Tom Petty / Hard Promises

Hard Promises (Remastered)

Hard Promises is the fourth album by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers released in May, 1981.

I decided to make this release my Tom Petty tribute…it was and still is my favorite release from this iconic performer. Although there were many, many great songs, for me this was a cohesive and incredibly emotional record… it is my choice.

The Analysis—-

The Waiting—-There is something incredibly magical about the Mike Campbell sound on the guitar. When the intro to this begins…there is no doubt what band this is. Petty delivers a vocal that is so nasally and punchy….I fall in love again every time I re-listen to this record. There is a slight urgency to the song….it moves fast and Petty seems rushed at times…but damn is it a classic!

A Woman In Love [It’s Not Me]—-Again with that trademark Heartbreakers sound! Petty delivers a nasally vocal that makes me want to tell him to open his mouth when he sings…lol. But the melody of this song….damn…it catches your brain and drags you right in…you can’t escape the lazy, bluesy feel of the track…this is exquisite.


Nightwatchman—-With a funky guitar delivery, the vocal still manages to shine though over the music. Mid second bar, the Campbell sound opens up the track…and then delves right into the funky free flowing delivery of the song. I love the almost ‘experimental’ sound of this track…this was all brand new to me as a Junior in High School…but I fell in love.

Something Big—-A magnificent gentle opening to the track takes you on a journey before the vocal even begins. Petty enters with his vocal…a slight echo seemingly to resonant from every word. Petty delivers a vocal that has a nice Country drawl to it that never gets old….the entire track reeks of Country…..lazy, laid back…but filled with a magical summer sunshine.

Kings Road—-Delving again into an almost Rock/Country sound, I am still amazed at how comfortable Petty sounds with the music that is being produced….no surprise considering the releases that were to follow. The guitars on this track are very big….but they never seem to overpower the vocal….this is rockabilly, rock and Country all rolled into one song.

Letting You Go—-Sounding much in the same vein as the opening track, Petty sings clearer than I had heard in quite sometime. This is a lazy….catchy…almost contagious track that lives on the remarkable chorus. This is catchy as hell…..the finest ‘mainstream’ track from Petty to date. The melody and the joined vocals give a huge 80’s feel to the song….just brilliant.


A Thing About You—-Instantly switching the mood and delivering  a track that screams with urgency and want, this is a favorite of mine. You notice the lack of the nasal tone on this track….Petty sings to fast to use his nose…lol. This is brilliant….strong…aggressive and delivered with an intention.

Insider ft. Stevie Nicks—-In the rock world, there are seldom to voices that blend together with the magical results of Petty and Nicks. This track is incredible…heartbreaking…..beautiful and delivered in a magical moment in the studio. This will ALWAYS remain a favorite track of mine…..above all else.


The Criminal Kind—-Off again in full Petty mode, this seems to hearken back to the very early days of the Heartbreaker sound. You can just see Campbell jamming on his guitar. The keyboards add a dirty kind of bluesy sound that is irresistible….a magical moment….for me, there is not one bad track on this release.

You Can Still Change Your Mind—-Incredibly poignant….perhaps my favorite Tom Petty song EVER…..this track never really truly leaves my mind…it was so relatable to me at the moment….I felt like it was a song written just for me…his is a masterpiece of a song. Brilliant….sad….touching…meaningful…..I will miss the man! And that little Nicks additive at the end…..magical!

***** out of 5 1989 Metal Album Of The Year—-Morbid Angel / Altars Of Madness

Altars of Madness (Full Dynamic Range Edition)

Morbid Angel is an American death metal band based in Tampa, Florida. The band was one of the original death metal bands signed to Earache Records, and was also influential in the transition of death metal from its thrash metal roots to its current form by incorporating guttural vocals, up-tempo blast beats, atonality in guitar soloing, and dark, chunky, mid-paced rhythms. They have been described as one of “the most influential and emulated bands in death metal”, alongside Cannibal Corpse, and have been cited as an influence by many later bands. They were also the first death metal band to experience mainstream success in connection with being signed to Giant Records in 1992, heavy rotation of their music videos on MTV, and having the music video for the song “God of Emptiness” shown on an episode of Beavis and Butt-head. Their first four albums are considered classics in the genre.

UK music magazine Terrorizer ranked Morbid Angel’s 1989 debut Altars of Madness first in its list “Top 40 greatest death metal albums”. Decibel magazine also rated guitarist Trey Azagthoth as the number one “death metal guitarist ever”. The band’s songs are complex in arrangement, owing to the considerable technical skills of both Azagthoth as well as drummer Pete Sandoval, the latter of whom also played in the grindcore band Terrorizer. According to Nielsen SoundScan, Morbid Angel is the third best-selling death metal band in the United States (after Cannibal Corpse and Deicide up until 2003 with sales of over 445,000), with their third album Covenant being the best-selling death metal album during the beginning of the Soundscan era time with over 150,000 units sold.

