Loudwire.com 2000 Metal Album Of The Year—-Iron Maiden / Brave New World

 

Brave New World

Brave New World is the twelfth studio album by English heavy metal band Iron Maiden, released on 29 May 2000. It was their first studio release since the return of longtime lead singer Bruce Dickinson (who left in 1993) and guitarist Adrian Smith (who left in 1990) in 1999, as well as the band’s first studio recording as a six-piece, as Janick Gers, who replaced Smith in 1990, remained with the band.

The album artwork and title song are references to the novel of the same name, written by Aldous Huxley. The upper half of the artwork was created by Derek Riggs, with the bottom half by digital artist Steve Stone.

The songs “The Wicker Man” and “Out of the Silent Planet” were both released as singles. “The Wicker Man“‘s promotional radio release featured extra vocals in the chorus, not present in any other versions of the song.

The Brave New World Tour was the tour in support of the album, during which the show at Rock in Rio was recorded and later released as a live album and video.

Brave New World peaked at No. 7 in the UK Albums Chart, and has since been certified Gold. In the United States, it debuted at No. 39 on the Billboard 200, and registered over 307,000 sales on the Nielsen SoundScan system in 2008.

The Analysis—-

The Wicker Man—-Indeed, it was every fans dream come true when Bruce decided to return to the helm of this iconic band. From the very first notes, you recognize a revamped energetic delivery that reminds you of the Golden age of the band. Smith adds vocals and fills out Dickinson. this is classic sounding Maiden…something that had been missing since he left…the slower darker sound is gone…and replaced by the galloping familiar strain of the band we love. Bruce has never sounded better…not has the band ever sounded as huge.

Ghost Of The Navigator—-My favorite track on this release…I love the break at the beginning that allows you to know without doubt who is playing in your speakers. The guitar intro at the onset of the song…builds and builds until you feel crazy…just fantastic. And then the track is off to a bass galloping romp with Bruce beckoning to the mystical leanings of his lyrics. This is a phenomenal track…not has Bruce sounded more invigorated or excited…his solo material never matched the enthusiasm he sings with here. This is an epic track….hearkening the old days…and sounding like the band is 20 years younger.

Brave New World—-What can I say…a true classic Maiden intro sound that leaves you bubbling with excitement as the vocal enters with a sedate delivery that promises to explode at any moment. The trademark Harris sound is all over the track as it becomes fuller and fuller…..Bruce delivers a fantastic vocal…even when he strains he can out sing any new vocalist around. This is atmospheric, classic in sound…but fresh and invigorated. A brilliant track!

Blood Brothers—-This track has such a classic melody line that is very familiar and comforting…but for some reason never seemed to get as large as I expected it to become. This has classic Bruce lyrics to it….somewhat mystical and Mythological…..but the music just seems to fall a bit short for me….but have no doubt…I love it anyways…..there is no such thing as ‘bad Maiden’…..!

The Mercenary—-Right from the first notes, the song is off to a nice romping sound that makes you think of any track off of Piece Of Mind….the chorus is arena made Metal….begging the crowd to chant the chorus as the band basks in adulation. The band sounds so huge…it is amazing Bruce sounds so clear with everything going on in the song. The drums as always…are stellar and the Harris sound is all over the song….but the power chords are even larger than his bass line…this is fantastic.

Dream Of Mirrors—-A brilliant unexpected vocal beginning……then comes that Harris bass line leading you o a galloping desert that the lead guitar sends you skidding over the sand. Dickinson sings and lifts you out of desolation and fills you with joy that he is home. This is a fantastic track….melodic and full of every instrument…..you can’t go wrong with this one…it makes everyone happy!

The Fallen Angel—-After the epic track that preceded this, the band issues forth a faster and more straight forward Metal sounding track that allows Bruce to really stretch his pipes and allows Smith to join in on the vocals…giving the song a really large feel. This is epic….but you seem to get input from every member of the band…..excellent from every angle.

The Nomad—-Not sure exactly why, but this has been a favorite track of mine as well. It has that huge epic Powerslave vibe to it….a story told well with the vocal from Dickinson while the band delivers instrumental narrative. I think the vocal is a little less inspired sometimes….but the band seems to pick up the slack and provide a picture you see come to life right in front of your eyes….this is monumental…..huge and full of classic sounds. I love this!!!! When Bruce hits that chorus……damn the man can sing!!!!!

