Album Review – Fear Factory / Demanufacture (1995)

A “cyber-masterpiece” by the unstoppable American Industrial Metal trailblazers.

DemanufactureIn 2010, after a 5-year hiatus and some controversial releases, Los Angeles-based Industrial Metal band Fear Factory got back with two amazing albums, Mechanize (2010) and The Industrialist (2012). However, it was in 1995 with all the energy, creativity and dynamism of their second album, Demanufacture, that the band reached the status of masters of Industrial Metal, always adding some hints of Death and Thrash Metal to their music, sometimes even being called “Cyber Metal” by their fans. Demanufacture is considered a concept album inspired by the most badass movie of all time, The Terminator, obviously focusing on the constant and horrible war between man and machine, with each song being some kind of episode of this fight, and the final result couldn’t be any better.

The music in Demanufacture sounds like if it’s coming directly from a giant industry or foundry, with all the violence of metal clanging sounds and mechanized instruments, but that doesn’t mean it sounds fake like many other metal or pop bands. It is high-quality Heavy Metal played by some incredible musicians, especially Dino Cazares with his brutal riffs and Burton C. Bell with his exceptional vocal range. In my opinion, he’s one of the only guttural singers in Heavy Metal that doesn’t sound lame when using his clean vocals. Quite the contrary, his clean voice is also fantastic and a very important part of the whole album. And although the band is officially composed by four members only, Demanufacture wouldn’t be the same without the contributions from Rhys Fulber and Reynor Diego, both responsible for the electronic tones and sounding and the robotic atmosphere with their samples, keyboards and mixes.

Fear Factory 1995The title-track, Demanufacture, is an awesome start with its great intro, heavy riffs, a strong chorus (“I’ve got no more goddamn regrets / I’ve got no more goddamn respects”) and the band’s characteristic electronic atmosphere. The song sounds clean but brutal, a great example of Industrial Metal. The second track, Self Bias Resistor, is as heavy as hell with a great job done by Raymond Herrera, while Zero Signal has excellent eerie keyboards in the beginning, turning into a damn heavy feast. Then comes the best track of the album and one of Fear Factory’s greatest hits (if not the greatest of all), Replica,  a masterpiece of Industrial Metal with its extremely austere intro, acid lyrics (“I am rape / I am hate / I am rape / I am hate”), and Burton’s voice sounding incredible at all times.

The band keeps smashing our brains with the superb New Breed, a “mechanized” song like a terminator itself, probably due to its lyrics, and an awesome choice for their live performances. The next track is Dog Day Sunrise, a cover song quite similar to the original version by British band Head of David, with an amazing touch of Heavy Metal but preserving all its elements from the 80’s. Then comes Body Hammer, which in my opinion is an outstanding musical representation of an industry’s assembly line, and Flashpoint, the perfect soundtrack for a terminator to walk in your direction ready to kill you. The last part of the album starts with another brutal song, H-K (Hunter-Killer),  with its intense drums and fast riffs; it’s a fantastic pure Industrial Metal song and one of the best of the album. Pisschrist  reminds me a lot of some Ministry classics, while A Therapy for Pain is one of those crazy long songs that became a band’s trademark in almost all albums, although I personally think this one goes on for way to long time.

Fear_Factory-Remanufacture

Remanufacture – Cloning Technology

Due to the originality and quality of Demanufacture, Fear Factory started featuring in the soundtracks of a variety of PlayStation and PC games and action movies, as well as becoming part of the lineup for some editions of the famous Ozzfest and touring with bands such as Iron Maiden and Megadeth. Moreover, two years after Demanufacture, the band released a full remix album of it called Remanufacture – Cloning Technology, which despite its original idea didn’t result in something as memorable as the regular album, of course, and in 2005 a remastered edition with six fuckin’ amazing bonus tracks as bonus disc 1 (including a cover for Agnostic Front’s Your Mistake) and the whole Remanufacture album as bonus disc 2 was released to celebrate ten years of the album.

In summary, a mandatory item in the collection of any headbanger that loves heavy music with lots of creativity and power, and also an excellent choice for your workout playlist. Fear Factory showed the world how Heavy Metal and electronic music can get along really well when there’s an interesting concept and great musicians behind everything, and let’s hope they keep on kickin’ ass for many years to come with new furious albums (which based on their latest releases that’s exactly what’s been happening already). It doesn’t matter how long it takes between their albums, as the Terminator himself would say, THEY’LL BE BACK.

Best moments of the album: Demanufacture, Replica, New Breed and H-K (Hunter-Killer).

Worst moments of the album: A Therapy for Pain.

Released in 1995 Roadrunner Records

Track listing
1. Demanufacture 4:13
2. Self Bias Resistor 5:12
3. Zero Signal 5:57
4. Replica 3:56
5. New Breed 2:49
6. Dog Day Sunrise (Head of David cover) 4:45
7. Body Hammer 5:05
8. Flashpoint 2:53
9. H-K (Hunter-Killer) 5:17
10. Pisschrist 5:25
11. A Therapy for Pain 9:43

2005 Remastered Edition bonus tracks
1. Your Mistake (Agnostic Front cover) 1:30
2. Resistancia! 2:55
3. Concreto 3:30
4. New Breed (Revolutionary Designed Mix) 2:59
5. Manic Cure 5:09
6. Flashpoint (Chosen Few Mix) 4:09

Band members
Burton C. Bell – lead vocals
Dino Cazares – guitar, backing vocals
Christian Olde Wolbers – bass
Raymond Herrera – drums, percussion

Guest musicians
Reynor Diego – samples, keyboards
Rhys Fulber – samples, keyboards, programming, mixing

Advertisements

Album Review – Exodus / Tempo of the Damned (2004)

Thirteen years ago Exodus returned with another incredible lesson in Thrash Metal.

Rating2

Tempo of the DamnedSometimes excellent bands go on a huge musical hiatus due to unforeseen reasons, making their fans at the same time really sad and anxious for a possible return someday. However, some of those bands return with very low-quality material and the damage to their careers is almost incurable, as for example what happened with the disappointing comebacks of Running Wild, with the weak album Shadowmaker, and Guns N’Roses, with the controversial Chinese Democracy.

Fortunately, that’s not what happened to Thrash Metal masters Exodus. Quite the contrary, when they got back to life with their first new album since the interesting Force of Habit, from 1992, they kicked some serious fuckin’ass. Tempo of the Damned might not be the best Thrash Metal album in the history of music, but it’s probably the best of the past two decades in terms of creativity, riffs, and of course, violence. With the return of Steve “Zetro” Souza on vocals, Tom Hunting smashing his drums, and especially an inspired Gary Holt absolutely on fire, Tempo of the Damned is the epitome of what’s best in modern Thrash Metal.

