Apologies for the erratic release of this column, I have been rather busy with a wedding, a funeral, and the recording of a few tracks of my own music. Nevertheless they pile of review material continues apace and I have been sneaking "listening" sessions whenever possible. This week we have a mixed media group with DVDs and CDs.
Stryper: Live in Puerto Rico Greatest Hits
Despite their multi-platinum career Stryper, especially in their bumblebee striped 80s heyday, have come in for a lot of stick. Their naff outfits, on their sleeve Christianity and bible tossing didn't endear them to many, but it cannot be denied that they are a talented bunch who can write a cracking catchy tune when they want to… just check out "Honestly" or "Always there for You" if you need proof. Even "To Hell with Devil" has got enough balls to satisfy the average hard-rocker. It could be argued that the subtle Christian approach of Kings X or Trouble might have been better for cred. Never the less you can't argue with success. Oh yes, I have met them and they are thoroughly nice blokes all around.
This "greatest hits" gig was recorded in Puerto Rico in 2004 in front of a rather keen audience. There are fourteen tracks on here, thirteen of their own and "Winter Wonderland". What is odd is that their biggest hit is on here but only in less than perfect archival footage from 1989. That aside this is a pretty good package, bereft of liner notes though it might be, and a must for any Stryper fan. I thoroughly enjoyed the 72 minutes of material on here and am not ashamed to say it. Take it from this heretic, there is talent in between all those yellow and black stripes.
Damn Yankees: Uprising Live
Now this lot I have always adored since their debut CD. They combine talents of some of the best bands of their genres from the 80s in the form of Ted Nugent, Jack 'Night Ranger' Blades and Tommy 'Styx" Shaw. Damn Yankees are a slicker paired down version of all those bands and are truly a supergroup. Take out the pomp of it all and just go for blues-soaked heavy rock of the heartland. All their big hits are on here including "High Enough", "Where you Goin' Now" and "Coming of Age". As would expect with such an outing you get some stuff for their pasts as well. The band banter in between the tracks shows a bit into how this lot of giant talents manage to produce anything without killing each other. There is even a bit of insight into how they manage those close harmonies. This was originally released in '92 on VHS and the DVD version suffers from none of the bad conversion problems that happens so often when using archive material.
One can always hope that the Damn Yankee machine will come back, especially with Blades and Shaw working together again. Until that happens this is a fitting testament to a cracking rock supergroup. Great stuff and well worth the price of admission.
Sadus: Chemical Exposure, Swallowed in Black & A Vision of Misery
Quite literally one of the fastest and most aggressive death/thrash metal bands on the planet this lot took playing their death to the uber-extreme of intensity. Home to one of the top thrash/speed metal bass talents going, in the form of journeyman Steve DiGiorgio, (Artension, Autopsy, Control Denied, Death, Dragonlord, Iced Earth, Painmuseum, Testament, Vintersorg and numerous guest appearances), this is a reissue of their first three albums. The band is still going strong releasing material as recently as 2006.
This is music for those who like their stuff really out there on the ultimate extreme. The sheer ferocity of the material on these three albums is just something to behold. The roots of much of what exists as extreme metal can be traced to these albums and DiGiorgio. Of the three, the later one is where everything came together just right. Through the aggression and speed there exists a bonding of the musicians. As with the other Roadrunner re-issues in this series there are bonus tracks and extended liner notes. The liner notes provide an interesting insight into the making of the albums.
Gorguts: The Erosion of Sanity and Considered Dead
These Canadian nutters made a career of extreme technical chaotic metal that pushes the edge of reason. Much like their Canuck cousins Voivod, they were determined to take the genre as far as it could go and then some. Some say that the follow-up to these albums called Obscura saw the band fall of the edge into oblivion. These two CDs prepared them for that insanity showing a progression. Complete with bonus tracks and liner notes this is yet another set of releases any extreme metal fan should not be without. Death metal taken to the nth degree, it's certainly not for the faith of heart or ear.
So that is you lot for this week. I am sorry I managed only four reviews for you. I need to be a better job of hitting the pile for next time. Next week will be a tad mellower with music from Marillion, Rush, and a few other niceties. The two tracks from my band will not be up for yer listening pleasure until after my wedding on the 19th as they were written and recorded to premiere at our reception.
As always stay safe, rocking and catch a live gig whenever where you can.