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Music Reviews: Fish, Lillian Axe, Powerwolf, and a Metallica DVD

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To my surprise, I have managed to get through the pile of CDs on my desk and get them down to single digits. This week, like most, we have a mix of the ole' and the new. From powermetal to folky British prog recorded in a Scottish church. I will miss having to listen to Lillian Axe as I move on to the next batch of reviews.

CD Reviews

Fish: Communion

This is Fish with a bunch of mates and his daughter doing the acoustic (mostly) bit in a Scottish church near his home-town. How can this be bad? Fish used this as a return to roots gig playing through his extensive back catalogue. The recording is quite good considering the venue and the players on hand are first rate. I cannot fault this two CD set at all. If you are a Fish fan, it's pretty much essential.

If you like British prog and like it stripped down, then you will love this CD. This is great for those evening nights next to the fire with a glass of wine. Fish has really come back to life of late; this is a great release and his latest (to be reviewed later this year) is rather good as well.

Lillian Axe: s/t and Love & War

Two re-masters from the guys at Metal Mind in Poland. Unlike most of their releases, these two discs fall under the melodic rock category rather than uber-metal. Lillian Axe is one of those bands that had the chops, the talent, and the songs but lacked timing in extremis. These guys should have been huge, even if you just heard their Robbin Crosby-produced RATT tinged debut. It's a damn good album, but one that pales in comparison to the follow-up Love & War. Lillian Axe truly spread their wings on the second release and provide a sophomore album worthy of the best of the late 80s.

They combine tongue-in-cheek melodic rock with a more mature look at hard rock. Every song on L&W is catchy in the stick-in-your-head variety. Whether we are talking about the awesome title track or such classics as "Show a Little Love". Steve Blaze truly had the talent needed, he just lacked the timing. And it's not as if they stopped producing good stuff with the second album either. Check out Phantasmagoria for proof there was more quality left in the well. If you are a melodic hard rock fan then you should have both of these CDs. If you are a fan who has this lot on vinyl or worse cassette then you need these re-mastered version post-haste. L&W is truly a forgotten gem of an album.

Powerwolf: Lupus Dei & Return to Bloodred

The name of the band is quite a good hint as to what lies therein. This is Euro horror/dark metal ala King Diamond/Mercyful Fate et al. It's not black metal as there is a serious sense of fun involved in this lot's material. It's power metal to be sure and they do it rather well. Imagine Cradle of Filth without the high vocals, more talent, and less pretentiousness. Both of these album provide what they say on the tin. There are no real highlights but no real lowlights either. It's just good tongue-in-cheek power metal done well with oodles of talent and drive. I bet they are great fun live and they are doing the festival circuit in Europe this summer.

DVD Reviews

Aural Amphetamine: Metallica and the Dawn of Thrash

There are lots of these sort of documentaries kicking around varying in quality. This one is quite good and has something to offer for even the most ardent of metal fans. The title does rather tell you what it's about. The interesting twist of this one is that they start in the UK tracing NWOBHM's strong influence on the thrash movement. You could consider the companion documentary to Lars NWOBHM compilation that was released in the 90s. You get to hear from Diamond Head's Brian Tatler about Lars & Co. Unlike many of these type of DVDs there was enough on here to keep interested over its 95 minute length.

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