Are you ready for a sonic massacre? Well, the first track, Scar Spangled Banner, is even more than that. For over 6 minutes, we have a perfect representation of the “new” Exodus: extremely politicized and intelligent lyrics (“We the people, for no people / Secure the blessings of tragedy / Do ordain we have established / The scar spangled banner”), awesome riffs and solos, creative variations, and a lot of speed. The second track of this brilliant album, War Is My Shepherd, is another fuckin’ carnage, perfect for an intense mosh pit with Zetro doing a pretty good job on vocals.

Then we have the incomparable hit Blacklist, my favorite track of the album and certainly on my top 5 songs in the history of Exodus, with the best vengeful lyrics in Heavy Metal (“You’d better start runnin’ / Cause you know that I’m comin’ / Cocked and loaded and I never miss / I’m onto your game / And I’m layin’ the blame / And I’m addin’ your name to my blacklist”) and a riff that is beyond perfect for banging our fuckin’ heads until we drop. Shroud of Urine keeps the album at a high note, followed by another pure Thrash Metal song called Forward March, where Gary Holt and Rick Hunolt deliver us some truly amazing solos.

Culling the Herd is slower than the previous tracks (maybe for us to take some air), but it is also a great Thrash Metal song. The shortest song of the album, Sealed with a Fist, focus on all the “beauty” of marriage and it’s highly recommended for a friend’s wedding if you like to play pranks on people. The next track, Throwing Down, shows us why Gary Holt is one of the most underrated riff masters in the world, with outstanding riffs and solos. Seriously, when are people going to recognize Gary’s unparalleled contribution to the world of music?

Exodus2004The album ends with the good song Impaler (written by Metallica’s own Kirk Hammett, and it should have been feature in Bonded By Blood if Kirk Hammett hadn’t taken its main riff with him to be used on “Trapped Under Ice”), and the title-track Tempo of the Damned, which can be called a “musical beast” due to its boisterous rhythm, crazy riffs, fast percussion, and of course its very controversial lyrics paying a “tribute” to all types of religions and churches. And if your neck is still attached to your body when this brutal song is over and you have the special digipack version of the album, you can relax and enjoy a very nice cover for AC/DC’s classic Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, where Zetro simply nailed it with his visceral voice.

Finally, did you notice the length of the songs in Tempo of the Damned? Most of them surpass the 5-minute barrier, something unimaginable for almost all Thrash Metal bands in the world, with some songs having even over 7 minutes. That’s why after this album was released many people started calling Exodus as the “Pink Floyd of Thrash Metal”, and also fans started demanding that Exodus were included in the “Big 4”, making it more like a Big 5 (or even a Big 6 with Testament included too), due to the undeniable quality of their music. I honestly don’t care if they make it a Big 5 or Big 6; what really matters to me is that Exodus keep on delivering us many more “lessons in violence” such as Tempo of the Damned in their career.

Best moments of the album: Scar Spangled Banner, Blacklist and Tempo of the Damned.

Worst moments of the album: It’s hard to choose a bad song in the album, because there are none. I would select Impaler as the “least amazing” tune, though.

Released in 2004 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Scar Spangled Banner 6:41
2. War Is My Shepherd 4:27
3. Blacklist 6:17
4. Shroud of Urine 4:52
5. Forward March 7:32
6. Culling the Herd 6:07
7. Sealed with a Fist 3:36
8. Throwing Down 5:01
9. Impaler 5:25
10. Tempo of the Damned 4:22

Digipack bonus track
11. Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (AC/DC cover) 3:52

Band members
Steve “Zetro” Souza – vocals
Gary Holt – lead and rhythm guitars
Rick Hunolt – lead and rhythm guitars
Jack Gibson – bass
Tom Hunting – drums

Album Review – Clawfinger / Use Your Brain (1995)

Use your brain and listen to the cult album by this distinct Swedish act, presenting an austere and impactful fusion of Rap and Heavy Metal.

Rating4

use-your-brainA few years before Limp Biskit, Slipknot or any other band considered part of the Nu Metal scene from the 90’s/2000’s started, there was already a Swedish band called Clawfinger playing a very original mix of Rap Metal, Hardcore, Rapcore, Funk Metal and even Industrial Metal in a very aggressive, politicized and anti-racist way. Although the band was formed back in 1989, it was just in 1993 that they launched their debut album called Deaf Dumb Blind (which included a very controversial song called “Nigger”, but again, in the most anti-racist way possible), and a couple of years later, in 1995, they launched their most interesting album in my humble opinion, titled Use Your Brain. If you hate Rap by all means and/or if you’re too narrow-minded to accept it mixed with Heavy Metal, don’t even bother listening to it. However, if you enjoy heavy music no matter what, then Use Your Brain might be an amazing addition to your day-to-day playlist.

Use Your Brain starts at a high note with my favorite song from the album, Power, which talks about exactly the opposite of most songs with the word “power” in their names: power can be really harmful to anyone who doesn’t know how to use it properly, which happens to the majority of the people that have it anyway. “Power to the one who doesn’t want it / Do you want it why do you want it”, screams lead singer Zak Tell, accompanied by some excellent heavy riffs by Erlend Ottem and Bård Torstensen and keyboards by Jocke Skog. The song is followed by Pay the Bill, which keeps the energy level up, and Pin Me Down, a more rhythmic track with strong lyrics that ended up becoming one of the band’s biggest classics.

ClawfingerThe next song is called Wipe My Ass, a good example of how the band was able to unite Rap and Metal in a very solid way. The only thing I don’t understand is why sometimes I find this song with a different name, “Waste My Time”. Well, it’s probably due to the “beautiful” expression used in the original name, but honestly, who cares about that? Anyway, the next two tracks, Die High and It, are just average songs, especially the second one which is quite bland compared to the rest of the album. Fortunately the next song, called Do What I Say, takes the album back on track with its simple but strong riffs and amazing lyrics about the emotional and sometimes physical (and endless) war between parents and their kids, acidly declaimed by Zak Tell and his hostile vocals. I normally don’t add a huge chunk of any lyrics in my reviews, but this one is so good that deserves to be appreciated almost in full. Besides, although this song might have been recorded over 20 years ago, it still sounds fresh and contemporary, just to show you how parenting will never, ever be an easy task to anyone.

