Friday, July 28, 2006

Shelfcore Quest 2006: Step 10 [42] (repost)

Back to reposts of album review snippets; this one was actually done from China.


Judas Priest - Metal Works '73-'93 [6/7]
"As clunky or dumb as some of the songs are, this release does pack in an incredible amount of Priest's best material over its two discs, and is probably the most essential of the band's best-ofs."

Angel Dust - Bleed [5/7]
"Though the material hits fast, hard, and heavy, it also seems at times to just run on and on... This probably isn't the one German power metal record you should own, but if you've got several, and your tastes generally lean heavier, this ought to be among them."

Pain - Rebirth [4/7]
"It's not just death metal with polyrhythms and phat synth beats, but it's still an Abyss product, and still ought to be appealing to metalheads... more so than any current ''industrial metal'' band, this is ''metal industrial''...."

Vintersorg - Cosmic Genesis [6/7]
"...not quite as good as Vintersorg (the guy)'s later work with Borknagar, but it's definitely pushing in that direction... A good pickup for open-minded black metal or prog fans, or anyone else interested in the weird dark music of the North."

Sodom - Mortal Way of Live [5/7]
"A 70-minute set is a lot more than you're likely to get of Sodom live these days, though depending on your tastes you may not want to sit through 70 minutes... The sound fidelity is not the greatest, but it preserves a lot of the old underground atmosphere of the cement-walled clubs where thrash started..."

Dismember - Death Metal [6/7]
"While the disc doesn't capture all sides of death metal as the title might imply (if the band were more pretentious and less asskicking), it is still a perfectly crystallized snapshot of Dismember's take on the idea. In the right context, it's perfect; everywhere else, it's still a damn good record."

(the whole of the following review is included here for completeness purposes.)
Jerry 'Maniac' Mattox - Bad Attitude [0/7]
Oh my fucking ears. I can't honestly believe this: despite how rotten I remembered this record being, it's even worse. Poorly written, poorly recorded, poorly performed, this CD is just a disgusting mess of misproduced trash that is pretty much appealing to nobody. I have no idea how ''Maniac'' (shortly to be killed by a Norwegian black metaller if he somehow hears this record) thought this was something that he would actually like to have his name on, or how retarded the label had to be to think that this would actually sell copies. There is literally nothing worthwhile on this disc, and using it in the only realistic way, to torture prisoners, would open you up to a slam-dunk war crimes conviction. If it's not getting through how awful this record is, I would much rather listen to William Hung and Pat Boone singing duets on all of St. Anger while backed by a community-college world-music class. I'd rather sit through a whole day of clone-retread metalcore than one minute of this tripe. I would rather shove sharp objects through my eardrums and go permanently deaf than willingly listen to this simply putrid disc again.
This is probably the worst metal album ever recorded in the history of ever. You will never see it in a store, but if you do, grab a clerk and hit them until they agree to get their manager. Hit the manager until they explain how it got there and apologize for letting it in the door. Keep hitting the manager until they pay you to take the record out of the store and run it over with your car. Repeatedly.

This is what a zero-point review looks like. Hopefully, it'll never happen again.

Shadows Fall - The Art of Balance sampler [4/7]
"This is also a good look at the album it's pulled from... The music is smart and varied, but still basically the same groove-thrash that underlies most metalcore, with only a few hardcore elements. Shadows Fall are not really different in what they do from those who have followed after them, but they do do it better..."

In Flames - The Tokyo Showdown [4/7]
"...this selection from the Clayman tour, probably done for local demand (the band's Japanese label is the initial issuer), is really not up to standard, marred by lackluster recording and a few busted performances. At some point, this band will do a proper live record, rather than just taking the soundboard tape from a random show, but that isn't what they did here..."

Sepultura - Chaos A.D. [5/7]
"While my copy, thanks to some idiot with a marker, only goes up to ''Kaiowas'', it's sufficient to give a fairly accurate picture of this disc, which moves slightly in the direction of groove-metal a la Pantera, but remains in the main part strongly thrash. The tribal elements are developing, but remain a minor part of the overall sound."

Iced Earth - Days of Purgatory [6/7]
"In terms of average value, this is a better resurrection of Iced Earth's old material than Dark Genesis would be. ...The re-recordings help out, but Iced Earth is so guitar-dominated (and all the guitar performances are original) that the differences are sometimes too small to be noticed... Though any band's re-recordings of catalog material will be chiefly of interest to fans, Iced Earth devotees will not go wrong with this one."

Iron Maiden - Out Of The Silent Planet [4/7]
"A fairly good value when the enhanced video is considered, this single grades out at a little uneven, partly because two of the three tracks are live, and Bruce's performance on ''Aces High'' is not among his better... As with any single in the internet age, this is in the domain solely of fans and collectors, and its value as a collection piece will be higher than its value to Maiden fans as a piece of work."

