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Music Reviews: Blaze Bayley, Karma to Burn, Triumph, Judas Priest, Scorpions

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Welcome to this week’s column, full of heavy music produced by various interesting means.

CD reviews

Blaze Bayley: Promise and Terror

Forever known, for better or worse, as that bloke wot blew a gig with Iron Maiden while appearing on their worst ever records, he has a hard slog. He is actually appearing at some European gigs with another bloke sacked from Iron Maiden, Paul Di”Anno. One has to wonder how they get on and the chats they have.

To the music, well this album is said to be a “dark and emotional album” which is not surprising considering the loss of his wife in 2008. She seems to have left him one last gift, for this is probably the best album of his solo career. It's certainly the most mature release of his and continues a better quality of song-writing. Give it time and you will warm to it.

The trouble with Bayley, of course, is that his voice does not have much variety or range. So by definition most of the songs sound very similar. That said his new line-up and label seemed to have helped him produce an album that has more zing than normal. This is a decent metal album and certainly the best of his career. This might just get him some new fans or bring back his old ones.

Karma to Burn: Appalachian Incantation

This is the album that follows their successful reunion tour, one that must have invigorated the band quite a bit. This is some great stoner rock with touches of psychedelic and straight ahead metal. Only two of the tracks have names, the rest numbers, which seems rather odd. Although its hardly surprising this lot are quirky with their song titles.

However “Waiting on the Western World” is a great track that could get them a fan base outside the stoner rock world. It's just got the hooks and class that you want from a track. If you never gave these guys a second thought, check it out and give them a second chance. It's accessible and clever, the brand of stoner rock Karma to be Burn peddle is not one that requires heavy doses of alternate substances to enjoy.

This is a welcome return of a great band. It’s a great pleasure to see the band back and firing on all cylinders. This is not so much a come-back album, but a return to form album for a band that is well respected both by the fans and their peers. It's as if they are back to show the young ‘uns how its done.

Triumph: Greatest Hits: Remixed

That other great trio from Canada is so often over-looked in the great scheme of things. Until they fizzled and bumbled on through a few line-up changes that never quite worked, they produced some of the catchiest Canadian rock around. Triumph are one of those bands that, if you are of a certain age or listen to classic rock radio, you have heard the band but can’t identify them.

This release is pretty impressive not only their greatest hits, which has been remixed by Rick Chycki who has done the business for Aerosmith and Rush. It includes one unreleased recording of “Love Hurts,” the tune Nazareth turned into such a hit. Not sure why a cover is necessary considering the quality of their other tunes. On the DVD are eleven promo and live videos as well as three unreleased ones. The extra DVD just adds to the attraction of this set.

Fans will probably have their greatest hits set already and the band have done their best to make sure this update is well worth the money. Those of you who think you might know the band should pick up this release and realise just how many Triumph songs you know and love.

Judas Priest: British Steel

What can you say about this iconic release? It has become an all-time classic in the genre, inspiring thousands of bands to sign on to the cause of metal. It's been thirty years since its original release, and besides making a lot of people feel a wee bit older, its been gussied up a bit. In a year of some amazing metal releases, 1980, this album has stood the test of time and then some.

To add to the frisson of the album, there are the underlying insinuations of the classic timeless mental tracks “Breaking the Law” and “Living after Midnight.” It was not just Rob Halford’s stage antics which were a bit camp and hinted at his homosexuality. The lyrics to the two songs hint at the frustration Halford was having as a gay man who was not out. Take for instance when he screamed “you don’t know what its like!” in “Living after Midnight.” Halford is metal Freddie Mercury and just as talented. Few people either in the business or metal fans I knew were surprised when he outted himself during his time outside of Priest during his “Two” project. That said no one gave a toss either, because unlike the stereotype, metalheads are a pretty accepting lot.

Available as a three CD set featuring the original release, re-mixed of course, as well as a CD version of the DVD live gig. The DVD contains a live gig from their 2009 tour, which featured the album in its entirety with extra hits, plus a “Making of British Steel” documentary. If you are a Priest fan or admirer and never updated to CD from vinyl this is a great opportunity: a great album that has just been revitalised and made an even better metal buy. Recommended, that is for damn sure my friends.

Scorpions: Sting in the Tail

The Scorpions are calling it quits after the tour that follows this album. It's not the normal musical differences or any case of their falling out amongst themselves; they just they have had a good run. Or maybe it's because they probably won’t be able to do their human pyramid much longer due to advancing age. Rather than go out on a sour note, the band have upped their game considerably on this release. It's safe to say this is their best since the end of the 80s and some would argue their best since 82’s “Blackout.”

It's not a lie to say the band have released a series of lacklustre albums in the new century. Nothing could really live up to their heights of their 80s heyday or even the hype of the atrocious yet hugely popular “Winds of Change.” Then again, for many of their traditional fans that song killed them off completely. If you are one of them rest assured there is no whistling on this record.

Their sense of humour is unchanged and the last song, “Best is Yet to Come,” leads you to wonder what the members have up their sleeve next. The title track reminds traditional Scorpions fans of the band’s heyday. Remember that this is their last tour, so check them out live, and while you’re at it, check out this release. It will both stir up good memories and please you to hear a great band go out on such a great high.

It’s a pretty good collection of music and mostly rather good. Stay safe and rocking as always.

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