The Cranberries / Gold


The Cranberries are an Irish rock band formed in Limerick in 1989 by lead singer Niall Quinn, guitarist Noel Hogan, bassist Mike Hogan, and drummer Fergal Lawler. Quinn was replaced as lead singer by Dolores O’Riordan in 1990. Although widely associated with alternative rock, the band’s sound also incorporates indie poppost-punkIrish folk, and pop rock elements.

The Cranberries rose to international fame in the 1990s with their debut album, Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?, which became a commercial success. The Cranberries have sold over 40 million records worldwide. The band achieved four top 20 albums on the Billboard 200 chart (Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?No Need to ArgueTo the Faithful Departed and Bury the Hatchet) and eight top 20 singles on the Modern Rock Tracks chart (“Linger“, “Dreams“, “Zombie“, “Ode to My Family“, “Ridiculous Thoughts“, “Salvation“, “Free to Decide“, and “Promises“).

In early 2009, after a six-year hiatus, the Cranberries reunited and began a North American tour, followed by shows in Latin America and Europe. The band recorded their sixth album Roses in May 2011, and released it in February 2012. Something Else, an album covering earlier songs together with the Irish Chamber Orchestra, was released in April 2017.

On 15 January 2018, lead singer Dolores O’Riordan was found dead in a London hotel room. She had recently arrived in London for a recording session.

The Analysis—-

Disc One:

Dreams—-Perhaps THE track that helped to define the sound of The Cranberries, the remarkable combination of Irish tinged folk rock combined with an Alternative sound, allowed the band to be embraced by massive amounts of fans. The driving and wonderful vocal from Dolores is the key to all of these songs here. One of the defining vocalists of the 90’s, I never get tired of the magic found in here voice.

Sunday—-With a beautiful string based intro, the song puts you in a certain frame of mind from the very first notes. The swells of quiet music takes nothing away from the power of the band…instead it shows diversity and musical growth. This is a beautiful track…..when the track finally opens up you are at once comfortable and familiar with the sound. This is quite beautiful.

Pretty—-Again, the music is stark and empty at the onset….really carrying the 90’s Alternative torch with the feel of the song. Dolores sounds ghostly and haunted in her literally transports you places with the tone and the urgency. A poignant track considering the singer’s backstory.

How—-A fantastic almost tribal drum introduces the track. The voice is slight and quiet…but still manages to convey an urgency and demand to pay attention. As the song opens up further the vocal becomes louder and almost pleading in sound. This is quite wonderful….a voice like no other.

Not Sorry—-Consistent in sound, the guitars are a bit more pronounced and Alt in sound…truly reminding you of the 90’s Rock sound. Dolores is mystical and magical in tone. Not a favorite track…but it fits in with the collection really well.

Linger—-The opening guitar parts remind you immediately of the track you are listening to. As the flow of the song takes shape, it becomes more beautiful with every bar of sound. The vocal is just hear wrenching…Dolores had a remarkable range and phrasing that stood the test of time. This is a remarkable track…full of emotion and full of memories for me. I love this.


Liar—-A very distinct guitar sound ushers in a slight different sound for the band. This seems a bit out of place in the song placement but diversity is key…right? This sounds a bit auto biographical….Dolores sings with a bit of a punch underlying the upfront pleasant vocal. This is full of a great musical display by the rhythm section of the band…full bodied and instrumentally emotional.

Zombie—-Another massive hit for the band, it is hard to forget this track. Full of the fuzzy 90’s guitar sound from Seattle, this is energetic and poignant. Dolores is a vocal power house of this track…..making me almost lose my mind with the urgency and almost pleading style she sings with. The chorus is a masterpiece of power and fuzz…energy and heart break. This was a magical musical moment.


Ode To My Family—-Quite poppy and catchy, Dolores even sounds a bit relaxed vocally as the track begins. The almost whispered vocal at the onset is almost buried in the instrumentation. The double track voice gives the song that needed emotional punch in your gut. When the voice moves up front…you feel every single word she utters…a wonderful song.

I Can’t Be With You—-Surprisingly poppy in sound, the guitars are so understated on this track…the saving grace for me is when the chorus hits and opens the song wide open. The vocal…even understated is still full of a certain urgency and magic. this is brighter that I expected…but still has a punch in the chorus.

Empty—-This track….seems slight and starkly naked to me at times. The music is so understated and pushed to the back…you get no power chords at the onset. The magical vocal is very upfront and displays a range that is seldom heard from Dolores….rising and falling in tone and emotion. this is a bit to stripped down for me…but I love when the strings enter and give the song an almost magical quality.

