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October 26, 2004

Twilight Guardians: Wasteland

Twilight Guardians: WastelandCD, Spinefarm Records 2004

Track list: Weak Generation - The Next Call - Search for Grace - Angels - King of the Wasteland - Time Has Come - Farher's Cave - Rocka Rolla - The Wraith - Hellward

Twilight Guardians has had some trouble with record labels and thus has done just two albums during the eight years of their existence. That isn't something I would feel sorry about, really, because Wasteland just doesn't impress me. I certainly am not a huge fan of power metal, but I do like some bands and albums. Twilight Guardians or Wasteland just aren't included. **

Jag Panzer: Casting the Stones

Jag Panzer: Casting the StonesCD, Century Media 2004

Track list: Feast or Famine - The Mission (1943) - Vigilant - Achilles - Tempest - Legion Immortal - Battered & Bruised - Cold - Starlight's Fury - The Hearkening - Precipice

Jag Panzer has been doing their thing for years already. Unfortunately they are practically unknown in Finland. That's a shame, since Casting the Stones is a rather good album, actually. The band still has it, just like Iron Maiden or any other heavy metal band that's still decent. Not fresh, by no means, but for the fans of good old heavy metal Casting the Stones is a good choice. With good tracks like The Mission (1943), Precipice or Feast or Famine, Jag Panzer is doing great. ****

October 23, 2004

Rhapsody: Symphony of Enchanted Lands 2 - The Dark Secret

Rhapsody: Symphony of Enchanted Lands 2 - The Dark SecretCD, SPV 2004

Track list: The Dark Secret - Unholy Warcry - Never Forgotten Heroes - Elgard's Green Valleys - The Magic of the Wizard's Dream - Erian's Mystical Rhymes - The Last Angel's Call - Dragonland's River - Sacred Power of Raging Winds - Guardiani - Shadows of Death - Nightfall on the Grey Mountains

Talk about larger than life. Rhapsody is the master of majestic and symphonic. This album walks on the footsteps of their previous one and sounds pretty much the same. Everything is just larger: large choir, large symphony orchestra, Christopher Lee doing the narration, so on. The result sounds just like Rhapsody album does. You choose, if that's a good thing. To me, there's too much of the same old. ***

October 20, 2004

Winds: The Imaginary Direction of Time

Winds: The Imaginary Direction of TimeCD, Blackend 2004

Track list: What Is Beauty? - Sounds Like Desolation - Theory Of Relativity - Visions Of Perfection - The Fireworks Of Genesis - Under The Stars - A Moment For Reflection - Time Without End - The Final End - Beyond Fate - Silence In Despair - Infinity

Winds is lead by Andy Winter, classically inspired pianist. His crew is superb: vocalist Lars Eric Si is good, if not that unique. In guitar we have a true virtuoso, Carl August Tidemann and behind the drums, probably the best metal drummer ever, Jan Axel von Blomberg alias Hellhammer. Not a bad start. It's fairly obvious where they go from that start - Arcturus isn't far, but Winds lacks Garm's lunatic genius. The Imaginary Direction of Time is still full of technically brilliant playing and clever and touching songs. Very good, if a bit light. Winds is no Opeth, but that's no fault of theirs, of course. Highly recommended for fans of progressive metal music. ****

Glittertind: Evige Asatro

Glittertind: Evige AsatroCD, Karmageddon Media 2004

Track list: Lindisfarne 793 - Karl den Store - Sønner av Norge - En stille morgen 1349 - Fjellheimen gir meg fred - Olav Digre - Nordmannen - Frostriket - Evige Asatro - Se Norges blomsterdal - Om kvelden når det mørkner - Skumring - Norges Skaal

Storm created a classic almost ten years ago with their album Nordavind. Norwegian national romantic music, traditional and traditionally influenced songs with metal sound. Glittertind aka Torbjorn Sandvik follows in their footsteps. His sound is more punk than metal, but it's pretty much the same thing - they even share a song: Glittertind's Nordmannen is Storm's Mellom bakkar og berg. I prefer Storm, but anybody with an interest into Norway and folk metal or punk should enjoy this one. ***

August 27, 2004

Mercenary: 11 Dreams

Mercenary: 11 DreamsCD, Century Media 2004

Track list: Into the Sea of Dark Desires - World Hate Center - 11 Dreams - reDestructDead - Firesoul - Sharpen the Edges - Supremacy v2.0 - Music Non Stop - Falling - Times without Changes - Loneliness

Mercenary's previous album, Everblack, was a bit of a surprise to me. It came out of nowhere and was bloody good. 11 Dreams is no surprise and manages to stand up to my high expectations. Mercenary still kicks butt, thank you very much. The style is the same: heavy metal, with a very heavy sound and two vocalists. I like it, the whole intensivity of it. A nice bonus is a cover from Kent, Music Non Stop. What a neat choice. ****

Miseria: Silence Within

Miseria: Silence WithinCD, self-published 2004

Track list: Silence Within - Whispering Cry - Myself to Seal - Soulbound - Into Despair

