and 'New King,' but even they're held down by the production.

That being said, there are several gems to be found, those two songs included. A couple others I like are '65 Roses,' which isn't as lame as it sounds, and the song 'Living the Dream.' It sounds almost mystical. What baffles me the most is that all the new stuff sounds 100 times better live. They played six songs off this album when I saw them, and the live tracks were more memorable than the studio recordings.

So, while The Trews follows the same process of their previous albums, it also shoots itself in the foot with the muffling of the instruments. Many songs sound like filler and are far from inspired, but the ones worth remembering are kickass. I'd say get/check out Hope & Ruin instead of this one if you've never heard of The Trews before, namely because it's my favorite one and needs more love.

Bert's Rating: 65/100
Recommended Songs: Rise in the Wake, 65 Roses, What's Fair is Fair, New King, Living the Dream

Re: Bert's Album Reviews

Posted by: Bert
Date: 2014-12-12 17:18:20
I deleted my first review of St. Anger because it's garbage.

Metallica: St. Anger

Metallica did not start the 2000s well. The infamous Napster controversy left a bad taste in everyone's mouth I'm not sure what Metallica were all huffed up about; 'I Disappear' is a fucking horrible song.

When the band eventually decided to record the follow up to 1997's ReLoad, two things happened: Jason Newsted, tired of being treated like living garbage, left the band to focus on other music projects. James Hetfield went into rehab for alcohol addiction, which lasted until mid-2002. When he returned, the band channeled the insecurities they were currently facing into the music. And St. Anger was born.

Categorizing St. Anger is difficult from a genre standpoint, since it doesn't fall in line with heavy metal, thrash metal, rock, or grunge, but the best genre I can come up with is garage metal. The music is very raw, featuring such delightful things as ringing drums (due to Lars turning off his drum's snare), downtuned guitars that sound more like bees fucking on violins, constantly out-of-tune vocals, and actual, genuine anger that hasn't been expressed since …And Justice for All. It also brought back a few things fans missed, like lengthy songs, a title track, balls-to-the-wall agression and big riffs, but St. Anger does those things in the worst possible ways. The songs are all fairly simple musically and make even 'Fuel' seem like something off of Master of Puppets, resulting in songs repeating the same riff for the duration, and the lack of guitar solos can make some of them feel even longer.

Despite this, I actually found the album enjoyable, even though I bought it nearly a year ago and went into it totally blind. Opener 'Frantic-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tock' lets you know exactly what kind of album this is: an angry, introspective look at a broken band:

"If I could have my wasted days back
Would I use them to get back on track?"

Those are the first two lines, and it gets worse from there. Hetfield, in a case of absent minded irony, called the album's lyrics deep and insightful. This is the same album with a chorus that goes "FRANTIC-TICK-TICK-TICK-TICK-TICK-TOCK," and 'All Within My Hands' ends with the repeated declaration of, "Kill!" Forty fucking times.

St. Anger's actual music is a complete trainwreck from top to bottom. It's obnoxious, loud, and unhinged to the extreme, but I can't find it in me to hate the record. The guitars are downtuned and muddy, the drums ring for so long they create a wall of sound on 'Dirty Window,' and bass is pretty much erased from the mix entirely. James's vocals go off-key so often, you could make a drinking game out of it. But these awful aspects are what make St. Anger such an intriguing record to listen to, showing Metallica at their absolute worst and being completely honest about it. The passion, the fury, and the fear are all there in the songs, showing that the band were clearly uncertain of their future.

Most of ths songs are hit-and-miss, but there are a slew of great ones, namely: the panicking 'Frantic,' the galloping 'Some Kind of Monster,' the desperate 'My World,' the unnerved 'Shoot Me Again,' and the climactic 'The Unnamed Feeling.' The rest are…meh. The weakest is probably the title track, which, to get its job done, rips off 'Hit the Lights' and 'Damage, Inc.' for some reason. 'Invisible Kid' is the same length as 'Some Kind of Monster' at 8:30, but doesn't need to be; the last few minutes of the song could've just been chopped off and nothing would be lost. 'Dirty Window' is a nightmare to get through, since Lars totally forgets what timekeeping is and bashes his drums with reckless abandon. Since his drums have their snare off, and because of the speed he's slamming them at, the ring meshes into a wall of sound that bleeds through the song's entirety. Other than that, it's not a bad song, but the cacophony makes it a chore to listen to.

There aren't any bad songs here, but the title track is the weakest and sounds like a total afterthought. 'Invisible Kid' is also decent, but it really needs to be shortened. I have no idea why 'Sweet Amber' gets so much praise, because it's uninteresting filler. St. Anger has a recurring theme through its lyrics: recovering from the past to prepare for the unpleasant future. 'Purify' is all about this, with lyrics about rebuilding your life and the blunt, "I ain't dancing with your skeletons/I ain't dancing with what might've been."

