Dimmu Borgir / Eonian

Eonian

Dimmu Borgir (/ˌdɪm ˈbɔːrɡɪər/) is a Norwegian symphonic black metal band from Oslo, Norway, formed in 1993. The name is derived from Dimmuborgir, a volcanic formation in Iceland, the name of which means “dark cities” or “dark castles/fortresses” in IcelandicFaroese and Old Norse. The band has been through numerous lineup changes over the years; guitarist Silenoz and vocalist Shagrath are the only original members who still remain with guitarist Galder being a longstanding member.

The Analysis—-

The Unveiling—-The intro to this track is a huge mish-mash of confused Industrial sounds that quickly give way to the classic Dimmu sound that I require in my ears at least once a week. This opening track….at first listen was a throw a way…has become a rel favorite of mine. I love the varied yet predictable sound and the instantly recognizable voice of Shagrath. This has huge ebbs and flows…..I was not won over at first….but combined together…this is a required listen with the release as an entirety.

Interdimensional Summit—-From the very first three notes, you are assured of hat band you are listening to…there is no doubt. Shagrath sounds like he is driven by the music with his voice….the joined voices and the orchestration is like a huge movie for your ears. The surprise hear is the chorus…so addictive and accessible it might de-rail the Black Metal card for this band, This is epic…spectacular and addictive as hell…this will live in your brain for days to come.

Aethric—-Again, truly epic in sound…but more straight forward Metal than the previous two songs. There is a darkness around the edges of this song that I just love. The sound is so layered and huge I shake my head in amazement. The drums are incredible….the guitars are a wonderful wall of sound. Then the chorus smacks you in the face and becomes another instant favorite. This band has a recipe and it works every time for me….fuck the critics…I love the record!

Council Of Wolves And Snakes—-A bit sedate at the onset, the song becomes much more aggressive as it evolves. The sharp and fast guitar blasts are intense….the drums high and fast. Shagrath delivers a demonic vocal that wraps around your soul and turns your heart black. And then again….the chorus erupts and becomes another instant classic….I can’t understand the disdain for this band…maybe I’m an unintentional poser…lol.

The Empyrean Phoenix—-A slight folk feel to the intro to this song, the mayhem kicks in and becomes normal Dimmu after a few seconds. as usual….the drums are outstanding as Shagrath unleashes a hell storm of demonic vocals backed by a mysterious choir of Oh’s in the background….this is huge…epic in sound and a journey all of it’s own. This is a superb track.

Lightbringer—–Deep and dense…..full of layers right at the onset, this makes me feel comfortable and happy that after 8 long years my band has delivered an epic masterpiece. this is a slight mish mash of sounds….the bashing and crashing a bit monotonous after a bit…but the song finally opens up and ushers in a vocal that manages to keep perfect pace with the maddening drums. This is epic…a bit noisier than previous tracks…but fits in on the record rather well.

I Am Sovereign—-Huge layers of sound are piled on layers of sound…creating this dark and frozen landscape that is perfect for this band. The marching vocal and drums are like a prelude to war….the vocal comes at you in this wicked scream that twists your neck around in circles. This is stellar….a huge barrage of symphonic sound….gut vocals,,,and whispered incantations….brilliant!

Archaic Correspondence—-For me, this hearkens back to older days of the band. The drums are so fast and in your face….the guitars are a complete wall of sound….and Shagrath steps forward and is the steerer of the ship. This is epic in sound and construction…..and has a certain melody quality that will stay with you. I love this.

Alpha Aeon Omega—-Nothing spectacular here…all I can say is that the band as a whole, is truly consistent in sound and delivery….you know….at this point what to expect from the Norwegian Gods of Black Metal…this is spectacular…overblown….but accessible and catchy.

Rite Of Passage—-Rather sedate at the onset, this closing track takes a bit to get going but awakes in epic fashion with huge swells of orchestration and guitars. You can almost see the fog around the band as the song plays…it is that epic in sound. This instrumental leaves you with a hungry taste in your mouth….let’s hope it is not another 8 year wait!!!

***** out of 5

Ghost / Prequelle

Prequelle

Ghost is a Swedish rock band that was formed in LinköpingSweden in 2006. In 2010, they released a 3-track demo followed by a 7″ vinyl titled “Elizabeth“, and later their debut full-length album Opus Eponymous. The Grammis-nominated album was widely praised and significantly increased their popularity. Their second album and major label debut Infestissumam was released in 2013, debuted at number one in Sweden, and won the Grammis Award for Best Hard Rock/Metal Album. The band released their third studio album, Meliora, in 2015, to much critical acclaim and high record sales, reaching number one in their home country of Sweden, and number eight in the United States. Its lead single, “Cirice“, earned them the 2016 Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance. The band released their fourth studio album, Prequelle, in 2018.

