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Music Review: Lacuna Coil, Mastadon, Mob Rules, Skid Row, Trivium & Voivod

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It's a heavy lot this week, with a bit of cow-punk and a lovely lady tossed in for good measure. That said there is both a tinge of sadness and a smattering of nostalgia contained herein. Shall I stop the blathering and get on with it?

CD Reviews

Lacuna Coil: Karmacode

This was predicted to be LC's breakout album and what an album it is to breakout with. Now not just the secret of metallers with a tender side, they are getting loads of mainstream attention. It has to be said they deserve every moment of it. This is quite a good album with lots passion and feeling from all involved.

The edition of the CD I have comes with photos, a couple of videos, and a tour diary. Normally I am not too keen on covers but their cover of Depeche Mode's "Enjoy the Silence" is simply a pleasure to hear. There is not a duff one in the other twelve either. Their excellent use of male and female voices means that Lacuna Coil is the band to take Evanescence fans to the next level. Just check out "Our Truth" if you don't believe me. This is a stunning album and will feature on many people's best of list at the end of the year.

Mastadon: Blood Mountain

The best purveyors of modern epic metal are back with a new album. And rather than go down the retro route chosen by Trivium, they have merely evolved themselves as they attempt to be the 00s Rush. As with Leviathan this album is not accessible enough to fully sink in on the first listen. It takes several listens to truly appreciate the quality and expanse of this piece of work. It's power-prog in extremis with vast soundscapes and epic sound.

In order to truly enjoy this work you need a good sound system. So vast is this album that I foreswore reviewing it last week so that I could give it some more time. The whole thing is a master work in its entirety but I have a soft spot for "The Wolf is Lose" naturally.

Mob Rules: Ethonolution A.D.

Despite the name this is not an aping of Dio-era Black Sabbath. Instead what you find is a nice dash of power-metal with keyboards, high vocals, and clever arrangements. And with most power-metal there is a quite an epic feeling. Violins, piano and soaring guitars abound.

"Ashes to Ashes" is Maiden-esque (with a bit more keyboards) that would fit quite nicely on Powerslave. And the track is part of the 6 part title track. These guys know what they are doing and have aptly followed up their album Hallowed be Thy Name. There is a lot of pants power metal around but this lot isn't one of them. They are definitely something to seek out.

Skid Row: Revolutions per Minute

A new SR album, yet another without Sebastian, is a mixed feeling. It's great that they will be touring off the back of this, but you are probably not sure what to expect on the CD. Would you believe cow-punk. Punk-a-billy and a dash of Jackyl-like bonehead country rock?

To add to the mess they think it's a good idea to give you the so-so track "You Lie" a second time as a bonus track. Now unlike many, I gave their last CD called Thickskin a fair listen and rather liked much of it. This one on the other hand is just horrid. Wasn't Jackyl bad enough? Why do we need two? Guys drop the dumbarse redneck crap and go back to some proper hard rock please?

Trivium: The Crusade

Much anticipated and hyped, especially here in the UK, this album is said to show the band maturing. Well that is one way of putting it. Basically this is the Metallica album that should have followed their self-titled one of the early '90s.

Healy is channeling Hatfield on every inch of this record to great result. Well there is one exception and then the band does an excellent job of doing Dream Theater on "The Crusade" with much wildling and complexity. What is most amusing is Trivium's attempt at an anthemic metal song which they have cleverly entitled "Anthem (We are the Fire)". The hits every single one of the elements needed whether it's the catchy and simple chorus or the inevitable choral call & return. This is foot on monitor head-banging stuff, not a bit of the mournful whingefest you find on so many modern metal albums.

You could call it Metallica by the numbers or even a bit contrived. Then again there have been quite a few bands that have done the same with Iron Maiden. Hell there is even a whole freaking sub-genre called power metal that uses Maiden as its template. Basically if you were too young to truly appreciate Metallica when they were kings, then you will love this; if you remember it the first time then you will simply enjoy some proper American metal. Oh yeah by the way… it's going to be freaking huge.

Voivod: Katorz

Called Katorz because it's the band's 14th album, it may be their last. The band has lost its heart and soul with the death of guitarist and main-man Piggy. In fact, much of the album was culled from bits that he recorded on his laptop before his untimely death due to cancer. The extent to which the band has influenced many metallers over the years is not to be underestimated. Like Kings X in hard rock, Voivod were musician's musicians oft cited as an influence on a whole range of bands while ordinary fans didn't have a bloody clue what they were on about.

So in awe of the band was Jason Newstead that he left Metallica, adopted the name Jasonic, and joined the band. Voivod are typically Quebecouis in their outlook and music, combining elements of North American metal with very French arty meanderings. To say the band is an acquired taste is an understatement but like Laphroig single-malt whisky, once you get into it, you are hooked. A final testament to Piggy's legacy that shows the band doing everything they can to make it the album he would have wanted to make. Have they succeeded? Well it is not up to me to decide. Metal music has lost one of its true genius madmen. Piggy: Requiem in Pace.

On that somber note I shall end this week's round-up of the latest in heavy music. As ever support live music where ever you are and stay rocking.

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