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Music Reviews: Disincarnate, Znowhite, Testament, Fifty Caliber Kiss , Magnum and Saxon

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It is, of course, that time of the week again and I once more sally forth into my pile of harder music. It is a rather interesting collection, both old and new, and most of it rather good. Untainted by being referred to as idiotic for writing a good review by someone last week, I give you my latest reviews.

CD Reviews

Disincarnate: Dreams of the Carrion Kind

Led by James Murphy, and having released only this album so far, this lot was a pioneer of technical death metal prog. It is said they might be working on another one, but it might be a long time coming as Murphy has brain cancer. The band were a death metal supergroup with members of Obituary, Malevolent Creation, and Dark Carnival to name a few in their ranks. Murphy has been in loads of bands including the mighty Testament another band which mixed finesse with a genre that was not considered to be technical… thrash.

Metal (death, black, extreme, or general) fans should probably have a copy of this album and this re-issue would be a great excuse. With extra tracks containing demo versions of songs and a remastering of the whole thing, there is a lot to go with here. The remastering does a good job at demonstrating the talent. Just take a listen to the title track and tell me if it's not impressive. If you claim to be a metal fan and don't have this… get it now or lose your cred.

Znowhite: Act of God

One of the first examples of female-led thrash bands, Znowhite are sorely missed. This lot produced an album that is fondly remembered to this day. It is a considered a masterpiece by many and a classic by many more. This is one of those albums many have never heard of but you will kick yourself for not knowing about. This lot was at the forefront of 80's thrash and it blew quite a few stereotypes out of the metallic water. As with the rest of the remastering series from Roadrunner this sound is even fuller than when you first heard it, especially if it was on record. Liner notes are a nice addition as well. It's another one that every metal-head should own.

Testament: The Spitfire Collection

This is thrash metal with a bit of something extra — something technical, and progressive at times. Probably the link between Savatage and more prog metal, this band has shared members with that band. Some might accuse Spitfire of releasing this 14 track CD as a cash-in, but none the less the material stands up, especially with the older material in a live form taken for their recent live CD. There is no denying the quality of "Practice what you Preach" and "Souls of Black" played by the classic line-up at a gig in London in 2005. The rest of the new material is good, but not as special as their older stuff. While not essential per se, quality material such as this deserves the ears of discerning metal-heads. If you haven't got the albums the material comes form, get this as a nice little taster. It's thrash tinged with intelligence and skill never sounded so good.

Fifty Caliber Kiss: Armor Class Invincible

Besides loving the geeky Dungeons and Dragons inspired title of this CD, not to mention the great band name, the metalcore stylings on show are some of the best I have heard. Not necessarily a fan of the genre, there is something a little bit special about this lot. Obviously inspired by the likes of Pantera et al but with a smattering of traditional metal in the musicianship, this band is not just a bunch of wanna-bes. They are not afraid to show their humorous side with their titles like "Magnets are for Lovers". This is serious bludgeon metalcore that takes no prisoners and does not do so subtlety. A bit of maturing could turn this lot into quite an impressive outfit. Only time will tell.

Saxon: The Inner Sanctum

Saxon have been an enduring example of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, the consistency from this band even outdoes the mighty Iron Maiden. This band is no exception with a consistent 10 track collection of classic heavy metal. There is no denying the talent of Biff Byford and Co. whether it is the lyrical content or the musicianship. Biff may have white hair, look like he comes straight out of Lord Of The Rings, but he has liquid metal running through his veins.

They have a sense of humour as well… notice the various phallic nuances on the cover. The band are continuing the run of quality albums this new century, combining classic metal with modern production to produce something truly special. There is a no such thing as a stand-out track because they all do. Well, except for the exceptional reminder of the fall of the communism, "Red Star Falling." Oh yes, and one more thing, they are bloody brilliant live as well. Check 'em out if you can. This is a great early candidate for album of the year.

Magnum: Princess Alice and the Broken Arrow

This has a cover with a wonderful twist of humour and an album that reminds us all of Magnum when they are at their best. Since their return from self-imposed hiatus, Magnum have been on the top of their game. Like Saxon and Iron Maiden, they have been combining the best of classic metal with modern recording techniques to produce something truly special. They are not nostalgic but using their past and their future equally well. The most impressive track is "Dragons are Red' which might cause a snicker from some but has all the proper qualities of a Magnum song. The band is in fine form with Bob Catley in great vocal form.

Their best since On a Storyteller's Night? Quite possibly yes. Musical story-telling has never sounded so good. It's an excellent album from a band of great quality that seems to take growing older as an excuse to be stubborn and stick to their guns.

Well that is your lot for this week, me hearties. Classic thrash and metal show themselves perfectly capable of standing up to the new guard.

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