Everything I Said—-So quiet and understated for me, I much prefer the band when the emit those huge power chords and energy. The ballad after ballad on this collection becomes a bit tiresome at times…but it is the catalog I suppose. This is quiet all the way around…even the vocal seems a bit less than inspired…but the words…if you pay attention…may just rip your heart out.

Ridiculous Thoughts—-Stark…I know I have used that word a lot here, musically this is so understated at the onset….and then SURPRISE….the track opens wide open and delivers a more powerful performance that goes back in the glory days of more 90’s inspired Alt-Rock. This is a welcome change after the last 6 tracks. The band sounds phenomenal…and Dolores sounds like a new breath was breathed into her….just wonderful.

Dreaming My Dreams—-Very quiet and delivered almost in a naked way, Dolores almost whispers her way through the song. The guitars are acoustic in sound and the drums are relegated to cymbals and a slight high hat. The cello…or strings lay the foundation of this very understated track.

Daffodil Lament—-Again…..the introduction sets the tone for more lament and regret….the guitars are missing…the piano seems to lead the song…then in the back drop…way removed…there is a magical noisy element to the song that makes me smile and brings me a joy. The song ebbs and flows with power and sadness…but still delivers a magic that I love about the band.

So Cold In Ireland—-Ending the first disc with yet another stripped down and melancholy tack that brings a sadness and haunted feel. The vocal is so full of that Irish brogue….I love the tone….but I need some energy at this point….and then the chorus hits and the song becomes muscular and driving….I love this song.

Disc Two:

Salvation—-Delivering an almost punk sound, this is full of energy and a certain magic the band had in the early days of the career. This is addictive…..energetic and damn entertaining. The instrumentation is driving and inspired…I never get tired of this. The vocal sounds inspired as well…..conveying an urgent message that needed to be heard by everyone. Wonderful.


Free To Decide—-Full of a magical melody from the very onset, the vocal seems to wrap around right in the music. the lyrics….seem even more important on this day for me. Dolores sounds amazing and convincing…like she was emerging from a darkness…that never really went away. I love this song so much….makes me really miss her.

When You’re Gone—-Such a sad song now….the thing that I love about this track…the guitar has a magical Johnny Marr sound to it….in fact the entire thing reminds me of The Smiths. The lyrical content is so sad to me….although I love the quasi-50’s feel to the song as well. This is a very favorite track of mine. So important now….


Hollywood—-Quiet for the first bar, then a barrage of sound smacks you in the face with a remarkable energy. Dolores sounds almost possessed at times with her driving vocal. This is a wonderfully fantastic song…the lyrics make you sit back and think about your life and the drama you might cause yourself. The huge wall of musical sound is extraordinary…..I love this.

Cordell—-Beautifully melodic and dense from the onset, the guitar is exquisite…even it it’s quiet form. Dolores delivers and understated but incredibly powerful vocal. You can feel the pain and the melancholy…the added double track vocal fills everything out….a rarely heard masterpiece of music.

Animal Instinct—-So full of a magical melody, this track is damn addictive…I listen to this over and over again. The blend of harmonious vocals suck you right into the sound. This is another magical track that does not get played enough….this was a band being so creative and working so well together. I really love this.

Promises—-A slow intro ushers in another magically muscular track that is full of energy and aggression. Dolores sounds driven to deliver her message…I love the huge sound of the music….it matches and at the same time compliments the vocal in a way that only this band could do. This is just fantastic.


You And Me—-Quiet and a bit introspective…but it fits my ears perfectly at this very moment. The stark quality of the song is wonderfully welcome and lifts me from my seat in a magical way. The voice literally wraps right around my cerebellum….giving me warmth and comfort. wonderful song placement.

Just My Imagination—-A bit hit and miss for me…..the poppy feel of the song confuses me a little bit. i love the double track vocal…the magical harmonies add a bit of depth to a fairly unforgettable song. That is just my opinion. I love the mood…there is a happy feel to the song…it is rather uplifting.

Never Grow Old—-Haunting and really sad at this current time. I never really listened to this so intently as I have today….it makes me tear up and feel a bit empty inside…I have lost so many personal heroes in these last few years….this is a sad lament…read into it as you will….for me there is a message.

Analyse—-Bombastic and magically aggressive from the very first note, this is a wonderful track. This has that same melody quality that drove certain songs to the top of the charts…I wonder why this was not far more heard on radio and by fans. This is just fantastic….fairly simple lyrically…the feel of the song says more to me than the words actually do…it you can understand that. This is a wonderful moment in time.

