I’m going to start a fourth Get (Into) What You Paid For Challenge on August 1st. In other words, I am going to go a month without buying anything for myself except food and essentials. No CDs, DVDs, Vinyls, Comic Books, Videogames or anything like that. Basically, none of the things I would blog about.

To compensate for the lack of fresh blog-material, I’ll blog about the experience, the temptations, and what I did to overcome the temptations. I’ll use this series as a platform for some quick observations on Videogame, Comic book and Musical thoughts that aren’t worth a full bit each, as well as listen to old stuff that I currently don’t listen to enough and finally get my money’s worth out of them (hence the title).

I must admit, this time around its going to be much easier than other times, with a Netflix subscription, a gift of free Batman Vampire comics from my friend Paul, a donation of videogames (including Bioshock Infinite) from my brother, and a recent backlog of new purchases that I haven’t fully gotten into yet.

As well as the recent purchases, I also have playlists to get me re-aquainted with all the old 80s Thrash that I loved so much as a teenager (mixed in with all the NWOBHM and Classic Metal of the last two years), as well as a playlist for all the boxsets of things I bought in the last few years and struggle to absorb fully due to getting too much at once, such as Faith No More, Dream Theater and Alice In Chains.

I’m also currently in a series of workout-to-a-concert-Blu-Ray days at the moment, for example, four days ago I lifted weights while watching Iced Earth’s Blu Ray, then cycled on an excercise bike while watching Sabbaton’s. Before that it was HammerFall. Today It’ll be Stratovarius and Gamma Ray.

Shouldn’t be too hard to be frugal with all that going on, should it? Well, keep reading and find out…

Hammerfall - Legacy Of Kings

Hammerfall – Legacy Of Kings

In 1998, one year after their debut album Glory To The Brave, the Swedish Power Metal band Hammerfall released their second full-length studio album, entitled Legacy Of Kings. It was once again produced by Fredrik Nordström, only this time with guitarist Oscar Dronjak co-producing.

Continuing the fine formula that they established on their first outing; Legacy Of Kings is another tight, tasteful, immaculate collection of catchy, memorable and melodic Heavy Metal in the tradition of Priest, Maiden, Saxon, Accept and the like, with hints of Keeper-era Helloween in the guitar sound every so often. It isn’t neoclassical sounding like Stratovarius, or symphonic like Rhapsody (Of Fire), or indeed thrashy like Blind Guardian, but rather it concentrates more on the core spirit of early Heavy Metal and recreates the impression that listeners remember of that material (even if nothing here actually sounds all that directly like deep cuts from Sad Wings Of Destiny or Restless & Wild).

Expect soaring melodic vocals, frequent dual guitar lines and melodic guitar solos, solid galloping drums and heroic lyrics about subjects like triumph and victory.

This album also added a tiny touch more mid-tempo numbers and power-ballads than Glory To The Brave, (which were hinted at on the previous record). Slow, heavy tracks like “End Of The Rainbow” and more emotional balladry like “Remember Yesterday” and the piano-led “The Fallen One” provide a contrast to the speedy stylings of things like “Heading The Call,” “Warriors Of Faith,” the Gamma Ray-esque “Dreamland” or the Pretty Maids cover “Back To Back.” The balance is good and this record doesn’t rely too heavily on one or the other.

Enough about the direction though, what about the quality? Well; Legacy Of Kings is a very strong and entertaining. As long as you don’t generally hate this style of music anyway, this should prove a very worthy addition to anyone’s collection. The production job is crystal clear, the musicianship is great, the album is succinct and free from any filler, the mixture of light and shade stops it getting too repetitive and best of all, its just good fun!

Overall; this is an excellent album and if you have an inkling that you might like this band, I urge you to go ahead and pick yourself up a copy of it.

Pissing Razors - Where We Come From

Pissing Razors – Where We Come From

2001’s Where We Come From was Pissing Razor’s fourth album in four years. It was the first release not to feature Joe Rodriguez on vocals, who is replaced here by Jason “Dewey” Bragg, the band’s shortest-serving singer.

The band decided to take things in a slightly different direction with this record. The song structures are simplified noticeably, the choruses are catchier and the guitar style has a lot more of a Nu Metal sound to it at times than on the previous records. There’s less thrashy material than ever before and D-Beat drumming is much less common here. Basically, this is a very stripped-down and streamlined version of stuff they’d been doing, with a less gruff vocalist and a different predominant riff style.

Material like “I’ve Tried” and “Cursed” is quite a departure from the material that the band started off playing at times and this is probably the band’s most accessible and most easily digestible record. Even the album’s length is briefer than usual. That being said, the band still retain enough of their identity that it still sounds like them.

There’s no arguing with a song like “Born To Serve.” When deciding whether or not to buy this record, make sure you first check out the opening riff to that song. Other highlights include “Opportunidad” which sees the band trying something new, and the album closer “World Of One” which is probably the closest thing on this album to the style of their earlier work.

Sometimes the band might have previously been a bit too heavy and too complicated for their target audience, and this album is a clear and obvious attempt to expand their audience. It is arguably a pretty good entry point to the band in a lot of ways, as it presents what they are about – angry, Southern, angular Groove Metal – in a slick and easy to swallow package, that tries harder than ever to be catchy.

