Has it been a week already? How time flies when you are beta-testing, writing, and listening to review music. In fact, I spent some time this week watching review music on various DVDs, some of which made the column. I must confess it's odd to go from listening to Marduk to Rick Wakeman.
Little Feat: Skin it Back
Little Feat have always been one of those bands whose name gets misspelled, most commonly as Little Feet. Somehow the fact they are a country rock band lends itself to that sort of error. This DVD is part of the Rockpalast series which feature performances on the legendary music show. The visual experience on this is very much of the 70s whether it be the band or the audience. This was shot in Essen just a few days before the recording of their legendary live album Waiting for Columbus.
The song that you most might recall is “Dixie Chicken”, which while catchy in no way defines the band. While there is a certain level of humor in much of their bluesy country rock, the band still play some kick arse rock. You might also recognise “Fat Man in the Bathtub.”
What is most interesting about this DVD is the bonus tracks. They were recorded during rehearsal, and thus vary in quality of the visuals, however hearing songs not performed in the proper concert is a treat. One of those tracks “Skin it Back” gives the DVD its name, and, of course, there is “Rock n Roll Doctor”.
This DVD is decent value for money and certainly a must for fans of the band. Those who enjoy 70s country rock might give this a try as well.
Rick Wakeman: 6 Wives of Henry VII
The album was released in the 70s at the height of Yes’ early popularity. Rick wrote Hampton Court Palace to ask permission to perform the album there. Alas it took them a while to get back to him, over 30 years in fact. However once he got permission he went all out enlisting everyone from his son, an accomplished keyboard player in his own right, to the English Chamber Choir and none other than Brian Blessed as the narrator (who played King Richard IV in the first series of Black Adder). He adds a rather wonderful level of humour to the glorious pomposity of the entire event.
Due the length available on an LP one of the songs was dropped off the original release. That song “Defender of the Faith” appears here for the first time. Wakemen wrote new intro and outro pieces for the concert. It was truly a once, well twice as their were two gigs, in a lifetime event that will never be repeated.
Of course this being a blu-ray, the visuals are spectacular, as is the sound. They have even given a nice booklet to read, much like a libretto at a performance, with a complete history of each of the major musicians and of course, the personalities involved. No doubt in case your English history is a tad bit rusty. For those of you who never studied this most notorious of kings, it's all the more useful.
All in all it’s a spectacular, as befitting Henry VII, performance and release. I rather enjoyed the entire thing and suspect that you might as well. Symphonic rock concept does not really get much better than this.
Onslaught: Live Damnation
As you might have guessed from the title of this release, it's a live album from the venerable Bristol, England band Onslaught. They were around for six years in the 80s before imploding to stay dormant until 2005. This release comes from their performance at the Damnation Festival last year. It's not the longest of live albums, but it gives you a very good hint that these guys can thrash like anyone still. Once talked about in the same breath as Slayer and their ilk, their demise was much lamented by British thrash fans.
The release covers their most popular songs as they performed them in front a very keen festival crowd. Onslaught at one time featured Steve Grimmett of Grim Reaper, who was forcibly brought into replace Sy Keeler. Of course, Sy has gotten his revenge since, he is back for their renaissance with Killing Peace, their successful come-back album.
You can clearly tell what inspired the new wave of British thrash to emerge. The new bands owe a huge debt to bands like Onslaught and we can only hope they appreciate them for what they are. Take a listen this slice of first generation British thrash and enjoy.
This lot of nutters from Sweden are black metal in all its filthy dark and menacing glory. It's being hailed as possibly the best of their career, a long one that began in the early 90s. Marduk have always driven themselves to take black metal as far as it can go and they continue to please lovers of the blackest of the genre. “Into Utter Madness” is the type of track which is the aural equivalent of some of the darkest and most warped of Lovecraft’s tales.
Marduk delve into the realms of war, death and Satanism in its most malevolent of forms. The name Marduk comes from Babylonian myth. Marduk was Sky God who created the earth and sky from the body of the great dragon Tiamat, the mother of all beings. The band evoke ancient malevolence and beasts that pre-date Christianity. The band’s message is brutal nasty and black.
On this release they prove why they are one of the premier black metal bands in existence. They continue to push the boundaries of the genre and prove that they can deliver the goods in droves. Not for everyone, but if you like black metal, than it does not get much better than this.
De Magia Veterum: Migdal Bavel
This is definitely one of those, what the hell, type of releases. That is no bad thing, to be honest. It's always good to get stuff that just makes you sit up and take notice. From the length to the rather interesting press material: brown paper that is made to look like parchment to be exact. It's obvious this will not be your bog standard black metal release. Avant garde is a term that is tossed around like candy in some circles of the hard rock media, however this band do actually like up to that moniker.
This is far from the head down grunt of much of the black metal or the high pitched tom-foolery of bands like Cradle of Filth. This is total chaos with layers upon layers of the music, all sorts of genres tossed into the mix to create an amazing melange. It would surprise no one to realize the lyrical content is highly mystical, steeped in the occult and wallowing in the vengeful god of the Old Testament. This is biblical chaos turned into music for the very curious and warped. The music is at times indescribable as much as it is rather brilliant.
It may be 37 minutes long, but they cram one hell of a lot into that length.
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