Ghost is easily recognizable owing greatly to its eccentric on-stage presence. Five of the group’s six members, its ‘Nameless Ghouls’,  wear virtually identical, face-concealing costumes. Prior to a 2017 lawsuit filed by former members of the band, lead singer Tobias Forge obscured his identity behind the character “Papa Emeritus”. The character, which consists of Forge in a prosthetic mask and makeup can be best described as a ‘demonic anti-pope’.  The Papa Emeritus Character has gone through four incarnations – I, II, III, and Nihil. As of the 2018 album Prequelle and subsequent world tour, Forge portrays a character known as “Cardinal Copia”, who is described as being unrelated to any of the Papa Emeritus characters and whose costume consists of either Cardinal vestments or a black tuxedo alongside a prosthetic mask with black eyemakeup and the multi-colored eyes which had been present in each Papa characte.

Prequelle is the fourth studio album by Swedish rock band Ghost. It was released on June 1, 2018 and produced by Tom Dalgety. The album’s first single, “Rats“, was released ahead of the album on April 13, and as of June, had peaked at number four on the BillboardMainstream Rock Songs chart. The album marked the band’s strongest selling debut to date, landing at number 3 on the Billboard 200, selling 66,000 copies in its first week, with 61,000 of those being “traditional” album sales.

The album’s theme focuses on Medieval times and the Black Death along with more modern themes.

The Analysis—-

Ashes—-Eerie from the onset, this is typical Ghost….turning a harmless nursery rhyme into something twisted and then morphing magically into…..

Rats—-This track…..full of contradictions…lyrically dark and eerie…but the sound is so accessible and listenable. Full of huge harmonies, powerful guitars and an unforgettable melody line, this will lay in tour head for days. The double tracked vocals really wrap the song into the most accessible track they have ever produced. This is phenomenal.

Faith—-A nice powerful soaring guitar intro, the chug chug of the bass line shows up right after the intro. Tobias enters with his accessible vocal….you can catch every word from this band and let it sink into your brain. This is again, full of perfect harmonies and a melody line that is contagious as hell. The middle break of the song is nice….keeping the ‘metal’ cred in tact. This is fantastic…the band has outdone itself with this release.

See The Light—-Such a gentle intro, you just sit back and question how you can possibly categorize this band in any genre. This just does not fit in perfectly anywhere!! There are perfect pop moments hear…as well as pure symphonic metal moments as well. Combine all of this with a pitch perfect vocal and you just sit back and shake your head in amazement. This is just about as perfect as it can get.

Miasma—-Dank, dark and full of an underlying eerie-ness, the intro to this is fantastic. The song kicks into a nice gear shortly after and has many of the metal elements I require from this band. The guitars produce a soaring melody that is infectious and electric. This is pure perfection. A great song placement as well…it ‘breaks’ up the album really well.

Dance Macabre—-Remarkable right from the onset, the track is heavily dipped in the sound of the 80’s while still managing to sound fresh and brand new. The lyrics….the singing….the melody and harmony is so damn addictive and accessible…..for me, one of the best things the band has ever done…this is a magical moment on this release.

Pro Memoria—-Swells of a slight symphonic movement opens the song….dense and layered with musical emotion…you feel like you stepped into a soundtrack. Then Tobias enters and utters Lucifer and you realize the slight hilarity of all the contradictions from this band. This is not a happy-go-lucky song….but the delivery is so damn pleasant you can’t help but to fall in love with the damn thing. Just incredible.

Witch Image—-Returning to a more predictable and familiar sound, the intro begins and falls away to allow for the vocal. the song leans on pop-rock elements at every turn. The harmonies and melody are exquisite…..sounding like an updated Pink Floyd. The magic is the voice and the contradiction of the lyrics….this is so dark….but so damn pleasant. I’m in a whirlwind.

Helevetesfonster—-Exquisite flutes open the track…in the back ground a slight deep rumble lies around. The melody line from the instrument is so damn magical…it lulls you into an almost trance like state. The drums enter…but never enter the beauty of the instrumentation. This is huge….masterful and delivered with an incredible finesse’. There are so many ‘prog’ like movements in this instrumental…..it’s like the glory days of the 70’s Prog movement.

Life Eternal—-Stripped down to almost bare bones, the only instrument at the onset is the gentle keyboard joined with the vocal. The track opens up a bit…but still remains a rather melancholic love song to princes or princesses of darkness. This is superb. I hate to see this all end so soon. A remarkable release.

**** out of 5

Stryper / God Damn Evil

God Damn Evil

Stryper is an American Christian metal band from Orange County, California. The group’s lineup consists of Michael Sweet(lead vocals, guitar), Oz Fox (guitar), Perry Richardson (bass guitar), and Robert Sweet (drums).