“I‘ve paid to raise you good
Done everything I could so don’t you dare to say
That I ever cared about you anyway
I gave you good food to eat
I kept you on your feet
I gave you all my good advice
Not once did I hear you
thank me for all that I’ve done
You don’t know anything
About my suffering
I went through a lot of pain
Just to get you where you are today
If I ever hit you
It’s because I have to
You have done something wrong
And you deserve the punishment, you’ll have to pay”

The rest of the album doesn’t have anything too special: Undone is considerably tasteless, while What Are You Afraid Of doesn’t do any good but at the same time it doesn’t harm the album. Things get a lot better with Back to the Basics, especially the eerie sound the band created with the guitars and keyboards working together; Easy Way Out with its addictive chorus and the groovy drums by Ottar Vigerstøl; and Tomorrow, a very good Rap Metal track that powerfully ends this very original and catchy album, with highlights to the rumbling sounds generated by Ottar and bassist André Skaug. In addition, the front cover is absolutely precise in summarizing the content of the music in the album (despite being fairly simplistic), and that “less is more” type of art is most probably the reason why I love it so much.

Use Your Brain_remastered

Use Your Brain 2004 Remastered Edition

The 2004 remastered version of the album also includes 3 bonus tracks and 3 bonus videos, so if you’re interested in buying it I suggest you go after the remastered one (which by the way is a lot easier to find in any webstore). Clawfinger released a statement around August 2013 saying they split up, which was a bummer at that time based on the quality of their music, but fortunately it seems those Swedish metallers are back in action and ready to deliver us another blast of their venomous music, going against the sea of boredom that dominates the scene nowadays. Hence, Use Your Brain (which can be enjoyed in its entirety HERE) is far from being a true masterpiece, but it’s an extremely enjoyable album with meaningful lyrics crafted by talented musicians and, above all, an excellent option to expand your horizons in the world of heavy music and a lot better choice than most of the crap the media makes us swallow every single day. In other words, use your goddamn brain at least once and enjoy the austere music by this unique band hailing from Sweden, alright?

Best moments of the album: Power, Pin Me Down, Do What I Say and Back to the Basics.

Worst moments of the album: It and Undone.

Released in 1995 WEA/MVG (Warner Music Group)

Track listing
1. Power 3:14
2. Pay the Bill 4:20
3. Pin Me Down 4:10
4. Wipe My Ass 3:13
5. Die High 2:34
6. It 5:21
7. Do What I Say 4:25
8. Undone 4:11
9. What Are You Afraid Of 3:47
10. Back to the Basics 2:27
11. Easy Way Out 2:39
12. Tomorrow 4:09

2004 Remastered Edition bonus tracks & videos
13. Better Than This 3:36
14. Three Good Riffs 3:56
15. Armageddon Down 3:36
16. Pin Me Down (Video Clip) 4:10
17. Tomorrow (Video Clip) 4:09
18. Do What I Say (Video Clip) 4:25

Band members
Zak Tell – lead vocals
Jocke Skog – keyboards, vocals
Erlend Ottem – lead guitar
Bård Torstensen – rhythm guitar
André Skaug – bass
Ottar Vigerstøl – drums

Album Review – Carcass / Heartwork (1993)

Wake up and listen to this Melodic Death Metal wonder.

Rating3

carcass_heartworkWhen a band or artist changes their musical direction towards something more commercial or mainstream, in order to become more famous and consequently make more money without worrying about their morality or principles, their old diehard fans start calling them a sellout. We have seen this type of thing happening hundreds of times with different bands from a wide range of musical styles, especially in Heavy Metal which always tends to be a more conservative genre than any other. Who doesn’t remember all the negative reaction of the fans and the specialized media to Metallica’s Load or Judas Priest’s Turbo? However, sometimes this change is for better, and that’s exactly what happened to Liverpool’s Extreme Metal masters Carcass when they “abandoned” their old Splatter/Grindcore to show the world a more polished material with the album Heartwork, released in 1993, becoming the pioneers of what we call today as Melodic Death Metal.

Although Heartwork was considered a radical change by lots of their old fans, and as I mentioned before a sellout by many, the album is far from sounding commercial or any shit like that. This is a milestone in the world of extreme music, quickly becoming the source of inspiration for hundreds of bands all over the world due to the quality and complexity of its music. The first track, Buried Dreams, already shows a much “cleaner” Carcass than ever before, but it’s still very extreme and violent. That new Carcass, a lot more melodic, offer us then Carnal Forge, which is pure Melodic Death Metal with amazing vocals, especially the initial scream, and beautiful solos by both Bill Steer and Michael Amott.

Can we call the unique No Love Lost a Melodic Death Metal ballad? This song is a classic with its perfect riffs and lyrics (“Without emotion you heartstring’s played / Strummed and severed to the tune of a tragic serenade”), and as one of the album’s singles it got a pretty cool video too. Then comes the best song of all, the title-track Heartwork,  a heavy music masterpiece with incredibly fast riffs, awesome solos, an addictive chorus (“A canvas to paint, to degenerate / Dark reflections – degeneration / A canvas to paint, to denigrate / Dark reflections, of dark foul light”), and Jeff Walker being absolutely fantastic on vocals, sounding like an (extremely) evil version of Dave Mustaine. This is a Death Metal anthem with flawless synchronicity of all band members, and a mandatory track in any music selection for a heavy workout at the gym.

carcassAfter an impeccable start, the album loses a little momentum with Embodiment, which is not as amazing as all previous tracks. Moreover, this song reminds me a lot of what Arch Enemy do today, clearly due to Michael Amott’s influence, but not as cohesive. This Mortal Coil is an excellent song with awesome guitars, making it one of the best in the album and a great song for any live performances. The next song is fantastic too, albeit it has a very weird name: Arbeit Macht Fleisch is a derivation of “arbeit macht frei”, the famous German phrase found over the main gates of many Nazi concentration camps during World War II (including Auschwitz I) that means “work makes (you) free”. In this case, the meaning would be “work makes (you) meat”, a more suitable expression for the gruesome heavy music played by Carcass.