Time Is Ticking Out—-Another magically melodic track that is muscular in sound…you still poignant somehow. Dolores delivers a remarkable vocal…the chorus threatens to stay in your brain for days after just one listen….the Cranberry recipe was in full effect here. I love this song.

This Is The Day—-Sounding almost like a continuation from the previous track, this has many elements of songs that really propelled this band into the upper escalations of Modern Rock. Not only the vocal mind you, the music and the feel the band delivers was as important as the voice. This is a huge song…in sound and delivery. I love this.

New New York—-Aggressive and driving guitars literally create a wall of sound that threatens to drown out even the vocal. This track quiets a bit….but carries a true New York energy throughout the entire song….calling Lou Reed to mind. I love the energy of this song…..fantastic. Huge and Muscular.

Stars—-Rounding out this compilation with a nice melodic track that makes me relaxed…and allows me o look back on a beloved band… them and cherish that almost every song has a wonderful memory for me in my own personal history. Isn’t that what music is all about….memories…love…joy…sadness…..the humanness of life….thank you Dolores!!!

*****out of 5





The Shamen / En-Tact


The Shamen (/ˈʃmɛn/SHAY-men) were a Scottish electronic dance music band, formed in 1986 in Aberdeen. The founding members are Colin Angus (born 24 August 1961), Derek McKenzie (born 27 February 1964) and Keith McKenzie (born 30 August 1961). Peter Stephenson (born 1 March 1962) joined shortly after to take over on keyboards from Angus. Several other people were later in the band. Angus then teamed up with Will Sinnott, and together they found credibility as pioneers of rock/dance crossover.

En-Tact is an album by The Shamen, released in 1990. It was the first Shamen album to feature Mr C, and the last to feature Will Sinnott (who died on 23 May 1991). It fused the band’s past psychedelic rock sounds with the rave act it became, developing a style that represented multicultural dance music.

The album was included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

The Analysis—-

Human NRG—-This band, long forgotten by many I’m sure, still finds it’s way to my turntable on a regular basis. The hyper kinetic sound and the addictive electronic melodies were huge for during the burgeoning early House Music days….I fell in love from the first listen and have never left since…even though later material became much more ambient in nature. This track…with the high keyboard tones, the melodic vocal and the understated but hypnotic beats were trademark….classic stuff…it still plays well today.

Progen [Land Of Oz]—-Most people will immediately recognize this track as Move Any Mountain…a huge underground dance hit in the early 90’s. This is hyper kinetic…fast but with a vocal that addictive as hell. The MC that was added gives the band a depth that was missing…this is an incredible song…a footprint in musical history. I love looking back. This laid the framework for bands like Blackbox and C+C Music Factory.

Possible Worlds—-Using a brilliant vocoder before people even knew what one was, this is fantastic. With a slight ambient beat going on underneath the synth line, this is a nice cool-down track for the after party…combining dance and a chill atmosphere the title of the song says it all.

Omega Amigo—-Expanding on the quasi-ambient feel, the track opens with nice synths and a slow pace..but becomes a track that is a favorite of mine. The bass line provides a perfect trance dance rhythm that sucks me in. The vocal is just OK for me…almost too pretty for the song…but it is the music that is the star of the show. There are slight 80’s leanings to the voice that i like…this was a magical time….

Hyperreal—-Really an ambient and airy feel, the song denies the title…lol. This is perfect for those after long night parties at the crib. The vocal is much nicer on this track,,,you fall right into the trace like delivery. This release…in it’s entirety….was truly a masterpiece for the youth of the 90’s who were raving and dropping in…..still fantastic.

Lightspan—-You can almost feel the huge strobe lights and sweaty crowds as this track begins. The staccato vocal is perfect for dancing by yourself like no one cares. I love this…the ability of a band this early in the 90’s to deliver such magnificent technology is awesome. The sound and vocal snippets are perfect for mixing in and out of….just brilliant.

Make It Mine V2.5—-Yet another classic track is you ever perused the dance floors of the early 90’s, this has every fantastic element of The Shaman included on one track. The music…at times can almost come across as angry and ugly…the vocal is literally fantastic…it just seems to float over my head….a brilliant moment in music history.


Oxygen Restriction—-With a classic and familiar bass beat at the intro of the track, you have heard it 1000’s of times repeated on rap tracks. The song as a whole is a bit to airy and full f space for me…I was never a true ambient fan…none the less, the song placement is perfect on the record…giving you the needed variety. Really Nice!!

Evil Is Even—-A bit to spacey for my taste, the form of the song takes a very long time to appear and never really becomes much more than a wall of sound and repetitive effects….a downer for me…just not my cup of tea. The quasi African sounds are interesting….but the repetitive nature of the song continues FOREVER!!!