Formed in 1983 as Roxx Regime, the band soon changed their musical message to reflect their Christian beliefs, and the band’s name was also changed to Stryper. They went on to become the first overtly Christian heavy metal band to gain acceptance in the mainstream. In 1983, they signed with major label Enigma Records and released their debut album The Yellow and Black Attack. In the mid-1980s, Stryper enjoyed their most successful period beginning with the release of To Hell with the Devil, which achieved platinum sales status. Stryper went on to release two more gold albums before disbanding in 1992. In 2003, Stryper came out of retirement for a reunion tour and subsequently signed a multi-album contract with Big3 Records in 2005. In 2013 they signed a multi-album deal with Frontiers Records, and have released Second Coming, which includes 14 re-recorded songs from their first three albums and an album, No More Hell to Pay, released on November 5, 2013, and Fallen on October 16, 2015

God Damn Evil is the seventeenth release and twelfth studio album by Christian metal band Stryper, produced by frontman Michael Sweet and released in April 11, 2018.

The Analysis—-

Take It To The Cross—-If you have followed this somewhat iconic band at all, you pretty much no what to expect. I guess my initial and enduring attraction to this band was not necessarily the message…but the voice and the talent of the band. I love how tight they play….and it has not changed in all of these years. The message is the same…but so is the voice and the energy…..very nostalgic…..amazing how well Sweet’s voice has held up. I don’t really care for this chorus…but the multi vocal track is nice.

Sorry—-Fairly sdate at the onset, it seems like production turned down the volume on the whole damn thing. Sweet comes out of the dark with a nice strong and soaring vocal. The chorus is damn addictive…..it sucks you in whether you buy into the message or not. I like the slight blues tinge as well…this is nice.

Lost—-To be honest with you….this reminds me of something that would have fir on Styx Paradise Theater record…the vocal is overly operatic and Broadway tinged. The music is sedate and predictable. Sweet does really scream sometimes…which really pleases me. But this all seems very contrived and theatrical.

God Damn Evil—-A return to a bluesier sound and some incredible vocals, this is like being transported back to 1984. The message remains strong….but the delivery makes it worth listening to over and over again. This is directly sent to our current times and turmoil. I rather like this song…..the delivery is key!

You Don’t Even Know Me—-Classic 80’s riffs open this track….and some fantastic drums! The music reminds me of classic Queensryche at times…..the vocal is a bit off for me at times though. I love the energy of the chorus….this saves the song from becoming obscure.

The Valley—-Fantastic drums and short sharp guitar bursts kick off the track. Sweet enters and sounds so fresh and young with his vocal….you catch every word and the chorus sucks you in. The soaring quality of his voice is remarkable….I love how effortless his vocal sounds. The marching instrumentation makes the song feel huge.

Sea Of Thieves—-At this point of the release, the album begins to suffer from a very same-like quality….everything blends from the previous song…making it seem like a long drawn out operetta. There needs a ballad here or there…or some variety.

Beautiful—-Offering a bit of differential musical delivery, the drums are just stellar here. The guitars are in perfect unison. The vocal sounds a bit to theatrical….but it is passable. Will I listen to this release on a regular basis….no….not even once in a while…I prefer the classic releases.

Can’t Live Without Your Love—-Finally we get a bit of diversity….the song is delivered nicely…..but nothing stands out as fantastic. The chorus IS huge….but it is replayed and over done. I wish there was a little bit more variety.

Own Up—-Nothing new here……at this point it all seems like one long song…..when boredom sets in so quickly that is not a good sign. This sounds like I backed up 6 songs and am going through the same thing again.

The Devil Doesn’t Live Here—-A bit more power Metal to end the release, the message returns. The music is faster and more varied…..the drums are huge. The voice soars and the song has a nice catchy element to it. I like this.

** out of 5

Nightwish / Decades

Decades

Nightwish is a symphonic metal band from KiteeFinland. The band was formed in 1996 by lead songwriter and keyboardist Tuomas Holopainen, guitarist Emppu Vuorinen, and former lead singer Tarja Turunen. The band soon picked up drummer Jukka Nevalainen, and then bassist Sami Vänskä after the release of their debut album, Angels Fall First (1997). In 2001, Vänskä was replaced by Marco Hietala, who also took over the male vocalist role previously filled by Holopainen or guest singers.

Although Nightwish have been prominent in their home country since Angels Fall First, they did not achieve worldwide fame until the release of the albums Oceanborn (1998), Wishmaster (2000) and Century Child (2002). Their 2004 album, Once, has sold more than one million copies and was the band’s breakthrough in the United States. Their biggest US hit single, “Wish I Had an Angel” (2004), received MTV airplay and was included on three US film soundtracks to promote their North American tour. The band produced three more singles and two music videos for Once, as well as a re-recording of “Sleeping Sun” for the “Best of Nightwish” compilation album, Highest Hopes (2005), before Turunen’s dismissal in October 2005. Her last performance with Nightwish was during a concert recorded for the live album/DVD End of an Era. After the concert, the other members informed Turunen with an open letter that she was no longer a member of Nightwish.