Out Of The Silent Planet—-Another very favorite track of mine from this release…it spoke to me in many different ways…..classic in sound and delivering a message that resonates now as much as it did then. Bruce and Adrian deliver a joint vocal that makes the sound huge. The shotgun style guitar breaks are immaculate…..and the picture painted is so desolate and scary…you have to pay attention. the chorus is huge…..and I fight the urge while i listen to not jump up and down with excitement. It seems…every time i listen to this it is like the first time….that is how you know a classic!!!

The Thin Line Between Love And Hate—-Ending the ‘comeback’ release with a bass heavy track that again features both Bruce and Adrian on vocals shows that the band is big enough for many members. The sound is odd…coming at you in short jabs of sound…but it still leaves you with a great taste in your brain as you wave goodbye and wait for the next opus. Bruce delivers some stellar vocals on the chorus line of the song…..leading you to believe…rightly so…that the best days of the band are to come.

*****out of 5

 

Loudwire.com 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…..you 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…..it 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

 

Loudwire.com 1983 Metal Album Of The Year—-Dio / Holy Diver

Holy Diver

Holy Diver is the debut album by American heavy metal band Dio, released in 1983. Vocalist Ronnie James Dio had just finished his first tenure in Black Sabbath, whose drummer Vinny Appice he took with him to put together his own band. The roster was completed by his former band mate in Rainbow Jimmy Bain on bass and by the young guitarist Vivian Campbell, coming from the NWOBHM band Sweet Savage. The album was acclaimed by the music press and is the most successful of the band.

The Analysis—-

Stand Up And Shout—-One of the premier Metal voices and attitudes of the 1980’s, Dio kicks things off right from the first note with arena ready Metal that still stands the test of time. The ability that Dio had to make himself seem so large is just incredible. The guitars are outstanding….we had those guitar interludes back in those days. Of course the drums are incredible…and the energy permeates your soul still.

Holy Diver—-For me, this has always been the centerpiece to Dio’s career….it showcases both the fine tuning of the band, the incredible voice and the tales of mythical lands that made Dio so legendary. To hear keyboards played so prominently was a first for me as well. The sound of the band….for a debut release is so tight and well rehearsed. I wonder how long Ronnie had sat on the songs that would show up here on the debut. This really is a piece of history.

Gypsy—-Huge power chords blast the opening of this track and that is followed by a bellow from Ronnie that just blasts your headphones. This has a bit of a blues lean to it that grates me a bit…but the power of the band overrides that feeling. This is fantastic 80’s Metal…before it all became pretentious and full of hair. This still sounds incredible.

Caught In The Middle—-Sharp blasts of power guitars introduce the song…Dio enters with a somewhat subdued vocal for him at this point on the record. His range is not phenomenal…but the tone and the timbre’ is so damn pleasant you can’t help but get caught up in the entire attitude of the song. This is understated…but still powerful and full of some good vocals. Tales typical of the Dio catalog never get old.

Don’t Talk To Strangers—-Sedate and filled with a nice melody line that teases you in to thinking you are going to get the perquisite ballad….the song explodes and takes a few twists and turns. I can still see Dio on the stage with his huge arm sweeping movements…making him seem so much larger than life. this is a great memory. I miss the grand voice of the man.

Straight Through The Heart—-Classic drums and the back and forth guitar sway open the song…..power chords galore. Dio enters the fray with another tale of dark mystic visions and Harry Potter novels. The voice is so powerful….rising above all the instruments and becoming the true star of the show. The charisma is just incredible…it never left him either.

Invisible—-Again, classic 80’s guitar filled with atmosphere and a magical feel that only music from this era can emit. Dio sounds like his vocal is put through some type of filter….and there are echoes every where on the track…..then the track kicks in to high gear and we are back to the classic Metal that made this release a masterpiece. Dio led a fantastic band.

Rainbow In The Dark—-Perhaps the most popular song in the Dio playbook, and possessing one of the most recognizable keyboard lines out side of Europe’s The Final Countdown, this track is still all over the radio. What a grand legacy to have….and the video is famous as hell as well. the voice is just incredible of this song…I have never once ever skipped over this song when given the chance to hear it….there are to many memories…and that is what music is supposed to be about….that magical feeling one song can give you.

Shame On The Night—-Returning to a slight blues feel upon the entrance of the song, it quickly gives way to a literal wall of power chords and then ebbs back to the lower tones of the blues…giving a nod to Ronnie’s Elf days. A grand way to close out the release, this song is just as powerful as the opener. There was not a single misstep on this release…this indeed…makes it a classic.

