Album Review – Cradle of Filth / Cruelty and the Beast (1998)

This is how any band in the world should record a concept album.

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410309-300Today is my birthday and I was thinking about which classic album that has helped define my musical taste should be reviewed. I could go for one of my favorite albums of all time, which would be Iron Maiden’s Powerslave, Judas Priest’s Painkiller or Slayer’s Reign in Blood, but instead I chose something more complex and unconventional: Cradle of Filth’s Cruelty and the Beast, a unique concept album dedicated to the legend of the serial killer Elizabeth Báthory, the “Blood Countess” from Hungary who tortured and murdered hundreds of young women in the 16th and 17th centuries, and who many believe used to bath in the blood of her victims to rejuvenate her skin like if she was a vampire. The story itself is inspiring enough for a really dark Heavy Metal album, and no other band rather than Cradle of Filth would have been capable of creating such a masterpiece.

I love the intro Once Upon Atrocity, not only because I’m totally fond of obscure intros like this one, but also because the thrilling transition to the amazing Thirteen Autumns and a Widow is beyond perfect. And what can I say about this song? Despite being probably too heavy and heinous for most of our society, it’s a mesmerizing chef d’oeuvre that no other band is capable of doing (not even the current Cradle of Filth is anymore).The drums and keyboards are terrific, providing the song a unique atmosphere. Then comes one of the band’s most famous tracks, Cruelty Brought Thee Orchids, which is not as fast as the first song, but it’s also excellent and has some very good riffs.

Cradle+of+Filth+Cruelty+and+the+BeastBeneath the Howling Stars was the first song I’ve listened to ever from Cradle of Filth, and until today it makes my day a lot better when I listen to it. From its horror movie-like intro in the keyboards to the chorus, it’s a perfect fit for the soundtrack to apocalypse. I know Dani cannot reach the same high-pitched notes anymore, but it’s still great to listen to this song and I hope the band adds it back to their future setlists. The next track, Venus in Fear, is an instrumental song that is not recommended at all to listen to with your parents or your little sister, while Desire in Violent Overture is another musical typhoon from this Extreme Metal band from England.

The Twisted Nails of Faith is one of my least favorite ones, which doesn’t mean it’s not a furious track (it’s not just as brilliant as the others), followed by what can be considered an “Extreme Metal Opera” called Bathory Aria: this 11-minute insanity starts in a melancholic way with Benighted Like Usher, evolves into a storm with A Murder of Ravens in Fugue, and finally ends with a poem-like part called Eyes That Witnessed Madness. I REALLY would like to see them playing this live one day, that would be a dream come true. The album ends with another instrumental song, Portrait of the Dead Countess (this one you can listen to with anyone around you, no problem), and the fast and heavy track Lustmord and Wargasm. And if you’re still alive after this infernal tsunami, it means you enjoyed it and you’re ready to listen to everything again and again.

All musicians in this album are awesome (including the guest musicians) despite none of them being with the band anymore except for Dani Filth, the mastermind behind Cradle of Filth. Well, he’s the main reason why Cruelty and the Beast is so good, because without him it would be just a regular album. Although Dani’s trademark voice was not as high as in their previous albums, he was singing like a demon, adding a lot of violence and despair to the musicality of the whole album. Not only that, the lyrics in Cruelty and the Beast are also as creative, evil and wonderful as always, this time even better due to the whole storyline involving Countess Bathory as the main character, and the front cover and the rest of the album art are the perfect finishing touch for it.

Cradle_Of_Filth-Cruelty_y_The_Beast_(Limited_Edition)-Frontal

Koch Records’ 2001 two-disc edition front cover

If you’re lucky enough to find the Koch Records’ 2001 two-disc edition bonus disc, you’ll be amazed by their superb covers of Iron Maiden, Venom and Sodom, bands with a high influence on Cradle of Filth’s music. The only bad thing about this bonus disc is the mix version for The Twisted Nails of Faith: I don’t like when a Heavy Metal song are mixed into some generic electronic song, and this one is not different from that.

Anyway, if you love Extreme Metal and a good story, you must listen to Cruelty and the Beast. Cradle of Filth might not be the best Heavy Metal band in the world, but this album helped redefine extreme music for sure and destroyed all the remaining boundaries between music and art for good.

Best moments of the album: Everything in this album is gold, but if I had to choose only a couple of songs they would be Thirteen Autumns and a Widow, Beneath the Howling Stars and Bathory Aria.

Worst moments of the album: None, unless I can choose a song from the Koch Records’ 2001 two-disc edition bonus disc, then I would say Twisting Further Nails (The Cruci-Fiction Mix).