Burzum - Ragnarok (A New Beginning) [5/7]
"...if you stumble across this bootleg and have an interest in just how weird and obscure Varg could possibly get, it's almost worth picking up. The recording quality is abysmal, the sound being transferred directly from the original tapes rather than being remastered in any sense, and occasionally sounds like you're trying to listen to Burzum with your boots over your ears. It's still an interesting experience..."

Tartaros - The Grand Psychotic Castle [5/7]
"The ''Charmand Grimlock'' behind this piece is the same one who plays keyboards for Emperor live, and the long association with the prime exemplars of the evolved-but-still-aggressive style has resulted in a sound that recalls a diminished Nokturnal Mortum more than anything else. The aggression is real, and fans of Emperor and NM will like this, but for others, this will be but a pale reflection of the real thing."

Ochlocracy - H.igh F.idelity C.haos [4/7]
"This band (from the town where I went to school) obviously never went on to change anything or show on a larger stage that there was somewhere interesting and musically respectable that the nu-metal trend could go, and while this is unfortunate, it's kind of expected given that there was a trend involved in the first place."

Metallica - Wherever I May Roam [4/7]
"...if you're a fan of Metallica's pre-harcut period, or just like laughing at James' anything-but-actual-words lyricizing over the last three records, you'll want to dig this up. The ''b-sides'' are a passable live take of ''Fade to Black'' from the Tushino Airfield show ... and a rough demo of the title cut with most of the vocals replaced by ''na-na-na'' because they hadn't written the words yet. ...though probably of more interest to collectors [it] should still appeal to normal fans."

Iron Maiden - The Number Of The Beast [7/7]
"...this album is essential for anyone who is going to consider themselves a metalhead. The title track has a legitimate claim, in influence and actual composition, to be the best metal song of all time, and there are several other Maiden classics in this listing. There are a few weak points on the record, but they are thoroughly overcome by the stronger ones..."

Edge of Sanity - Crimson II [6/7]
"Swano mostly did this one to tie off Edge of Sanity as a band, at a time when he was more interested in his Nightingale project, and it shows -- but in a good way. The result of this record being made when it was, with its creator where he was musically, is that there has probably never been another record so thoroughly or so well-blended between progressive rock and aggressive death metal."

Orphaned Land - Mabool - The Story of the Three Sons of Seven [7/7]
"At times it isn't tremendously heavy, but there are other moments when it is, and the resulting mix, as well as the way the band' varied elements are blended together, really makes this a disc that is accessible to anyone. Often, when bands try to be all things to all people, they fail and appeal to no one, but Orphaned Land actually succeeds here..."

Orphaned Land - The Calm Before The Flood [5/7]
"...pretty good, though mostly acoustic and thus lacking the fire of their death and black metal influences, and will make hunting down this release worthwhile. A lot of Mabool's power is in its conceptual unity and compositional flow, but this record shows that Orphaned Land are also damn good musicians... It's not in the first rank of metal live releases, but it's a strong indication that any real live album they do in the future will be."

Agalloch - Of Wind, Stone, and Pillor [5/7]
"'s a little difficult to absolutely categorize this EP as a metal record, though in much the same way that it's occasionally difficult to talk about Agalloch as a metal band. This is the least metal of their works to date, but will still have appeal to those who liked aspects of either or both of their full-lengths."

Burzum - Filosofem [7/7]
"To merely describe this album as ''bizarre'' or ''genius'' does not really cover it. Both terms are eminently applicable... black metal is supposed to challenge its listeners, which is what this record does, as well as reward them for enduring that challenge..."

Metal Church - Blessing In Disguise [6/7]
"This is a good record, but not as strong a classic as their self-titled, probably due to the mainstream shadings to be found here courtesy of Mike Howe's vocals. Melodic thrash that's much more melodic than it is thrashy by modern standards, this disc deserves more recognition ... not the one Metal Church disc that should be in your collection."

Satyricon - The Forest Is My Throne [5/7]
"...a pretty good 20 or so minutes of material from one of the first wave of Norwegian black metal's better bands. Musically, it doesn't compare to anything that Satyr's done in full-length format..."

Enslaved - Yggdrasil [5/7]
"...this represents 40 driven and cult minutes of old-style necro blasting which still manages to foreshadow Enslaved's later experimentations. The band isn't the most practiced yet, and given that this was recorded in a total of two days, it shows, but the foundations are there."

Suffocation - Effigy of the Forgotten [5/7]
"...this disc sounds now much as it did then, and thoroughly lays out the blueprint that Suffocation would follow through the rest of their career to date: steadfast, complicated, uncompromising brutality. There is not a lot of progression between this and their current material, or room for other flourishes on the sound, but there is always going to be a need for bands like this to keep the true pure ethos of death metal alive..."

