Grim Reaper – Fear No Evil Review

Posted: March 26, 2015 by kingcrimsonprog in Uncategorized

Grim Reaper – Fear No Evil

1985’s Fear No Evil is the second full-length studio album by the NWOBHM band, Grim Reaper. The cartoonish artwork of an anthropomorphized Death crashing a motorcycle through a church window tells you almost everything you need to know before you’ve even pressed play. The only thing missing is him throwing the horns.

This is pure, energetic, unapologetic Heavy Metal. Its crunchy and satisfying like Metallica, Clean and Melodic like Maiden, and the perfect mixture of tasteful basic songwriting with OTT ‘80s cheese. As an album, there’s no ballads, no experiments, no let-up at all. It might sound like its going to be samey, but instead its actually driven, focused and committed to a singular goal. Think of the one fastest, best song on an ‘80s Accept, Saxon or Priest album. Then imagine an album where every song is that! Imagine Tygers Of Pan Tang’s Spellbound if every song was ‘Gangland’ and ‘Blackjack’ and the momentum killers were gone. That’s the sort of thing you can expect here.

Steve Grimmett’s charismatic, powerful, controlled, and very spirited vocals make this feel like the work of absolute superstars. He’s one of the most criminally overlooked and under-mentioned singers in the genre for his talent-to-fame ratio. Augmented by a rock solid rhythm section, some tasty riffs and crucially, Nick Bowcott’s enjoyable solos (with feel as well as just shred), this is some seriously confident, competent and enjoyable Heavy Metal music.

Highlights include the brilliant Title Track (my “this is the song you should use to test if the band are for you” choice), the catchy “Let The Thunder Roll” with its excellent guitar lines, and “Matter Of Time” which has a sort of Thrashy feel to it.

Apart from the intro to ‘Final Scream’ feeling grating upon repeat listens, this is practically flawless. If you like their contemporaries such as your early Saxon, Maiden, Diamond Head et al, and even your mid-period innovators like Priest, Motorhead and Dio-era-Sabbath, then this is something you’re likely going to really love. Their debut album See You In Hell is more famous these days, but they weren’t a one hit wonder by any measure and you should absolutely pick this album up if you are interested in the band. Its powerful, catchy, melodic, heavy enough to satisfy, and consistent from beginning to end. Seriously, check this out!

Sabaton – Coat Of Arms Review

Posted: March 26, 2015 by kingcrimsonprog in Metal, Metal - Studio, Music Reviews
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Sabaton – Coat Of Arms

Coat Of Arms is the charismatic Swedish Power Metal band Sabaton’s fifth full-length studio album. It was released on Nuclear Blast records in 2010.

I don’t use the phrase “rip-roaring” a lot, (in fact I don’t think I’ve ever used it before in my life), but it is certainly the first phrase that comes to mind about this confident, bombastic, powerful and extremely fun album. If you haven’t heard Sabaton before, they have carved their own niche in the Power Metal world, its not just copying big bands like Helloween, Gamma Ray or Blind Guardian’s sound. Its not copying NWOBHM bands and speeding it up either. It is something a little more unique. There’s a loud, stadium feeling. Often mid-paced. You can almost hear the point at which the pyro is designed to go off in each riff. Its more about songcraft than virtuoso musicianship, more about experience than speed. The vocals aren’t even Halford or Dickenson inspired but are in a lower register. Sabaton’s lyrics even eschew the traditional wizards and goblins fare for interesting, highly-researched historical subjects.

Subjects up for discussion on this record include the Polish uprising against the Nazis, the Norwegian heavy water sabotage at Vemork and the Greco-Italian conflict in WWII. There’s one Metal themed song at the end, with tributes to the likes of Judas Priest and Metallica in the lyrics too, but its such good fun it doesn’t feel silly or cheesy even when sat beside serious songs about the Holocaust or real life Navel battles.

Musically; this album is a brilliant example of the band’s potential. Songs like the ferociously catchy “Midway,” the fun and melodic “Aces In Exile” and the absolutely magnificent “The White Death” are amongst the finest the band has to offer. The whole album is consistent, punchy, and doesn’t overstay its welcome. There’s enough variety to keep it from feeling samey, but a central style that holds it together and makes it feel focused. The production is flawless and it all sounds amazing.

Overall; Sabaton are a talented band with a distinct sound, their music is both interesting and fun, and Coat Of Arms is a strong Sabaton album that is well-made, well-produced and chocked full of memorable, catchy and incredibly enjoyable tunes. I recommend anyone who likes this type of music to give it a go.