Altars of Madness is the debut album of Florida-based death metal band Morbid Angel. Bonus tracks were included on the CD version as well as the remastered 2003 release. These are remixed versions of songs from the album. 2006 saw a dualdisc release with the 2003 remaster on the audio side and Live Madness 89 recorded at Nottingham Rock City on November 14, 1989, on the DVD side.

The cover artwork, by Dan Seagrave, depicts “a flat disk made of a fossil material, that has captured souls”.

The Analysis—-

Immortal Rites—-Really having no exposure to this band, as much as I love Cannibal, I guess I’m  a late bloomer…or a poser…lol. This, upon first listen is a pretty fantastic band. The vocals are not as guttural as many Death bands…you can actually catch some words. The guitar squeals are classic of the Florida scene….they all sound somewhat alike. the lyrical imagery is not as extreme…but it is very listenable. The different moods of the song are great…I can see why this is a ‘classic’.

Suffocation—-Right out of the gate the music smacks you in the face. The pace of the drums are absolutely incredible…..they pummel you right in the forehead. The vocal on this track has more of a dark and evil tone…the lyrics are very dark…as you would expect. What is amazing to me is how tight this band is….well practiced and schooled in the ways of Death Metal.There are great shifts in the music….the bass line appears very heavy at times and then clears for the leads. Remarkable.

Visions From The Dark Side—-Again, there is no time from song to song to give your brain a rest… are smacked..literally from the moment the song begins. The melody line that runs underneath this track is just incredible. So far…my favorite track from this release. The leads are a bit fuzzy…the voice not as clear…but the energy and aggression are simply palatable. This is fantastic.

Maze Of Torment—-A great bass ushers in the track……a literal wall of sound as the track progresses with huge power chords and incredible drums. The track kicks into high gear and then ebbs and flows…the noise and aggression is incredible. The vocal enters…..singing so fast you barely catch a word…but it is impossible to not be enthusiastic about the whole damn thing. Amazing. The shifts in the music…..really must take a lot of finesse’….I’m really impressed.

Lords Of All Fevers & Plague—-Right off the bat….you get the same treatment as you have been subjected to. The vocal comes at you so fast, this borders of pure classic Thrash. The drummer on this recording is just incredible…how a human can do that is beyond me…not to mention for an extended amount of time. The guitars are brilliant…..the bass line apparent but never overshadowing the leads.

Chapel Of Ghouls—-With a bit more of a structured sound at the onset of this song, I fall right into the delivery from the music. The chaos gets a bit more extreme as the song continues…the vocal and the lyrics are almost laughable at the attempt to be truly evil…with any band that falls in this genre’….one treads carefully as to how much they buy into. This is still fantastic aggressive music…the break mid song….the downshift of the instrumentation….really shows a lot of talent.

Bleed For The Devil—-Really aggressive from the first notes, the vocal enters rather quickly and full of venom. It is hard to catch the words…but it really is not necessary…the intent and song title are clear. The drums remain just incredible…the lead guitars soar above the bass line…but it is always there smacking you in the face.

Damnation—-The vocal growl that opens up the track in incredible….the music continues to blast your brain right through your ears…but you really never tire of the sameness of the recording. The band plays so tight, I keep shaking my head wondering how long these guys were kicking around practicing before they scored this contract. This is well rehearsed and delivered.

Blasphemy—-What sounds like muted gunshots opens the track and then the music enters to stuff you back into the blender of mayhem. This has an almost sing song vocal delivery that is really accessible…despite the aggression and energy. Really incredible.

Evil Spells—-Ending the release much as it started…unrelenting and full of an aggressive musical attack, the bass line here is just incredible…interrupted only by the classic Death Metal guitar squeals that shock  your ears and make you shake your head in amazement. I can see very clearly why this is considered to be a classic……a fantastic listen.

****1/2 out of 5 1988 Metal Album Of The Year—-Queensryche / Operation: Mindcrime

Operation: Mindcrime (Remastered) [Expanded Edition]

Queensrÿche /ˈkwnzrk/ is an American heavy metal band. It formed in 1982 in Bellevue, Washington out of the local band the Mob. The band has released 14 studio albums, one EP, several DVDs, and continues to tour and record. The original lineup consisted of vocalist Geoff Tate, guitarists Chris DeGarmo and Michael Wilton, bassist Eddie Jackson and drummer Scott Rockenfield.

Queensrÿche has sold over 20 million albums worldwide, including over 6 million albums in the United States. The band received worldwide acclaim after the release of their 1988 album Operation: Mindcrime, which is often considered one of the greatest heavy metal concept albums of all time. Their follow-up release, Empire, released in 1990, was also very successful and included the hit single “Silent Lucidity“. The band has received three Grammy Award nominations for songs from both albums. In 1998, drummer Rockenfield received an individual Grammy nomination.