Miseria is a young Finnish melodic metal band. Silence Within is their first mini-cd, self-published by the band. I'm quite sure they'll score a recording deal sooner or later, with material of this quality. The band's most prominent feature is the use of two vocalist, male and female. Both are rather good. The songs are very melodic and catchy, even. This'll charm the metal-buying masses, I'm quite certain. ****

August 24, 2004

Morgenstern: Fuego

Morgenstern: FuegoCD, Napalm Records 2004

Track list: Asche - Untertan - Feuer - Carneval - Inferno - Abgesang - Kinderspiel - Schlange - Blut - Abwärts - Sommernacht

It's In Extremo all over again! Fuego certainly sounds like In Extremo's Verehrt und Angespien album, but hey - that's not a bad thing. I don't think there are enough German folk metal bands, certainly more diversity (even though Morgenstern sounds almost identical to In Extremo) is good. Of course, enjoying Fuego may take some effort: bag pipes, German vocals... But if that's your thing, you'll love Fuego. ****

August 23, 2004

Siena Root: A New Day Dawning

Siena Root: A New Day DawningCD, Rage of Achilles 2004

Track list: Coming Home - Just Another Day - Shine - Fever - Above the Trees - What Can I Do - Little Man - Roots - Trippin' - Until Time Leaves Us Again - Words - Rasayana - Into the Woods

Heavy organ sound, strong bass and guitar riffing and the very best heavy metal vocalist ever, that's what Siena Root is made of. If you think Black Sabbath was at their best on their first album, here's something new for you. Siena Root is heavily rooted in the 70's and that's just fine, if you ask me - I want more of this! Rarely have I heard such good music. *****

July 02, 2004

Ayreon: The Human Equation

Ayreon: The Human EquationCD, InsideOut Music 2004

Track list: Day one: Vigil - Day two: Isolation - Day three: Pain - Day four: Mystery - Day five: Voices - Day six: Childhood - Day seven: Hope - Day eight: School - Day nine: Playground - Day ten: Memories - Day eleven: Love - Day twelve: Trauma - Day thirteen: Sign - Day fourteen: Pride - Day fifteen: Betrayal - Day sixteen: Loser - Day seventeen: Accident? - Day eighteen: Realization - Day nineteen: Disclosure - Day twenty: Confrontation

The Human Equation, devised by the Dutch multi-talent Arjen Lucassen, is a story of a man, left in coma by a car accident. He must confront his inner workings to get back to life. It's a progressive rock opera, with several talented vocalists (James LaBrie, Mikael Åkerfeldt, Devin Townsend and so on) playing different roles. It's an interesting story and the songs are good. If you're into progressive metal and have an attention span long enough (the story stretches over two cd:s), this is something you'll love. ****

Icycore: Wetwired

Icycore: WetwiredCD, Limb Music 2004

Track list: Wetwired - Upload - The Net - Visions of Numeric Life - The Hollow Men - Watchdog & Virus - Chrome - Redefine Stru - A New Gestalt - Watch Me Now - Inner Void - Eternal Unlife

Wetwired is just the kind of progressive metal I don't like. Boring, technical and soulless. What's even worse, I don't think it's even that well played. The drums sounds especially bad. Their vocalist is decent, at least. The songs - well, repeated listening didn't produce a single staying memory. Skip this. *

June 30, 2004

Eldritch: Portrait of the Abyss Within

Eldritch: Portrait of the Abyss WithinCD, Limb Music 2004

Track list: Muddy Clepsidra - Forbidden - The World Apart - This Everlasting Mind Disease - Picture on the Wall - Dice Rolling - Drowning - Blindfolded Walkthrough - See You Down - Slow Motion "K" Us - Lonesome Existence

Italian progressive metal has never been my favourite genre. Considering that, Eldritch does actually a pretty good job. Mixing influences from different genres, they manage to produce few seriously good tracks ("This Everlasting Mind Disease" and "Drowning"). Unfortunately, the rest of the album is not that good. Still, it sounds pretty good and vocalist does a fairly good job. If you like the genre, why not, otherwise don't bother. ***

June 29, 2004

Evergrey: The Inner Circle

Evergrey: The Inner CircleCD, InsideOutMusic 2004

Track list: A Touch of Blessing - Ambassador - In the Wake of the Weary - Harmless Wishes - Waking Up Blind - More Than Ever - The Essence of Conviction - Where All Good Sleep - Faith Restored - When the Walls Go Down

I've never heard of Evergrey before, but it seems I've missed out on something good. The Inner Circle is certainly a good album. A lot of it is thanks to the vocalist Tom Englund, who does a great job here. His vocals range from touching to powerful and all are delivered with the same passion and charisma. The result sounds very good indeed. The songs are solid and well performed, and the album is technically well done. It's a concept album, with a theme circling around the ways people abuse religions for misguided purposes. ****

June 28, 2004

Rite: The Creep Had It Coming, part 1

Rite: The Creep Had It Coming, part 1CD, Multiplatinum Records 2004

Track list: Funeral Scenes - Firetrap - Bodybag Boogie - 665 And Counting - Darker Than Black