Released in 1998 Music for Nations

Track listing
1. Once Upon Atrocity (Instrumental) 1:43
2. Thirteen Autumns and a Widow 7:14
3. Cruelty Brought Thee Orchids 7:18
4. Beneath the Howling Stars 7:42
5. Venus in Fear (Instrumental) 2:20
6. Desire in Violent Overture 4:16
7. The Twisted Nails of Faith 6:50
8. Bathory Aria (Benighted Like Usher/A Murder of Ravens in Fugue/Eyes That Witnessed Madness) 11:02
9. Portrait of the Dead Countess (Instrumental) 2:52
10. Lustmord and Wargasm (The Lick of Carnivorous Winds) 7:30

Koch Records’ 2001 two-disc edition bonus disc
1. Lustmord And Wargasm (The Relicking of Cadaverous Wounds) 7:58
2. Black Metal (Venom cover) 3:27
3. Hallowed Be Thy Name (Iron Maiden cover) 7:10
4. Sodomy & Lust (Sodom cover) 4:47
5. Twisting Further Nails (The Cruci-Fiction Mix) 5:33

Band members
Dani Filth – lead vocals
Stuart Anstis – guitars
Gian Pyres – guitars
Robin Graves – bass
Lecter – keyboards
Nicholas Barker – drums

Guest musicians
Sarah Jezebel Deva – backing vocals
Danielle Cneajna Cottington – backing vocals
Ingrid Pitt – Lady Bathory’s narration on ‘The Twisted Nails of Faith’ and Bathory Aria’s ‘Eyes That Witnessed Madness’

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Album Review – Fight / War of Words (1993)

An amazing Heavy Metal album from a totally awesome band that unfortunately doesn’t exist anymore.

Rating3

Fight_-_War_of_WordsWhen the Metal God Rob Halford (the best Heavy Metal singer of all time) left Judas Priest back in 1992, no one knew what was going to happen to him or to the band. Fortunately for most of his fans all around the world, he formed the amazing band Fight in 1993 and recorded one of the most underrated Metal albums of the 90’s, War of Words.

How can someone not get completely addicted to an album that starts with two masterpieces such as Into the Pit and Nailed to the Gun? These two songs are more than perfect, with the Metal God reaching his famous powerful screams and the rest of the band simply kickin’ some serious ass. In my opinion, they’re better than almost anything Halford or even the Priest have produced since then, except for Resurrection (which might be a good topic for a future post).

After this incredible start, War of Words keeps delivering some excellent material: Life in Black is a very nice slow and heavy tune, while Immortal Sin is another instant classic with its great riff and chorus; the title-track, War of Words, has another great performance by Halford, while Laid to Rest can be considered the darkest track of the whole album. Then we have one of the least memorable tracks, For All Eternity, which is not bad but becomes boring after two minutes, and the hit single Little Crazy that made even people that knew nothing about Halford or didn’t enjoy Metal at all sing along with our Metal God.

fightThe last part of the album is a little weird if compared to anything Halford had previously recorded in his career, with a sonority that reminds me of some more modern Thrash Metal (something that didn’t even exist in the beginning of the 90’s). If you listen to the songs Contortion, Kill It and Vicious today, you’ll think they’re from a brand new band, not from a group from the 90’s which had one of the most iconic classic Metal singers of all time. My favorite one from these three tracks is undoubtedly Kill It, especially due to its pretty simple but cool chorus. Reality, A New Beginning closes the album, and I personally don’t understand what the band wanted with this song. It is extremely boring compared to the rest of the songs.

Maybe the front cover is the weakest part of the album, because even a 5-year old kid can do something better using only pen and paper, but in this case I don’t care about it due to the high quality of the music. And of course, great songs can only come from real musicians: Halford is the Metal God, there’s nothing else any mere mortal like me can say about him; Russ Parrish (or if you prefer, Satchel from Steel Panther) is a very talented guitar player, as well as Brian Tilse, and they both produced awesome riffs and solos in this album; Jay Jay also delivers some great bass lines;  and Scott Travis, the drummer that has been giving more speed and power to all Priest songs since joining the band in Painkiller, does an amazing job here too.

In summary, if you have never listened to War of Words, you have no idea of what an amazing Metal album you’re missing. Fight might be a long-gone band today, but the music they produced during their short life was pure fuckin’ Metal.

Best moments of the album: Into the Pit, Nailed to the Gun, Immortal Sin and Laid to Rest.

Worst moments of the album: For All Eternity and Reality, A New Beginning.