In 1997, guitarist and primary songwriter DeGarmo left the band for personal reasons. Over the years, his replacements have been Kelly Gray, Mike Stone, and Parker Lundgren, respectively. Following a highly publicized backstage altercation before a show in São Paulo, Brazil, in April 2012, Tate was fired from the band and replaced with then-Crimson Glory singer Todd La Torre. In response to his dismissal, Tate and his wife Susan (who served as the band’s manager from 2005–2012) filed a lawsuit in a Washington court, claiming that he was wrongfully terminated. The ruling in the preliminary injunction was that both parties were allowed to use the name Queensrÿche until a court ruling or a settlement decides who gets to use the name. A settlement was reached on April 17, 2014, in which founding members Wilton, Rockenfield and Jackson were awarded the rights to the band trademark, continuing to play with the lineup that additionally includes singer La Torre and guitarist Lundgren.

During the time both parties could use the name Queensrÿche, Tate created his own lineup featuring former guitarist Gray and musicians from bands including Blue Öyster Cult, Ozzy Osbourne, Whitesnake, Dio, AC/DC and Quiet Riot. This version of Queensrÿche with Geoff Tate released the album Frequency Unknown on 23 April 2013, while Queensrÿche (with La Torre replacing Tate) released their eponymous album on 24 and 25 June 2013 (European and American release date, respectively).[9]Both bands toured in 2013 and 2014.

Operation: Mindcrime is the third studio album by the American progressive heavy metal band Queensrÿche, released on May 3, 1988. The album was re-released on May 6, 2003 with two bonus tracks, and in 2006 as a deluxe box set.

A concept album and a rock opera, its story follows Nikki, a recovering drug addict who becomes disillusioned with the corrupt society of his time and reluctantly becomes involved with a revolutionary group as an assassin of political leaders. In January 1989, it ranked at No. 34 on Kerrang! magazine’s “100 Greatest Heavy Metal Albums of All Time”.

The album was certified by the RIAA as ‘gold’ a year after its release, and it was certified as ‘platinum’ in 1991. A sequel, Operation: Mindcrime II, was released on April 4, 2006.

The Analysis—-

I Remember Now—-It is quite possible, to listen to this release and not buy into the whole concept…but it is difficult. This interlude sets us up……

Anarchy-X—-Tate, the modern day Roger Waters of the rock world, truly brought this release to life with his over the top ideas and vocals and added effects. There is no doubt though….that this was a band at it’s best moment. The guitar from Chris was phenomenal…..the drums a huge wall of pounding and emotion. tie that all together with the vocals from Tate and you realize this was truly a landmark recording.

Revolution Calling—-The vocal has a dirty quality to it….making you fall right into the story.Tate has so many overlays to his vocal…making the sound of the band literally huge. The drums come at you so strong….and although the songs are important to the story….the arena ready tracks are as acceptable played out of context as any thing in the bands catalog. This is huge and requires a crowd to just lose their mind to.

Operation: Mindcrime—-All of the effects layed out on the release really add to the ebb and the flow as the story progresses. There never is a lack of emotion or power to the delivery of the songs. Tate delivered his baby and it lives in infamy. This is a powerhouse of a song…steeped in classic 80’s style Metal…..huge instrumentation….soaring vocals and an attitude that makes you lose control.

Speak—-Huge guitar from DeGarmo, Tate enters with his vocal and the band takes on that jaunty delivery that it started to establish back in the early days of releases. There is a remarkable energy to this…..making you want to pull your hair out with emotion as the music sinks into you deeper and deeper. This is classic…I miss the energy of THIS version of the band…altogether, they were unstoppable. The vocal here is INCREDIBLE!!!!

Spreading The Disease—-Again, the band delivers that energy that they really started to establish on Rage For Order. The jaunty guitar that evokes energy and conjures up the need for the listener to jump up and down with enthusiasm and excitement. This is the band at the peak of creativity and vision. The drums…..will make your brain explode.

The Mission—-Sometimes….the vocal interludes allow you to realize the age of the record…but at the same time allow you to realize how history tends to be repetitive. Tate delivers a great vocal…allowing a well placed cool down and quiet time before the band becomes alive and delivers another chapter in the story…this is so well out and constructed. I love this record!!!

Suite Sister Mary—-Progressing with the story through brief spoken words, the recording still manages to maintain its energy despite the slower acoustic style interludes and interruptions. Your ears are almost transfixed as the music continues to tell its story. Much like The Wall….this has an entire subtext that you only catch after many listens. Just magical.

The Needle Lies—-Perhaps one of my favorite tracks on this release…it reminds me of the London style music from Rage….which to me was a land mark recording. The energy and the vitriol are incredible. The feeling you get from the music….in conjunction with the dark words creates a literal picture in your brain. This is just fantastic…I’m in love all over again.