Playing God: Changing The Track Sequence Of Albums

Posted: March 24, 2015 by kingcrimsonprog in Misc Music Articles

My good friend Paul recently asked me what percentage of my music collection was still in its original running order. It got me thinking.

Recently, as of maybe 2012, I have found myself using technology (iTunes mainly) to reorder the sequence of tracks on albums that I listen to. I think I first started this regularly maybe when I heard Gamma Ray’s To The Metal album had different tracklistings in different countries and that it flowed better in the version I did NOT have, so I tried it the other way and hey, it DID work better. Some people hate Motley Crue’s Theater Of Pain, but I reordered the tracks and came to love it. Its now my favourite Crue album. That’s how big a difference that it can make for me. Nowadays if I find a NWOBHM album with a ballad in the middle, and a slow song first, I’ll swap the songs around so it goes from fastest to slowest.

Today, I made the decision to swap a track around on Children Of Bodom’s fifth album Are You Dead Yet, because on that album, every time I choose to listen to it I skip straight to the title-track and miss out on the opener. Making the title track the opener just makes more sense for me. So now it is. There are however, some albums that I could never ever listen to in any other order. It seems absolutely impossible to listen to Dark Side Of The Moon in any other sequence and even hearing just one track makes me want to hear the next one on the album. Slipknot’s debut is the same. It is my Dark Side Of The Moon for how influential it was on my musical development and where it came in my music discovering world.

Yesterday I discovered (thanks to a review by fellow blogger LeBrain) that I’d been missing out on Quiet Riot’s song “Slick Black Cadillac” from their Metal Health album for about three years because I accidentally failed to (or a technical error caused it to happen) ever rip it into my iTunes. These days I rarely use my CDs anymore apart from on day 1 of purchase when I rip them to the computer. I used to be CD obsessed and was a real late bloomer getting into digital music (I’ll still buy a CD nine times out of ten rather than buy it digitally, or stream it). But yeah, for the past few years, CDs rarely get used and that made me miss out on this nice Quiet Riot track.

This has now resulted in me reordering the whole Metal Health album, rockers first, slow tracks and ballads last. Its interesting, because to many, Metal Health may be their Slipknot’s debut or Dark Side Of The Moon and the idea of playing it out of order would seem awful.

Now its done and I like the new running order.

What do you readers think?
Do you keep running orders set in stone or change things you don’t like?
Which albums could you never ever change?

I went to go see Corrosion Of Conformity (with Pepper Keenan back in the band) live at Manchester Academy 2, tonight on Saturday the 7th of March 2015.
It was a sold out show, although when I arrived the queue was literally one person long, with me being the second person. More people arrived and went into the bar, but still, it was so calm and quiet. This lead to early t-shirt purchasing action with no problem getting a front row spot for the show. Everyone must’ve stayed in the bar or showed up late.

There was one support band, that being British Stoner/Doom artists, Hang The Bastard. They’re a band I’d heard mentioned all the time online and in podcasts but who I’d never heard for myself yet. Their music was fat, groovy stoner with abrasive harsh vocals. As the show went on the bassist added nice nasty Scott Kelly style growls, and the music got a bit of a Kyuss melody vibe at one point to balance out all the Doom. It was a pretty perfect booking to support COC. I wish I’d heard them when I was really really into my first wave Stoner phase, because they play exactly the type of music I like, but as with Orange Goblin supporting Down, or My Sleeping Karma supporting Monster Magnet, I was just there for the headliners and the support was cool for the night, but not enough to make me go out and get into them.

When it was time for COC to take the stage, the speakers played Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back In Town” to reinforce the whole Deliverence-Revival theme. It was a nice touch.

COC were on fire, warmly received by the now full room. They blasted out favourites from Wiseblood and Deliverence mainly, with a few surprises, such as ‘Stonebreaker’ and ’13 Angels.’ It was a pretty perfect setlist, although personal preference wise, as with any concert, you’ll miss some of your favourite songs. I could’ve used some ‘Dance Of The Dead,’ ‘The Door,’ ‘Fuel,,’ ‘Zippo,’ ‘Who’s Got The Fire?’ or even a cheeky ‘Psychic Vampire’ or ‘Tarqunius Superbus’ from the trio-lineup as a neat extra, but that’s just personal. Objectively, it was amazing. You got big sludgy gems like ‘Broken Man,’ fast headbangers like ‘My Grain,’ the catchy stuff like ‘King Of The Rotten’ and ‘Long Whip/Big America’ and all topped off with the essential concert favourites ‘Albatross,’ ‘Clean My Wounds’ (which was extended and jammed out a bit) and an absolutely off-the-charts good rendition of ‘Vote With A Bullet’ that put the biggest smile of the month on my face.