*****out of 5

 

 

Loudwire.com 1982 Metal Album Of The Year—-Iron Maiden / The Number Of The Beast

The Number Of The Beast [Enhanced]

Iron Maiden are a British heavy metal band formed in Leyton, East London, in 1975 by bassist and primary songwriter Steve Harris. The band’s discography has grown to thirty-eight albums, including sixteen studio albums, eleven live albums, four EPs, and seven compilations.

Pioneers of the new wave of British heavy metal, Iron Maiden achieved initial success during the early 1980s. After several line-up changes, the band went on to release a series of UK and US platinum and gold albums, including 1982’s The Number of the Beast, 1983’s Piece of Mind, 1984’s Powerslave, 1985’s live release Live After Death, 1986’s Somewhere in Time and 1988’s Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. Since the return of lead vocalist Bruce Dickinson and guitarist Adrian Smith in 1999, the band have undergone a resurgence in popularity, with their 2010 studio offering, The Final Frontier, peaking at No. 1 in 28 countries and receiving widespread critical acclaim. Their sixteenth studio album, The Book of Souls, was released on 4 September 2015.

Despite little radio or television support, Iron Maiden are considered one of the most successful heavy metal bands in history, with The Observer reporting in 2015 that the band have sold over 90 million copies of their albums worldwide.[4] The band won the Ivor Novello Award for international achievement in 2002. As of October 2013, the band have played over 2000 live shows throughout their career. For the past 35 years, the band have been supported by their famous mascot, “Eddie“, who has appeared on almost all of their album and single covers, as well as in their live shows.

The Number of the Beast is the third studio album by the English heavy metal band Iron Maiden, released in March 1982. It was their first release to feature vocalist Bruce Dickinson and their last with the late drummer Clive Burr.

The Number of the Beast met with considerable critical and commercial success and was a landmark release for the band—becoming their first album to reach No. 1 in the UK Albums Chart, and be certified platinum in the US. The album also produced the singles “Run to the Hills” and “The Number of the Beast“, the former of which was the band’s first top-ten UK single. The album was also controversial, particularly in the US, due to the religious references in its artwork and the title track’s lyrics.

The Analysis—-

Invaders—-As a long time Maiden fan…..having seen them 13 times and collected all I can get my hands on, I can tell you….there is nothing like the opening notes of a maiden song. You know who you are listening to and what to expect. This album…one of the best in the history of the band…opens with the classic galloping bass of Harris and then Dickinson begins to sing….transporting you to places you have never been. This was a much harder edge to Metal at the time…but a legion of fans fell in line to become members. Dickinson delivers a vocal that is stellar…hitting incredible notes and delivering an energy that is unforgettable.

Children Of The Damned—-Cementing the ability of the band to tell huge tales through music…vocal and mood, this was a precursor for every great epic song that came after. Dickinson…while not screaming…still defines the footprint for many Metal singers that came after. The moods that the song moves through are extra-ordinary. This is epic Metal…and could only be delivered by the Dickinson/Harris partnership.

The Prisoner—-With that classic narrative from the Television show, the band set a precedent for spoken word intros!!! When that huge drum smacks you in the face…followed by the incredible guitar chords, you know this is something special indeed. The band takes their time…allowing you o fall into the groove of the song before the Harris bass line takes to song to an even bigger song. Dickinson only adds to the song and makes it incredible. The melody line that flows through the track gives Bruce something to really sink his teeth into…this is a triumph. i never tire of this track……ever.

22 Acacia Avenue—-Aggressive right from the onset, Dickinson enters with a menacing sounding vocal that turns into a soar with the notes he manages to hit. The band…..sounding so full and powerful never overpowers his voice…falling away as he begins to tell his tale even more. This is a well-tuned machine…even this early in the ‘relationship’. Dickinson could always sing this powerfully…check out his earlier band Samson……but this is fantastic…the chord changes the mood changes….all coming together in perfect harmony.

The Number Of The Beast—-Perhaps the song of the year, I never get tired of hearing this track. The backlash that came from the song was un called for…the track is harmless…if you grew up with the band as I did. The powerful instrumentation, the overblown theatrical vocals all make the lyric seem acceptable in today standards. This is a classic Heavy Metal track that plays as well today as it did in 1982…especially live!!!! All Hail Eddie!!!