Electric Requiem—-A brief respite before….

Breaking The Silence—-Tate is in his best emotive voice on this track…the quivering of his voice apparent as he delivers his emotional tale that propels the story. The energy of the band is incredible…the vocal delivery making the song even larger than thought possible. The sharp guitar bursts and constant high hat taps on the drums make the urgency smack you in the face This is exquisite.

I Don’t Believe In Love—-Songs like this…the down tempo ballad style tracks….helped propel this band to million dollar sales and a career of money. Perhaps tracks like these only added to the demise of the band. The emotional quality is palatable…the musicianship never suffering…but sometimes the bigger the song…the harder the fall.

Waiting For 22—-Filler that is emotive but offering nothing to new for me…I often skip over this and it all works out fine. Although…Tate sounds literally Waters possessed towards the end of this track.

My Empty Room—-Returning to the same melody that plays through much of the album and the concept, this all ties things together in a neat package…such as the concept record is. I like this…but it just seems like a redux of everything that has already been played.

Eyes Of A Stranger—-You can never deny the vocal power that Tate had in his younger days. Having seen him recently…let me assure you….the voice is no longer there. The grandiosity of this excellent song will never again be repeated by him live…..he just can’t do it anymore. This will still live on though….an excellent closer to a fantastic journey.

****3/4 out of 5

 1987 Metal Album Of The Year—- King Diamond / Abigail

Abigail (Reissue)

Kim Bendix Petersen (born 14 June 1956), better known by his stage name King Diamond, is a Danish heavy metal musician. As a vocalist, he is known for his extensive vocal range, in particular his usage of falsetto. He is the lead vocalist for both Mercyful Fate and the eponymous King Diamond.

Abigail is the second King Diamond album and their first concept album. It was released in 1987 on Roadrunner Records. There were several re-releases, first in 1997 with 4 bonus tracks, and then a 25th Anniversary edition in 2005 with a bonus DVD. This album has sold over 175,000 copies in North America alone.

Abigail tells the story about a young couple, Miriam Natias and Jonathan La’Fey, who move into an old mansion that La’Fey inherited. It takes place in the summer of 1845. At their arrival they are warned by seven horsemen not to move into the house because if they do “18 will become 9.” They do not heed the warning and proceed to move into the mansion. During their first night, Jonathan meets with Count La’Fey, the Family Ghost, who is a deceased relative. The ghost shows him a casket in which a corpse of a stillborn child, Abigail, rests. The ghost informs him that Miriam is carrying the spirit of Abigail and that the child will soon be reborn. He insists that Jonathan must kill Miriam at once to prevent the rebirth.

The narration then relates the story of what happened to the Count and his wife: on 7 July 1777, the Count had discovered his wife had been unfaithful to him, and was pregnant with an illegitimate child. Enraged, he threw the Countess down the stairs, breaking her neck and causing the child to be stillborn. The Count had the body of the Countess cremated, and the stillborn fetus he named Abigail and had mummified and laid to rest in a sarcophagus, the Count having an inexplicable urge to preserve Abigail for the future.

The narration then returns to the summer of 1845, during which Jonathan and Miriam are beset by a range of omens; the church bell rings despite nobody being inside to ring it, flowers die, unwholesome stenches fill the house and in the dining room the table is discovered set for 3. In one incident an empty cradle is discovered by Jonathan swaying in the air, with both him and Miriam insisting that they didn’t bring it with them. The next day, Miriam is clearly pregnant and the fetus develops quickly; Jonathan realises that the family ghost was speaking the truth.

The fatal crisis begins when Jonathan accuses Abigail of possessing Miriam, and Abigail (through Miriam) admits it. Jonathan is terrified and considers getting a priest to exorcise Miriam – Miriam, however, exercising a moment of control, urges him to cast her down the stairs to kill her just as the Count had slain the Countess and Abigail’s original incarnation. Therefore, Jonathan pretends to give in to Abigail’s demands, and suggests to Abigail (once she regains control of Miriam) that she should come down to the family crypt so she can be reborn where she died. However, as the couple stands at the top of the stairs, Jonathan is distracted and the possessed Miriam throws Jonathan down the stairs.

Miriam gives birth to Abigail, but dies shortly afterwards, her last sight being of Abigail’s “yellow eyes”; supposedly her ghost can be heard screaming on the stairs in July ever after. The seven horsemen arrive at the mansion and discover the baby Abigail in the sarcophagus, eating something too horrifying for the narrator to mention (though the fact that it is found in the sarcophagus suggests that Abigail is eating her own previous body). Appalled, they take her away to bury her in a hidden chapel in the forest with seven silver spikes driven through her body (a burial heard as the intro to the album), in the hope that this will prevent a further resurrection.