Finnish stoner rockers Rite surprised me. Their EP is something quite impressive; I didn't expect anything, and got a very good album. That's always good. Their heavy down-tuned rock sound is just perfect for having a good time. I'm quite sure their songs will live long in the selection of my MP3 player. My only gripe is that the EP has only five tracks... ****

June 27, 2004

Bongzilla: Apogee

Bongzilla: ApogeeCD, Relapse Records 2004

Track list: H.P. Keefmaker - Salvation - Grim Reefer - Witch Weed (live) - Dealer McDope (live) - Sacred Smoke (live) - American (live)

Ok, I know stoner rock is really about extensive use of cannabis and related products, but Bongzilla is bit too hazy for even though I generally like stoner-related music. Apogee doesn't please me, mostly because of too long songs, really bad vocals and even worse sound on the live tracks. Some of it is good - guitars are tuned low enough and the sound is pretty fuzzy, but mostly it's just real, real bad. *

June 25, 2004

Cruachan: The Middle Kingdom

Cruachan: The Middle KingdomCD, Karmageddon Media 2004

Track list: A Celtic Mourning - Celtica (Voice of the Morrigan) - The Fianna - A Druids Passing - Is Fuair an Chroi - Cattle Raid of Cooley (táin hó cuailgne) - The Middle Kingdom - Óró sé do Bheatha Abhaile - Unstabled (Steeds of Macha) - The Butterfly

The Middle Kingdom is not suitable for those allergic to bagpipes. Cruachan's celtic folk metal uses them and other more traditional instruments extensively to create a bristling celtic atmosphere. That's quite refreshing, I think and mainly the reason I like the album. It's not particularly heavy, there are some quite atmospheric and moody songs. If you like bagpipes and metal, I'd wager you like Cruachan as well. ****

Time Requiem: The Inner Circle of Reality

Time Requiem: The Inner Circle of RealityCD, Regain Records 2004

Track list: Reflections - The Inner Circle of Reality - Dreams of Tomorrow - Attar of Roses - Definition of Insanity - Quest of a Million Souls - Hidden Memories - Bach prelude variation

Time Requiem is a project of Swedish virtuoso keyboardist Richard Andersson. It's a shame I've never really been into this neoclassical metal thing, I'd rather listen to the real thing (either real metal or real classical music). I've heard enough, though, to make this album sound stale. The classical influences are used and bored and the melodies, well, I've heard them before. The result is a very boring album. **

June 21, 2004

Clamour: Rangaistus

Clamour: RangaistusCD, Longplay Music 2004

Track list: Vieraat - Valtaa - Riivaaja - Hyvästit

I expected rock, but got metal. Nice. This EP was actually better than I expected. Clamour plays heavy metal with personal female vocals. The vocals are less metal-ish than the music. Result is kind of rock, kind of heavy metal. What's more important, the songs are catchy and good. I like this, Clamour is definitely a band I'd like to hear more music from. ****

June 02, 2004

Rautiainen, Timo & Trio Niskalaukaus: Kylmä tila

Rautiainen, Timo & Trio Niskalaukaus: Kylmä tilaCD, King Foo Records 2004

Track list: Älkää selvittäkö - Juoksevan veden aika - Hyvä ihminen - Kylmä tila - Taakka - Ajurin ruoska - Minun oikeus - Pitkä odotus - Te ette tarvitse minua

New Niskalaukaus album hasn't excited me the way their earlier material did. The first album, Lopunajan merkit, was a real breath of fresh air, but now, at their fourth album, I'm growing bored. However, Kylmä tila features few pretty nice tracks: "Juoksevan veden aika" is one of their better tracks ever, and "Minun oikeus" does a good job too. Still, it's not what it used to be... ***

April 23, 2004

Viikate: Kuolleen miehen kupletti

Viikate: Kuolleen miehen kuplettiCD, Ranka Recordings 2004

Track list: Kuolleen miehen kupletti - Kaakko - Katoan - Sirkkelimiehen viitonen - Vasten kuutamon siltaa (Night of the Vampire)

New EP from Viikate features one track from their previous album, Surut pois ja kukka rintaan and then some. The new tracks are pretty good, I think, but nothing amazing. If you like Viikate, you'll know what you get. ***

April 19, 2004

Cans: Beyond the Gates

Cans: Beyond the GatesCD, Noise Records 2004

Track list: Fields of Yesterday - Soul Collector - Red Light - Back to Hell - Beyond the Gates - The Key - Garden of Evil - Merciless - Silent Cries - Dreams - Signs - Forever Ends

Joacim Cans is the vocalist from Hammerfall and this is his solo album. It's heavy metal, no surprises there and I guess nobody is surprised to hear Cans does the vocals very well. The songs are definitely decent and the whole album is, should I say, mature. I like it, it's very honest in a way. Of course it's a tad boring, too, nothing really innovative. But if you're looking for solid heavy metal done well, look no further. ****

April 16, 2004

Dragonforce: Sonic Firestorm

Dragonforce: Sonic FirestormCD, Noise Records 2004

Track list: My Spirit Will Go On - Fury of the Storm - Fields of Despair - Dawn Over a New World - Above the Winter Moonlight - Soldiers of the Wasteland - Prepare for War - Once in a Lifetime