Released in 1993 Epic Records

Track listing
1. Into the Pit 4:13
2. Nailed to the Gun 3:38
3. Life in Black 4:34
4. Immortal Sin 4:39
5. War of Words 4:29
6. Laid to Rest 4:40
7. For All Eternity 4:42
8. Little Crazy 3:49
9. Contortion 4:35
10. Kill It 3:30
11. Vicious 3:11
12. Reality, A New Beginning (includes hidden track “Jesus Saves”) 13:18

Band members
Rob Halford – vocals
Brian Tilse – guitars
Russ Parrish – guitars
Jay Jay – bass
Scott Travis – drums

Album Review – Cannibal Corpse / Vile (1996)

Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome Mr. George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher.

Rating3

VilecannibalcorpseThe year of 1996 was excellent for heavy music fans, with bands like Sepultura, Slayer, Pantera, In Flames and Stratovarius launching some unique albums, and of course we also had the ferocious Vile from Death Metal icons Cannibal Corpse, this time with a fresh new singer, George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher. Although some old diehard fans didn’t enjoy the change, in my opinion Chris Barnes always sounded like a desperate gorilla choking on his own vomit screaming for help, while Corpsegrinder added more dynamism and creativity to the band’s music.

Devoured By Vermin opens this musical massacre at a very high level, showing what to expect from the rest of the album. This quickly became my top Cannibal Corpse song of all time, even better than their most acclaimed classic Hammer Smashed Face, and even after listening to what was going to be the original version before Barnes left I still prefer the official one the band re-recorded with Corpsegrinder on vocals.

cannibalcorpse1996promophoto1The following three songs keep on “destroying” our necks and bodies: Mummified in Barbed Wire, Perverse Suffering and Disfigured, especially this last one, are perfect for any circle-pits or for a heavy workout at the gym after a stressful day at school or work. With Bloodlands the band seems to give a break to all the insanity with a heavy but slow song, just to get back as fast and destructible as possible with the amazing Puncture Wound Massacre and the instrumental Relentless Beating. The album continues with another great song for a horror movie soundtrack, Absolute Hatred, the violent Eaten from Inside (which has some awesome riffs and solos), and the short but complex Orgasm Through Torture (what a beautiful name). The last song, Monolith, is nice but sounds too generic compared to the rest of the album. Nothing that makes Vile less amazing, though.

There’s not much to say about the totally brutal and gruesome lyrics, or about the insanely evil front cover (if you’re a pussy, go for the censored version of it). Those are trademarks of one of the heaviest bands on Earth and make the final material even better. The guitar players do an excellent job and I’ve already said what I think about Corpsegrinder, but let me focus on Paul Mazurkiewicz and Alex Webster. Paul is not a simple drummer, he’s a ruthless human jackhammer, while Alex is a beast that makes anyone completely forget about Cliff Burton after listening to his demented and unmatched bass lines.

You can say whatever you want about the band with Barnes or Corpsegrinder on vocals, as each fan of the band has their own reasons to prefer this or that guttural style, but one thing is certain: Cannibal Corpse’s Vile kicks some serious fuckin’ ass and is mandatory in the collection of anyone who appreciates some brutal and extremely technical high-quality Death Metal.

Best moments of the album: Devoured By Vermin, Disfigured and Puncture Wound Massacre.

Worst moments of the album: Bloodlands and Monolith.

Released in 1996 Metal Blade Records

Track listing
1. Devoured by Vermin 3:13
2. Mummified in Barbed Wire 3:09
3. Perverse Suffering 4:14
4. Disfigured 3:48
5. Bloodlands 4:20
6. Puncture Wound Massacre 1:41
7. Relentless Beating 2:14
8. Absolute Hatred 3:05
9. Eaten from Inside 3:43
10. Orgasm Through Torture 3:41
11. Monolith 4:24

Band members
George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher – vocals
Rob Barrett – guitar
Jack Owen – guitar
Alex Webster – bass
Paul Mazurkiewicz – drums

Album Review – Teräsbetoni / Metallitotuus (2005)

The best Manowar album of all time not recorded by Manowar. And what’s even better, it’s entirely sung in Finnish.

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metallitotuusAs any normal person in the world, I developed a passion for a country very different from my own many years ago: the Republic of Finland. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, right? And I had some very good reasons for that, because especially in terms of music and drinks, Finland is way better than Brazil. So I started studying Finnish and saving money for the “trip of my dreams”, which finally happened in the beginning of 2006. I was able to see the snow for the first time (which now that I live in Canada doesn’t seem to be that cool anymore); I tried lots of different types of beer, vodka and other typical Finnish drinks; I made some really good friends; I saw Stratovarius, Sonata Arctica and Lordi live, as well as a theatrical play with Tarja Turunen; and went to a heavy karaoke where I saw a guy singing an amazing song called Metallisydän. Wait, what the hell was that song? What band was that?