The Analysis—-

Funeral—-I took the liberty to reprint the concept story of this release. I have never been a strong proponent for concept records….it’s the music I try to appreciate. So we begin….with subdued music and eerie vocals that conjure up evil and fear….builds and evolves into….

Arrival—-Musically, this release is very strong…the sound not differing that much from the landmark recordings of Mercyful Fate…..and of course, there is that voice. The falsetto that king has could rival Barry Gibb… times it becomes tiring…the remarkable thing is how he can go from growl to piercing scream in just a moment. The production is incredible…the vocal over lays give a very full sound to the recording. It’s nice to listen to again.

A Mansion In Darkness—-As we move through the ‘story’, the vivid lyrical imagery makes it rather easy to follow along after you read about the concept. I am still amazed by all of the voice over work that must have been necessary to get this sound….Diamond singing in different tones all in one line…the overlays must have been incredible. The music is nice….straight forward metal…excellent drums and a galloping bass line that fits the mood perfectly.

The Family Ghost—-The  incredible guitar blasts that kick off this track are only matched by the urgent falsetto from Diamond. A true centerpiece for me, musically, on this release. The power chords and the incredible drums threaten to outdo Diamond and his vocal. The dark and mysterious feel to the song is only enhanced by the soaring and fantastic music. This is stellar!

The 7th Day Of July 1777—-All of the 7 references are a bit comical…..seeming to try to validate the evil quality more than necessary. The gentle intro of the acoustic guitar adds to the eerie touches of the song…..and then you are off and running once again as Diamond pelts you with more dark lyrics and in human vocals. This is really nice to listen to once again after such a long time.

Omens—-With a familiar sound reminiscent of early day King, I’m sure many of these ideas had been around for a bit. The music is really strong…but the band never really takes the spotlight from Diamond. At times it is difficult to follow with the story because the lyrics are hard to catch as they were meant to be heard. This track…filler to complete the story.

The Possession—-Deep and full of maniacal sounds at the onset, the bass line is just huge on this track before allowing for the fuller drums to enter. The production is just incredible. Makes me wonder how this all played live with all of the over lays. This is nice…but still I consider filler to progress the concept.

Abigail—-Fantastic right at the kick off…the guitars are just phenomenal. After you get past the voice of Diamond, you can really pay attention to the phenomenal playing that the band does. Although the music suffers a bit from a ‘sameness’ quality. the breaks and the chord changes are remarkable….matching the mood of the voice to the music. This is great!

Black Horseman—-Ending the proper release here, i chose not to include the bonus tracks of the re-issue because that was not how it was judged to begin with. The beautiful and intricate guitar intro to this song has a Spanish flavor that allows for all of these vocal effects and a vocal from Diamond that are as fantastic as anything on the ground braking Don’t Break The Oath. This is a fantastic end to the album….bringing us full circle in the story.

**** out of 5
 1986 Metal Album Of The Year—-Metallica / Master Of Puppets

Master Of Puppets

Metallica is an American heavy metal band based in San Rafael, California. The band was formed in 1981 in Los Angeles when vocalist/guitarist James Hetfield responded to an advertisement posted by drummer Lars Ulrich in a local newspaper. Metallica’s current line-up comprises founding members Hetfield and Ulrich, longtime lead guitarist Kirk Hammett and bassist Robert Trujillo. Guitarist Dave Mustaine and bassists Ron McGovney, Cliff Burton and Jason Newsted are former members of the band.

The band’s fast tempos, instrumentals, and aggressive musicianship placed them as one of the founding “big four” bands of thrash metal, alongside Anthrax, Megadeth, and Slayer. Metallica earned a growing fan base in the underground music community and won critical acclaim with its first four albums; their third album Master of Puppets (1986) was described as one of the most influential and heaviest of thrash metal albums. The band expanded its musical direction and achieved substantial commercial success with its eponymous fifth album Metallica (1991), which resulted in an album that appealed to a more mainstream audience. The album was also their first to debut at number one on the Billboard 200, a success that they also achieved on their following five studio albums. In 2000, Metallica joined with other artists who filed a lawsuit against Napster for sharing the band’s copyright-protected material without consent from the band. A settlement was reached and Napster became a pay-to-use service. The release of St. Anger (2003) alienated fans with the exclusion of guitar solos and the “steel-sounding” snare drum, and a film titled Some Kind of Monster documented the recording of St. Anger and the tensions within the band during that time. The band returned to its original musical style with the release of Death Magnetic (2008), and in 2009, Metallica was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. After touring for most of the next eight years, the band followed up with Hardwired… to Self-Destruct (2016), which demonstrated examples from some of the different musical styles that the band has dabbled in throughout its career.