Human NRG [Massey]—-Not differing in a dramatic form from the original, the vocal seems much clearer but the beats sound a bit more muddled. The high tones of the synth with the slight reverb make the track a spacey kind of ordeal..I love the air that magically flows through the underbelly of the song.

Make It Mine V1.3 [Pirate Radio]—-The intro to this remix seems more updated and appealing to the ‘straight’ club crowd that was loving C+C Music Factory and classic New Order at the time. This is a long extended musical version that goes on for a very long time…with just snips of the vocal here and there…a DJ’s dream I suppose…making mixing in and out a bit easier.

Oxygen Reprise V2.0—-Not a noticeable difference in this version. I like the ‘rolling’ synth lines that appear in between the vocal…the hyper beats that play in the background but never take over the song. The vocal seems more sedate….this is preferable over the original actually.

Hear Me O My People [Orbital-Expect Delays]—-Brilliant…..the vocal snippets combined with the static synth lines is just magnificent. I love this track….really forgetting that it was on this release. The track is a huge epic sort that has all of these underlying messages of Apartheid and the urgency of freedom fighters…this is a magnificent track…the message was clear.

****3/4 out of 5



Gene / Olympian


Gene were an English alternative rock quartet that rose to prominence in the mid-1990s. Formed in 1993, they were popularly labelled as a Britpop band and often drew comparisons to The Smiths because of their Morrissey-esque lead singer, Martin Rossiter. Gene’s music was influenced by The JamThe SmithsThe Style Council and The Clash.

Olympian is the 1995 debut album by British guitar band Gene, released on 20 March 1995 by Costermonger Records.

It is frequently recognized as one of the crowning achievements of Britpop.

The album sound is noted for being influenced by The SmithsThe Jam & The Small Faces. Aesthetically, the album cover reminds of The Smiths’ sleeves.

The album reached number 8 in the UK albums chart, selling 70,000 copies and gaining a silver disc.

The image used for the cover is a still from Ingmar Bergman‘s The Seventh Seal.

The Analysis—-

Haunted By You—-Beginning with a decidedly British sound, this track, at the onset leads the most resemblance to legendary Morrissey. The music is large and boisterous….the lyrics are filled with an intense fervor of human emotion…even now, for me…this release sounds fresh and new and filled with a promise of things to come. This was a fantastic listen my first time…I nearly had heart failure. The quasi-rockabilly sound is remarkable…and the backdrop voices allow the song to sound huge.

Your Love, It Lies—-Martin enters with a forlorn and emotional vocal delivery that is layed over a sparse instrumentation. When the chorus enters and the band opens up….I fall in love with the energy…just as suddenly it disappears again…..a remarkable journey of moods. You can catch every single word that is sung….and the energy builds and builds…almost making me lose my mind. A wonderfully intelligent band with very introspective lyrical content.

Truth, Rest Your Head—-Gentle at the onset with a wonderful melody that plays underneath the vocal, the song slowly develops and becomes more muscular before giving up and falling melancholy again. This is a perfect recipe that works wonderfully well for this band. The chorus is contagious…melodic and energetic….making you push rewind more than once as you listen.

A Car That Sped—-Rossiter enter with his vocal laid over a beautiful piano introduction. By the time the chorus begins, the song is again an anthemic delivery of power chords and emotional energy. Martin has such an emotive voice…you catch every word…every inflection and every emotion. It is the huge chorus that attracts me so much…this is still so nice to listen back on.

Left-Handed—-Huge and driving from the very first note, the muscular music almost threatens the vocal from Martin. The song slows and allows the voice…but becomes huge and driving in a moments notice. This is really nice…showing diversity and the ability to change things up from song to song. This is a huge track.

London, Can You Wait—-Hands down, my favorite track on this release, I often pull out this CD to to listen to this song. I love the melancholy feel of the song….and the way it builds to a screaming urgency in my brain as Martin hollers…”I was having the time of my life, why did you have to die”. Just remarkable…emotional and fantastically crafted.

To The City—-With a huge drum based intro and exquisite guitars full of feed-back, Rossiter enters with his vocal pushed a bit to the back of the mix…really letting the band shine. At times, the music falls away for split seconds…but comes roaring back in a muscular and aggressive delivery. I love the little interludes and the fact that the band really gets to play…

Still Can’t Find The Phone—-Returning to the true British styling of the band, you can almost hear the accent of Rossiter as he delivers the vocals of this sparse and rather pretty song that has very dark edges in the lyrical content. The British Irony is remarkable with bands like this….you almost have to look inside the words to realize this is perhaps not the pleasant song it portrays itself to be.