Then the next day or the other one (of course I don’t remember exactly when), I went to a nice pub called On the Rocks, and there was this cover band playing some classics from Queen, Rolling Stones etc., when they played another powerful heavy song in Finnish called Taivas Lyö Tulta from that same band, and that was more than enough to make me ask a guy at the pub the name of the band and run to a record store the next day to buy their album. This is the story of how I discovered the Power Metal band Teräsbetoni (“Reinforced Concrete” in English) and bought their debut album, the almost perfect Metallitotuus (“Metal Truth” in English), one of the best, if not THE best, Power Metal album of the past 10 years at least (and a million light-years better than anything Manowar has produced since Louder Than Hell).

terasbetoniThe album starts in the most powerful way possible with a track that has the same name as the band, Teräsbetoni (Reinforced Concrete), which could easily be used as the Finnish National Army’s anthem. It’s impossible not to compare each part of the song with some old Manowar classics, and I’m pretty sure that was the band’s original intention. The next track is one of my favorites: Älä Kerro Meille (Don’t Tell Us) has an amazing riff and the lyrics have that message about the fight for freedom and making your own decisions. Then comes my top Teräsbetoni track of all, not only of this album: Taivas Lyö Tulta (Sky Strikes Fire) is the perfect “battle track”, with a superb chorus that even if you don’t know a single word in Finnish you’ll start singing it as soon as you listen to it. This is a masterpiece that could have been a Manowar classic in a parallel world, if Manowar hasn’t become the most arrogant and laziest band in the world of Heavy Metal.

The following tracks might not be as good as the first three, but they’re very interesting in terms of riffs and rhythm: Vahva Kuin Metalli (Strong as Metal) and Silmä Silmästä (Eye for an Eye). Then comes another instant classic called Metallisydän (Metal Heart), a beautiful ballad I heard for the first time at that heavy karaoke I mentioned and that until today makes my “metal heart” beat stronger, and the funny Orjatar (Slavewoman), which in my opinion was some kind of tribute (or joke?) to Manowar’s Pleasure Slave. Anyway, it’s an awesome tune for all headbanging girls of the world.

The last part of the album keeps the energy level up with the fast and heavy Tuonelaan (To the Underworld); the title-track Metallitotuus (Metal Truth); another of my favorites Voittamaton (Invincible), which has the most Manowar-ish riff and drums of all (it sounds a lot like Fighting the World); and the interesting Teräksen Varjo (Shadow of Steel). The ONLY crappy song of all is the last one, Maljanne Nostakaa (Raise Your Cup), not due to its instrumental which is fairly good, but the singing done by Arto Järvinen makes you skip this track and go back to the beginning of the album. It’s simply mediocre.

digipak

Metallitotuus special digipak front cover

The front cover is a piece of junk (albeit not as bad as this one, and besides you can be lucky to find the special digipak version anyway), Jarkko Ahola oversings 99% of the time, and their Manowar-ish lyrics didn’t add much to my limited Finnish vocabulary, but I don’t really care about those minor details. Metallitotuus is pure Heavy Metal, and a very exciting album to listen to at any occasion.

Teräsbetoni, as well as many excellent European bands, are really underrated in North America.  Add to that the fact they do not sing in English and are in an indefinite career hiatus and it seems absolutely impossible to see them one day playing live here in Canada. Anyway, despite all that, it’s a band definitely worth listening to, which has recorded some very good albums with Metallitotuus being their biggest masterpiece. Let’s just hope they get back in action, and that for the power of Odin they somehow come to Toronto for at least one single concert.

Best moments of the album: Taivas Lyö Tulta, Älä Kerro Meille, Metallisydän and Voittamaton.

Worst moments of the album: Maljanne Nostakaa, mainly due to the horrible singing as I mentioned before.

Released in 2005 Warner Music Finland

Track listing
1. Teräsbetoni 5:54
2. Älä Kerro Meille 3:29
3. Taivas Lyö Tulta 3:21
4. Vahva Kuin Metalli 3:02
5. Silmä Silmästä 3:41
6. Metallisydän 5:27
7. Orjatar 3:11
8. Tuonelaan 3:33
9. Metallitotuus 4:30
10. Voittamaton 3:50
11. Teräksen Varjo 4:32
12. Maljanne Nostakaa 6:05

Band members
Jarkko Ahola – lead vocals, bass
Arto Järvinen – guitar, vocals
Viljo Rantanen – guitar
Jari Kuokkanen – drums

Album Review – Helloween / Walls of Jericho (1985)

Happy, Happy Helloween” revolutionize music with the first Power Metal album of all time.