Metallica has released ten studio albums, four live albums, five extended plays, 26 music videos, and 37 singles. The band has won eight Grammy Awards and six of its albums have consecutively debuted at number one on the Billboard 200. The band’s eponymous 1991 album has sold over 16 million copies in the United States, making it the best-selling album of the SoundScan era. Metallica ranks as one of the most commercially successful bands of all time, having sold over 110 million records worldwide.[1]Metallica has been listed as one of the greatest artists of all time by many magazines, including Rolling Stone, which ranked them 61st on its list of The 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.[2] As of December 2012, Metallica is the third-best-selling music artist since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking sales in 1991, selling a total of 54.26 million albums in the U.S.[3][4] Metallica collaborated over a long period with producer Bob Rock, who produced four of the band’s studio albums between 1990 and 2003 and served as a temporary bassist during the production of St. Anger. In 2012, Metallica formed the independent record label Blackened Recordings and took full ownership of its albums and videos. The band is currently promoting Hardwired… to Self-Destruct, which was released on November 18, 2016.

Master of Puppets is the third studio album by American heavy metal band Metallica, released on March 3, 1986 by Elektra Records. Recorded at the Sweet Silence Studios with producer Flemming Rasmussen, it was the first Metallica album released on a major record label. Master of Puppets was the band’s last album to feature bassist Cliff Burton, who died in a bus accident in Sweden during the album’s promotional tour. The album peaked at number 29 on the Billboard 200 and became the first thrash metal album to be certified platinum. It was certified 6× platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in 2003 for shipping six million copies in the United States. The album was eventually certified 6× platinum by Music Canada and gold by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI).

Master of Puppets was released to critical acclaim and has been included in several publications’ best album lists. Its driving, virtuosity music, and angry political lyrics drew praise from critics outside the metal community. The album is considered the band’s strongest effort of the period and is one of the most influential heavy metal albums. Critics credit it for consolidating the American thrash metal scene with its atmospheric and meticulously performed songs. Many bands from all genres of heavy metal have covered the album’s songs, including tribute albums. Master of Puppets was deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” enough for preservation in the National Recording Registry by the United States Library of Congress in 2016. Only 450 recordings have earned this distinction, with Master of Puppets being the first metal selection.

The Analysis—-

Battery—-You notice right from the first notes, the great production value of this release. The usual muted Thrash sound has been replaced by a full bodied sound that threatens to blow your head off. The breaks and the tempo changes are just incredible. Lars never played the drums better than on this release. Although the vocal falls into the beginning Thrash sound a bit, the full sound of the band over rides the entire thing. The music…dark in content and sound fills you with a jubilant feeling that never grows old. To hear this again…..sparks my enthusiasm and love for this band.

Master Of Puppets—-Full bodied and filled with an energy that makes you almost lose your mind, the bass delivery on the song is as incredible as the drums. Hetfield enters the fray with a vocal that will live on for ever…the urgency to the tone of his voice is so contagious….it makes me think this is more relevant today than it was the day it was released. This is such a fine tuned machine…the production quality…the practice….the ability to transport the studio energy to your head phones…..just remarkable. A true landmark recording.The way the track takes you through so many moods and then re-smacks you in the face……incredible.

Welcome Home [Sanitarium]—-By far, one of my very favorite tracks ever in the history of this iconic band. The moods….and the melody of the song transport me to a place where you actually feel the pain and the desperation…the sadness and the feelings of hopelessness and at the same time irritation at your own inabilities. Hetfield delivers an incredible vocal….and the band never comes close to over riding the emotional qualities of the song. This is an incredible recording.

The Things That Should Not Be—-Deep and brooding at the onset, the track opens up into a heavy dose of Metal at its finest. The peaks and the valleys of the songs construction are incredible. Hetfield sounds so good when he delivers one dark line after the other. The band…showing incredible restraint to allow for the full feel of the song to play out has never sounded better. I wonder how the band would sound now if the Burton tragedy had never occurred. This is a complete and pleasant wall of sound that sounds like it was recorded yesterday.

Disposable Heroes—-Right out of the gate, with the very first note, you are pummeled by the aggressive delivery of the song. This was a huge step up for the Thrash community…and the entire Metal world sat up and paid attention. The wall of sound…coming at you from every direction through the headphones is just incredible. James sound almost possessed as he delivers his vocal…this is dark…..but so intense in bright talent….I can’t believe I have not listened to this in such a long time. That chorus….one for the history books……..never forget.

Leper Messiah—-Although this has never been a favorite track of mine, it can not ever be overlooked in the whole entirety of the release…it fit perfectly in the line of songs that were recorded and released during these sessions. The music is huge and powerful…I just don’t find genuity in the delivery of the vocals or the music…still a triumph.

Orion—-This track…stands up very well with the rest of the material on the release. The brutality of the music is fantastic…but still manages to salvage a melody line that almost seems to seep into your cerebellum and take up residence for a very long time…it all seems to be a long story that I never tire of hearing.