Sonic Firestorm is a surprisingly good power metal album. The band blazes through the songs with a breath-taking speed, which is always fun. Their melodies are heavily pop-influenced (they also cite video game music as one of their influences) and sufficiently easy and catchy. Even though I usually dislike the genre, I can't help but like this album. Check out "Once in a Lifetime" or "Fury of the Storm", the best songs on the album. ****

April 05, 2004

Mister Kite: Box of Fear

Mister Kite: Box of FearCD, Lion Music 2004

Track list: From This Day On - How Long - Evil Bob - I Know You Know - Into Nothing - In This Room - State - Do Your Worst - The Hunger - Box of Fear

I've read some good reviews of this album, but I'm not enthusiastic. Technically there's nothing wrong in what Mister Kite do, but the content is missing. Their melodic, kind of American metal is light and easy, and that's probably the main issue I have with it: it just goes too smoothly. In and out, and nothing is left after it goes. In many places it feels like the vocalist (who's pretty good, though) holds back, when letting the rage out would really make the song work. Now I'm just annoyed when the song doesn't hit hard enough... If you like heavy rock, Mister Kite might be intense enough for you. For those who like their metal heavy, it's too mellow. **

April 02, 2004

36crazyfists: A Snow Capped Romance

36crazyfists: A Snow Capped RomanceCD, Roadrunner Records 2004

Track list: At the End of August - The Heart and the Shape - Bloodwork - Kenai - Skin and Atmosphere - Song for the Fisherman - With Nothing Underneath - Destroy the Map - Installing the Catheter - Cure Eclipse - Waterhaul

36crazyfists tries to portray a ton of emotion with their nu-metalish album, but it all falls very short. Despite the emotional melodies and the buzz of distorted guitars and the screaming and the clear vocals, it really doesn't touch me at all. At least bands like Slipknot occasionally combine catchy with heavy in a way that pleases me. 36crazyfists goes in from one ear and leaves through the other leaving absolutely nothing behind. Nice, but very boring. **

March 06, 2004

Rautiainen, Timo & Trio Niskalaukaus: Hyvä ihminen

Timo Rautiainen & Trio Niskalaukaus: Hyvä ihminenCDs, King Foo 2004

Track list: Hyvä ihminen - Samarialainen

New Trio Niskalaukaus single sounds good. I've read it really doesn't represent the forthcoming album that well, but we'll see. I like this song, and the bonus track (a Candlemass cover) is certainly interesting. ****

February 17, 2004

Kuusumun profeetta: Sanansaattaja Oraakkeli Salamurha Hyökkäysvaunu

Kuusumun profeetta: Sanansaattaja Oraakkeli Salamurha HyökkäysvaunuCD, Ektro 2004

Track list: Me olemme veitsi joka viiltää - Jumalat liekeissä - Muistokirjoitus - Tuuleen kätketty kirje - Hyökkäysvaunu - Morsius kuoleman - Rankaisun ylhäinen ruhtinas - Hämärän enkeli - Saa rakkaus vuoria odottaa - Puutarha menneen ihmemaan - Sanansaattaja

New Kuusumun profeetta album is a curious thing, indeed. Their previous album, Jatkuvasti maailmaa pelastamaan kyllästynyt supersankari was a brilliant five-star masterpiece. I really haven't figured out this one yet. One thing is sure: the album ridicules epic heavy metal in a complicated way. It's funny, but not in a boringly obvious way. I like the album, but only time will tell if it's a keeper like their second album. ****

January 05, 2004

Morifade: Domi<>nation

Morifade: Domi<>nationCD, Karmageddon Media 2003

Track list: Parallels - A Silent Revolution - The Second Coming - Words I Never Speak - Clarity (Fragments of a Dream) - Panopticon - The Rising - Erase - Memory's End

At it's best, Domi<>nation is a great theme album. It draws it's inspiration from Orwell's 1984 and Huxley's Brave New World. It's well-used theme, but the lyrics are the best part of the album. Unfortunately the rest of it is way too power metal for me. The vocal melodies and the baroque classical-influenced guitar bits especially - Official Power Metal Handbook must've been in heavy use while they made the album. If you like the genre and don't mind the genre cliches, Domi<>nation is a good choice. I almost liked it. But just almost... ***

December 28, 2003

Majesty: Reign in Glory

Majesty: Reign in GloryCD, Massacre Records 2003

Track list: Heavy Metal Battlecry - Into the Stadiums - Reign in Glory - Will of the Cobra - Defender of the Brave - Lord of the Damned - Heroes - Thunder in Silence - Troopers of Steel - Falcon in the Storm

Since Manowar is not what it used to be, there's a need for new Manowar. Finnish Teräsbetoni hasn't released an album yet, so Majesty from Germany might be the strongest contestant right now. Reign in Glory is a blow of true metal which should please the fans of the real, epic heavy metal. There's enough range from faster tracks to epic ballads, level of the musicianship is certainly good enough. Lyrics are chock full of cliches and the cover picture is really horrible. It's perfect. ****