In May 2007, Nightwish announced Anette Olzon as Turunen’s replacement. That September, the band released their sixth album, Dark Passion Play, which has sold almost 2 million copies. The album’s lead single, “Amaranth“, became one of Nightwish’s most successful in Europe. The supporting tour, one of the band’s largest, started on October 6, 2007 and ended on September 19, 2009. The band released an EP/live album, Made in Hong Kong (And in Various Other Places), in March 2009 as a CD/DVD, and their seventh studio album, Imaginaerum, was released globally on various days in late 2011/early 2012.

On October 1, 2012, Nightwish announced that they had parted ways with Olzon and would be finishing the tour with ReVamp and former After Forever vocalist Floor JansenIn October 2013, Nightwish made Jansen and longtime session uillean pipes player Troy Donockley permanent members of the band, and they were featured in the acclaimed album Endless Forms Most Beautiful, released on March 27, 2015.

Nightwish is the third-best-selling band and musical entity in Finland with certified sales of nearly 900,000 certifiedcopies. The group is also the most successful Finnish band worldwide, selling more than 9 million records and receiving more than 60 gold and platinum awards, having released five Number 1 albums and thirteen Number 1 singles.

Decades is the seventh compilation album from Finnish symphonic metal band Nightwish, and contains remastered versions of the original material. It was released on March 9, 2018, which is the same day that they began touring for the Decades: World Tour.

The Analysis—-

The Greatest Show On Earth—-Wow….what can you really say about this epic piece of music? Please note that this ‘song’ clocks in at a whopping 24 minutes in length and plays like a modern day symphony piece. This has complete movements and moods….as the music takes you through a complete set of emotions. The strings and the urgent pace of the underlying music is just fantastic. The song truly plays like a movie soundtrack to me. The vocal that finally erupts at about 6 minutes is not as you would expect if you are a follower of the band…although it does clear and becomes much more clear and epic as it continues. The song…once you get to the meat of the damn thing is addictive as hell. The nice mix between the clean and the rougher vocals keeps your attention. This is epic-ally brilliant.

Elan—-With a brilliant and immediately recognizable intro, the flute that begins the entire thing is just perfect. There is a wonderful mix of metal and beauty all mixed in here together. You would never think such a thing would work…but it does…and brilliantly well. The vocal wraps around your head…while the music gives you a huge energetic boost. This is masterful.