The last part of Heartwork begins with Blind Bleeding the Blind, a very technical song with lots of groove and electricity, followed by Doctrinal Expletives, which is a more straightforward, traditional metal song. The last track of the album, Death Certificate, has an amazing start and very interesting lyrics, but in my opinion it’s its fast and heavy rhythm what makes it so great. This is the end of an outstanding album, with Bill Steer and Michael Amott kickin’ ass from start to finish (what those two guys did with their guitars together in Heartwork was glorious) and Jeff Walker adding a creepy touch to it with his guttural, raspy voice. In addition, we can see here one of the most extraordinary front covers in the history of heavy music, called “Life Support 1993”, designed by the deceased Swiss artist H. R. Giger.

The band released Swansong in 1996, and 17 years later they got back with the amazing Surgical Steel, in 2013, but Heartwork is still their biggest work so far and something quite impossible to be beaten (and if I were you, I would definitely go for the Full Dynamic Range Edition with its four amazing bonus tracks). Carcass might have changed their musicality, with an almost complete shift in their vocal style and more diversity in their music and lyrics, but instead of a sellout they became a reference in Melodic Extreme Metal. If you love truly heavy, violent music with a solid melody in the background and insanely gory words, well, let’s just say that you must “wake up and smell the carcass”.

Best moments of the album: No Love Lost, Heartwork, This Mortal Coil and Arbeit Macht Fleisch.

Worst moments of the album: Embodiment.

Released in 1993 Earache Records

Track listing
1. Buried Dreams 3:58
2. Carnal Forge 3:54
3. No Love Lost 3:22
4. Heartwork 4:33
5. Embodiment 5:36
6. This Mortal Coil 3:49
7. Arbeit Macht Fleisch 4:21
8. Blind Bleeding the Blind 4:57
9. Doctrinal Expletives 3:39
10. Death Certificate 3:38

Full Dynamic Range Edition bonus tracks
11. This Is Your Life 4:09
12. Rot ‘n’ Roll 3:51
13. Carnal Forge (live in Tokyo) 4:25
14. Heartwork (live in Tokyo) 5:01

Band members
Jeff Walker – vocals, bass guitar
Bill Steer – lead guitar
Michael Amott – lead guitar
Ken Owen – drums

Album Review – Paradise Lost / Draconian Times (1995)

The best, darkest and most detailed album by one of the pioneers of Gothic and Doom Metal.

paradise_lost-draconian_times-frontI remember when I was a teenager that there was a stupid “urban legend” about the album Icon, by British Gothic/Doom Metal band Paradise Lost, selling more copies worldwide than Metallica’s Black Album. We all know that was pure bullshit, but one thing was true: with the albums Icon and especially Draconian Times, Paradise Lost became one of the most respected bands of the 90’s, being recognized as one of the pioneers of Gothic/Doom Metal and appearing as one of the main attractions in many festivals all over the world, something not seen very often taking into account the dark and sluggish music played by the band.

Draconian Times, as any other album from a similar genre and/or style, is not an easy product to be assimilated, mainly due to its obscure and depressive themes, and of course, its slow pace (you shall never expect to hear some fast drums in a Gothic song, my friend). However, it’s a brilliant Heavy Metal album with several amazing moments, even if you’re not a big fan of this type of music. The first track of the album, Enchantment, is an excellent summary of the band’s music, with a beautiful piano intro and excellent riffs throughout the whole song. It’s a great mix of Gothic and Doom Metal, with particular highlights to Nick Holmes’ powerful voice and the song’s somber lyrics (“In depth grasp the chains / Struggle as the waters gain but I… / All I need is a simple reminder) and eerie atmosphere.

The second track, Hallowed Land, is what we can call pure Doom Metal,  while The Last Time became an instant hit with its faster than usual rhythm and lyrics and chorus tailored for being sung loud by all fans at their shows (“It’s a cruel misfortune / Forbidding us to see / When stories may collide / It’s a sad state of mind / Heart’s beating… / Heart’s beating for the last time”). This might be considered their biggest hit, despite its a more commercial approach not being well digested by their diehard fans. Then we have Forever Failure and its lyrics that deal with the constant losses in our lives, a very depressive and slow song not recommended for people who have some kind of suicidal tendencies. Once Solemn closes the first part of the album in a brilliant way, being a fast tune with a very good rhythm, and more Heavy Metal than any of the other songs (sometimes even sounding like Metallica).

Paradise LostIf Draconian Times was comprised of only its first five tracks, it would have deserved a flawless 5.0. However, after that the album loses a little its energy and creativity, but nothing that makes it less compelling. Shadowkings has nice riffs and its pace is good, albeit not enough to outdo the previous songs, while Elusive Cure, sounds extremely Gothic, eerie and deep. The following track, called Yearn for Change, showcases an obscure but pleasant rhythm, while Shades of God goes back to the more melancholic approach of “Elusive Cure”, despite not being as solid and entertaining. Finally, we have Hands of Reason, with a very beautiful guitar solo embellishing its overall result, followed by the sluggish and damned I See Your Face, and the final track, Jaded, which is extremely melancholic and another good example of how slow and somber the union of Gothic and Doom Metal can be.

Many different special editions of Draconian Times have been released since the original version in 1995, all of them with some bonus songs, videos and other shenanigans. In addition, there’s a live album called Draconian Times MMXI, where the band plays the album in its entirety. If you cannot find any of the fancier versions of it, I suggest you at least search for the one that comes with The Sisters of Mercy cover Walk Away. It’s an amazing version for this classic song that’s worth the extra investment without a shadow of a doubt.

The front cover is beautiful and makes a great connection with the music in the album, representing all the sadness and sorrow found in the lyrics and rhythm. Another important thing is that despite being considered a Gothic band by many, very few songs have over 5 minutes in Draconian Times, making the album more “commercial” or at least easier for the radio stations at that time and MTV to play some of the songs during any of their daily programs. Those were good times when Rock N’ Roll and Heavy Metal were respected and admired, with Paradise Lost being competent (and lucky enough) to enjoy some fame in the world of mainstream music even playing mournful and unhappy sounds.

Best moments of the album: Enchantment, The Last TimeOnce Solemn and Walk Away.

Worst moments of the album: Shades of God.

Released in 1995 Music For Nations

Track listing
1. Enchantment 6:04
2. Hallowed Land 5:02
3. The Last Time 3:27
4. Forever Failure 4:18
5. Once Solemn 3:03
6. Shadowkings 4:41
7. Elusive Cure 3:21
8. Yearn for Change 4:19
9. Shades of God 3:54
10. Hands of Reason 3:58
11. I See Your Face 3:17
12. Jaded 3:26

Japanese Edition bonus tracks
13. Walk Away (The Sisters of Mercy cover) 3:24
14. Laid to Waste 3:16
15. Master of Misrule 3:07

Band members
Nick Holmes – vocals
Greg Mackintosh – lead guitar
Aaron Aedy – rhythm and acoustic guitars
Steve Edmonson – bass guitar
Lee Morris – drums

Album Review – Stratovarius / Episode (1996)

The best album from the best Finnish band of all time.

