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Music reviews: Bee Gees, Twisted Sister, Dakrya, Killing Joke, Grave Digger

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Another week, and what a bloody chaotic week, it has been, and another batch of stuff to review.

DVD reviews

The Bee Gees: In Our Own Time

Yes, that lot of brothers who can harmonise well. No I have not been fooled because they are all dressed in black leather on the cover and look like heavy rock trio. Like it or not these guys knew how to reinvent themselves and had huge success both as a group and as song-writers. Yes, they wrote some of the most noxious tripe ever to be popular in any decade. It was the 70s and pretty much everything popular was pretty crap whether it be the cars, the clothes or the music. That bit of their careers is pretty widely known and loathed by many a rocker.

However their earlier career once they returned to the shores of England was interesting. They were doing stuff that sounded like music we know before many of those groups best know for it did it. They have tracks that sound ELOish, psychedelic and even Beatlesque at their most experimental. The Gibb brothers were always trying to push the edge of music into places it had never been. The fact they could harmonise so well has influenced bands of all types since their inception.

They had the same knack for songwriting that Abba had. Abba songs can be played by bands of all different genres and sound right. The same can be said for many Gibb’s brothers songs. They are just incredibly well written whether or not the end result is music to our ears.

While I was watching the documentary another band of British expats who returned to their homeland to make it sprang to mind. AC/DC had a similar story to the Bee Gees and there is that strange interplay between the young brothers on guitar. Of course AC/DC has done the same thing for all these years, but their strength as a group shows similar strengths to the Gibb brothers.

Despite having to listen to some pretty dire 70s music, this was a fascinating documentary on some amazingly talented people.

Twisted Sister: Live in Wacken- The Reunion

This is another great documentary about a classic band as they remembered why they started in the first place. It’s a re-issue of 2005 release as a DVD/CD package. Despite being five years old this makes for great viewing. There is a lot of meat on here as well including bits of their New York Steel gig to raise funds after 9/11 and their gig accompanying Blue Man Group at their fave record exec’s award party. As with most of these things it details their ups in downs in a very honest way. The continuing drama about attempts to get them back together as a band is quite the saga. The fact they managed to actually reunite considering that drama makes it all the more the interesting.

Between interview bits we get to see their first major festival gig at Wacken where they perform all the tracks you would expect them to play. The accompanying CD has live tracks from three shows in the 80s and the DVDs live Wacken 2003 tracks left off the DVD. It would have been nice just to have all the DVD live tracks on a CD so you can listen without the interviews.

That said this is a great release about a great band who was missed during their hiatus. If you didn’t get round to buying this release the first time around and are a TS fan then its worth checking out. The CD is a good curiosity piece, but probably not something to end up as a frequent visitor to your death deck.

CD reviews

Dakrya: Crime Scene

Call this avant garde or atmospheric gothic metal it matters not. Its female led pomptastic Broadway musical metal for the theatric at heart. There are touches of Rocky Horror and Meatloaf in equal measure. Wrap this up in a hand progressive experimental metal coat and mix to suit. Its just lovely stuff that when listening in the right mood just hits the right spot. It’s a bit Barclay James Harvest and Frank Zappa if they did metal. This Greek band is probably not for everyone, but if you like it, you will probably end up loving it.

At times they strike one as a bit like Therion if it were stripped down to its barest essences. There is a strong element of the forbidden and the enticing. Certain tracks would work perfectly for a burlesque show. Lyrically the band explore all the human emotions as good gothic metal does, Christina Kalantzi has a certain Kate Bush quality to her voice which contrasts nicely to Thomas’ male vocals. This is experimental without being tuneless noise, gothic without being overly camp and deep without being turgid.

Like Diablo Swing Orchestra, this lot put the fun back into this sort of music. A wonderful break from the normal metal norm.

Killing Joke: Absolute Dissent

The band has been around for thirty years and have had their ups about down creatively. They have been covered by Metallica and Foo Fighters, said to have influenced many bands especially in the genre of industrial. Thought to maybe disappearing from the scene a few years ago, they are back with their strongest album for many a year. This is the first time the original line-up has recorded together on a full length album for 25 years. They haven’t worked together in 27 years.

There will be a two-CD version of this album with a bonus disc of bands covering their music. A good example of how influential they have been. There are some great tracks on here, one “In Exclesis” will no doubt have the goth throng dancing their arses off at their favorite club. This is a great experimental alternative metal album that shows the band still got it.

Eurosceptics out there will love their song “European Superstate”, a theme-song for the movement? The cynicism that the band is known for is there, reinvented for a modern age. The time is right for a new proper KJ album, fortunately Jaz and company have delivered in droves.

Grave Digger: The Clans Will Rise Again

What would you say to batch of power metal with a Scottish theme, done by a notorious German metal band? Germans plumbing Scottish history for inspiration for a metal band might seem a tad odd. One listen to “Hammer of the Scots” and you will be convinced that this is not some bit of joke cod metal.

Fans of the band will be pleased with this release. Its is a find return to form and one of their best for many a moon. Its always good to see a band go back to doing what they do best. Rest assured there is none of the veteran band go modern malarkey we occasionally see, this is trad power metal at its best. The band whose frequent line-up changes have been known to hurt the consistency of their output seem to be firing on all cylinders.

It’s a shame the title track isn’t stronger, being a tad cheesy. However overall this is a decent “themed” power metal albums that will please fans of the band. Does what it does rather well. Really hard to argue with that really. One has to wonder if they are gonna go the whole hog and wear proper Scottish kilts onstage. Well they have the bagpipe track so why not?

That is your lot for this week, enjoy the variety and direct any grumbles to the space below. Be rocking and be safe as you gorge yourself on vittles this next week.

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