Sleep Well Tonight—-With a perfect recipe of muscular chorus and introspective lyrics…combined with an addictive melody…this is another very favorite track of mine. You can’t forget the energy that the band conveys in the playing and the way the vocal gets stronger and more urgent as every thing comes together in a perfect storm. This is brilliant!

Olympian—-A beautifully arranged intro to the song allows Martin to enter with his voice…stark…beautiful and damn near pitch perfect. This is so sparse at the onset…..the song opens up slowly with a wonderful melody and a catchy addictive chorus that makes you sad and elated at the same time. I think for a debut release, this was fantastic. When that chorus builds…I just want to jump up and down in a circle….scream and die with the sadness and elation of the song. This is fabulous.


We’ll Find Our Own Way—-Ending the release as strong as it began, I doubt the band even cared that for me they were releasing a ground-breaking debut that would be played thousands of times. For me…this helped to kick start the Britpop thing in my brain…I listened because of The Smiths comparisons….I fell in love for the simple uniqueness of the band. This is a wonderful listen.

***** out of 5 1999 Metal Album Of The Year—-The Dillinger Escape Plan / Calculating Infinity

Calculating Infinity

The Dillinger Escape Plan (often shortened to Dillinger and abbreviated as TDEP or DEP) is an American mathcore band from Morris Plains, New Jersey. The group originated in 1997 after the disbanding of the hardcore punk band Arcane. The band’s current line-up consists of guitarists Ben Weinman, bassist Liam Wilson, vocalist Greg Puciato, drummer Billy Rymer and rhythm guitarist Kevin Antreassian. Their band name is derived from bank robber John Dillinger.

Calculating Infinity is the debut studio album by American mathcore band The Dillinger Escape Plan, released in September 1999 by Relapse Records. It showcases the band’s aggressive, technical sound and is their only full-length album to feature original vocalist Dimitri Minakakis.

The Analysis—-

Sugar Coated Sour—-Brutal from the very first second of the recording, the music is rather technical but the production has a hollow sound to it….not allowing you to really feel how large the band can sound. This is all over the place…..the music comes at you blazing fast…but the riffs seem unorganized and chaotic. I like this…but it is not something I would play regularly.

43% Burnt—-Sounding a tad bit more structured at the onset, the music is rather technical and lacking of a present bass line…the guitars are so sharp in sound and seem to come from a thousand different directions. I wish this recording sounded a bit more organized…the vocal clarity is horrible….really hard to pick up a single word. Then in the mid point of the song….you are blessed with a magical bass line….redemption!!!!

Jim Fear—-It amazes me how fast these songs start….there is NO introduction to be had….everything is off to a blistering start from the first second. The music suffers from a sameness quality….this all seems like one long song to me. I worry how this guy can continue to sing….his voice is likely to explode. There are some really nice breaks, chord changes and technical guitar playing here…..I like it….but it could become tiresome.

*#—-So…..i eat my words from the previous song’s observation…indeed, on this track there is an introduction,,,,odd and space in sound…it feels like you are listening to NASA. Swirls of atmosphere…..bass and an off ambiance I never expected. This is just plain odd.

Destro’s Secret—-Returning to the full onslaught of very aggressive Metalcore, I could not imagine what it must be like to go to a live show from this band. There are some breaks and spoken word parts that remind me of Suicidal Tendencies records in the beginning. The bass line is here….adding a groove to the song…but most of the song is full throttle mayhem.

The Running Board—-Barely a second of silence breaks these two songs from each other…it all sounds like one very long tedious track to me. There are bright spots…but this is a very difficult listen. This track has a nice quiet interlude in the center,,,adding a layer of surprise atmosphere. It is all full of surprises and acts… never know for sure when the curtain falls though.

Clip the Apex….Accept Instruction—-Beginning even more brutal…if that is possible, this is full of trade off vocals that add to the fullness of the song. The guitars are so blistering… ears feel numb. The vocal becomes really tiresome after a bit….there is no variance in the tone or mode of delivery…it is all screams…all the time.

Calculating Infinity—-Beginning with a slight funky sound to the bass line, this surprises me….I keep wondering where the track is going to go. the song…at the onset is damn pleasant and much more listenable…giving your ears and your brain a slight repite from the unceasing noise of tracks gone by. The song becomes larger as it progresses….but the speed of the song allows you to wrap your head around the music without all the screaming going on…this is really nice.

4th Grade Dropout—-And then….we are back to the onslaught of constant noise and unceasingly mayhem. It is hard to even fins a melody line in these songs…it is just pure power noise…..the guitars are technical and give some structure…but when they die away…it is just a song without comprehension.

