Friday, December 17, 2010

5 Quick Album Reviews: Classics

New releases by 'classic' acts:

Annihilator - Annihilator
I've always liked Annihilator, thinking them above most thrash/groove acts that have come along. When asked the infamous question among metalheads; "Metallica or Megadeth?" I almost always answer "Annihilator," mostly to looks of confusion or disgust, but that's me and my tastes for you. Their 2010 self-titled album does not disappoint. It brings me back to their classic era of Alice In Hell or King of The Kill, back in the beginning of their career - not 21 years later. I haven't heard much from them within the last decade, but I may have to if it is all of this quality. Almost every song is great, they all groove, they all are angry, they all have amazing music. There is even a Van Halen cover! It's not their best song, mostly because it sounds like Van Halen and not Annihilator. I don't really know the song ("Romeo Delight"), but you would be able to tell of it's origin through the music. This is groove metal done right! While 'the greats' of thrash have fallen by the wayside Annihilator continues to put out classic albums. Here's hoping that they keep it up for another 21 years!

Danzig - Deth Red Sabaoth
This is my first new Danzig album I have in a long time; I grew up with Danzig II and Thrall: Demonsweatlive, so while I'm no stranger to the man and his music, I am over 15 years out of date. The most blunt and obvious thing I have to say about Deth Red Sabaoth: That voice!! It is horrible! I know Danzig was never known for his high range of vocals, but seriously man, learn to carry something outside of your four note range! All of the songs are within the same tiny vocal range - which is fine - until he decides to try and move above it, and wails horribly. It's brutal (and not in a good way). For example: the song "On A Wicked Night" is both one of the best and one of the worst of the album. The beginning half is amazing, it's Danzig and an acoustic guitar. The music is great, the lyrics are amazing, I was moved by this man's musicianship. Then the electric guitars and drums came in, and Danzig's voice went from a calm song-song voice to a wail. It wasn't too, too, bad, until the last 30 seconds of the song where he just repeatedly wails "On A Wicked Night" over and over. Ruined the song. He should have stopped while he was ahead. It's like this for the whole album. Some of the songs are good, where he stays to his strong points - about half - the others are killed solely because of the man's voice. The music is all great, most of the song's lyrics are clever and deep (notable exception being "Ju Ju Bone"), but I can't get over the vocals. I would like someone who can sing to cover this album entirely, I would love to hear a good version of these songs.

Accept - Blood Of The Nations
Melding the old sounds of Accept with a refreshing spin of classic metal, Blood of The Nations is an album that should go down as one of the best of Accept's catalog. While the classic sounds of 80s metal (non-hair) are present throughout the album, the first few songs off the album sound like a totally new band, something that brings new life to what I was expecting to be another classic band trying to gain some nostalgia-fans. Instead I could see a whole new generation of metal fans picking up this album to enjoy. While this sounds like it alienates the long-time listeners of Accept, it does just the opposite; there is the classic Accept sound throughout. As the album begins with a 'new' sound, it ends with a strong and passionate showing of the 'old' that Accept has to offer. A great book-ending for an album. Mark Tornillo, the new singer, is a far offshoot of Udo Dirkschneider's iconic voice, but it works for the group (at least for this album), and actually makes the music much more accessible to new fans (let's face it Udo's voice took a bit to get used to). Blood Of The Nations is a good example of what a great band can accomplish, years after their heyday. If only other 80s acts could get the same message and respect.

Johnny Cash - American VI: Ain't No Grave
The latest (and perhaps last) from the great Johnny Cash. The songs of American VI: Ain't No Grave were recorded in the same session as the last Cash album, American V: A Hundred Highways - both of which were released after his death. While I have loved all of the American series I have heard so far (American V is the only one left for me), American VI has been the weakest of the bunch. All of the songs are one the slow and, honestly, dull side of things. As if these songs were left off of the previous albums purposely, then later released to capitalize off of Johnny Cash's name. I know that many other reviewers agree with this point-of-view, and although it seems like this would make it a bad album, it does no such thing. American VI still is home to the amazing voice of the legend, it still contains his signature style of a voice and a guitar (even more so then the previous ones), and it still consists of his powerful style covering some truly great songs. It's just that some of the song selections seem to drag with the rest of the collection. And as I said, this album is almost entirely Johnny and a guitar, with no backing band or melodies throughout. It works for some songs and not for others. In short, American VI: Ain't No Grave would be a great album if it had been Johnny Cash's first release with this new way of playing, but as it's his last (??) it falls behind the mark then the rest. It is a good album and worth a listen, if only to cap of the career of the amazing musician that was The Man In Black.

Meat Loaf - Hang Cool Teddy Bear
The only albums from Meat Loaf I have ever really heard are his Bat Out of Hell series (Part 1 and Part 2), so while they are some of his best work, they are the only comparison I have to make; big shoes to fill. Hang Cool Teddy Bear is not as good as those albums, but it is a decent representation of the decades of style the singer puts into his work. You have all of the power and style of classic Meat Loaf, just not the clever songwriting of the old days. Also a couple of the songs strike me more as something that KISS would put out - with layered vocals and a blatant attempt at sexual innuendo - an interesting turn. Hang Cool Teddy Bear has definite replay-ability, and it tells me that I really need to listen to more from Meat Loaf, because the man sure can belt those tunes out!

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