Damage Inc.—-Rounding out this landmark recording with another very favorite track of mine, there is a melody line here that always seems present as well. The buildup to the intro of the song is almost maddening…making me bite my lip with anticipation of what is to come. The ensuing Metal is genuine and fantastic….sharp huge burst of energy and incredible drums like you have never heard…this is aggressive but melodic…powerful but brutal. A true masterpiece.

***** out of 5 1985 Metal Album Of The Year—-Exodus / Bonded By Blood

Bonded by Blood

Exodus is an American thrash metal band formed in 1979 in Richmond, California. Spanning a career of 38 years, Exodus has gone through numerous lineup changes, two extended hiatuses, and the deaths of two former band members. Their current lineup consists of vocalist Steve “Zetro” Souza, guitarists Gary Holt and Lee Altus, bass guitarist Jack Gibson and drummer Tom Hunting. Hunting is one of the original members, and departed from Exodus twice, in 1989 and 2004, but rejoined in 2007. Holt joined the band about two years after its formation, and is the only member of Exodus to appear on all their releases.

Since its formation, Exodus has released ten studio albums, two live albums and two compilations. Along with Possessed, Testament, Death Angel, Vio-Lence, Forbidden, Lääz Rockit and Metallica, whose longtime lead guitarist Kirk Hammett was an original member of Exodus, they are often credited as pioneers of the Bay Area thrash metal scene, and have sold over five million albums worldwide as of 2013.[4] Exodus had particular success in the mid-to-late 1980s with their first three studio albums: Bonded by Blood, Pleasures of the Flesh and Fabulous Disaster. The critical praise given to Fabulous Disaster garnered attention from major labels, including Capitol Records, with whom Exodus had signed in 1989. Exodus released two more studio albums (Impact Is Imminent and Force of Habit) before disbanding in 1994. After temporarily reuniting in 1997–1998, Exodus reformed once again in 2001, and since then, they have released five more studio albums, the most recent being 2014’s Blood In, Blood Out. The band is expected to release their next studio album in late 2017.

Bonded by Blood is the debut studio album by the San Francisco thrash metal band Exodus. Although the album was completed in the summer of 1984, it was not released until 1985 due to issues with Exodus and their record label. It is considered one of the most influential thrash metal albums of all time. It is also the only full-length studio album of Exodus to feature Paul Baloff on vocals, though he was also on their 1982 Demo. Baloff was back in Exodus for five years (from 1997 to his death in 2002), and appeared on their 1997 live album Another Lesson in Violence.

In 2008, Exodus re-recorded Bonded by Blood and re-released it as Let There Be Blood, featuring a new line-up of members aside from drummer Tom Hunting and guitarist Gary Holt who played on the original.

The Analysis—-

Bonded By Blood—-Coming out of the fog, the somewhat primitive Thrash Metal kicks in and smacks you in the face. the vocal is interesting….sounding full of tin and lacking any deeper tones. The musicianship is extraordinary. The unrelenting blasts fill me with energy and an almost joy. I love this…reminds me of early Testament.

Exodus—-Delivering much in the same vein as the opener, the voice and the delivery makes you think this could all sound like one long song. I’m not saying it is bad…I love the energy and the shout a long chorus that the song delivers. The music is pushed to the back so much…it amazes me how the vocalist kept his time. I like the range…you get some good screams and yelps…..this is full of vigor!

And Then There Were None—-Beginning with a much clearer guitar sound and direction, the pace of the song is more moderate than previous tracks…this is nice…giving the record some variance. The vocal is fantastic….the entire band joining in on the chorus…making it appear very large. This has definite punk leanings in the delivery…I love this.

A Lesson In Violence—-Nice speaker play introduces the track as the song begins at full throttle and allowing you no time to catch your breath. The pummeling drums are fantastic…this has long been a very favorite track of mine….kind of my introduction to the whole Thrash scene before I became familiar with the band. This is energetic…dark enough for an impressionable listener and fast enough for a short attention span.

Metal Command—-With a nice chugging bass line to kick off the track, the drums are very upfront in the mix. The energy is undeniable…the vocal almost pleads with you to pay attention. I love the higher tone now…it really grows on you as the release continues on. It fits the entire sound damn perfectly. This is brutal….fast and energetic….never giving you a respite.

Piranha—-Again with the phenomenal drum intro….it leads the entire band at a frenetic pace throughout the entire song. The galloping bass line is just incredible. The vocal enters with a nice evil tone that gives you the whip cream on the top if you will. This is classic Thrash…one of the premier bands that started it all.

No Love—-Oddly pretty at the onset, this will take you by surprise. The gentleness is rather shocking after the thrashing you received. But the track does open up and deliver you back to the comfort zone the band set forth. This is fantastic….shows nice diversity and talent. I love the teasing intro…followed by the smack in the face.