My Walden—-With a huge almost pop inspired intro, the guitars sing in an upward arc that sucks your brain in from the first note. The music settle to allow for the vocal….and then comes right back at you as the chorus smacks your forehead and settles in for a day or so. This recipe works so well…..Tarja was brilliant…..and continues to be so.
Storytime—-Airy and wonderfully constructed, the keyboard ushers in guitars and drums that take the song to a faster and bit heavier sound. The music stays strong despite the entrance of the ‘pretty’ vocal…..the song still comes across as muscular and driving. The voice just soars with a melody of the chorus that is instantly devoured. the strings are incredible…perfectly mixed with huge guitars to create a curtain that you have never seen hanging before…..just brilliant.
I Want My Tears Back—-With Tuomas offering the entrance vocal, the music has a slight bagpipe sound to it that is accessible and addictive. Sometimes the vocal is almost too pretty…..suffering at time like Kate Bush did on some of her recordings. The chorus is huge…full of muscular crashes and guitars and more vocals from Tuomas. This is brilliant when they combine the voices…something I wish they did more often in the early days.
Amaranth—-What can I say about this track that I have not already said. It has had a long life…and still stands the test of time for me. The vocal is so strong and well delivered…matched perfectly with the aggression of the guitars. The combination that this band managed to develop is just remarkable. This is a track that will always be a favorite of mine…especially when the vocal switch happens and the tracks takes on an even more meal direction…this is magical.
The Poet And The Pendulum—-Seeming to meld from the previous track, this is epic in scope and length…..at over 13 minutes long. The track is layered and full of movements that lull you into a dreamy state as you find it easy to become one with the song. This is remarkably well done. I love the swells of the strings…the urgency of the music….the epic soundtrack feel to the symphonic feel. This is brilliance on a piece of plastic to enjoy forever. I love this band.
Nemo—-Another instantly recognizable tracks that will live for a very long time. The voice is like no other…delivered with beauty and practice….the ability to wrap itself around aggression but still remain beautiful is simply amazing. Even though there is all this stuff happening in the backdrop of the song….the voice literally rides on top of everything and remains true…crystal clear and full of beauty. What a band!
Wish I Had An Angel—-Perhaps the most ‘famous’ Nightwish song, this never gets old or sounds aged. I literally love this track to death. This was my introduction to the band and I have never stopped collecting them since then This strikes a chord with me. It combines beauty and power magically well….and still plays like it is brand new to me. A perfect blend of vocals with Tuomas adding in a rougher edge to the song….allows it to become huge. This is brilliant.
Ghost Love Score—-Brilliant in scope…a nice jaunty and masterful intro full of bright strings and swells……matched by a muscular guitar delivery creates a perfect storm. The song takes a nice turn…becoming a bit more metal before falling away for the almost too sweet vocal. But the chorus…a band effort….escalates the song to new highs again. This is fabulous.
Slaying The Dreamer—-Much more Metal right at the onset, this is big and a bit boisterous for this entity. The vocal is even lacking that pretty edge…sounding a bit more aggressive and driving. This is fantastic….the moods come and go…..but you never lose the urgency of the song. This is really nice…I love the great guitars. Tuomas makes this a great freakin track
End Of All Hope—-Beginning like a huge epic symphony movement of voices and sounds, the guitars enter and turn the track into a literal masterpiece. Again, sometimes the voice is almost too pretty for the huge and muscular delivery from the band…but somehow, they always manage to settle things out in the aftermath and deliver a masterpiece of a song. This is a well oiled machine that never seems to fail.
10th Man Down—-Creaking ship sounds and atmosphere take you right into the heart of the song. The music builds slowly…giving you a sense of anticipation….and the entire thing becomes the rhythmic Metal kind of thing. I don’t really care for the vocal here….but it is passable. The chorus vocal is almost drowned out by the aggressive music…perhaps a production misstep…..but still great none the less.
The Kingsslayer —-A nice return to the epic and huge Nightwish sound, the guitars are literally blazing on this joint. There is an urgency and speed to the music that is perfect for me. Even the vocal comes at you as if in an emergency situation. This is a huge song….delivered with perfection and emotion that keeps you on the edge of your seat with energy. Wonderful.
Dead Boy’s Poem—-I hate to say it…but I have to…..there is nothing about this track that inspires or moves me. I’m not really even sure why it is on here…this is not a shining moment for the band…in mu opinion….I remain unmoved.
Gethsemane—-Blazing back with this keyboard heavy track, there is a perfect combination between the keys and the guitars….with the vocal soaring over your head. Again…there is a nice urgency and muscularity to the song….it is full of driving riffs and excellent drums. a perfect storm once again blows from the homeland.
Devil & The Deep Dark Ocean—-Large in sound and filled with driving drums that are just incredible. The male vocal that begins the entire thing is in such sharp contrast that it puts me off a bit. I’m really not into the evil sound of the vocal…it puts me off a bit…sounds more like German Industrial than my beloved band.
Sacrament Of Wilderness—-Here we have a ice return to the more familiar……upfront keyboards and incredible drums…..a huge guitar line that drives the song to new heights…..a vocal that literally soars above your head….it all comes together to create an epic composition….and there I go….in love once again.
Sleeping Sun—-Beautifully constructed and moody, I love this. The vocal is so well delivered…filling you with epic emotions. there is a nice double tracking on the voice that gives the song an even more full bodied sound. This is really nice…..the swells of music suck you into a daze that allows you to daydream and catch every single word at the same time.
Elevenpath—-Beginning a bit dark and mysterious, the song becomes epic with huge guitars and barely a string or oboe to be heard. The vocal…delivered in a deeper tone is really nice…this plays like some huge fairy tale that takes place in the deep forest……oh those foreigners….lol.
The Carpenter—-This takes a bit to get used to…but settles into your brain with remarkable ease. The blend of voices add a new dimension to the song….the low male vocal sounds like an Alternative band from the 90’s…the the chorus hits and everything opens up….this is perfect.
Nightwish [Demo]—-For a demo, it is apparent the vision of the band and of Toumas was clear….because of course he is the true leader of the band without any doubt. the stripped down feel is very nice and leaves me only wanting even more new materail from the band. This has been an epic journey for me….I remain…truly in love with this band.
*****out of 5

Judas Priest / Firepower

Firepower

Firepower is the 18th studio album by British heavy metal band Judas Priest. It is the first studio album since 1988’s Ram It Down to be produced by Tom Allom, and the first one with Andy Sneap as co-producer. Music videos were made for “Lightning Strike” and “Spectre”.

The Analysis—-

Firepower—-A pure classic introduction here, carrying the trademark Priest sound in every single note. The guitars are blistering and the drums sound better than I have heard in years. What can be said about Halford and his vocal…this is a 66 yr. old man who defies age and ability. I have not heard him sound this powerful since Painkiller….this is just brilliant!

Lightning Strikes—-With another powerful intro, the band is off and running with a rhythmic driving guitar line that makes the track sound monstrous. The trademark vocal…full of screeching overdubs is just incredible. Faulkner has added a new life and dimension to the band and it is all over tracks like these. Halford always amazes…..there is nothing weak about this….not one note is out of place.