December 16, 2003

Amaran: Pristine in Bondage

Amaran: Pristine in BondageCD, Listenable Records 2003

Track list: Atropine - Revolution Without Arms - Coming Home - Inflict - Without Stains - Katharsis - 24 Pills - Wraith - Crow Me - Primal Nature

Swedish Amaran features a female vocalist Johanna DePierre, who is indeed quite talented. I was still left missing more attitude - her clear vocals aren't heavy metal enough. Their music is pop metal, even though it's described as heavy trash. Easy and melodic, with some power metal influence. It's hard to dislike, but it's also hard to be enthusiastic about it either. ***

December 15, 2003

Grand Magus: Monument

Grand Magus: MonumentCD, Rise Above Records 2003

Track list: Ulvaskall (Vargr) - Summer Solstice - Brotherhood of Sleep - Baptised in Fire - Chooser of the Slain (Valfader) - Food of the Gods - He Who Seeks Shall Find

If you like thick 70's-ish heavy metal sound, doom metal and stoner, Monument might be just the thing you need. Vocalist JB (also known from Spiritual Beggars) is an excellent stoner vocalist and the trio backs the vocals up with thick layers of base-heavy metal sound. The album ends with the epic "He Who Seeks Shall Find", most of which is very slow (the album has generally slowish and drowsy tempo) doom crawl. Other songs also reach the same quality. Monument is, indeed, monumental. ****

November 13, 2003

Jag Panzer: Decade of the Nail-Spiked Bat

Jag Panzer: Decade of the Nail-Spiked Bat2xCD, Century Media 2003

Track list: Reign of the Tyrants - Eyes of the Night - The Church - Metal Melts the Ice - Forsaken - Fallen Angel - Battle Zones - Warfare - Tower of Darkness - Licensed to Kill - Generally Hostile - The Watching - She Waits - Edge of Blindness - Spirit Suicide - Iron Shadows - Black Sunday - Symphony of Terror - Death Row - The Crucifix

Jag Panzer hails from Colorado, US but their music is straight from the 80's UK. Heavy metal, in the best British vein. This double album compiles twenty rare and old songs, rerecorded for our listening pleasure. If you're not familiar with Jag Panzer (as I guess many Finnish metal heads aren't) and you like British heavy metal, this album is a good purchase. I suppose Jag Panzer fans will find these songs interesting, especially since they've been rerecorded so the sound quality will beat the bootlegs. ****

September 30, 2003

Iron Maiden: Dance of Death

Iron Maiden: Dance of DeathCD (Copy Controlled), EMI 2003

Track list: Wildest Dreams - Rainmaker - No More Lies - Montségur - Dance of Death - Gates of Tomorrow - New Frontier - Paschendale - Face in the Sand - Age of Innocence - Journeyman

New Iron Maiden album was a must-buy, even though it's Copy Controlled. Shame on EMI. It took me some time to form an opinion of this album - it's obviously not as good as their best albums, but definitely better than Brave New World. Dance of Death isn't catchy. The songs are quite long and complicated enough so it takes a while before one can appreciate them fully. It's worth it, though - while there are no new instant Maiden classics, the songwriting on the album is rather solid. My favourites right now are the historical dramas "Montségur" and "Paschendale". I did some research on those songs, if you're interested. Iron Maiden is very much alive and kicking. ****

September 25, 2003

Viikate: Surut pois ja kukka rintaan

Viikate: Surut pois ja kukka rintaanCD, Ranka Recordings 2003

Track list: Karmiini juhlasali - Otteita syksystä - Rauta-airot - Kuolleen miehen kupletti - Kurjat Kurjet - Piispa ja minä - Leimu - Kaunis kotkan käsi - Varjojen yö - Kivi itkee vihreää

Viikate rocks. Of course this album sounds exactly like anything they've done before, but I don't consider it a problem. There's some rockabilly influence this time and some quite good tracks. "Kaunis kotkan käsi" is probably one of the best songs they've ever made. There are other exceptional tracks and the rest are their standard fare. Not bad, but not very exciting either. Anyway, it's an improvement. Viikate is moving forward - slowly, but surely. ****

August 21, 2003

Viikate: Kaunis kotkan käsi

Viikate: Kaunis kotkan käsiCDs, Ranka Recordings 2003

Track list: Kaunis kotkan käsi - Rauta-airot (Iron Horse/Born to Lose) - Lyhdyn nään syttyvän (Blue Chatou)

Viikate has a new album and this is the first single from it. Sounds good. "Kaunis kotkan käsi" is among the best of the rocking Viikate tracks. "Lyhdyn nään syttyvän", a cover of a Japanese classic instrumental song is more on the sad and quiet side and a perfectly good example of that. Motörhead cover "Rauta-airot" is also a fine track. All in all a good single, but it's made 2/3 obsolete by the coming album. ***