Weekend Sex Change—-A bit more melodic at the onset, the different sounds come at you from every direction…I’m not sure where my head should be. The drums sound off kilter and the bass line in opposition to them. We have some odd effects underlying in the song…..they leave me feeling a bit disturbed. This is a very odd track….not sure what this is all about….well……consider the title….

Variations On A Cocktail Dress—-Ending the release much as it started, I must say I’m rather glad this is over. Not a band I would pay to much attention to, this is just too noisy for me in the realm of casual listening. Perhaps I need to get more pissed off…lol

** out of 5
 1998 Metal Album Of The Year—-Death / The Sound Of Perseverance



The Sound Of Perseverance - Reissue

Death was an American death metal band from Orlando, Florida, founded in 1983 by guitarist and vocalist Chuck Schuldiner. Death is considered to be one of the most influential bands in heavy metal and a pioneering force in death metal. Its debut album, Scream Bloody Gore, has been widely regarded as the first death metal record, while the band’s driving force, Chuck Schuldiner, is acknowledged as the originator of extreme metal. Death had a revolving lineup, with Schuldiner being the sole consistent member. The group’s style also progressed, from the raw sound on its early albums to a more sophisticated one in its later stage. The band ceased to exist after Schuldiner died of brain cancer in December 2001, but remains an enduring metal brand.

The Sound of Perseverance is the seventh and final studio album by American death metal band Death, released on September 15, 1998 by Nuclear Blast. This is the only album to feature guitarist Shannon Hamm, bassist Scott Clendenin and drummer Richard Christy.

The Analysis—-

Scavenger Of Human Sorrow—-The first thing I really noticed first off with this release is the lack of the trademark deep bass tones on many bands that fall under the Death Metal moniker. The second thing of note is the incredible vocal….lacking the guttural feel of many of the Florida bands, it is easy to catch the lyrics to the song and to understand the darkness of the content. The track has nice mood swings…brutal but damn accessible to the casual listener. This is great!

Bite The Pain—- A nice dark plodding melody line opens the track,,,,but it comes alive as it progresses. The intricate bass line is incredible…really steering the song and the melody of the track. The voice is incredible….this is damn technical Metal….not your typical all out Thrash of Death screams and scary lyrics. Well formulated and played with mastery….these guys deserved to be kings.

Spirit Crusher—-Again with the incredible bass line lead in, this band has really surprised me with the incredible finesse it plays with. To think that this is my first exposure to the band is almost unthinkable…but it is true. I will be investigating them much more after this adventure. I really love the talent that is all over this record…a true mastery of the scene….they set the bar very high indeed.

Story To Tell—-Much fuller instrumentation at the onset of this track, the high soaring lead guitars are phenomenal. The heavier bass line returns as the song begins to form….but it never seems to be to heavy or overwhelming. The vocal often times makes me think of Dani Filth when he sings in a regular style tone. This track has a huge marching element to it…but then breaks magically and gives you a clear soaring guitar…just incredible.

Flesh And The Power It Holds—-Again, the song opens with a nice fuller guitar sound that seems to last longer than on previous tracks. The sound is crashing through my headphones…swirling around my head with a melody that is undeniable. The lead guitar adds to the full sound of the song…and then the drums really pick up the pace of the song. The vocal comes at you fast and filled with brutal lyrics….making me smile inside with the irony of it all. i love this stuff. Especially when it is played with mastery and talent such as this.The mid song melody break is phenomenal.

Voice Of The Soul [Instrumental]—-At the onset…intricate and really sounding quite familiar at this point in the record. The guitars seem to repeat a line that has been played over and over…and perhaps this might very well be by design. By the second bar of the song, the tone of the song changes….adding a backdrop of acoustic guitar that plays well with the electricity of the lead. This is really…dare I say…a beautiful song.

To Forgive Is To Suffer—-as a nice change, drums kick off the intro to this track and the song is off to a blistering romp after the sedate beauty of the previous instrumental. The sounds, I must say, are very familiar though. Although I love this record, it suffers from a sameness sound that you can’t escape….even the breaks and ‘movements’ in the songs seem almost predictable….but I will take this over many of the things being released today under this moniker of Death.

A Moment Of Clarity—-With a slight marching bass line that steers the track, the Maiden style galloping bass line comes and goes like magic. This is a stellar track…underneath the bass and the drums…there is a clarity with the guitars that transfix me. I really, really like this band. How did I miss this stuff first time around? Really a great listen.

