Greetings all; that pile I have gone on about over the last few weeks is finally being reduced a bit as the influx of review material has calmed down in the pre-Christmas lull. In fact my mail has dried up completely; which is a bit of shock when you are used to getting 3 or 4 pieces of product every few days.
This week I have the pleasure of reviewing a new Journey DVD/CD combo; a release which I found myself singing along to. We also have the errant Creozoth review from last week that mysteriously disappeared.
CD reviews: Pride, Creozoth & Nox Arcana
Pride: Far from the Edge & Signs of Purity
Pride, long time members of the UK melodic rock scene have called it a day, and from what I have heard on these two CDs I can see why. Having seen their last performance at this year’s Melodic Rock Xmas gig I was wondering if they were any more inspiring on CD.
Sadly both of these two albums demonstrate what can be seen as wrong with the melodic rock scene in the UK and one could argue in other regions as well. The music is well played, almost too well at times, but seems uninspired and rather more by the numbers than needs be. The band are clearly fans of the Bon Jovi circa ‘Keep the Faith’; just listen to ‘This Time’ off Far From the Edge. There is very little that is as catchy as Bon Jovi at their best; at other times the band mimic Tyketto as on the song ‘Say You’re Not Lonely’.
After a while Pride’s music sounds all very similar. It is well played melodic rock for those aren’t very adventurous in their musical tastes. You have heard it all before; maybe not done any better; but done with more feeling. Its melodic rock MOR; formulaic and lacking that passion that you really want. Its uninspiring quality; kind like driving a Japanese car. I prefer a Dodge Viper; even with my melodic rock.
What you get when you combine the talents of Candlemass’ lead guitarist and drummer with a former Yngwie Malmsteen vocalist (Michael Storck) and a bassist out of a band called Redfun?
For me at least this lot sound like the last Metallica album should have sounded. It is quality mainstream metal by a bunch of guys who actually know what they hell they are doing. As opposed to the doom metal of Candlemass or the
ponce pomp heavy rock of Malmsteen; this is head down trad metal with a slight hint of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. ‘Minute U Die’ is a classic example of this sort of hybrid. ‘For Your Amusement’ on the other hand is pure Megadeth at their best; with Storck producing his best Mustaine-esque sung snarl. Clearly the band are having a great time doing a bit of retro-metal. Its head down driving stuff that works on so many levels. All are experienced live players; and despite the fact this could be seen as a side band, lets hope they manage to tour.
It would be a shame if this a one off; metal needs more bands like this. Not the slightest bit ground-breaking and I bet the band wouldn’t have it any other way. 100% metal quality.
Nox Arcana: Darklore Manor
As you might be able to tell from the name; this CD tells the tale of a creepy manor and what goes on therein. You might remember; I reviewed this band’s material last week in the form of Winters Knight; I have one CD left in their of the group. I have to admit that unlike many band’s material I am looking forward to each CD from this lot.
The CD sounds like it is a soundtrack to a movie you seen; complete with the occasionally voiced interludes. The most effective being a disembodied ghostly little girl doing the bed-time prayer ‘Now I lay me down to sleep’. There is enough on this CD to make it interesting to listen to either with your full attention or as part of the background while you do other things. What is most impressive about Nox Arcana is their ability to set an all encompasing mood via merely audio treatments. Like both other releases by this duo I have reviewed; the quality of this material is first rate. I recomend it highly to anyone who enjoys a bit of Gothic symphonic music.
DVD reviews: Journey: Live in Houston 1981
This is a DVD/CD set from a live gig recorded in Houson in 1981; on the CD you get one extra track ‘The Party’s Over (Hopelessly in Love)’. This is “classic” line-up of Journey (Perry, Schon, Cain, Valory & Smith) recorded just after Escape went to Number 1 in the US. The band are firing on all cylinders and it shows. Yes, of course, you get to see how goofy they looked; with Perry in his velvet tails, cheesy shirt and flat hair. Just listen to his intro for ‘Stone in Love’ for an example of a daft song intro. Schon has an afro that does not stand the test of time; but who cares? It is patently obvious what a stunning set of musos were; never mind what you think of their music this lot know their chops. Perry, with his rediculously high voice in full-on mode, hops around the stage (which is surrounded by fans) like a nutter. Schon plays like every note is his last.
On the DVD you get 18 tracks of Journey goodness; just try to resist admitting how many you know and singing along. Bonuses on the DVD include an interview with the band about their new album, closing credits for the show, a TV promo for the album and a slideshow. This set was compiled by Steve Perry and while not full of the bells & whistles one gets on some DVDs, its a quality release. The set was filmed for that new fangled video channel: MTV.
It is quite amazing how many of these tracks were hits. Just hearing ‘Open Arms’, ‘Who’s Crying Now’ and ‘Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’ makes you wish you were at this gig or had seen em’ on this tour. (‘Open Arms’ was the ‘Hero’ (Enrique Iglesias uber-ballad) of its day in knicker dropping power…especially if you could even attempt to sing it.) And that ladies and gentlemen is what you want from a live DVD. If it makes you wish you were at the gig; then its done its job. Like Journey’s music this DVD is pure freaking class. Now where did I put that lighter?
As this is probably the last MMM for the year let me wish you and yours a Happy Christmas, Saturnalia, Hanaukah or whatever holiday you wish to call it. I shall see you on the other side of the New Year with a whole new load of musical goodies; including a couple from Canuck nutters The Pariahs.
Stay safe; just raise a few glasses to a 2006 filed with some cracking rock!