 

Evil Never Dies—-With a more classic 80’s sound to the intro, Priest refuses to deliver even one weak track on this release. Halford delivers a vocal that seems a bit more comfortable as it begins….but develops into a slight demonic scream. The twin guitar sound is huge and boisterous. This is just classic in every sense of the word. There is even a slight bluesy feel to the track….really nice.

Never The Heroes—-A staccato and almost airy intro slowly introduces a wall of guitar sound that is dense and complicated.  The drums are so present on this release…..and Halford, despite his powerful vocal…allows every member of the band to shine in their own right. The chorus is a huge addictive thing that is built for huge arena shows and a sing a long from the crowd. Fantastic!

Necromancer—-Bolstered by the huge wall of guitar sound, the band is playing blistering fast and so incredibly tight. This has a nice slight evil twist to it….made even more intense by the fantastic double tracking that Halford manages to produce in the studio. This is just classic in every sense of the word. Priest has not sounded this good in years.

Children Of The Sun—-A higher tuned guitar intro and a slow plodding pace at the onset you are set up for the Nostradamus type vocal from Halford that is delivered here. The amazing thing…you can catch every single word that Halford passes along to you. The chorus finds either band participation or a perfectly back tracked vocal that makes the song even larger. This has moodiness…power…melancholy and aggression. Perfect.

Guardians—-A nice surprise as a gentle piano/keyboard ushers in the song….filled with an airy atmosphere that is layered with moodiness and beauty. The guitars…in the backdrop soar with beauty and the drums usher in….

Rising From The Ruins—-Still carrying some of the moodiness from the guardian interlude, this again reminds me of something from Nostradamus….An album that I literally adore. I love when Halford sings in that dramatic quasi-theatrical style. This is powerful….musically dense…vocally sonic.

Flame Thrower—-Returning to full on blistering Metal that is slight in blues…full of powerful guitar chords and led behind the scenes by incredible drumming. Halford sounds incredible…singing in an acceptable lower range that is still full of power and vitality. The ability of this band to still deliver after all of these years is literally amazing. I am stunned by this release!

Spectre—-Somewhat of an odd intro, quickly falls away to the classic powerhouse sound of the Priest machine. The guitars…down-tuned a bit…are just a literal wall of powerful sound. Halford enunciates every single word in a classic well delivered vocal style. I love everything about this. Atmospheric in a sense…full of power in another.

Traitors Gate—-Slowing things down…allowing for a bit of a respite…excellent song placement….the song quickly sheds it’s mellow sound and becomes a huge devouring serpent head that wants to snap your neck. The guitars are blistering…full of sharp blasts that just swallow you up. The drums gallop as fast as the vocal lines from Halford. The chorus, addictive as hell will live in your head for days. just remarkable.

No Surrender—-What can I say…..this finds a perfect place on this release…delivering a modern yet somehow classic Priest sound. This is as sing a long as anything Priest has ever released. The crowds will go wild for this track….the remarkable melody line is unforgettable and wraps around the front of your brain. Halford hits some exquisite notes that will live forever.

Lone Wolf—-Dense and thick at the very onset, this becomes a huge guitar swaying bluesy affair that is classic. Halford delivers line after line of lyrics that are understandable and crystal clear. This is remarkable…the quality as the release continues just seems to get better and better. This is terrific.

Sea Of Red—-Ending this release…far to soon, the Priest machine gives us a thoughtful track that just leaves you wanting more and more. Halford delivers a mournful vocal that leaves you sad and full of a melancholy. The theatrical quality of his vocal….it is just incredible. The chorus of the song is HUGE and will play live so very well. This should be single material…it will play well on any Modern-Rock radio station. The Priest is BACK!!!!

***** out of 5

Marilyn Manson / Heaven Upside Down

Heaven Upside Down [Explicit]

Brian Hugh Warner (born January 5, 1969), known professionally as Marilyn Manson, is an American singer, songwriter, musician, composer, actor, painter, author and former music journalist. He is known for his controversial stage personality and image as the lead singer of the band Marilyn Manson, which he co-founded with guitarist Daisy Berkowitz and of which he remains the only constant member. His stage name was formed by combining and juxtaposing the names of two American pop cultural icons: actress Marilyn Monroe and cult leader Charles Manson.

Manson is best known for his band’s records released in the 1990s, most notably Antichrist Superstar and Mechanical Animals, which, along with his public image, earned him a reputation in the mainstream media as a controversial figure and a negative influence on young people. In the U.S. alone, three of the band’s albums have been awarded platinum status and three more went gold, and the band has had eight releases debut in the top ten, including two number-one albums. Manson has been ranked number 44 in the Top 100 Heavy Metal Vocalists by Hit Parader, and has been nominated for four Grammy Awards.