Rating3

walls-of-jerichoMany Heavy Metal bands such as Iron Maiden and Judas Priest already had pretty solid careers when Helloween started back in the 80’s, yet they became heavy music pioneers too when they released Walls of Jericho, the first Power/Melodic Metal album in the history of music. By the way, they have also made a lot of people confused ever since about the spelling of “Halloween” (with “A”) vs. the name of the band (with “E”).

Although Walls of Jericho was originally launched in 1985, this review also includes the extra songs added to the 1988 CD Edition from the 1985 EP/mini-LP Helloween and from the 1986 EP Judas for a very simple reason: they’re too good to be left out. Those extra songs are Starlight, Murderer, Warrior, Victim of Fate, Cry for Freedom and Judas, all very fast and heavy songs that at the time they were launched were a synonym for innovation in music. My favorite ones are Starlight and Victim of Fate, especially the first one with its unique intro and amazing riffs.

The intro to Starlight was taken from the movie Halloween III, and because it was so cool it became some kind of anthem sung by the Helloween fans before, during or after their live performances.

“Happy, Happy Helloween, Helloween, Helloween!
Happy, Happy Helloween, Silver Shamrocks!
Happy, Happy Helloween, Helloween, Helloween!
Happy, Happy Helloween, Silver Shamrocks!” 

Of course, the “Silver Shamrocks” part is usually substituted by some generic “oh oh oh oh” by the crowd, but that doesn’t make the song less cool. Due to its great success, the same rhythm was used to generate the intro Walls of Jericho (with no lyrics, though), which opens all Helloween concerts until today.

Then comes one of the top moments of the entire album: Ride the Sky is powerful, it has some crazy riffs and solos, and the lyrics are excellent to sing especially live. The following tracks are not marvelous, but are very consistent and add a lot of value to the album, like Metal Invaders (despite its stupid name). And finally we have what I consider the best songs from the album: Heavy Metal (Is the Law) has those Manowar-ish lyrics, chorus and attitude, while How Many Tears is the most perfect Power Metal song I’ve ever heard in my whole life.

helloween01All band members were amazing in Walls of Jericho, mainly the amazing guitar, singer and composer Kai Hansen and the drummer Ingo Schwichtenberg (R.I.P.). Unfortunately they’re no longer with the band, but at least Helloween still has Michael Weikath and Markus Grosskopf to keep alive the flame of the most influential Power Metal band in the world. And let’s not forget that we also have another great band now, Gamma Ray, which is pretty much Kai Hansen playing the same type of music from Walls of Jericho since his departure from Helloween.

In summary, Walls of Jericho is a revolutionary album that has never been mainstream, nor will ever be, but that is mandatory for all music fans that enjoy fast riffs and solos, superb guitar duos, and songs with a lot of energy. Moreover, if you’re a metalhead and you don’t know if the correct spelling is “Halloween” or “Helloween”, follow my advice and always write it with “E” even when you’re talking about the celebration. It’s a lot more badass this way.

Best moments of the album: Starlight, Ride the Sky, Heavy Metal (Is the Law) and How Many Tears.

Worst moments of the album: Reptile and Gorgar.

Released in 1985 Noise Records

Track listing
1. Starlight* 5:17
2. Murderer* 4:26
3. Warrior* 4:00
4. Victim of Fate* 6:37
5. Cry for Freedom* 6:02
6. Walls of Jericho / Ride the Sky 6:45
7. Reptile 3:45
8. Guardians 4:19
9. Phantoms of Death 6:33
10. Metal Invaders 4:10
11. Gorgar 3:57
12. Heavy Metal (Is the Law) 4:00
13. How Many Tears 7:15
14. Judas** 4:43

* Originally released in the 1985 EP/mini-LP Helloween
** Originally released in the 1986 EP Judas

Band members
Kai Hansen – vocals, guitar
Michael Weikath – guitar
Markus Grosskopf – bass
Ingo Schwichtenberg – drums

Album Review – Sepultura / Roots (1996)

“Sepultura do Brasil” changed the world of music with the most creative Thrash Metal album of all time.

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Sepultura_-_RootsThe year of 1996 was a very special year in my life: it was my last year in high school, I finally turned 18, I was dating the most beautiful girl of the entire school, and in terms of music I saw Maiden live for the first time as well as some other awesome bands such as Helloween, Manowar, The Ramones, and my countrymen from Sepultura. I used to love listening to Beneath the Remains, Arise and Chaos A.D., but they simply blew my mind with the most innovative Thrash Metal album of all time: Roots.