Deliver Us To Evil—-No new surprises are delivered with this track….the consistency and the talent are remarkable though. This is exactly what you signed up for when you laid down your cash for this epic release. The vocal has grown on me so much…there is a certain evil quality that matches the music. The drums are just incredible…and the flourishes of the lead guitar are fantastic.

Strike Of the Beast—-The onset of the track almost magically seemed to have a better production quality….but you are returned to what you expect. This is not pretty hair metal or glam rock…this is pure pummeling to your forehead Thrash that still plays so well today…..such an epic release!

**** out of 5
 1984 Metal Album Of The Year—-Iron Maiden / Powerslave

Powerslave (1998 Remastered Version)

Powerslave is the fifth studio album by the English heavy metal band Iron Maiden, released on 3 September 1984 on EMI in Europe and its sister label Capitol Records in North America. It was re-released by Sanctuary/Columbia Records in the US in 2002.

It is notable for its Ancient Egyptian theme displayed in the cover artwork, lifted from the title track, which was carried over to the album’s supporting tour. “The World Slavery Tour” began in Warsaw, Poland on 9 August 1984 – and is widely regarded as being the band’s longest and most arduous to date – and also led to the live album Live After Death.

The release also contains a musical re-telling of Samuel Taylor Coleridge‘s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner“, which uses pieces of the original poem as lyrics. At 13 minutes and 45 seconds in length, it was Iron Maiden’s longest song for over 30 years, until it was surpassed by the 18-minute “Empire of the Clouds” from the 2015 album, The Book of Souls.

Powerslave is also notable as being the band’s first album to feature the same personnel as their previous studio release. This lineup would remain intact for two further studio releases. Also, it is their last album to date to feature an instrumental piece.

2 Minutes to Midnight” and “Aces High” were released as singles.

The Analysis—-

Aces High—-Classic Maiden riffs open the track… know right away the band your listening to! The power that this band possessed back in this era was phenomenal. Dickinson has a vocal energy that is so powerful……you just lose control when he begins to sing. The double track vocal gives the band a fuller sound and you truly appreciate the range that Bruce had. The galloping bass line that is the trademark from Harris is there…but put in the very backdrop…it is the clean and crisp leads that guide the song….combined with the voice makes this huge.

2 Minutes To Midnight—-Always and still a favorite Maiden track of mine, it sounds as fresh and phenomenal today as it did when I first heard it. The lyric lines are not as evil as you would think… is the energy of the Maiden machine that I fell in love with. The almost static guitar intro and the incredible drums that kick off the song are only a teaser for when the song really begins to rock. This was and is still classic Maiden….and they showed with the release of Live After Death that this transported live just as well.

Losfer Words [Big ‘Orra]—-With a remarkable and contagious groove, this instrumental combines all of the best elements of the band to date. You have the crisp clean soaring guitars…the classic Harris bass line and the incredible drums leading the rhythm section to an almost  never ending orgasm of pure Metal mastery.

Flash Of The Blade—-A barrage of guitars and a heavy upfront drum intro ushers in this track….full of as much energy as you could imagine. Dickinson enters with his vocal…full of lyrical imagery that takes you into a foreign land. The vocal overlays are incredible…really showcasing the vocal range that Bruce once had. He can still sing well…but not like this…not some of those notes…not like Halford!!! But this is a keen reminder of the nickname ‘Air-Raid Siren’.

The Duellists—-A great title for the track, as it seems the guitars are in a literal duel with each other as the track opens. There is a remarkable down shift to the music…but it never descends…remarkable! Even Bruce has a vocal that sounds like that….you can hear the importance of Smith as he joins Bruce on the vocals. The nimble magical bass line is just phenomenal…..allowing you to find an alternative groove to the song rather easily. This is fantastic.

Back In The Village—-Classic in sound…….delivering the necessary filler you need on an album such as this. the chord progressions are fantastic…but the quality of the song leaves me a bit empty. Not a favorite track of mine…but you can’t deny that the song does have a fantastic melody line.This is nice overblown huge Metal….and some of the notes from Bruce are stellar.

Powerslave—-For me, this was the centerpiece of this release. This song…huge and overblown…had every element that made Maiden the 80’s band favorite for headbangers. Clear and concise lead guitar melody lines….the classic Harris bass line that gallops through your brain for days…huge crashing drums…and the strained larger than life vocal from Dickinson. Combine all of this with incredibly dark and mysterious lyrics…how can you not make history?

Rime Of The Ancient Mariner—-Call me crazy……I really never connected with this huge overblown track. Perhaps because I never got the concept or read the poem or story or whatever. I always pass on this one…..there are great movements to the song…the classic Harris touches are all over the song…and Bruce sounds epic…but to me it lasted about 9 minutes too long…sorry

**** out of 5