August 04, 2003

Iron Maiden: Visions of the Beast

Iron Maiden: Visions of the Beast2xDVD, EMI 2003

Track list: Women in Uniform - Wrathchild - Run to the Hills - The Number of the Beast - Flight of Icarus - The Trooper - 2 Minutes to Midnight - Aces High - Wasted Years - Stranger in a Strange Land - Can I Play with Madness - The Evil that Men Do - The Clairvoyant - Infinite Dreams - Holy Smoke - Tailgunner - Bring Your Daughter to the Slaughter - Be Quick Or Be Dead - From Here to Eternity - Wasting Love - Fear of the Dark - Hallowed Be Thy Name - Man on the Edge - Afraid to Shoot Strangers - Lord of the Flies - Virus - The Angel & the Gambler - Futureal - The Wicker Man - Out of the Silent Planet - Brave New World

It's a massively impressive track listing, I'd say. But the coverage of this double DVD is good: it features every Iron Maiden promotional clip from 1980 to 2001. In addition to the videos, there are few extra tracks ("funny" animated versions), but they are not significant. However, I wouldn't really recommend this DVD to anyone else but die-hard Iron Maiden fans. You see, the videos aren't really that great. Iron Maiden was never a video band, really. Most of the videos are live recordings and those that are not are generally pretty bad. Not to mention the 80's heavy metal fashion... But for Iron Maiden fans, this is a must-buy document of the band's history. ****

July 02, 2003

Iron Maiden: No Prayer for the Dying

Iron Maiden: No Prayer for the DyingCD, EMI Records 1998

Track list: Tailgunner - Holy Smoke - No Prayer for the Dying - Public Enema Number One - Fates Warning - The Assassin - Run Silent Run Deep - Hooks in You - Bring Your Daughter... the Slaughter - Mother Russia

I also bought the new enhanced CD version of No Prayer for the Dying. See the earlier review I wrote a year ago, it pretty much sums my feelings. ****

Iron Maiden: The Number of the Beast

Iron Maiden: The Number of the BeastCD, EMI Records 1998

Track list: Invaders - Children of the Damned - The Prisoner - 22 Acacia Avenue - The Number of the Beast - Run to the Hills - Gangland - Total Eclipse - Hallowed Be Thy Name - Run to the Hills (video) - The Number of the Beast (video)

I finally made my Iron Maiden collection complete (ie. all Dickinson-era studio albums) by buying this album. 'twas about time! It's even one of their best albums! I notice the album has a track "Total Eclipse", which I've never heard. I guess it didn't fit on the cassette copy I had earlier. Didn't miss much; it's obviously the worst track of the album. Rest of it is mostly pure gold. "Invaders", "The Prisoner", "The Number of the Beast", "Run to the Hills", "Hallowed Be Thy Name", all are excellent heavy metal classics. The enhanced CD contains some videos and a new booklet (lyrics of "22 Acacia Avenue" have unfortunately a ton of mistakes), making it even better purchase. *****

April 18, 2003

Chinchilla: Madtropolis

Chinchilla: MadtropolisCD, Metal Blade 2003

Track list: The Arise of Madtropolis (intro) - Our Destiny - A Dance with the Devil - When the Sand Darkens the Sun - Entire World - Satellite - Heavy Metal - Headless Fools - Turn Around the Magic Table - Money Rules Everything - Battle of the World - Madtropolis - The Fall of Madtropolis (outro)

I used to like Helloween when I was younger and Chinchilla definitely brings back some nice memories. I don't really like power metal that much, but this album was somehow more interesting than most other albums in it's genre are. One reason for that is the way how the vocalist of Chinchilla sounds like Bruce Dickinson and thus the band sounds a bit like Iron Maiden every now and then. There are worse tracks ("Satellite" is something quite horrible) and better tracks ("Heavy Metal" is a fine metal anthem), so the final verdict is good three stars. ***

April 13, 2003

HIM: Love Metal

HIM: Love MetalCD, BMG Finland 2003

Track list: Buried Alive by Love - The Funeral of Hearts - Beyond Redemption - Sweet Pandemonium - Soul on Fire - The Sacrament - This Fortress of Tears - Circle of Fear - Endless Dark - The Path

I liked HIM a lot when their first album came out. I then lost my interest for the next two, but I'm back again. The reason is very much the video of "Buried Alive by Love": the song is perhaps the best HIM has ever made. Almost the whole album is that good, too. After weaker times, HIM rocks again nice and heavy (thanks to producer Hiili Hiilesmaa), that's very nice to hear. "Buried Alive by Love" is the best track, but I'd also check out "Beyond Redemption" and "Sweet Pandemonium". What HIM has made here is pretty much the 101 of Love Metal: this is how to do it. ****

April 11, 2003

Battlelore: Sword's Song

Battlelore: Sword's SongCD, Napalm Records 2003

Track list: Sons of Riddermark - Sword's Song - The Mark of the Bear - Buccaneer's Inn - Attack of the Orcs - Dragonslayer - Khazad-Dûm pt 2 - Horns of Gondor - The War of Wrath - Forked Height - Starlight Kingdom - The Curse of the Kings

As you can guess from the song titles, Battlelore is heavily influenced by J.R.R. Tolkien's works. Their songs tell the tales from Lord of the Rings, which is not the most unique theme, really. However, Battlelore does it fairly well. Their heavy metal has some nice "medieval" flavour from synths and the cooperation of two vocalists, male and female, creates some nice variation. Check "Forked Height", which is perhaps the best song on the album. Still, it lacks emotion: "Attack of the Orcs" doesn't sound quite fierce, really. ***