***** out of 5 1997 Metal Album Of The Year—-Emperor / Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk

Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk

Emperor is a Norwegian black metal band formed in 1991, regarded as highly influential by critics and emerging black metal bands.The group split up in 2001, but reunited from 2005 to 2007 for a few festival dates and brief US tours, and again reunited in 2013 to 2014. The group was founded by Ihsahn (guitar/vocals) and Samoth (then, drums).

Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk is the second studio album by Norwegian black metal band Emperor. It was released on 8 July 1997 through Candlelight Records and Century Black.

The Analysis—-

Alsvartr [The Oath]—-Beginning with a nice melodic acoustic style guitar, the listener may very well be taken aback by the sound. It is not long before the song begins to take form with an eerie vocal incantation as the atmosphere builds and builds until you are literally breathless with anticipation. In all reality, you are being prepared for……

Ye Entrancemperium—-And now….we are off and running to pound loudly on the doors of hell. the drums are so fast and delivered at such a pace it seems to be the maddening pound of evil. The slight orchestrated feel of the song provides the melody and backbone of the song. The voice…seems under produced and pushed to the back…but sounds way better than the vocal did on Nightside . This is incredible…fast….dark and delivered with the right level of  evil.At times when the clean vocal emerges…you can almost hear a resemblance to Serj Tankian.

Thus Spake The Night Spirit—-Epic right from the first note, you can hear the quasi-orchestration from the keyboards. The death scream that serves as the introductory vocal is only eclipsed by the incredible drums that smack your head back and forth on your neck. The vocal…when it fully emerges is hard to understand….but the intent is clear…this is dark and driven by a force. I love the energy and the forbidden sound of it all.

Ensorcelled By Khaos—-No time to catch your breath, as this track kicks you in the face from the first note. The guitars sound really powerful on this….a literal huge wall of sound that creates their own landscape. The vocal seems unformulated and all over the place…but you can’t escape the majesty and mastery of the music…there are huge breaks and ebbs in the music…..and then you are lifted right back up again. Incredible.

The Loss And Curse Of Reverence—-Seeming to roll directly from the previous track, there is no room for variance or experimentation on this release….what you ordered is what you get…pure brutal Black Metal that gives your entire brain a workout. This track just seems to wrap around and attack me from every angle. The brutality is incredible…but underneath of it all is that keyboard melody line that provides the glue that gives the noises structure. This is fantastic….a favorite track from this release.

The Acclamation Of Bonds—-Very accessible at the onset, there are huge swells of keyboards to introduce the song before the drums and the vocal lead us down a dark path. The keyboards are always there though….providing the need structure to formulate the song. These are well trained musicians….never think for a moment this is just bashed out noise and screams and thus a record is made. The thought, the structure, the writing is top notch. This is a landmark recording.

With Strength I Burn—-Although thee is little new to offer in critique of this track, I can only mention that which really impresses me… incredible drum track….that helped set the standard for many of the bands in this genre today, a blistering vocal that impresses, and a melody line that appears…disappears….but always seems present. I love the clean vocal element of this song….it gives some variance and breaks up the monotonous feel of the record at this point. Just exquisite.

The Wanderer—-Ending the release with a slight somber and calm note, this track is full of swirling atmosphere and a certain sadness that pervades it through the entirety. Huge in grandiosity and tone…it is a fantastic closer to an incredible effort.

**** out of 5
 1996 Metal Album Of The Year—-Tool / Aenima


Tool is an American rock band from Los Angeles, California. Formed in 1990, the group’s line-up includes drummer Danny Carey, guitarist Adam Jones, and vocalist Maynard James Keenan. Justin Chancellor has been the band’s bassist since 1995, replacing their original bassist Paul D’Amour. Tool has won three Grammy Awards, performed worldwide tours, and produced albums topping the charts in several countries.

The band emerged with a heavy metal sound on their first studio album, Undertow (1993), and later became a dominant act in the alternative metal movement, with the release of their second album, Ænima in 1996. Their efforts to unify musical experimentation, visual arts, and a message of personal evolution continued, with Lateralus (2001) and the most recent album, 10,000 Days (2006), gaining the band critical acclaim, and commercial success around the world.

Due to Tool’s incorporation of visual arts and very long and complex releases, the band is generally described as a style-transcending act and part of progressive rock, psychedelic rock, and art rock. The relationship between the band and today’s music industry is ambivalent, at times marked by censorship, and the band’s insistence on privacy.

Ænima (/ˈɒnɪmə/) is the second studio album by American rock band Tool. It was released in vinyl format on September 17, 1996, and in compact disc format on October 1, 1996, through Zoo Entertainment. The album was recorded and cut at Ocean Way, Hollywood and The Hook, North Hollywood from 1995 to 1996. The album was produced by David Bottrill.