What St. Anger lacks in music cohesiveness, it makes up for being Metallica's first radio-unfriendly record in 12 years (at the time), having an edge they hadn't had since 1989, and an endearing, if narmful look at their determination. It's certainly worth a listen, although its messy, occasionally frightening sound might drive listeners away in droves.

Bert's rating: 75/100
Recommended songs: Frantic, Some Kind of Monster, My World, Shoot Me Again, The Unnamed Feeling, All Within My Hands

Re: Bert's Album Reviews

Posted by: Bert
Date: 2015-06-16 17:28:27
Ramones: Adios Amigos!
If you don't know who the Ramones are, then get your ass over to YouTube or something. Goddamn, it's 2015 and not knowing who the Ramones are is inexcusable.

After 20 years of rocking people's faces off with bombastic punk rock classics like "Blitzkrieg Bop," "I Wanna Be Sedated," "Rock 'n' Roll High School," and "The KKK Took My Baby Away," the New Yorkers decided it was time to call it a day. In 1995, with 13 albums under their belt, they released the self-explanatory Adios Amigos!. To drive the point home that this was definitely going to be the last one, title aside, the back cover shows the band lined up against a wall, preparing to be executed by firing squad.

Adios Amigos! isn't too different from the Ramones' '70s classics, aside from its slightly slower pace to accompany Joey's aging vocals. Not that it's really noticable, 'cause he carries the songs like nobody's business. Like previous albums it also has a few covers, notably "I Don't Want to Grow Up" by Tom Waits which became a minor hit for the band, reaching the Top 40 on the Billboard Rock Charts. The Johnny Thunders song "I Love You" is on the album as well. Two songs from C.J.'s solo projects, "Makin' Monsters for My Friends" and "It's Not for Me to Know," and "The Crusher," from Dee Dee's rap album (you read that right) Standing in the Spotlight are also here, but retooled to fit the Ramones' sound.

Much like every other Ramones release, the songs are quick and to the point, and only three songs - "Life's A Gas," "She Talks to Rainbows" and "Born to Die in Berlin" last over 3 minutes. "Have a Nice Day" and "Got Alot to Say" are both under 2 minutes at 1:40, much like the fan-favorite "Wart Hog" from Too Tough to Die. However, these songs are actually sung by C.J., instead of that maniacal sceaming Dee Dee performed them in. "Have a Nice Day" in particular has a nice little bouncy rhythm to it, but that's like saying every DragonForce song as a long guitar solo.

While everything here's a standout, the one song I would classify as my favorite is "Life's A Gas," written by Joey. Its lyrics, in their entirety, are as follows:

"Life's a gas, life's a gas, life's a gas, a gas, oh yeah
Life's a gas, life's a gas, life's a gas, a gas, oh yeah

So don't be sad 'cause I'll be there
Don't be sad at all"

Nice and simple, but as far as I can tell it was never performed by the band. Joey performed it at a 1995 solo concert, though.

The album is also notable for featuring an appearance from Dee Dee Ramone, who left when the band started working on 1989's Brain Drain, where he sings "Born to Die in Berlin"'s final verse over the phone in German. The song ends the album on a bit of a sour note with passively optimistic lyrics, which leads me to their final show.

On August 6th, 1996, the Ramones performed pretty much the same setlist as always, but with a few choice songs like "The Crusher," "Chinese Rock" and the fucking Spider Man theme song, which appeared on Adios Amigos! as a bonus track. It also featured several artists who were influenced by the Ramones, including Lemmy, Chris Cornell, and Eddie Vedder. Frankly, I wish the band spruced up their set a bit, throwing in "Too Tough to Die," "Go Lil' Camaro Go" and ending with "Life's a Gas." Ah well, that's what dream setlists are for!

Their whole career ended disappointingly, since they were unhappy with how their last show went, and the subsequent years being marked by the deaths of its band members: Joey died in 2001, Dee Dee in 2002, and Johnny in 2004. Gee, why does this sound familiar? The longest of the original members to survive was Tommy, who died in 2014.

So aside from the unpleasant demise of the band, Adios Amigos! is, for all intents and purposes, a damn fine note to go out on. Good luck getting their final show's CD/video release, We're Outa Here!, 'cause it's out of print.