Rating2

stratovarius_episodeOi maamme, Suomi, synnyinmaa, soi, sana kultainen! Finland is by far one of the most Heavy Metal countries in the world, and I’m not inventing this information from out of nowhere: take a look at this map showing the number of Heavy Metal bands per 100,000 people and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Nightwish, Lordi, Amorphis, Sonata Arctica, Turisas, Apocalyptica, Teräsbetoni, Finntroll, HIM, Sentenced and Wintersun are just some of the biggest exponents of heavy music in this land that offers its people a lot more than just ice and snow, but none of them have changed the world of heavy music as the Power Metal/Melodic Heavy Metal band Stratovarius.

Since their start in 1984, Stratovarius have released many important albums which revolutionized Heavy Metal with intense and fast riffs, double bass, high-pitched screams and epic songs. Among those releases there was their fifth studio album, Episode, released over 20 years ago, which in my opinion was the most important step in the band’s history in terms of creativity and evolution. With the awesome Timo Kotipelto on vocals for the second time after the good album Fourth Dimension (and fortunately until present days), and the addition of the beasts Jens Johansson on keyboards and Jörg Michael on drums, Stratovarius became a synonym for Melodic Heavy Metal in the 90’s and influenced an infinite number of bands all around the world. That was the band’s most stable and powerful lineup of all time, until Timo Tolkki left the band in 2008.

The music in Episode is pretty straight forward, it’s fast and clean Heavy Metal with total synchronicity of instruments, together with lyrics talking about life, love, dreams, and all the struggles a man has inside his mind. Add to that the beautiful atmosphere created by the Sibelius String Orchestra and Sibelius Choir, and you have a musical masterpiece. The clock ticking in the beginning of the album just announces that what comes next is no less than memorable: Father Time is an incredible song that summarizes all the power and technique of the band’s members, especially Timo Tolkki and Jörg Michael. What those guys do with their instruments is beyond awesome, and seeing this song live is like having a musical orgasm. Furthermore, Tolkki’s riffs are a constant in the whole album and one of the elements that make it so special for all Heavy Metal fans.

The speed goes on with Will the Sun Rise, another classic showing how perfect the partnership Tolkki/Kotipelto used to be. Then things slow down a little with the beautiful Eternity, but after the instrumental intro Episode comes one of their fastest and most amazing compositions ever: Speed of Light can make even a Thrash Metal band jealous of its speed and riffs, and as Canadians love a mosh pit I can’t wait for a Stratovarius concert here in Toronto to slam into the pit with this song. On the other hand, Uncertainty is quite boring and the lowest point of the album, despite its nice intro.

stratovarius_1995The next track is another good ballad, Season of Change, where Kotipelto once again demonstrates why he’s a reference in Melodic Heavy Metal, followed by the instrumental song Stratosphere, where we can see an inspired Timo Tolkki and a crazy Jens Johansson “masturbating” their guitar and keyboards respectively for our pure delight. Babylon can be considered an “epic” song due to its lyrics, strong intro and variations, while Tomorrow brings back the band at full speed with its inspiring lyrics (“Feeling strong and brave inside / my head up high with pride / yes I’ll be back tomorrow”) and Jörg Michael pounding his drums with his unique technique.

Finally, we have the song Night Time Eclipse, a nice semi-ballad with pleasant riffs and solos, and then a ballad so beautiful I can’t even find the right words to describe it, Forever, where Timo Kotipelto melts the heart of any woman with his performance (“I’m still there everywhere / I’m the dust in the wind / I’m the star in the northern sky / I never stayed anywhere / I’m the wind in the trees / would you wait for me forever?”). The Japanese version of Episode also contains a good bonus track called When the Night Meets the Day, another nice song, albeit not as wonderful as the regular tracks.

If you don’t know Stratovarius, I would say Episode is probably the best album to start. The only “issue” would be the side effects of listening to this musical wonder, which are an extreme addiction to Finnish Heavy Metal and a compulsive obsession with the language, culture, drinks and people from the marvelous land of ice and snow.

Best moments of the album: Father Time, Speed of Light and Forever.

Worst moments of the album: Uncertainty is the only “weak” track of all, or let’s say the least awesome.

Released in 1996 Noise Records

Track listing
1. Father Time 5:01
2. Will the Sun Rise? 5:06
3. Eternity 6:55
4. Episode (instrumental) 2:01
5. Speed of Light 3:03
6. Uncertainty 5:59
7. Season of Change 6:56
8. Stratosphere (instrumental) 4:51
9. Babylon 7:09
10. Tomorrow 4:51
11. Night Time Eclipse 7:58
12. Forever 3:06

Japanese edition bonus track
13. When the Night Meets the Day 5:30

Band members
Timo Kotipelto – vocals
Timo Tolkki – guitars, backing vocals
Jens Johansson – keyboards
Jari Kainulainen – bass
Jörg Michael – drums

Album Review – Iron Maiden / Powerslave (1984)

Exactly 30 years ago, the world would witness the birth of the best Heavy Metal album of all time.

Rating1

Iron Maiden_PowerslaveRecorded from February to June 1984 at the famous Compass Point Studios in Nassau, Bahamas, and released on September 3, 1984, Powerslave is much more than just a milestone in the Heavy Metal universe. You can disagree with me and start all that blah blah blah about how this or that album from Black Sabbath or Metallica, or even another Iron Maiden album like The Number of the Beast, is better than Powerslave, but I’m sorry, nothing really compares to this album. Powerslave is by far the most complex, complete, exciting and powerful album of all time, and anything I say about it won’t be enough to describe this 50-minute Heavy Metal masterpiece’s grandiosity.

Steve Harris, Adrian Smith, Bruce Dickinson, Dave Murray and Nicko McBrain were at the peak of their musical creativity and inspiration, delivering their fans unique songs about the Ancient Egypt, the experiences of a sailor from a famous English poem, the pleasures and honor of a duel, an aircraft battle during the Battle of Britain, and more. All songs have wonderful instrumental parts, together with clever and meaningful lyrics, making them some of the most requested by all Maidenmaniacs around the globe for any live concerts, best of albums, top 100 Heavy Metal songs, weddings, birthday parties, Bar Mitzvahs, funerals, prom nights, or anywhere else good music can be played.