Manson made his film debut in 1997 as an actor in David Lynch‘s Lost Highway. Since then he has appeared in a variety of minor roles and cameos. He was interviewed in Michael Moore‘s political documentary Bowling for Columbine, discussing possible motivations for the 1999 Columbine massacre and allegations that his music was a contributory factor. On September 13–14, 2002, his first art show, The Golden Age of Grotesque, was held at the Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions center. He revealed a series of 20 paintings in 2010 entitled Genealogies of Pain, an exhibition showcased at Kunsthalle gallery in Vienna, Austria, on which he collaborated with David Lynch.

Heaven Upside Down is the tenth studio album by American rock band Marilyn Manson, released on October 6, 2017 by Loma Vista Recordings and Caroline International. The record was originally due for release on Valentine’s Day, and had a working title of Say10. However, its release was delayed, principally due to the eponymous vocalist being unhappy with the quality of the record by that date, and also because of the band’s touring commitments and producer Tyler Bates‘ schedule scoring films, as well as the death of Manson’s father during production, to whom the album was later dedicated.

The album was recorded by many of the same musicians who performed on The Pale Emperor, including Bates and Gil Sharone. The band’s longtime bassist Twiggy Ramirez did not take part in recording sessions, despite Manson initially suggesting otherwise. Twiggy was dismissed from the band soon after the record’s release, following sexual assault allegations made against him by a former girlfriend. He was replaced on subsequent tour dates by Juan Alderete. The Heaven Upside Down Tour has seen the band’s vocalist injured on multiple occasions, namely fracturing his ankle after jumping off a stage, and then being crushed by a large stage prop. The latter incident resulted in the rescheduling of an entire leg of the tour.

We Know Where You Fucking Live” was released as the lead single on September 11. This was followed on September 20 by “Kill4Me“, which went on to become the band’s highest peaking single ever on BillboardMainstream Rock Chart. Three music videos have been released to promote the album: the two aforementioned singles, as well as “Say10“. The music videos for the two latter songs featured actor Johnny Depp.

The Analysis—-

Revelation #12—-The long awaited return of Manson is ushered in by this quasi-punk rock track that is noisy and full of a throwback sound that makes me so excited and energized I almost lose my mind. the vocal is full of effects…but true to the feeling we have all become accustomed to. This is noisy and full of an underground sound that fills me with energy and a magical joy. I love this!!!

Tattooed In Reverse—-Sound effects and a draw out intro ushers in a slight blues tinged track that allows Manson to really shine on vocals. The voice is still so strong…the energy seems to be magically energized and delivered with a vehemence and energy not displayed in recent years. Marilyn sounds like the driven young man he was when this Manson-movement began…I’m entranced by the energy and the detail in the songs….this is magical. The king of mayhem returns!!!

We Know Where You Fucking Live—-The contagious bass line that begins this track threatens to over take your brain cells as it leads the song down the rabbit hole. Manson comes in with that unique and classic style full of wordplay and a contagious chorus that makes you literally lose your mind. The Industrial/Rock sound is in full effect….this is literally like a step back 10 years in time…the sound and material sounds re-energized and delivered with a remarkable vehemence. This is incredible…..I love this record!!!

 

Say10—-Kicking off with a nice genuine Industrial sound, this reminds me of something I have heard already…but none the less…my ears perk up with interest and anticipation. Manson has an undeniable energy that you can’t escape. the sound is so genuine and throwback, if you will, this is perhaps the best Manson release inn 10 or 12 years. The creaks and the escalating musical urgency is damn magical. This stays true to the Manson message…and it sounds fresh and electric…not old and beaten down. a magical musical moment for me.

 

Kill4Me—-Perhaps the greatest single Manson has released in recent history, I even hear this on area radio stations…which usually only plays classic rock. Manson can construct a magical chorus that no matter how perverse will stick in your brain no matter what. This is a huge track…the chorus sucks you in and gives you an energy that is unmatched by anything recently released….this is fantastic. I love this man…so happy to see his return.

Saturnalla—-Coming out of a sonic fog, this track builds and builds…giving me goosebumps of anticipation. The layers of sound build upon layers of sound….making the anticipation almost too much to bear. The song finally emerges….an odd sound at the onset….but fills in line with the rest of the release as it progresses. The rough vocal from Manson makes this masterful and mysterious..I love this…the energy…the bursts of musical genius….the almost vocal growls….a perfect landscape. As this progresses….it becomes damn contagious…this track has something for everyone.

Je$u$ CriSi$—-This is what I have come to expect from Manson…constant rails against all that seems to be the modern day reality. Take the reality and twist it into a giant Manson pretzel and lay it on the altar of the believers and let them feast of the results. This is a spectacular track…full of effects….drama….energy and everything that you need from the mastermind of the band. This is brutal….driving and delivered with an energy you can’t escape. I can’t imagine the crowd during a live delivery of this song.

Blood Honey—-An almost Church organ sound ushers in this track….Manson creaks a vocal that is eerie and filled with an evil sound. the music becomes huge…and the melody line that runs underneath of the song is addictive as hell. This is a fantastic track…redeeming in the ability of the man to deliver the sound and material the fans crave. Just fantastic.