Run To The Hills—-Incredibly epic in just a few short minutes, Dickinson gives a huge overblown theatrical performance…..in voice alone. You feel like you are literally watching a movie as the song progresses. The galloping Harris bass that became a trademark of the band never sounded better or more important than it is here. This is a classic track that will never grow old…sound old….or become old in the tale it tells.

Gangland—-The drums usher in a great track that is often overlooked and underplayed in the Maiden catalog. This song…filled with energy and vocal venom is fantastic. Bruce sounds so driven with his voice…singing in that comfortable range yet still managing to give you goose bump material in his delivery. The band is so strong behind him….a literal wall of sound is created on this track. The scream Bruce gives mid song is epic…..Classic!

Total Eclipse—-Perhaps the weakest track on this release….and that is saying if anything is weak on this album, this song falls a bit short for me. The vocal seems pushed away from the microphone for the first time in a recording on here. The band even plays at a bit of a muted pace….the sound just does not seem as clear as other things on the release….still a really great effort.

Hallowed Be Thy Name—-Still played live today…and still generating the excitement I feel right now. When Dickinson delivers that first drawn out note that allows for the song to explode into perfection still sounds as epic as it did the first time I heard it. The trademark Maiden sound just overtakes the song and it becomes literally HUGE…..this is a masterpiece of a song….ebbs and flows throughout the song….but you never lose the excitement or the power of the band. Exquisite!!!

***** out of 5 !!!!!

 

 

 

 

Loudwire.com 1979 Metal Album Of The Year—-Motorhead / Overkill [Bonus Tracks

Overkill

Motörhead (/ˈmtərhɛd/) were an English rock band formed in June 1975 by bassist, singer, and songwriter Ian Fraser “Lemmy” Kilmister, who was the sole constant member. The band is often considered a precursor to, or one of the earliest members of, the new wave of British heavy metal, which re-energised heavy metal in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Though several guitarists and drummers played in Motörhead, most of their best-selling albums and singles feature the work of “Fast” Eddie Clarke on lead guitar and Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor on drums.

Motörhead released 23 studio albums, 10 live recordings, 12 compilation albums, and five EPs over a career spanning 40 years. Usually a power trio, they had particular success in the early 1980s with several successful singles in the UK Top 40 chart. The albums Overkill, Bomber, Ace of Spades, and particularly No Sleep ’til Hammersmith cemented Motörhead’s reputation as a top-tier rock band. The band are ranked number 26 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock. As of 2016, they have sold more than 15 million albums worldwide.

Motörhead are typically classified as heavy metal, and their fusion of punk rock into the genre helped to pioneer speed metal and thrash metal. Their lyrics typically covered such topics as war, good versus evil, abuse of power, promiscuous sex, substance abuse, and, most famously, gambling.

Although Lemmy has been credited with being part of various musical scenes, thrash metal or speed metal in the main, from the mid 1970s onward, he stated very clearly, when asked the question, that he plays Rock n Roll. He (Lemmy) has said that they had more of an affiliation with Punk Rockers than with the so-called Heavy Metal scene; Motörhead having evolved out of the London mid-1970s Punk era.

Lemmy died on 28 December 2015 after being initially diagnosed with an undisclosed aggressive form of cancer, which was later revealed as prostate cancer, and heart failure, after which drummer Mikkey Dee and guitarist Phil Campbell both confirmed that Motörhead would not continue as a band.

Overkill is the second studio album by the band Motörhead, released 24 March 1979, on Bronze Records, their first with the label, and it peaked at #24 on the UK charts. Kerrang! magazine listed the album at #46 among the “100 Greatest Heavy Metal Albums of All Time”.

The Analysis—-

Overkill—-Huge drums introduce the barrage of sound that defined Motorhead. one thing the listener will discern immediately….this is not the pretty, huge Heavy Metal becoming popular at the time. Instead, the pace is faster and trashier…..sounding more punk than metal. A classic album none the less…..I determined Metal could be loud and nasty with these guys. No pretty vocals here….no soaring vocals….this is dirty in your face Metal.

Stay Clean—-Again with the heavy drums, but a deep melody resonates on this track as well. Lemmy actually comes close to singing during this track…rather than shouting his way through the track. The message is clear….and the music is sooty and dirty. I love the underground feel of the whole damn thing. this was the beginning of a really epic career. The music is tight…the drums are incredible…and the bass is smack in your face.