Every relevant Thrash Metal band in the world has at least one unique album that redefined that music genre somehow, like Bonded by Blood from Exodus or Reign in Blood from Slayer. In the case of Sepultura, it was Roots that made them reach the top of the charts and become a reference for all future Thrash Metal bands. There were so many new elements in this album that I could spend hours writing about each one of them, but I’ll focus on the most important one in my opinion, which was Max Cavalera’s voice. He brilliantly turned his voice into a musical instrument, reaching some insane notes and sounding more violent than ever, changing the way many other guttural singers used their voices from that year on. Check out at the end of this post the video for Roots Bloody Roots, Sepultura’s all-time classic, and you’ll be able to see how his voice fully integrates with the other instruments giving a special punch to the whole album.

Sepultura-RootsThe most famous songs from Roots are Roots Bloody Roots, of course, Attittude with its amazing riffs and lyrics, and my least favorite one Ratamahatta (the lyrics don’t make any sense at all, it’s just a bunch of stupid disconnected Brazilian words, with a guest musician that makes me want to vomit just by hearing his name). However, you must pay attention carefully to the rest of the album because there are so many good guitar riffs, lyrics and percussion that will make you listen to Roots non-stop for weeks. You’ll find heavy and violent tracks, such as Straighthate, Spit, Cut-Thorat and Dictatorshit; some songs that were unimaginable for a Thrash Metal band before that like Lookaway (with the crazy Mike Patton as a special guest) and Ambush; and some material that doesn’t even sound Metal, but are extremely important for the album concept: Jasco and Itsári, this one being recorded with an aboriginal tribe in Brazil called the Xavantes. All songs connected, all representing a sad and violent side of Brazil. And the front cover is just amazing, perfectly summarizing the whole album in one single image.

My version of the album (which was probably the one released only in Brazil) had two great covers for Celtic Frost’s Procreation of the Wicked and Sabbath’s Symptom of the Universe, this one also featuring in that good Sabbath tribute called Nativity in Black. If you don’t have these two songs in your version of Roots, you should go after them.

There are very few things that make me proud of being Brazilian, and Sepultura and Roots are part of this “selected” group. This album is so great that it has not only changed Thrash Metal, it has changes music in general. Sepultura do Brasil! Um, dois, três… VAI!

Best moments of the album: Roots Bloody Roots, Attitude, Straighthate and Born Stubborn.

Worst moments of the album: Ratamahatta and Endangered Species.

Released in 1996 Roadrunner Records

Track listing
1. Roots Bloody Root 3:32
2. Attitude 4:15
3. Cut-Throat 2:44
4. Ratamahatta 4:30
5. Breed Apart 4:01
6. Straighthate 5:21
7. Spit 2:45
8. Lookaway 5:26
9. Dusted 4:03
10. Born Stubborn 4:07
11. Jasco (instrumental) 1:57
12. Itsári (instrumental) 4:48
13. Ambush 4:39
14. Endangered Species 5:19
15. Dictatorshit 1:26

Band members
Max Cavalera – vocals, rhythm guitar, 4-string guitar, berimbau
Igor Cavalera – drums, percussion, timbau, djembe
Paulo Jr. – bass guitar, timbau grandé
Andreas Kisser – lead guitar, sitar, backing vocals

Album Review – Slayer / God Hates Us All (2001)

It’s heavy, fast, furious, controversial, violent, and more important than that, it’s Slayer.

Rating3

Slayer-GodHatesUsAllAs Thrash Metal titans Slayer will be performing live here in Toronto on November 21, I decided to write some posts dedicated to them, one of my top bands of all time together with Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. The first one is about an album that might not be as classic as Reign In Blood or South of Heaven, but it is for sure one of their most badass records to date, starting by its controversial name: God Hates Us All. Can you think of a more impactful name for a Thrash Metal album than that? I don’t think so.

There are no ballads in this album (in fact, there are no ballads in ANY Slayer album!), no acoustic songs, no beautiful lyrics or moral lessons. Kerry King may not be the best lyricist in the world, but he delivers the message he wants in every song, which in this album are more focused on religion and revenge than any previous Slayer albums. Not only that, none of the lyrics is suitable at all for any religious person. And what can I say about the album art? It’s a masterpiece that perfectly represents the musical content in God Hates Us All. I just feel sorry for the fans that couldn’t buy the album with its regular version of the front cover, but with that shitty white one instead (see it HERE).

Before the massacre starts, there a truly badass intro, Darkness of Christ, which is there to pump you up and show you what’s about to happen with your neck. Then comes the classic Disciple, one of the best and heaviest Slayer songs ever, with an awesome chorus that will make you scream the name of the album out loud every time you hear it until you lose your voice. God hates us all! God hates us all! If you’re a very religious person, well, stop listening to this album before you reach the next song: God Send Death is another powerful track, also excellent when played live and again with strong dark lyrics.

