Hope you all had a good 4th of July week with lots of hot dogs and fireworks. We got a bit of an eclectic mix this week ranging from new country to prog to straight ahead in-your-face death metal.
This is an extensive two-CD set of the Polish black metal master’s best stuff to date (greatest hits probably not), together with some covers, and some live stuff. Behemoth, one of Poland’s most extreme exports, started out as pure black metal, complete with the corpse paint, then evolved into some more deathy. The intensity and aggression of this lot cannot be underestimated.
Tracks like “Pure Evil and Hate” very much set the stage for what you are about to hear. Twenty-nine tracks of the blackest and most deathly stuff you can imagine. If you want an introduction to extreme metal of the best sort, as well as a taster of what this band can do, then this CD is for sure.
Bon Jovi: Lost Highway
Pomp rockers of the 80s Bon Jovi have finally ended up in Nashville and fallen for the new country hook, line, and sinker. This is a not a pure country album by any means but it means country, pop, and hard rock half way for one of the best releases this lot have done for quite a long time. There are no serious stinkers on here like on their last few. I came into this album with fairly low expectations and was rather impressed.
The duets LeAnn Rimes, “Till We Ain’t Strangers Anymore” and “We Got it Going On” are quality tracks of country-tinged AOR. The stand out up tempo track has got to be “Summertime” with its nod to the anthemia rocks of Bon Jovi’s past. It took Bon Jovi long enough but they finally followed rockers like the guys in Giant (the Huff brothers) and Ron Keel to Nashville, the new home of American AOR. It is bizarre they left off the big hit “Who Says You Can’t Go Home,” though.
Civilization One: Revolution Rising
This lot are a truly international group of musicians (Italy, France, Sri Lanka, and Brazil) who play progressive power metal of the European variety with quite a bit of aplomb. Unlike some bands of this sort, they do have a decent set of songs on here and its not just musicians showing off. As with many of this sort of album, it’s not really about catchiness per se, but “Dream On” is quite a good AOR power ballad. It’s competent power prog with feeling and talent.
Consortium Project: IV
As you might image from the name, this is an album which has a few core members and lots of guests. It’s basically the brainchild of Ian Parry. The band features former members of Elergy and With Temptation. This is progressive power metal with hard rock hints that is neither unpleasant nor particularly thrilling. It’s decent to listen to but there is really nothing that could be classed as memorable it has to be said. It would be interesting to see what they are like live.
Stone Lake: World Entry
The one thing that first strikes you about this CD is the vocals of Peter Grundstrom. To say he is an acquired taste, with his high screech, is an understatement. There are times he goes so high as to sound off key. These Swedish lads seem to be doing the business on their local scene. There is a no faulting the quality of the musicianship, especially from main-man Jan Akesson.
As with many of this sort of bands, on record they sometimes lack enough decent songs to fill an album. There are several filler tracks on here, really nothing that stands out in its catchiness. This is the band’s debut. Let’s hope they gel a bit more and come up with a better collection of tracks.
Porcupine Tree: Fear of a Blank Planet
It will shock no one at all to hear that Steve Wilson and Co have produced probably their best work to date. (It’s hard to tell as they are all so good.) Wilson who is also in the excellent Blackfield and is a producer of note (ex: Opeth) just has that ability to make his prog both deep and accessible. The album is not a concept album, as so beloved by proggers, but deals with the digital age in all its glory.
PT are on par with Dream Theater, especially in the light of latest release, without being complete clones. There is something special going on with this band that you can’t quite put your finger on. Not that you want to, it you want brilliance, try “Anesthetize”. There is a heavy Pink Floyd vibe, but it’s all their own. A heavy Opeth-like vibe can be found later on the CD.
Neil Peart and Robert Fripp show up for good measure. If you like your prog deep, meaningful, but still accessible then this CD is a must have. This just might be their Dark Side of the Moon. Pretty damn near essential methinks.
Velvet Revolver: Libertad
Did VR going to fall victim to that dreaded sophomore slump? Were they going to fail where so many bands have fallen. Not bloody likely mate. Veteran players like this lot have spent the time since the first one touring their guts out, gelling their vibe and sound. I don’t think I can remember when Scott Weiland’s voice has ever sounded better. Proof, if needed, that in fact Weiland is a far better singer than Axl.
From the opening bars of “Let it Roll” to the final licks of “Grave Danger” this is quality LA heavy rock. It’s what you wanted from VR in every way. If you are so inclined you can get an enhanced CD with “The Making of Libertad” as well as a bonus DVD tour documentary “Tierra Roja, Sangre Roja” about their recent South American tour. We all so wanted this band to deliver on their second release and thankfully they did.
That is your lot for this week, or is it 10 days, next week I will finally let myself review the awesome Dream Theater release as well as some other stuff that is kicking around.
As always stay rocking and safe… but please see live music whenever and wherever you can.