Ganglion: The Stripped

Ganglion: The StrippedCD, Fullsteam Records 2003

Track list: Culmination - Boundary Lines - Bedlam Fever - Stripped

For once a record I don't actually like. The music isn't bad, or at least too bad, but the vocalist really doesn't do it for me, I don't like that kind of screaming. It must be black metal shrieks or death metal growl or clean vocals. This one isn't. Also, the songs are a bit unorganised, feels like they really don't know which way to go. "Bedlam Fever" is a highlight and sort of interesting, but the rest of it I don't like. **

Godsplague: The Shovel

Godsplague: The ShovelCD, Strider Records 2003

Track list: L.O.P.R.E. - My Nature - Unleash Hell - Doomsday Sun- Super Satan

Godsplague cites Pantera, Entombed and Black Sabbath as major influences and you can hear that - perhaps too much, even. Downtuned guitar riffs and an excellent growler vocalist make Godsplague stand out a bit, but the songs could use a dose of imagination, really. "My Nature" is the highlight of this MCD, check it out if you're looking for groovy, heavy rock. Definitely promising. ***

March 29, 2003

Dozer: Call It Conspiracy

Dozer: Call It ConspiracyCD, Molten Universe 2003

Track list: The Hills Have Eyes - Rising - Feelgood Formula - The Exit - Spirit Fury Fire - A Matter of Time - Man Made Mountain - Way to Redemption - Crimson Highway - Black Light Revolution - Glorified - Lightning Stalker

Dozer isn't tricky music. There's nothing progressive in it, or nothing too clever. Turn it to eleven, hit the bass boost and you'll be well off. This is what I would play in car stereos while driving too fast. It's got a nice stoner groove and a sturdy sound. However, as I only gave Mannhai's latest four stars, I can't give Dozer more than three. The albums are close enough to be compared and Mannhai's is better. "Call It Conspiracy" is perhaps a bit too long (12 tracks, about 50 minutes) for it's own good. Still, a good buy if you're into stoner. ***

January 28, 2003

Grayscale: When the Ghosts Are Gone

Grayscale: When the Ghosts Are GoneCD, Sound Riot Records 2002

Track list: The World Today - A Dead Season - Gray Singer - Squeeze - The Fire Inside Me - Absent - Shape in the Shadows - Cast Aside - When the Ghosts Are Gone

First of all, credit to Fransesca di Leandro for the cover of this album: it's beautiful, dark and a bit scary. That's quite descriptive of the music, actually. Grayscale plays metal, sure, but they are quite melodic and there's a dark tone in it. And forget boring ambient synth soundscapes, Grayscale knows how to play loud when necessary! There's a nice balance of faster metal and atmospheric parts. I am not so sure about the vocalists - occasionally he's quite good, but sometimes his voice sounds a bit "amateurish", should I say. This one isn't a classic by any standards, but quite nice, still. ****

January 04, 2003

Viikate: Nuori mies nimetön

Viikate: Nuori mies nimetönCDs, Ranka Recordings 2002

Track list: Nuori mies nimetön - Nuori mies nimetön (live) - Nuori mies nimetön (video)

"Nuori mies nimetön" is one of my favourite tracks on the new Viikate album, but three times the one song is a bit too much. The first version is not the same as is on the album, but the difference is small (ie. I didn't notice it). Live version isn't very good quality, in my opinion, and doesn't offer anything interesting. The video is quite cool, actually. Still, I would've preferred a new song instead of the live version. Good song, but pretty useless single. **

December 30, 2002

Mannhai: Evil Under the Sun

Mannhai: Evil Under the SunCD, Ranch 2002

Track list: Laugh Like Insane - Sweat of Love - Between - Standing on this Cliff - More than Enough - Spiritraiser - Evil Under the Sun - Dead Statue - Colourful Dusk - Under Your Thumb - Spiritraiser (video)

I missed their debut album, even though I was interested in it after reading the reviews. This time I went for it, and put Evil Under the Sun on my Christmas wish list. I got it, and I'm glad to hear it's just about exactly what I was waiting for. Mannhai has all I need: guitars buzzing low and mean, thick groove and rock'n'roll touch. Stoner rock is the appropriate label for this kind of music, I suppose. Anyway, Evil Under the Sun is an excellent album in it's genre. ****

October 08, 2002

Viikate: Kaajärven rannat

Viikate: Kaajärven rannatCD, Ranka Recordings 2002

Track list: On aivan sama - Ajastaika - Vastarannan valssi - Jalkamies - Päivän peili - Ei ole ketään kelle soittaa - Kaisloja - Nuori mies nimetön - Laulu on iloni ja työni - Kaajärven rannat

This one, the third full-length album of Viikate, starts with an exceptionally depressing track "On aivan sama". Nothing matters, everything is nothing. Next track kicks up the tempo but the mood stays the same. Viikate is getting better all the time. "Nuori mies nimetön" is one of their best tracks ever. Kaajärven rannat beats the previous "normal" album, Noutajan valssi hands down. Very good, and very Finnish. *****