Old Man's Child - The Pagan Prosperity [6/7]
"It shows a few flashes of brilliance, especially in the opening track, but for the most part is content to roll along on its well-cut and punchy riffs without breaking down boundaries or setting any records. This is as good a place to start on Old Man's Child as you'll find, but it will also show that OMC, while one of the better black metal acts, is still one of the less important..."

My Pet Demon - Crime Pays [6/7]
" extremely solid work, a thorough improvement in metallic composition over their debut, and with songs just as memorable if less catchy. There are a lot of signed bands that would want to have something as strong and varied as ''What Would Jason Do'' in their catalog..."

Slayer - God Hates Us All [5/7]
"...while it's ... not as good as Slayer was at their peak, it's still pretty good, and it's still fucking Slayer. There are songs that are kickass and songs that are boring as all hell, but you'll get that with most records, from most bands, and the good parts on this one certainly outweigh the bad."

Einherjer - Blot [5/7]
"It's a good record, but there's little very memorable about it, especially in comparison to some of the truly original and groundbreaking material they did earlier in their career. Neither as melodic as Ensiferum nor as aggressive as Thyrfing and Falkenbach, they are just not distinctive enough here to carve out a niche in the modern viking metal scene."

Gamma Ray - Blast From The Past [7/7]
"...this is the best way short of a live show to get into Gamma Ray and really see what and where the band has been and done. Not only is the amount of music absolutely colossal, but the quality of the songs included is almost uniformly top-notch. ...there are a few [other] songs that might also have made it, but there really isn't an argument to be made against any of the tracks included, which is not usually the case with best-ofs."

Flotsam & Jetsam - Doomsday For The Deceiver [4/7]
"The feel in many places is similar to a less-polished version of Testament's first record or early Iced Earth, and despite Jason Newsted's yeoman efforts, the structures do not always sort themselves out. Ultimately, Eric A.K. is just not a thrash vocalist, and the music... is not always memorable or blessed with sharp lyrics."

Satyricon - Nemesis Divina [5/7]
"Satyricon at this point is caught between the obscurity and atmospheric feel of their early work and the more universally accessible assault of their later discs. It's a strongly crafted work that those into true but well-produced black metal will enjoy, but it's not as violently strong as where they had come from or where they were going."

Mortician - Hacked Up For Barbecue [6/7]
"...a Mortician disc like this is essential for anyone truly into extreme metal -- and while it need not be this one, it's as good as any other, potentially better as the movie samples are culled back a little and a few of the songs are actually long enough to show some structure and a few glimpses of actually interesting playing."

Nebular Moon - Mourning [4/7]
"This isn't a bad record, or really a good record either; it's more or less just there, and there are a lot of black metal bands that generally sound something like this, with equal parts grim and keyboards. It's thoroughly forgettable and by now forgotten; when bands fail to set themselves apart, they simply fade away."

Bifrost - Mythistory [6/7]
"Loose, thrashy, and melodic, these guys sound little like any other black metal band, even during the creative flowering in that scene at the end of the 1990s. The only thing consistent from song to song is the musicianship and the willingness to take risks; some of the experiments pan out and some do not, but the willingness to undertake them and expand the horizons of the genre is what's important."

Ulver - Nattens Madrigal [7/7]
"Raw and forbidding, done in the next best thing to a full live take, this record is not for everyone, but those who can appreciate its brutal majesty will swear by it utterly. ... In the violence and lulling music beneath it, this is the ne plus ultra of black metal..."

Skinless - From Sacrifice to Survival [6/7]
"Skinless makes this one memorable by delivering with commitment and power. The sound is strong and thick, and there are just enough twists and tweaks in the sound to strongly keep your attention as the record rolls relentlessly forward."

Death - Fate [6/7]
"With Century Media's re-releases of Death's back catalog, the need for this collection disappears... If you're into Death at all, you'll own all the records these tracks are pulled from, and the release itself, by pulling together tracks from different stylistic periods without imparting any particular unity to them, makes a poorer entry point to Death than any actual normal record."

Metallica - One [4/7]
"...for the prices that were being charged for this CD-single reissue when I picked it up, the package is just not compelling. Metallica collectors will want to pick this one up if they can find it, but everyone else should just ignore..."

Nile - Black Seeds of Vengeance [6/7]
"...the melding and merging of stylistic elements is very well done, and the music's more than good enough to match what was done before and since. It's not as immediately attention-getting as ...Catacombs... or as relentlessly annihilating as ...Darkened Shrines, but it's a worthy companion piece all the same..."

Vader - The Ultimate Incantation [5/7]
"Even at this early point in their career, Vader was making well-turned, high-quality death metal. Unfortunately, there were a lot of people doing that in 1992, and this record does not thoroughly separate them from Morbid Angel or Cannibal Corpse, probably the strongest influences on this platter."

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