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Music Reviews: Metallica, Voodoo Highway, Empires of Eden, Burzum, Dominanz, and Loincloth

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It has been a while since my last column. Sorry about that, I was off to a conference in Las Vegas. However, I managed to listen to quite a bit of music along the way.

First out of the gate I have to get to grips with the Metallica EP Beyond Magnetic and give it a full listen-over. The first review I wrote was a bit of a brush off as I was annoyed that it was based on a streaming-only version of the release. Why do record companies sometimes give their releases short shift by only letting reviewers stream them? Do they not realize that review music should be listened to in the best possible way, rather than by being stuck in front of a computer, relying on a stream to do its job properly?

Back to the music. This is a four-track EP which is, as are many of this sort of EP, a very mixed bag. However, my initial reaction to the package was a tad unfair. First of all, there is a stinker on this release in the form of “Just a Bullet Away”. You can immediately tell why it was left off the proper album this EP followed up, 2008’s Death Magnetic, as it is really is not up to the usual quality of that album. It is so bad a track that I found myself skipping over it to get to the end. To these ears, it is St. Anger bad and should have been left off this release.

However, “Hell and Back” is a great track that has hints back to the best of the Black album and is by far the best of the four tracks on here. “Rebel of Babylon” and “Hate Train” are more thrash and excel, depending on your mood. I think I lean towards the former being the better track of the two. Overall, there is one great track on this EP, two decent tracks, and one absolute stinker.

That said, this EP might get people to go back and listen to Death Magnetic again and maybe even delve into Metallica’s quality back catalogue for solace. This bunch are very hit and miss these days, but every so often when they get it right, the true magic of the band shines through.

Voodoo Highway are steeped firmly in the ’70s and are perfectly happy to admit it. Their latest release, Broken Uncle’s Inn, has touches of Deep Purple, Aerosmith, and even old Whitesnake. It ain’t exactly bleeding edge but oh boy, is it a great romp. “Running Around” is a wonderful track complete with its lashings of Hammond organ.

Empires of Eden has their latest release called Channelling the Infinite for all you power metal enthusiasts. Stu Marshall, the guitarist and main man behind this release, has a very good collection of vocalists on here. Any album that includes Steve Grimmett is one I am going to like. If you like your power metal with lots of variety on one album, then you will enjoy this.

It is bleak black and very haunting, yet at the same time oddly beautiful and melodic. If you couldn’t have guessed yet, Burzum has unleashed another collection of tunes on us all. Umskiptar is more Nordic myth. The murderous loon Varg Vikarnes is doing what he does best.

Speaking of the odd, from Scandinavia there is Dominanz. The band produce an interesting fission between black metal and industrial, with oddles of atmosphere topped with a hefty touch of doom. Unusually for this sort of music, some of the tracks do have a more mass appeal on As I Shine.

There is no shock that the band Loincloth play heavy metal with an emphasis on the heavy bit. The album is called Iron Balls of Steel, and this is a band trying to be as heavy they can while still having a tune. This is stripped down metal that doesn’t even bother with vocals. The songs can sound a bit samey and at times lack variety. A band to watch for sure.

Enjoy your week and I promise to be more timely. Rock hard and stay safe out there.

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