SlayerThe sequence of tracks after that, from New Faith to Seven Faces, shows a more modern Slayer, maybe not as modern as what they did in Diabolus in Musica but modern enough to make some diehard fans a little distrustful. It’s good material, though, especially the song Exile. After that, the band delivers us a not so fast track, but as heavy as it can be: Bloodline, which also featured in the soundtrack of the movie Dracula 2000, has the best lyrics of the album, a cool heavy riff, and an excellent chorus. It’s the only reason why I would watch that movie again, because honestly it’s a very bad one! After Deviance, the weakest track of the album for me, we have three amazing songs: War Zone is perfect for mosh pits, Here Comes the Pain has a very nice riff, and Payback is recommended for anyone that is looking for, well, a violent payback.

What doesn’t change in the whole album is how amazing the band is: Tom with his unique voice, Kerry and Jeff with an avalanche of sick riffs and solos, and Paul smashing his drums like there’s no tomorrow. Although I consider Dave Lombardo the best drummer in the world, I also enjoy Paul Bostaph with his insane speed and technique. This guy is a monster behind his drums, especially when he plays live, and all the material he recorded with Slayer, Testament, Exodus etc. is pure Thrash Metal worth every penny. In my humble opinion, God Hates Us All is the best album with Bostaph on drums, and if you don’t agree with me just listen to War Zone, Payback or God Send Death and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

In summary, a very substantial Thrash Metal album with a more modern Slayer than usual, recommended for anyone who wants to bang their heads until they break their necks. Besides, it’s FUCKIN’ SLAYER after all!

Best moments of the album: Disciple, God Send Death, Bloodline and Payback.

Worst moments of the album: Seven Faces and Deviance.

Released in 2001 American Recordings

 Track listing
1. Darkness of Christ 1:30
2. Disciple 3:35
3. God Send Death 3:45
4. New Faith 3:05
5. Cast Down 3:26
6. Threshold 2:29
7. Exile 3:55
8. Seven Faces 3:41
9. Bloodline 3:36
10. Deviance 3:08
11. War Zone 2:45
12. Here Comes the Pain 4:32
13. Payback 3:03

Band members
Tom Araya – bass guitar, vocals
Jeff Hanneman – guitar
Kerry King – guitar
Paul Bostaph – drums

Album Review – Heaven & Hell / The Devil You Know (2009)

Dio, Iommi, Butler and Appice deliver us the heaviest and darkest Black Sabbath album of all time, even with the band not being called Black Sabbath.

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The_Devil_You_Know_coverI’ve never been a fan of Black Sabbath with Ozzy on vocals, although I understand and respect his importance to Heavy Metal, and also like his crazy performance on stage. I even consider the new 13 a good album, but I personally enjoy the band a lot more with Dio as the lead singer, when Sabbath produced some of the heaviest albums of their career. When The Devil You Know was launched back in 2009, it wasn’t simply a band called Heaven & Hell, but that obscure Black Sabbath that mixed the devilish riffs from Tony Iommi with the unique voice of Ronnie James Dio.

Just start listening to Atom and Evil (or should I say Adam and Eve?) and all those accusations against Tony Iommi, saying he has a deal with the devil, will totally make sense. His riffs in this album are mesmerizing, darker than the darkest night, and impossible not to get addicted to them. He’s one of those geniuses that makes us left-handed people feel really proud of being more skillful with our left hand! All the songs have awesome riffs, but I would say the most memorable ones are from the opening track, from Bible Black and from the last song, Breaking into Heaven, and if you don’t feel anything special while listening to these songs, go listen to Justin Bieber or any other crap. You’re not worthy!

heavenandhellGeezer Butler also does an incredible job with his bass lines, especially in the songs Double the Pain (one of my favorites from The Devil You Know) and Neverwhere. Also, having the talented and precise drummer Vinny Appice working with Geezer makes the music flow a lot smoother during the entire album, which by the way was never supposed to be a regular fast Heavy Metal record: only two songs (Eating the Cannibals and Neverwhere) have a fast rhythm, while all other focus on more sinister melodies commonly found in Doom Metal. And I’m not going to say anything about the amazing front cover: it’s too evil to be real, more terrifying than any Black Metal album cover I’ve ever seen.

Finally, what can I say about the unparalleled voice of Ronnie James Dio (R.I.P.)? The Devil You Know was his last record, and he sings every single line from each song perfectly, turning poetry into music. I love Bruce, Halford and many other Metal vocalists, but there’s no one that can sing with such passion and emotion as Dio. The entire world of music will forever miss that little guy, who became a real giant every time he started singing for us any of his songs. Unfortunately Dio is gone, but his legacy will remain with us, and The Devil You Know is the perfect representation of his vocal power. If this record had been launched in the 80’s, I’m pretty sure it would have been considered one of the best and most influential Heavy Metal albums of all time.