Well, the album kicks off with my favorite song of all time in any music genre, Aces High, which still gives me the chills every time I listen to it. “Run, live to fly, fly to live, do or die / Run, live to fly, fly to live, Aces High”, sings Bruce perfectly while Steve Harris “gallops” his bass like a wild beast. Not only that, you can feel the battle going on in the air with the lyrics, and the solos are among the best the band has ever produced thanks to majestic performances by Adrian and Dave. Do I need to say it sounds even more splendid live?

There’s no better way to continue the album than with another all-time classic, 2 Minutes to Midnight, a song that has an unparalleled starting riff that even a newborn baby can easily recognize, and amazing lyrics that make reference to the Doomsday Clock. Then comes Losfer Words (Big ‘Orra), one of the few instrumental songs the band has ever produced, with total highlight to the beautiful job done by Steve and Nicko. Flash of the Blade keeps the bar high with its outstanding riffs and speed, while The Duellists is in every fan’s dreams of seeing it being played live by the band in any of their world tours. This is another one of my top Maiden tracks of all time, especially due to its incredible rhythm led by Steve and Nicko. Iron Maiden even tried to replicate this type of sonority with more contemporary songs like “Fallen Angel” and “Montsegur”, but it seems the fans didn’t like the new songs that much. Then we have Back in the Village, another song with amazing riffs, although it’s considered the least favorite of the album by many fans.

Iron Maiden 1984The last part of the album is simply awesome: Powerslave is one of those cases of a song that should be turned into a movie due to its excellence in telling the Ancient Egyptian history during its 7 minutes of pure Heavy Metal. Its initial drums are superb, the lyrics are perfect, the chorus is wonderful (“Tell me why I had to be a Powerslave / I don’t wanna die, I’m a God, / Why can’t I live on?”), as well as every other part of the song. Seeing Maiden playing this song live is an unforgettable experience in the life of any person. And last but not least, we have another Heavy Metal masterpiece, the one and only Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Inspired by the amazing poem from British poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge called “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”, this 13-minute song has one of the most elaborate lyrics in the world of music, different tempos, a beautiful narration in the middle taken directly from the original poem, and all musicians showing us why “Iron Maiden’s gonna get ya, no matter how far”. As I mentioned before, nothing I say will be enough to describe the magnitude of this song or the entire album.

“One after one by the star dogged moon,
too quick for groan or sigh
Each turned his face with a ghastly pang
and cursed me with his eye
Four times fifty living men
(and I heard nor sigh nor groan),
With heavy thump, a lifeless lump,
they dropped down one by one.” 

SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE (1772-1834)

Iron Maiden World Slavery Tour

World Slavery Tour 1984-1985

If you think that’s all, you’re completely wrong. Iron Maiden is not a regular band, as they add a lot more than just the music to their work. Powerslave follows its predecessors with another unmatched front cover showing the band’s most celebrated “member”, Eddie the Head, this time inspired by the Ancient Egypt and perfectly representing the content of the album, designed by master Derek Riggs. It’s impossible not to fall in love for it, don’t you agree? And if you get the 1995 reissue, you’ll also enjoy the songs from the bonus disc, especially their cool  version for Beckett’s Rainbow’s Gold.

Finally, right after the release of Powerslave the band went on their longest and most memorable tour of all, The World Slavery Tour, which began in Warsaw, Poland on August 9, 1984 and ended only in Irvine, U.S. on July 5, 1985 (187 shows in total), culminating with the launch of another masterpiece, the live album Live After Death. I have no idea of how many bands have been influenced by Powerslave or by Iron Maiden’s entire career, but I know that none has ever been able to deliver something so mighty and unique as Steve, Bruce & Co. did with Powerslave. UP THE IRONS!

Best moments of the album: Aces High, The Duellists, Powerslave and Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

Worst moments of the album: None. Powerslave is perfect.

Released in 1984 EMI

Track listing
1. Aces High 4:29
2. 2 Minutes to Midnight 6:00
3. Losfer Words (Big ‘Orra) (Instrumental) 4:13
4. Flash of the Blade 4:03
5. The Duellists 6:06
6. Back in the Village 5:03
7. Powerslave 7:12
8. Rime of the Ancient Mariner 13:42

1995 Reissue Bonus Disc
1. Rainbow’s Gold (Beckett cover) 4:57
2. Mission From ‘Arry 6:42
3. King of Twilight (Nektar cover) 4:53
4. The Number of the Beast (live) 4:57

Band members
Bruce Dickinson – lead vocals
Dave Murray – guitar
Adrian Smith – guitar
Steve Harris – bass guitar
Nicko McBrain – drums

Album Review – Tristania / Widow’s Weeds (1998)

It’s from Norway the most remarkable Gothic Metal album of all time.

Rating3

WidowsWeedsGothic Metal has always been and will ever be a very tricky subgenre of Heavy Metal, especially in terms of originality, because it can bore you at the blink of an eye. I, for instance, do not consider myself a true Gothic Metal fan, as I prefer a lot more heavier and faster material like traditional Heavy Metal, Thrash Metal, Death Metal, and even Hard Rock rather than any Gothic music. However, once in a while there’s a band like Tristania that breaks this barrier and gains my respect in the world of heavy music.

After their self-titled EP Tristania (1997), it was time for this Norwegian Gothic Metal band to release in 1998 their first full-length album called Widow’s Weeds, which in my opinion is the best Gothic Metal album of all time. In fact, Widow’s Weeds cannot be considered only Gothic Metal, as it contains elements of many other subgenres of heavy music such as Symphonic, Death and Doom Metal, which explains why this album is so difficult to understand, and consequently so delightful.

Widow’s Weeds is a tsunami of obscure themes and dark lyrics, all full of the most uncomfortable emotions such as depression, sadness and madness, and of course everything is wrapped up by a very precise and dense musicality. Do not expect to hear crazy riffs and solos, or even fast drums with lots of double bass, but lengthy and slow songs where all instruments together form a complex sonority, in parallel with Vibeke Stene’s angelic voice and Morten Veland’s roars.

Right after the intro Preludium…, the band shows all its powerful musical range with the beautiful Evenfall, by far the most amazing composition of their entire career. Vibeke’s performance in this song is awesome, as well as the drums by Kenneth Olsson, and the final result portrays perfectly how pleasant sadness can be when transformed into music. The following track keeps the bar extremely high: Pale Enchantress can be considered another of the band’s classics, a lot faster than the previous one with great melancholic lyrics (“Enchanting all my dreams / A beauty and her flood of tears / Nightfall embrace my heart / Mesmerized and ravendark”).