Bert's score: 90/100

Recommended songs: Makin' Monsters for My Friends, The Crusher, Life's a Gas, Have a Nice Day, Scattergun, Born to Die in Berlin

Re: Bert's Album Reviews

Posted by: Bert
Date: 2016-05-13 17:10:25
Dragonheart: The Battle Sanctuary
When Dragonheart announced this album in late 2013 and then said nothing about it afterwards, I became suspicious it didn't exist or was going to meet the same fate as Duke Nukem Forever. Then, in September 2015, it was announced TBS will be released the following October on an American record label.




It's really unfortunate Dragonheart have been unable to get any remarkable exposure outside Brazil, because they do what Manowar likes to claim they do, when in actuality Manowar has suddenly become Hollywood and is just rehashing the same shit: Dragonheart write kickass power metal about epic battles and although they don't take themselves seriously, they still have a fuckload more dignity than most 'mainstream' metal bands.

But anyway.

The album marked a small lineup change, as Marcelo Caporasso left the band and was replaced with Thiago Mussi, Cromathia's drummer. The band's sound didn't change, though.

Like Vengeance in Black, The Battle Sanctuary has an extremely dark sound fitting its story: Earth has been reduced to complete shit because of King… Theodoric? The guy who played a minor role in Throne of the Alliance and then wasn't mentioned ever again, is suddenly the story's antagonist. Lynkhor isn't mentioned at all, probably because Marco Caporasso realized his existence didn't make any sense: why is Lynkhor the King of the Alliance in VIB, instead of Theodoric? There's no stated reason for Theodoric's absence, leading me to think Marco dun goofed and went with it because Lynkhor sounds cool. Anyway, the giant demonic entity on TBS' cover is obviously the same guy, and is given the same titles Lynkhor had. Namely, the Devil King.

Now, the plot!

In 'Far From Heaven… Close to Hell,' it's revealed that Theodoric, instead of masturbating to the idea of destroying the world like he did in VIB, up and did it. Dragonheart and his merry band of LARPers are the only force able to stand against him. To keep them at bay, Theodoric creates a monster of pure evil, the titular 'Black Shadow,' and although Dragonheart's army slays the abomination after a vicious battle, they are banished into a place called 'The Arcane's Palace,' which is basically Hell itself. Lynkhor then is able to discover the heroes' greatest fears in 'Inside the Enemy's Mind;' Dragonheart's biggest fear is that after all the bullshit they've gone through, they will be unable to stop Theodoric.

After escaping the palace, Dragonheart and his army make preparations for an upcoming battle against Theodoric's squadron, and 'Forged in Metal' is essentially one boastful 'fuck you' to their nemesis. Things go to shit in the following track, 'Battle Lines,' when some important wizard who was never mentioned before sacrifices himself to destroy the opposing force. 'Marching Under the Stars' is the obligatory ballad and fittingly sombre, where Dragonheart begins to have doubts that the Alliance can win. Meanwhile, Theodoric continues to collect souls and, in 'Circle of One,' becomes so horrifyingly strong he becomes the General of Hell.

Dragonheart meets with another wizard, Arlin, in 'Kill the Leader.' Arlin says Theodoric can indeed be killed, but only by decapitation. Once the group gathers their strength, they face Theodoric's army in the final showdown/title track. Dragonheart and Theodiric fight each other, during which Dragonheart decapitates the fucker, but he himself dies when Theodoric hurls his spear through the warrior's chest. The fighting stops, and everyone mourns their fallen hero. In the aftermath, everyone begins rebuilding the world while Dragonheart's legacy begins ('Time Will Tell).

Just like the band's previous albums, The Battle Sanctuary kicks ass and takes names, and it's got enough names. It whips you to the pavement right away and refuses to let you up, throwing a constant assault of world-shattering riffs, choruses and melodies at you with reckless abandon. The 3:50-headbanger 'Battle Lines' does this best, with a bouncy and catchy rhythm. The plot is generic, sure, but fuck you.

Although the mix is still better than Underdark, it's not as polished as VIB. The album sounds unusually hollow, and the meat in the guitars is expired. Sure, there's plenty of crunch, but it could very well be freezer burn. The dueling vocals are still around and there's plenty to killer solos to go around, and every chorus is damningly catchy, if not just as rousing. Very little experimentation happens, other than the obligatory keyboard fluff that pops up on every power metal album, although 'Marching Under the Stars' brings back the flutes and lutes. Admittedly I was hoping for the ballad to sound like 'Heart of a Hero,' but whatever. Their influences would be proud; the opening riff on 'The Arcane's Palace' is full-blown '90s Blind Guardian. Y'know, before they felt the need to make every fucking song 7+ minutes. You can't make it work, Hansi. Stop trying to.

To bring this review to a close, TBS was worth the wait, and although its the ending of their silly fantasy story, I cant wait to hear what Dragonheart do next.

Bert's Rating: 80/100

Recommended songs: All of 'em.