[I Won’tPay Your Price—-Down and dirty and filled with a Birmingham style blues vibe, this is a step away from the faster paced tracks thus far. Lemmy sounds so clear with his vocal…you catch every word. The guitars are epic…with old school style squeals and a definite boogie feel. I rather like this….constructed well and catchy as hell.

I’ll Be Your Sister—-The trademark Motorhead bass kicks off the track and the barrage of noise seems incredible. Lemmy delivers a vocal that is not as forward in the mix as usual….it seems like the guitars are right in your face while the drums pummel you. This also has a slower pace to the music…not quite bluesy….but very accessible.

Capricorn—-Again with the drums……and a spirit of sonic noise opens the track. The guitars are fantastic….Lemmy enters with his vocal….talk singing his way through the track. I don’t hate this song…but it is weak to me….I love the soaring sonic feel of the guitars at times….but I usually skip over this.

No Class—-Returning to fine form, this opens with the trademark fast guitar delivery and the yelps from Lemmy. This is fast and dirty…exactly what you need after the space filled track before. This is almost classic punk in sound. I love the noise the band manages to make. This is fantastic! I love this song….the guitars are so clear and loud at times……venturing off in a full tilt boogie that fits into the middle of the song perfectly.

Damage Case—-Huge right from the first note, this sounds like an extension of the previous track. The contrast between styles on this record was only a promise of the things to come. Sometimes, Motorhead could be a classic punk band….other times they deliver the blues….and then the Thrash…..This is a nice mix of everything.

Tear Ya Down—-Fast and filthy musical delivery….makes you want to jump up and down with exhilaration. The drums are just incredible on this record….never overpowered by the voice or the fantastic guitars. This is bass deep….but the clarity of the lead guitars in the center of the song are always present. Just a huge, fun romp through the underbelly of emerging Metal!

Metropolis—-At the onset, this sounds different…..and as the track progresses you realize it is. This sounds muted and less inspired than most anything on the record. The production is muddled and the sound is too deep. The voice is pushed way back in the mix….this just sounds odd…period. It grows on you as you listen though….

Limb From Limb—-Ending the proper release in full bombastic flavor, the track has that down-tempo bass sound that resonates the blues. Even the leads seem tuned down a bit to get that dirtier and grittier feel. I like this…there is so much going on in the song. The ever present bass….the fantastic drums….the deep leads and the proclamations from Lemmy all create a perfect storm.When the track hits the mid-point and the band lets loose….classic Motorhead!

Bonus Tracks:

Too Late Too Late [B-side Of Overkill]—-A bit of a hollow sound in the production, this is still a really strong track for a B-side. The melody line is fantastic and remains through the entire track. Lemmy sounds excellent…..with a bit of an echo on his vocal making it even larger. A really great song.

Like A Nightmare [B-side Of No Class]—-Beginning deep and with a touch of feedback, this is excellent. Lemmy enters sounding clear and concise with his vocal….not like the later days. The chord changes from the leads give the song a full body sound. This is great for a B-side as well……would have fit perfectly on the proper release.

Louie, Louie—-I can take or leave this….really never cared for the original and this offers nothing new for me. I don’t like this……sorry.

**** out of 5

 

 

 

Loudwire.com 1978 Metal Album Of The Year—-Judas Priest / Stained Class

 

Stained Class

Stained Class is the fourth album by British heavy metal group Judas Priest, released in February 1978. It is the first of two albums to feature drummer Les Binks. It gained notoriety for its dark lyrics and themes, as well as 1990 civil action trial where the band were accused of backmasking that led to the suicide attempts of two teenagers. Stained Class was ranked as the greatest Judas Priest album on Stereogum.com, and was described by Steve Huey on Allmusic.com as “Judas Priest’s greatest achievement.”

The Analysis—-

Exciter—-This, right from the onset, is freak in’ classic Priest. For me, this defines Heavy Metal. The twin guitars….the incredible drum attack…and that damn voice. This is the dawn of a movement that would come to embody my very soul. There is no sound like the early days of the Priest machine. This is just fuckin incredible….that melody line that runs through everything….but still allowing the guitars to shine….this is as close to perfect as it gets. The guitars….literally create a song all of their own……incredible.

White Heat, Red Hot—Such an incredible slow, blues intro to the song…..it gives way to the classic Birmingham sound. Dirty and full of fuel for fire, the band it is just in incredible form on this release. Halford delivers note after note that just seem inhuman….even today. The combination of the band and the voice….takes even a mundane song and turns it into a masterpiece…such as this. Fuckin’ incredible!