Viikate: Ei ole ketään kelle soittaa

Viikate: Ei ole ketään kelle soittaaCDs, Ranka Recordings 2002

Track list: Ei ole ketään kelle soittaa - Arvovaltaa - Routaisten peltojen pehtoorit

I missed the single a bit and bought it at the same time as the album, so it's biggest effect was lost. Still, I had to buy it, as it features two songs not on the album. The title track is very good, as are the other songs. I especially enjoy the last track, which is an instrumental. ****

August 31, 2002

Rautiainen, Timo & Trio Niskalaukaus: Lumessakahlaajat

Timo Rautiainen & Trio Niskalaukaus: LumessakahlaajatCDs, Ranka Recordings 2002

Track list: Lumessakahlaajat - Kova maa (live) - Tie

Lumessakahlaajat is the third single from the latest Trio Niskalaukaus album. Besides the title song, which is very good, among the best tracks of the album, there are two songs. "Kova maa" is also familiar from the album. This version was recorded live at Provinssirock festival and it features Jarkko Martikainen doing some guest vocals. Third song, "Tie" is a cover, performed earlier by Sakari Kuosmanen. All in all, a decent single, but doesn't have as good bonus tracks as the "Surupuku" single. ***

August 04, 2002

Circle: Sunrise

Circle: SunriseCD, Ektro 2002

Track list: Nopeuskuningas - Satulinnut - Hautain takaa - Vaanen valtiatar - Kylän suurin miekka - Rautakotka - Paholaisratsastaja - Lokki

The new album by these Finnish masters of hypnotic rock music starts of with a surprisingly hard rock -ish track "Nopeuskuningas". And there's no turning back, Sunrise is a heavy metal album! Well, the second track, "Satulinnut", sounds very much like Kuusumun profeetta - it could almost be lifted from their album. Mika Rättö makes a strong appearance, so if you don't like his should I say curious vocal style, avoid this one. His presence on just about every album is a bit of a question mark, but I like him anyway. *****

July 15, 2002

Sentenced: The Cold White Light

Sentenced: The Cold White LightCD, Century Media 2002

Track list: Konevitsan kirkonkellot - Cross My Heart and Hope to Die - Brief Is the Light - Neverlasting - Aika multaa muistot (Everything Is Nothing) - Excuse Me While I Kill Myself - Blood & Tears - You Are the One - Guilt and Regret - The Luxury of a Grave - No One There

The new Sentenced album starts with a traditional Finnish folk melody, accompanied with shouting cranes. The rest of it is very Finnish, too: the grim suicide mentality of "Excuse Me While I Kill Myself" is unfortunately something very familiar to the Finnish state of mind. Sentenced used to sound heavier, now they've taken a step towards lighter sound, with clean vocals. Result: it sounds a bit like HIM, but with less sugar on top. I like it! ****

Six Months Later:
Sentenced works like a charm, still. Some of it wears out in use, though - it's a bit on the "catchy, not deep" side. The basic mentality behind the music is something I can connect to, and that's why I like it, in the end. ****

June 04, 2002

Metallica: Metallica

Metallica: MetallicaCD, Vertigo 1991

Track list: Enter Sandman - Sad But True - Holier Than Thou - The Unforgiven - Wherever I May Roam - Don't Tread on Me - Through the Never - Nothing Else Matters - Of Wolf And Man - The God That Failed - My Friend of Misery - The Struggle Within

The black album is no doubt a classic - or at least some of it's tracks are. While songs like "Enter Sandman", "Sad But True", "Nothing Else Matters" or "The Unforgiven" are among the best heavy metal songs, many other songs from this album have fallen into the oblivion. That's a bit of a shame, perhaps. They're really not that bad. Of course they can't compare with the big hits, but there are some minor hits on the album too. If you're looking for a heavy metal album, check the black album out. ***

Six Months Later:
Yep, that's it: bunch of heavy metal classics, bunch of tracks that should get more appreciation and few tracks that shouldn't. ***

May 28, 2002

Iron Maiden: No Prayer for the Dying

Iron Maiden: No Prayer for the DyingLP, EMI 1990

Track list: Tailgunner - Holy Smoke - No Prayer for the Dying - Public Enema Number One - Fates Warning - The Assassin - Run Silent Run Deep - Hooks in You - Bring Your Daughter... the Slaughter - Mother Russia

Ah, Iron Maiden. My first step into the dark abyss of metal music, I still remember my friend forcing me to watch the video of "Be Quick Or Be Dead". Also, Iron Maiden is still my favourite heavy metal band. As this was one of the two of the Dickinson-era albums my collection was missing, I quickly grabbed it when I found the cheap lp at a Prague music shop. And what can I say? First class heavy metal. It might not be their best album, but it still has some killer tracks ("Public Enema Number One", "Fates Warning", "Run Silent, Run Deep", "Bring Your Daughter...") with some less excellent, but still nice songs. But of course, I'm bloody biased. ****

Six Months Later:
Nothing to add. I still like Iron Maiden while I must admit I haven't listened to them much. My current taste in metal is a lot heavier. Still, No Prayer for Dying is a first-class heavy metal album. ****