December Elegy and Midwintertears are examples of what I previously said about the trickiness of Gothic Metal, as both can easily make you feel bored due to their length and lack of speed or changes in rhythm. However, they’re pretty good songs, it’s just that they’re not tailored for MTV or radio. On the other hand, even the more skeptical heavy music lovers will enjoy the next two tracks: Angellore has many interesting goth elements from the 80’s that match perfectly with the band’s style, with the addition of Østen Bergøy doing the clean vocals, and the final result was so good that it was probably the reason why he joined the band full-time from 2001 until 2010; while My Lost Lenore is considered by many Tristania’s biggest masterpiece. Here we have not only Vibeke and Morten doing a superb job, but above all the talented Einar Moen on his synth and piano giving a huge boost to the song.

tristania7The (almost) last track, Wasteland’s Caress, is for me the weakest of all tracks, and the outro …Postludium ends this amazing album, unless you have the special edition which contains two excellent bonus tracks called Sirene and Cease to Exist. The front cover of the album simply summarizes how dark and mysterious the music by Tristania is, fully complemented by the band’s sinister outfits.

Unfortunately, there have been way too many changes in the band’s lineup and musicality until today, provoking an immense drop in the quality of their material. Maybe if Vibeke Stene and of course Morten Veland, the mastermind behind Tristania’s eerie and mesmerizing music and currently with Sirenia, were still with Tristania, the whole story would have been a lot different. Nevertheless, based on Tristania’s most recent albums, I don’t believe we’ll see anything close to Widow’s Weeds again.

At least there are some good news about Vibeke returning to the world of heavy music after years of privation, and when she actually returns she deserves a special “Metal Chick of the Month” post for her and one or more reviews of the music projects and/or bands she joins in a near future. She’s a truly underrated musician, and I hope she comes back kickin’ ass as she used to do in her years with Tristania.

Best moments of the album: Evenfall, Pale Enchantress, Angellore and My Lost Lenore.

Worst moments of the album: December Elegy and Wasteland’s Caress.

Released in 1998  Napalm Records

Track listing

1. Preludium… 1:09
2. Evenfall 6:51
3. Pale Enchantress 6:31
4. December Elegy 7:31
5. Midwintertears 8:32
6. Angellore 7:16
7. My Lost Lenore 6:23
8. Wasteland’s Caress 7:40
9. …Postludium 1:12

Limited edition bonus tracks
10. Sirene 3:22
11. Cease to Exist 9:17

Band members
Vibeke Stene – vocals, choir
Morten Veland – harsh vocals, guitars, choir
Anders H. Hidle – guitars, choir
Rune Østerhus – bass
Einar Moen – synths, programming
Kenneth Olsson – drums, choir

Guest musicians
Østen Bergøy – clean vocals on “Angellore”, choir
Pete Johansen – violin
Hilde Egeland, Marita Herikstad, Hilde T. Bommen – choir

Album Review – Matanza / A Arte do Insulto (2006)

Learning Brazilian Portuguese can be a lot easier and more fun with this awesome countrycore album.

Rating3

A+Arte+do+InsultoWith less than 3 months to the 2014 World Cup, lots of soccer fans from all around the world are probably heading to Brazil pretty soon and, of course, are trying to learn some basic words and sentences in Brazilian Portuguese (well, the original Portuguese from Portugal might be helpful too) in order to have an even better experience during the event there. However, if you really want to mingle with the locals, you’ll need more than a simple “por favor” (please) or “obrigado” (thank you), and Brazilian Countrycore band Matanza can help you out with that.

This very talented band from Rio de Janeiro plays an awesome mix of heavy music, hardcore, punk and country, being highly influenced by sacred monsters such as Johnny Cash, Motörhead, Slayer and The Exploited, and adding a huge amount of irony and sarcasm in their lyrics about women, alcohol, violence and human ignorance. After two excellent full-length albums (Santa Madre Cassino, from 2001, and Música para Beber e Brigar, from 2003) and a tribute album composed in its entirety by heavy versions of many classics from Johnny Cash called To Hell With Johnny Cash, from 2005, Matanza released A Arte do Insulto in 2006, or “The Art of Insult” if translated to English, considered their best album until today by the fans.

The title-track, A Arte do Insulto (The Art of Insult), is pure hardcore that will teach you a vast cursing vocabulary for you to use whenever you meet a Brazilian, while Clube dos Canalhas (Scoundrels’ Club) reminds us men what it really is to be a man. The next track is also mandatory for anyone that wants to party in Brazil:  O Chamado do Bar (The Call of the Bar) has some awesome fast riffs and is perfect for some insane circle pits. Sabendo Que Posso Morrer (Knowing I Can Die), a song that talks about love, and Quem Perde Sai (Who Loses Leaves), focused on the pitfalls of poker, are also pretty good fast songs that showcase all the talent of the band’s musicians, as well as the amazing Meio Psicopata (Half Psychopath) with its funny lyrics.

matanzaThe album continues its feast of black humor and bad mood with the classic Eu Não Gosto De Ninguém (I Don’t Like Anyone), an excellent hardcore song with one of the most acid lyrics I’ve ever seen, and the slow-paced O Caminho Da Escada e Da Corda (The Way of the Ladder and the Rope), which despite its cool lyrics is not as exciting as the previous songs. Then we have another great example of what countrycore is with Ressaca Sem Fim (Endless Hangover), the intelligent Tempo Ruim (Bad Weather), and Quem Leva A Sério O Quê? (Who Takes What Seriously?) which is pretty much filler. The last two tracks are pretty cool:  both Whisky Para Um Condenado (Whisky for a Convicted) and Estamos Todos Bêbados (We’re all Drunk) are some kind of funny tribute to alcoholism, with the last being even funnier due to its “pirate song” atmosphere.

Regarding the musicians, I would say the heart and soul of the band are the guitar player Donida (who wrote pretty much all the songs from A Arte do Insulto), and especially the lead singer Jimmy London. Although he was born in Rio, he doesn’t look like a “carioca” at all, resembling a lot more with a metalhead from Ireland, and his voice and attitude add a lot of value to the music of Matanza. And finally, the album art is simple but very effective, inspired by sexy saloon dancers, alcohol and guns, a constant in all of their albums.