Better By You, Better Than Me—-When the intro to this song kicks in, it just does things to my soul. I have goose bumps everywhere. The band……like none no other delivers a blistering sound that seems only driven to higher heights by the vocal from Halford. Even back then….the band was a well oiled machine that was at a creative height like no other. Combining the great elements of Sabbath but adding the bright guitars and the vocal took Metal to new heights.

Stained Class—-Man……when the opening chords to this song hit your ears…the galloping heavy bass line…the huge drums and then the voice!!! This track will take you places you could never imagine. This is creative forces all coming together to make a perfect storm. When Halford hits those notes and the guitars soar above his head….the bass line and the drums continue in the backdrop and paint a huge picture of what Metal is supposed to look like. This is perhaps as perfect as I can imagine Metal music to be!!!!

Invader—-All of these songs combined together, created one of the most perfect and cohesive records ever made in the history of music. This track opens up with off turbo style guitars…but the clouds disappear and allow for the double tracked vocal from Halford that never ceases to amaze me….the clear and concise words…the soaring guitars….the understated but huge drums. The melody line….the ability to catch every word….the amazement at the huge sound….I still stand in awe. The Masters!!!!

Saints In Hell—-Recorded with a really deep sound, even the soaring vocal from Halford has trouble breaking the upfront huge rhythm section. And then the chorus enters and the darkness disappears for a moment….but it enters back and you realize it is all a part of the mood and the content of the song….this is just brilliant production. God how i wish I could have seen this release being made…this is a historic recording.

Savage—-Driving and powerful from the very first notes, you still marvel….no matter how many times you have heard it, at the power of the vocal from Halford. His voice is just something that is beyond human. This is a brilliant track…under-appreciated, it stands the test of time so well. Modern day singers could only dream of the gift this man has been given….not to mention the power and utter finesse’ of the band that drives the entire Priest machine. This is perfect!

Beyond The Realms Of Death—-One of the most important and poignant Metal ballads ever produced, this track still manages to give me goose-bumps with every listen. Halford has a broad ability to provoke emotion with his notes and phrasing…..no matter how powerful or loud the music gets….you never lose the message of the song. This is still incredible….moving…intense…..sad and exhilarating all at once.

Heroes End—-Ending the release with a nod back to the Birmingham blues that started the entire thing, there is a power in the song that just shaped the band for the next step in their career. The combination of the guitars……the huge rhythm section….the understated but important drums….really set the bar for Metal bands that were emerging. For me….this was one of the most important and best albums ever made!

***** out of 5 !!!!!

 

Loudwire.com 1977 Metal Album Of The Year—-Scorpions /Taken By Force

Taken By Force

Scorpions are a German rock band formed in 1965 in Hanover by Rudolf Schenker. Since the band’s inception, its musical style has ranged from hard rock[3][4] to heavy metal.The lineup from 1978–92 was the most successful incarnation of the group, and included singer Klaus Meine (vocals), Rudolf Schenker (rhythm guitar), Matthias Jabs (lead guitar), Francis Buchholz (bass guitar), and Herman Rarebell (drums). The band’s only constant member has been Schenker, although Meine has been the lead singer for all of the band’s studio albums, and Jabs has been a consistent member since 1979.

During the mid-1970s, with guitarist Uli Jon Roth part of the line-up, the music of Scorpions was defined as hard rock.After the departure of Roth in 1978, Matthias Jabs joined and, following the guidance of producer Dieter Dierks, Scorpions changed their sound towards melodic heavy metal, mixed with rock power ballads. Throughout the 1980s the group received positive reviews and critical acclaim from music critics, and experienced commercial success with the albums Animal Magnetism (1980), Blackout (1982), Love at First Sting (1984), World Wide Live (1985) and Savage Amusement (1988).

Their best-selling album Crazy World (1990) includes the song “Wind of Change“, a symbolic anthem of the political changes in Eastern Europe in the late 1980s and early 1990s and the fall of the Berlin Wall. It is one of the best-selling singles in the world with over fourteen million copies sold. Scorpions have sold over 100 million records in total.[11] They have released 18 studio albums, 27 compilation albums and 74 singles. Six of their singles have reached number one on the charts in different countries. Their albums, singles, compilations and video releases have reached 200 times gold, platinum and multi-platinum status in different countries.