The album debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart upon its initial release, selling 148,000 copies in its first week. It was certified triple platinum by the RIAA on March 4, 2003. The album appeared on several lists of the best albums of 1996, including that of Kerrang! and Terrorizer. The title track won the Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance in 1998. In 2003, Ænima was ranked the sixth most influential album of all time by Kerrang!.

The Analysis—-

 Stinkfist—-The sounds of this release…..really have ‘experimental’ written all over it. I have never been the biggest Tool fan in the world…but I try to be objective. I love the vocal that is on this album….it really opened up a sound for many bands that still follow the recipe to this day…a nice clean vocal followed by a distorted type of chorus. There is a nice melody to the song. I love the energy….and the quirky mood swings.

 Eulogy—-Annoying toy piano sounds and odd breaths seem to open this track….it takes so long to form I find it easy to lose attention and am distracted by the acid like sounds of what is supposed to be a song. Finally by the 2 1/2 minute mark we get the formulation of a song…that is full of incredibly emotive vocals and huge power chords…why all of the bull shit to get there though? The voice ebbs and flows with added effects and reverb…..but it is not a bad song…but what is 8 minutes could have been 3.

H—-For me, this is much more accessible right from the onset. There are huge crashes and promises of things to come that fall way for a gentle and intense vocal that leads the song into the journey and body of the work. Sometimes Maynard reminds me of Jethro Tull…lol. There are many moods and ebbs on this track…as most of Tool songs are full of. This is nice though. I rather like this song. It’s dark and heavy enough to really lose yourself in.

Useful Idiot—-Building and building until you fear you may very well lose your mind this is just an interlude that leads to…..

46 & 2—-A really pleasant and accessible intro to the song…the guitars are really nice and you get teases of what the song may become. The vocal is far removed from the song…seeming to be way in the back and taking sometime to actually reach your ears. The pained expressiveness of the voice permeates your entire body. When the track opens….you are smacked with the pain and you truly feel it. This is fantastic….the deep tones of the song seem so expressive.

Message To Hairy Manback—-Gentle and expressive right from the onset, with a Pink Floyd inspired phone conversation, this is frightening and intense right from the beginning. I’m not sure what this is all about…perhaps that is my frustration….I just don’t get this…..I am lost with this recording. I don’t like this track at all…..

Hooker With A Penis—-A literal wall of sound kicks off the song…with huge incredible drums coming at you from every direction. The vocal and the lyric is odd….I guess I get it…but it all seems so overblown to me. I love the music….the guitars are so big and powerful…and the drums….my lord…phenomenal. The screams of disdain are disturbing…..and the message misses the mark with me….not a favorite track of mine.

Intermission—-Odd circus style music that breaks everything up and makes me shake my head even more…..GUYS…..I JUST DON’T GET IT!!!!

Jimmy—-Much more accessible for me and sounding Alternative if there was ever a definition. The sound is very 90’s and Seattle in sound. I love the vibe of the guitars and how they seem in contrast with the bass and drums. This is like a huge symphony….I really like this track to be honest.

Die Eler Von Satan—-Noisy and filled with an almost industrial sound, this again befuddles me and leaves me gasping for breath and questioning my taste in music. Everyone loved this release…but I just can’t seem to wrap my head around the lack of consistency and structure.

Pushit—-Clocking in at almost 10 minutes in length, I was really not sure what to expect as this track began. The intro is odd…static filled and fueled by some heavy bass drums and a guitar line that take some into the very heart of experimental metal, Maynard delivers a vocal that is mismatched and full of uneven delivery. I like the power of the song…musically the sound is huge….lyrically, or vocally….it seems filled with a drug addled idea of music that just won’t click with me. But…that is me.

Cesero Summablilty—-Eerie and leaves me feeling cold and sad……

Aenema—-Huge and much more to my liking right from the very first chords of the song, I love the music and the vocal as well. I still say Maynard reminds me of a more speed filled Jethro Tull….the vocal comes at you in short violent blasts and then settles to a pleasant tone. The lyrics are intense…the drums and the bass line lead the song in a dark filled tunnel. You actually feel the angst here….and that was what I was looking for. This is really nice.

[Ions—-Another slow beginning filled with effects and atmosphere, I wonder where this will all go. It really never goes any where…..this is just an effects filled space that means nothing to me.

Third Eye—-Another romp filled with noise….vocal effects, overlays and an irritaing high pitch line that grates me. The vocal is nice….sounding detached and removed from the song….I really must say I’m glad this is all over. This is not something i would ever listen to again.

** out of 5