Heaven Upside Down—-An odd almost acoustic guitar sound….following a really melodic guitar driven song that sucks you right into the melody. Even Manson delivers a nice modern sound that makes you shake your head and wonder where all of this stuff as been for the past few releases. Truly a safe bet for a 4th single release…this is really accessible and playable for everyone.

Threats Of Romance—-Ending the release as powerful and masterful as it began, this again has a slight blues sound to it that sucks you into the guitar based instrumentation. I love the drawl that Manson delivers his lines with…the chorus is a huge affair…..calling on the audience for lighters and mosh pits combined. This is a masterful. triumphant release. A true return to form…..all hail Manson…..Fantastic.

***** out of 5

Queensryche / Condition Human

Condition Hüman

Condition Hüman is the fifteenth studio album by American progressive heavy metal band Queensrÿche. It was released on October 2, 2015 through Century Media. It is the second studio album recorded with vocalist Todd La Torre, after Geoff Tate was fired from the band and gave up the rights to the name after a two-year lawsuit regarding the rights to the Queensrÿche brand was amicably settled.

The album’s first single, “Arrow of Time,” became available for streaming on July 20, 2015, the day the album’s title and release date were announced. It was recorded in early 2015 at Uberbeatz Studios in Washington and produced by Chris “Zeuss” Harris.

The Analysis—-

Arrow Of Time—-Everything about this opening track including the vocal reeks of classic Queensryche. It is amazing how much Todd sounds like Geoff Tate. The song is catchy as hell…reminds me of the classic sound the band started to develop around the Rage For Order time. The vocal is extraordinary….the music this band is making is just not much in demand anymore…it is glad to see bands still trying to keep this sound alive. This is a fantastic start.

Guardian—-I like the speedier guitar on the opening of this track…the guitar is very reminiscent of stuff off of Operation: Mindcrime and Rage…with vocal effects added in the backdrop. The double track vocal gives a nice full sound…and make no doubt…this dude can scream with the best of them. This is really nice. This has such a ‘classic’ Queensryche sound to it.

Hellfire—-Delivering the requisite ‘Hair Metal’ ballad, the band stays true to the recipe that cemented so many metal bands in history. This is such classic in sound…you will think you stepped back in time and listened to a ‘lost’ Queensryche record. I’m not sure if this is purposeful or not. Scott must get a lot of Tate comparisons…you can’t deny it. Even the vocal phrasing is the same…none the less…it is nice to see the band still plugging along. Really not a ballad s it progresses.

Toxic Remedy—-A nice huge guitar intro…..a landscape of sound followed by the trademark drums. The vocal at the onset of the song is a bit weak for me and uninspired…I love the double tracking though. It makes the song so large. The music is really the star of the show on this track for me. The band sounds better than ever.

Selfish Lives—-From the onset, this is like stepping back in time and listening to a track that would fit perfectly on Mindcrime. I wonder if some of these tracks were actually leftovers….the sound is perfect and the lyrics seem to cover the same subject manner. Add the vocal style and you feel like you have discovered old gems from a time long ago.

Eye9—-Beginning with a seldom heard awesome bass line, the song is a bit convoluted at the onset…but the muddled feel clears up as it progresses. The sharp guitar blasts give me a sense of energy. The vocal and the lyrics are pure Progressive Metal…this is a great track…no wonder it was released as a single…perhaps the highlight of the release.

Bulletproof—-Intricate guitar kicks off the track….the classic ballad sounds in full effect here. The vocal literally soars on the chorus…making this a huge addictive song. the guitar delivery delivers emotion and the drums…understated but very present are key to the feel of the song. This guy can really sing!

Hourglass—-Powerful and with a huge wall of sound from the very first note, the music dies away a bit to allow for the vocal. Again, the double track voice gives a fullness to the song. The chorus is huge..a sing a long chorus that does tend to stick with you a bit. This is classic in sound…but fresh enough to keep my attention.

Just Us—-In full ballad form for this track, the vocal is right in your face as the song begins. The gentle sounds of the band allow for the voice to be the star of the show. The lyrical content…a bit juvenile is classic required ballad material on every record. I could do without this…nothing really new here.

All There Was—-Great guitar effects and drums open up this track. There is an aggression and urgency to the music that catches me attention right at the onset. The vocal is pretty predictable…for me, the drums….really in the front of the mix, and the guitars keep the track interesting. I rather like this.

The Aftermath—-An odd little snippet that could have been a great song…..

Condition Human—-Ending the release less than aggressive, I would have preferred a huge galloping track that was designed to leave me hungry for more from this new entity of a classic band. Instead I am left with a feeling of relief that it is over. The saving grace for this track is the huge chorus…the guitars seem to float over my head. For me…it full form. this is a bit of a disappointing release.

*** out of 5