Rolling Stone Magazine described the Scorpions as “the heroes of heavy metal”, and MTV called them “Ambassadors of Rock”. The band was ranked number 46 on VH1‘s Greatest Artists of Hard Rock programme, with “Rock You Like a Hurricane” at number 18 on VH1’s list of the 100 Greatest Hard Rock Songs. “Still Loving You” ranked 22nd place among the greatest ballads. Scorpions have received prestigious awards such as three World Music Awards, a star on the Hollywood Rock wall, and a presence in the permanent exhibition of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2015 the group celebrated its 50th anniversary.

Taken By Force is the fifth studio album by German hard rock band Scorpions, released by RCA Records in 1977. This was the first Scorpions album to feature drummer Herman Rarebell and the final studio album to feature guitarist Uli Jon Roth. Roth left the band in 1978 following the end of the album’s tour, and was eventually replaced by Matthias Jabs.

The lyrics to “We’ll Burn the Sky” were initially a poem written by Monika Dannemann, the last girlfriend of Jimi Hendrix, as a tribute to him after he died. Later, she became involved with Scorpions’ guitarist Uli Jon Roth (himself an admirer of Jimi Hendrix) and they worked together on some songs. The music for We’ll Burn the Sky was written by the Scorpions founder and rhythm guitarist Rudolf Schenker.

The Analysis—-

Steamrock Fever—-Coming out the speakers right at the start, the familiar strains of Meine’s vocals are welcome and strong. It is amazing how well the man’s voice has held up all this time. The musical landscape is a bit different than modern-age Scorpions…a bit more chaotic and a little less metal…although the guitars are strong. I like the song…but it is different than I expected. You do notice….one constant….the chorus….built for arena rock even back then.

We’ll Burn The Sky—-The one constant with the Scorpions is even apparent here…the ability to write and preform a hell of a power ballad. Although the track starts off with that feel, it comes more to life by the second or third bar…..delivering a punch you didn’t expect. Klaus sounds fantastic…the sharp guitar blasts are classic. The mood swings of the song are nice…and Rarebill really does well on the drums. This is nice.

I’ve Got To Be Free—-With really nice power chords at the beginning of the song, you also get a nice taste of the range that Klaus has with his vocal. This has a bit of a blues lean to it…but much of Metal did at this time. The double track vocal gives the song a fuller sound. I like the sharp bursts of guitars….they are always there…but never, ever over power the voice. this is a great song.

The Riot Of Your Time—-Nice and acoustic at the onset, the guitars in the backdrop keep the track really interesting. I sit here waiting for a huge explosion of rock….and indeed….it gets there. Klaus yells and sings…..the overlays on the vocal are classic. This is really a great track! The emotional acoustic guitars in sharp contrast with the backdrop of pure electric guitars. It sounds funny to hear him singing about if we are still alive in 1995 or 1999……indeed we all still are.

The Sails Of Charon—-Kind of an odd subject for this band to contemplate, the intro is really odd and experimental in sound. The odd sounds take a bit to introduce the music…and once it begins I’m rather perplexed. This has a huge blues lean at the onset….the static of the guitars are so well produced though….really at the front of the mix and sounding powerful as all get out. The drums are really present as well….this is a romp…..that’s for sure. Klaus enters with a Dio inspired vocal that does not really fit my image of the band I know……but this was 1977. Not a bad track….just not expected….Klaus does hit some impressive notes though…..not terrible.

Your Light—-Really powerful right t the onset, the music just suddenly falls away and introduces a bass line that is almost funk inspired. The band does not sound genuine on this track…really not something I can relate to.

He’s A Woman-She’s A Man—-Power chords abound on this track…this is stellar! The driving bass line is exquisite…..and the blues lean is really pleasant. Meine delivers another vocal that is just a hint of the things to come. This is a nice tongue in cheek track that has an undeniable catch to the melody and the chorus. It manages to stick in your brain…..just for the melody line from the rhythm section. I love this song….still plays really well today…..a new theme song for Ru-Paul’s Drag Race……lol.

Born To Touch Your Feelings—-This is just classic! Beginning with acoustic guitars….strings and what I think are Oboe’s in the backdrop….the huge ballad feel is incredible. This is intricate….drawn out and filled with emotion. The moods of the song switch back and forth…but you never lose the melancholy feel the track began with. This just shows….the band had that power ballad shit down pat even back then!!! This is fantastic!

***1/2 out of 5