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Music Reviews: GnR, Hawkwind, Iron Maiden, Buckcherry, Chris Caffery, Lux Occulta, Messiah’s Kiss, Violent Storm and Gareth Hinds

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Well, I have not been as weekly as I would have liked of late, but I have a cracking good excuse. I am learning the hard way how much effort and time it takes to prepare a wedding. However, that does not mean I have been shirking my listening or music DVD viewing. Below is my foray into the pile of metal before me.

DVD Reviews

Guns N' Roses: DVD Collector's Box

Herein lies a set of those unauthorized DVDs that rounds up a whole bunch of ancillary people to the band and interviews them about what they remember. None of the band is involved (well only someone from the beginning) and there is no GnR music. To be honest, there is little jealousy or bitchiness, as one might expect from such a type of documentary. However, that being said, they do give you a rather interesting take on the whole LA scene when the band were in their early days.

For me at least, the DVD about GnR is far more interesting than the one that is solely about Axel Rose himself. There is not much on the latter that we don't already know from reading the pages of Kerrang! or any other heavy rock magazine. Still, if you are a GnR fan, than this might be rather interesting for you, not exactly ground-breaking stuff, but interesting in places nonetheless.

Hawkwind: Out of the Shadows

Hawkwind has always attracted rather rabid fans who are keen to get a hold of whatever they can from the band. This DVD will suit them to a T. Filmed in Newcastle at the Opera House back in 2002, it shows Hawkwind in all their post-millennium glory complete with daft outfits, unintelligible lyrics and trippy musical workouts. The cover of this disc is a rather good clue as to what lies therein.

The disc ends with the inevitable "Silver Machine" and is one of those DVDs that makes you feel stoned even if you are sipping mineral water. This is pretty much 141 minutes of space rock glory. If you love the band, than this is for you. For the rest of us it's a personal choice. I rather enjoyed watching the nuttiness that is Hawkwind.

Iron Maiden: Death on the Road

This is a three disc set of Iron Maiden in all its glory. There is a DVD each for those who wish to listen in 5.1 or just mere stereo. The live set, incredibly filmed, comes from their 2003 tour at their Dortmund stop. As you would expect from Maiden this is a live tour d'force and the DVD accurately does the band's live performance justice. As you would expect from Maiden there is a mixture of old and new with the inevitable "The Number of the Beast"/"Run to the Hills" ender. If you were there to see them on this tour, it will bring back great memories. If you missed them, it will accurately show you what you missed.

Oh yes, there are three DVDs, aren't there? Well, as you would expect from the band that mostly gives good value for money, the third DVD is chock full of extras, including a feature length documentary of the same name chronicling the making of the album Dance of Death. There is a 45 minute documentary on the making of the tour with lots of good behind the scenes footage, another 30 min documentary on Maidenheads, the EPK, the two videos from the album, and a photo/artwork gallery.

In the end, it's 305 minutes of Maiden in all its glory; great value for your DVD money. Despite telling yourself you have plenty of live Iron Maiden material, you will still want this set… trust me.

CD Reviews

Buckcherry: 15

I have managed to avoid hearing this CD since it was released last year. This was not on purpose, by the way, it just happened. I rather enjoyed Buckcherry's first album with its hit "All Lit Up" so I figured I would give this a shot too. The eleven tracks here are in your face unsubtle LA rock at its finest. Those of you who yearn for the great sleaze n' roll of GnR, LA Guns, and the like should get this CD if you don't already have it.

It's a wonderful crawl into the slime that is LA. The big hit off this CD is a classic example with it's in your face f*** anthem theme; "Crazy Bitch" takes no prisoners and gives a one finger salute to political correctness. "Had a Bad Day" it certainly ain't. I will keep this at hand for the next time I have sit through James Blunt or his ilk. Now I know what I was missing.

Chris Caffery: Pins & Needles

Savatage, Doctor Butcher, and Trans Siberian Orchestra man Caffery is back with yet another solo album. How does he find the time, is the first question you have to ask yourself. Unlike some of the only solo ventures by band guitarists (like say Jack Frost) this is a quality collection of heavy rock tunes that bears multiple listens. There is a no doubt that Caffery has a great deal of talent and this CD is even more evidence of that. Yep it's good.

Lux Occulta: The Mother and the Enemy

Bizarre disc, this one. Firmly planted in the Portishead school of making music, it's rather a tale of two halves. The heavier male sung stuff is a bit bog standard black metal electronica while the female sung tracks have the ethereal qualities of bands like Nightwish and Tristania. The trouble is the two are a bit incompatible at times. The male  sung stuff is mostly just annoying, like the god-awful "Gambit," while the other material is far more of quality.

Granted all of it is rather mournful stuff but the starkness of the opening of the track "Yet Another Armageddon" is quite breathtaking and beautiful ala Portishead. It's really hard to tie this one down but I have to say its peaks and lows are dramatic… maybe that was the intent.

Messiah's Kiss: Dragonheart

This is power metal done with a wonderful sense of pomp and power. Think Dio/Judas Priest et al and you will be about the right mark. This is a great metal that is done with lots of pleasure and ability. Just listen to the title track if you don't believe me. Yes we keep told this stuff is naff and metal has moved on but who cares? Its fun, a bit daft but full of character and pathos. Stick on your Dio shirt, crank this stuff up and do your metal signs… come on you know you want to?

Would it shock you to know that they are German? This is a must for fans of power metal whether modern or ancient.

Violent Storm: Storm Warning

The executive producer is KK Downing from Judas Priest and this disc features guest appearances from Yngwie Malmsteen and Roy Z (Bruce Dickinson Band etc) who also engineers/mixes. You rather know where this CD is headed with its cracking playing, headbanging, and twiddling goodness. Heavy flamboyant rock from the 80s is what this most reminds you of with riffing and solos aplenty. The brains behind the band is Mike Cervino ex of Malmsteen's band and Blackmoore's Night. The latter influence can be found on the final track, "Storm," with its medieval guitar interludes. And come on, tell me you can't resist singing along with the track "Deceiver." The only thing I need to know is when I can see this lot play live.

Yeah, the metalcore crowd will think this is lame but you know better. I enjoyed it beginning to end and that is what matters right?

Bonus Review:

Beowulf by Gareth Hinds

There are few words to write about this version of this graphic novel rendition of the Beowulf legend. While reading you are overwhelmed by the powerful art therein and drawn into the legend that is the mighty warrior Beowulf. It is a stunning rendition of the age old Saga that clearly demonstrates the Viking ethos and beliefs. As a fan of the tale since reading it as a young child, I can highly recommend this graphic novel version. Every home should have one for when you child hits the comic stage. Cthulhu fans will be interested in Hinds manifestation of one of the monsters that Beowulf battles.

Words do not do full justice to this thing of beauty. Oh yeah, and I forgot to add one thing… I never really ever liked comics.

Well, that is your lot this week. My pile has been reduced ever so slightly today, but I am sure that the holes will be quickly filled by the rush of releases before summer. Overall, it was a pretty good collection of material with something for everyone with only one real clunker.

As always stay safe, rocking, and check out live music where ever and when ever you might find it.

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