Do you understand now how Matanza will help you during the World Cup? It’s heavy music with lots of sarcasm, bad words, and the perfect soundtrack for partying and having some drinks at a pub, which is pretty much everything you’ll be doing in Brazil, right? Or are you going to tell me you are planning to get there just to support your national squad?

Best moments of the album: A Arte do Insulto, O Chamado do Bar and Eu Não Gosto De Ninguém.

Worst moments of the album: O Caminho Da Escada e Da Corda and Quem Leva A Sério O Quê?

Released in 2006 Deckdisc

Track listing
1. A Arte do Insulto 1:51
2. Clube dos Canalhas 3:01
3. O Chamado do Bar 2:06
4. Sabendo Que Posso Morrer 2:19
5. Quem Perde Sai 2:32
6. Meio Psicopata 2:18
7. Eu Não Gosto De Ninguém 3:53
8. O Caminho Da Escada e Da Corda 3:00
9. Ressaca Sem Fim 3:08
10. Tempo Ruim 2:43
11. Quem Leva A Sério O Quê? 2:50
12. Whisky Para Um Condenado 2:22
13. Estamos Todos Bêbados 3:32

Band members
Jimmy London – vocals
China – bass
Fausto – drums
Donida – lead and rhythm guitar

Album Review – Grave Digger / Tunes of War (1996)

Don’t forget to grab your sword and shield before listening to this masterpiece.

Rating2

Tunes_of_warIt looks like the end of the 90’s was a special period for concept Heavy Metal albums: we had the perfect Cruelty and the Beast, which I talked about a couple of months ago here, and another masterpiece from the German Power Metal band Grave Digger, the album Tunes of War. I guess I don’t need to say how awesome an album entirely dedicated to Scotland and its struggle for independence from England can be, right? It was also the first album in the band’s trilogy of concept albums inspired in the medieval times which was continued by Knights of the Cross (1998) and Excalibur (1999).

I had the pleasure to talk to all members of the band during a special acoustic performance at a Heavy Metal pub in São Paulo (Brazil) back in 1996, one day before their full gig for the Tunes of War tour. They explained me how the album was created, all the ideas they had, their trip to Scotland to better understand the country’s history and so on, and that’s probably the reason why Tunes of War is so good and precise: it follows the true facts that happened between the 11th and the 18th centuries with the Scottish clans, and all the horror, blood and death in their path for freedom.

Tunes of War starts with THE BEST intro of all time, The Brave,  a mighty Heavy Metal version of “Scotland the Brave” (or “Alba an Aigh”, in Gaelic), considered by many the unofficial Scottish national anthem. There’s no way a regular person won’t feel inspired and ready for war while listening to it. What the band did with this song was amazing, and a perfect intro to one of their best songs of all time, Scotland United. It’s an instant classic with a chorus tailored for any army in the world (“United, united we stand / United, forever and ever!”). The next song, The Dark of the Sun, also has a strong melody with its lyrics exalting the Scottish warriors, while William Wallace (Braveheart) has one of the most furious riffs I’ve ever listened to in my life, and as you can see its dedicated to the life of the great William Wallace, one of the main leaders during the Wars of Scottish Independence who was spectacularly portrayed by Mel Gibson in the Oscar-winning masterpiece Braveheart (which I saw for the 1000th time this week).

Grave_Digger-Tunes_Of_WarIn The Bruce (The Lion King), the band shows a very obscure side, almost as if they were a Doom Metal band, getting back to their traditional Power Metal with The Battle of Flodden. Then comes a very beautiful but sad ballad, called The Ballad of Mary (Queen of Scots), where we see Chris Boltendahl’s voice in a completely different way. By the way, this song has such dark and melancholic lyrics that it might suddenly make you cry especially if you can feel all the pain in it. The Truth, Cry for Freedom (James the VI) and Killing Time are considerably short songs, but very effective in the whole storyline, and all amazing for any of the band’s live performances.

The last few songs are kind of paradoxical: while Rebellion (The Clans Are Marching) is just perfect with its amazing riffs, lyrics, and one of the greatest chorus in the history of Heavy Metal (“The clans are marching ‘gainst the law / Bagpipers play the tunes of war / Death or glory I will find / Rebellion on my mind!”), Culloden Muir sounds quite boring if compared to all other songs. There’s still an outro called The Fall of the Brave, which in my opinion perfectly represents the end of a battle with all the corpses and blood on the war field, and if you have the special edition you’ll be able to enjoy three of Grave Digger’s old classics, all excellent for a beer and some mosh pits: Heavy Metal Breakdown, Witchhunter and Headbanging Man.

Grave Digger has always had wonderful front covers (take a look at this one from Heart of Darkness, for example), and in Tunes of War it’s no different. Regarding the lyrics, as I said, they are all profound and tell the whole story in the best way possible. Of course, nothing would be possible without Grave Digger’s awesome musicians, especially their leader and founding member Chris Boltendahl, owner of a unique voice in the world of Heavy Metal.

To sum up, a brilliant concept album from one of the greatest Power Metal bands in the world, and by far their best album of all time. Only Iron Maiden’s The Clansman is more brilliant than the songs from Tunes of War, but it’s just one song anyway. Moreover, this winter in Canada has been one of the worst of all time, with frigid temperatures and extremely stressful morning and evening commutes due to all the snow, ice storms and freezing rain, so why not getting ready for this “ice cold battle” on the streets enjoying this great album in your car? I definitely will.

Best moments of the album: Scotland United, William Wallace (Braveheart) and Rebellion (The Clans Are Marching).

Worst moments of the album: Culloden Muir is the only song that is not totally awesome in the whole album.

Released in 1996 GUN Records

Track listing
1. The Brave (Intro) 2:23
2. Scotland United 4:35
3. The Dark of the Sun 4:33
4. William Wallace (Braveheart) 5:01
5. The Bruce (The Lion King) 6:58
6. The Battle of Flodden 4:06
7. The Ballad of Mary (Queen of Scots) 5:00
8. The Truth 3:50
9. Cry for Freedom (James the VI) 3:17
10. Killing Time 2:53
11. Rebellion (The Clans Are Marching) 4:05
12. Culloden Muir 4:08
13. The Fall of the Brave (Outro) 1:56

Special digipack bonus tracks
14. Heavy Metal Breakdown
15. Witchhunter
16. Headbanging Man

Band members
Chris Boltendahl – Vocals
Uwe Lulis – Guitars
Tomi Göttlich – Bass
Stefan Arnold – Drums