Best moments of the album: Bible Black, without any doubt. This is by far my favorite Black Sabbath Heaven & Hell song of all time. Watch the video below from the band playing it at Wacken in 2009, pay attention to the perfect lyrics, and tell me if this is not wonderful? Isn’t Dio fuckin’ awesome? “He locks himself away and tastes the silence / Hungry for another bite of wrong”

Worst moments of the album: I cannot say anything bad about this album. Maybe the fact that it ended up being just a project due to Dio’s death? I cannot even imagine how many more great albums Heaven & Hell could have recorded if Dio was still alive.

Released in 2009 Rhino Entertainment

Track listing
1. Atom and Evil 5:15
2. Fear 4:48
3. Bible Black 6:29
4. Double the Pain 5:25
5. Rock and Roll Angel 6:02
6. The Turn of the Screw 5:02
7. Eating the Cannibals 3:37
8. Follow the Tears 6:12
9. Neverwhere 4:35
10. Breaking into Heaven 6:53

iTunes exclusive bonus tracks
11. I (live) 6:30
12. Die Young (live) 6:46

Band members
Ronnie James Dio – vocals
Tony Iommi – guitar
Geezer Butler – bass guitar
Vinny Appice – drums, percussion

Album Review – Blaze Bayley / The Man Who Would Not Die (2008)

One of the best and at the same time most underrated Heavy Metal albums of the past 10 years.

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Blaze_Bayley_-_Man_Who_Would_Not_Die_coverI still cannot believe how many Metal fans know absolutely nothing about Blaze Bayley’s career before and after his years with Iron Maiden, and even worse than that, they don’t even know The Man Who Would Not Die exists! This is by far one of the most amazing albums of the past 10 or 15 years, with over 60 minutes of PURE FUCKIN’ METAL! There isn’t a single song of the album that is not meaningful or powerful, and Blaze is singing better than never here.

The first three tracks are so heavy and so intense that I can never decide which one is my favorite: the title track with its perfect lyrics “On and on, I’m cursed to live…”; the kick to the face of some people that messed with Blaze in Blackmailer; and the epic song Smile Back at Death, based on the movie Gladiator. It’s impossible not to get addicted to these songs, all full of great riffs and solos. I’m a true Maidenmaniac, but I dare to say these songs are much better than most of the material Maiden has produced in the past few years.

The rest of the album is a sequence of so many awesome songs that I could write about each one of them for hours: the ballad While You Were Gone is just beautiful and a great tribute to his deceased wife Debbie Hartland, Samurai has a very nice bass line, there’s a lot of melancholy in At the End of the Day, and every time I listen to Robot or Voices from the Past I instantly start banging my head. And what can I say about the dark and heavy Serpent Hearted Man? I wish I can see Blaze playing it live someday, as heavy and fast as possible.

blaze_bayley_picMoreover, what makes this album even better are Blaze’s band members, especially bass player David Bermudez and drummer Larry Paterson, who literally smashes his drums in almost every song. The same band also recorded another masterpiece, Promise and Terror (which I plan to write about one day), but unfortunately due to some internal issues they are not together with Blaze anymore.

And finally, I’m a big fan of everything Blaze has done so far: his Hard Rock-ish years with Wolsfbane, his controversial albums with Iron Maiden, and his brilliant solo career. This guy is a true metalhead that has never given up doing the music he loves even in the worst moments of his life. Very few artists can produce something as relevant as Silicon Messiah, Promise and Terror and especially The Man Who Would Not Die nowadays, so don’t waste your time with MTV and go listen carefully to this great masterpiece from Mr. Blaze Bayley now!

Best moments of the album: Everything, from the very first second of The Man Who Would Not Die until the end of Serpent Hearted Man, including its amazing front cover and all the deep and dark lyrics of each song. I guess I listen to this album almost every week since it was launched back in 2008.

Worst moments of the album: There’s absolutely nothing bad at all here, not even regular. It’s a perfect Heavy Metal album.

Released in 2008 Blaze Bayley Records

Track listing
1. The Man Who Would Not Die  4:35
2. Blackmailer  4:43
3. Smile Back at Death  7:38
4. While You Were Gone  5:27
5. Samurai  5:39
6. Crack in the System  5:53
7. Robot  3:10
8. At the End of the Day  3:39
9. Waiting for My Life to Begin  5:10
10. Voices from the Past  5:55
11. The Truth Is One  4:22
12. Serpent Hearted Man  6:15

Band members
Blaze Bayley – vocals
Nico Bermudez – lead guitar
Jay Walsh – rhythm guitar
David Bermudez – bass
Lawrence Paterson – drums