Fans of Slipknot, American Headcharge and early Soulfly might find this album worth checking out, as well as fans of Pantera, Machine Head and Fear Factory.

Hammerfall – Glory To The Brave Review

Posted: July 19, 2014 by kingcrimsonprog in Metal, Metal - Studio, Music Reviews

Hammerfall - Glory To The Brave

Hammerfall – Glory To The Brave

Hammerfall’s debut album Glory To The Brave is a bone-fide classic album, and absolutely sounds like it too! It was released through Nuclear Blast records in 1997 and was produced by acclaimed producer Fredrik Nordström (At the Gates, In Flames, Arch Enemy, Dark Tranquillity, The Haunted, Zyklon etc.) Despite being made in Gothenburg and produced by Nordström however, it is not as you may expect a classic of Melodic Death Metal but rather of straight-up, no-frills Power Metal.

The sound is stripped-down, tasteful, NWOBHM-influenced classic sounding Heavy Metal, with plenty of double-kicks and guitar solos. Its not too cheesy or over-the-top but somehow still feels really bombastic and fun. Loveable singer Joacim Cans, provides melodic, enjoyable and not-too-shrill vocals over the top. Oscar Dronjak’s iconic rhythm guitar style pulls the whole thing together with long ringing Power chords and memorable, hummable riffs.

The production job is excellent, with a perfect balance between instruments and a clear, clean sound for the time. Best of all, the songwriting is extra special here, these are songs with a lot of replayablity and you can listen to this record over and over again without getting sick of it. Many of these songs have turned out to be concert classic over the years. Everything about this album is classic. Even the figure on the album cover, Hector the Paladin, went on to become the band’s mascot and return on most of their artwork ever since.

Highlights include the absolutely intensely catchy ‘The Dragon Lies Bleeding’ as well as the Warlord Cover Song “Child Of The Damned” and the band’s self-titled anthem “Hammerfall.”

Overall; Hammerfall’s debut is an absolute classic, its well-written, well-produced, masterfully performed and immensely re-playable. It is an absolute must-have for fans of the band and the subgenre, and I highly recommend giving it a listen if you haven’t heard it yet.

Pissing Razors – Fields Of Disbelief

Pissing Razors – Fields Of Disbelief

2000’s Fields Of Disbelief is the forth full-length studio album by the Texan Groove Metal band Pissing Razors (or third, if you discount their independent debut). It was their final album with original singer Joe Rodriguez.

The album sees a slight evolution of the band’s sound, possibly due to songwriting contributions from new guitarist Cesar Soto. The band sound less like Pantera on this record than earlier releases and try out a few new things now and again. Joe Rodriguez also tries to expand his vocal range on this album too, and in a way there is more light and shade than on previous records (even an attempt at melody on the Title Track!).

Diversity doesn’t mean compromise however; and Fields Of Disbelief still absolutely sounds like Pissing Razors and you still get angry, venomous music full of complex time-changes, flashy technical drumming from the immensely skilled Eddie Garcia, and a constant mixture of thrashy energy and big grooves. The guitar solos are fewer and farther between here, on shorter when they do show up, but that is made up for in part with some crazy spindly riffs and bursts of exciting.

This record in particular within the band’s discography sounds slightly ahead of its time and is already covering ground that bands like Devildriver and Lamb Of God would get accolades for a few years later.

It’s a tight, filler-free record with a solid production job, lot of attitude in the performances and a lot of musical chops. Highlights include the absolutely furious sounding “Forked Tongue,” the complex “Ruin” and the “The Other Side.”

Overall, this is a worthwhile addition to your collection if you like the band, and would make a fine introduction for new people wanting to check out this underrated band.

Pissing Razors - Cast Down The Plague

Pissing Razors – Cast Down The Plague

Cast Down The Plague is the third full-length studio by the underrated Texan Groove Metal band Pissing Razors, it was released in 1999 on Noise Records. It was their second album to be produced by Andy Sneap and their final album with guitarist Matt Lynch in the fold, which is kind of a shame because this record has some of the best riffs in the band’s whole discography.

The album continues the musical direction set out by its self-titled predecessor; with brief, punchy, direct ‘90s Metal songs barked angrily by Joe Rodriguez and augmented by the occasional Fear Factory style kickdrums (“Mistake No.1″) and frequent Pantera style grooves (“Sympathy”). There are also plenty of noisy guitar solos, d-beats and Thrashy moments to keep the pace up when required. The band’s drummer Eddie Garcia is a really great talent, and his flashy technical playing is a particular highlight.

This album, along with the self-titled, is probably the best material that the band released. The band found their sound and really perfected it towards the end of the 90s. They have a focus and a singularity of purpose and it comes across well here. The band are at their most driven, acerbic and energetic here. They blast perfectly in synch through difficult changes and lock perfectly into tight grooves.

For an example of the band at their best, try out a song like the complex “Reality Of War” (with a fantastic ending!) or the slower “Understand.” The opening duo of “Mass Corruption” and “Truth In Disguise” are particularly vital sounding.

I’d recommend this album to fans of bands like Pantera, Fear Factory, Sepultura and Prong. If you’re already a fan of the band, don’t miss out on Cast Down The Plague!

Image  —  Posted: July 17, 2014 by kingcrimsonprog in Uncategorized