The band seemed to be having fun, and were powerful and tight but still had that jam-feel without actually being disheveled and unorganized. At one point they forgot the setlist and had to consult the paperwork to figure out why they were so ahead of time, nicely dropping into a stunning rendition of ‘Goodbye Windows’ afterwards.

There were a heck of a lot of crowd-surfers, which usually I dislike, but I was in a sweetspot that they all missed so I watched all night, front row, but completely undisturbed. Nice one! –Some poor tall guy got kicked in the head multiple times by the same selfish crowd surfer on multiple trips. Glad for my lucky spot! That would’ve spoiled my night if it kept happening to me.

I’m feeling a bit deaf now, with some serious ear-ringing (only wore earplugs until COC came onstage) but I have some damn good memories of seeing Woody and Pepper rile up the crowd, Mike Dean full of enthusiasm and talent; and Reed’s superb, eye-catching hard hitting. It was a great concert that I’m very grateful to have seen, I had a great night, and it’ll stay in my memory for a long time. The band were really good. Did I mention that?

I hope they keep going in this line-up and release a new album. If their performance of ‘Paranoid Opiod’ or ‘Heaven’s Not Overflowing’ was anything to go by, they are absolutely unstoppable!

(Also, I hope they stick more ‘Volume Dealer material in the setlist (no ‘Diablo BLVD’? Awww…..) but that’s just personal preference again)

Bottom line, COC have got Pepper again, and you should definitely go see them, because time has done nothing to reduce the brilliance. They are on their game big time!

Well, its been three months of my fifth GITWYPF challenge. In that time, there’s been Christmas, there’s been job changes, there’s been serious vomiting, there’s been a broken computer and there’s been Stewart Lee live in concert.

Temptations have included various comic books and basically every cd ever released.

Now that I’ve made it the three months without a purchase, I’ve allowed myself £20 to spend, (I’m too broke to let it go any further) which I’ve used to pick up some early Manowar albums, as well as some NWOBHM in the form of a Grim Reaper album and some early Def Leppard. I’d pick up some Tygers Of Pan Tang too but its too hard to get. I’d try some Venom but it wasn’t within budget.

Why all the NWOBHM? Well, I’ve been revisiting all my Maiden, Motorhead and Saxon albums constantly for the past week, and I’ve been getting more into the Angel Witch and Diamond Head debuts as a result of that. Its mostly Saxon’s fault, I’ve just been really into them recently, and then the way my mind works it grasps for similar things.

I’ve also been listening to Dio, Dio-era Sabbath, Priest and Accept a lot to cash in on that charming 80s production feeling I’m digging as a result of Saxon. That’s lead me to get Accept’s Russian Roulette too. The reason I first wanted to get into Accept was when I heard “TV War” from Russian Roulette, but I didn’t get around to it until now.

I also picked up a third Stone Temple Pilots album in tribute to all the grunge I was listening too during this challenge. It cost about 10p.

So that’s it. A big ass spending spree (although it cost very little due to the low low price of unwanted CDs nowadays) to balance out the non-spending of the last three months.

To top off the nerdy party my brain is having, I’ll be going to see Corrosion Of Conformity live with Pepper Keenan back in the band next week. This time I won’t miss it even if I am too sick to go. Its COC with Pepper! If you’ve been reading this blog regularly, you can imagine it’s a pretty big deal for me! Its up there with Queensryche, Gamma Ray, Rishloo, Protest The Hero and Monster Magnet at the apex of modern Jimmy’s musical world. Sweetened by the rarity of its occurrence, and the stress-relieving timing. Gracias COC. Play some stuff of ‘Volume Dealer even if people whinge about it being commercial please. Seeing ‘Zippo’ live might make me shit myself (in a good way).
 

Get (Into) What You Paid For – Volume 5, No. 7: Day 80:

Posted: February 19, 2015 by kingcrimsonprog in Uncategorized

Well I haven’t broken my challenge in the last few days because I’ve been aggressively puking my guts up. Its one of those lame 24 hour vomit bugs, that are really annoying for you but not actually problematic enough that you can complain about. Some people have real problems.

It is annoying however because I had tickets to see Black Label Society tonight, but found out that I had to be at work tomorrow (get up at 4am, get there at 7am, work for 13 hours, get home at 9pm). I’m too sick to go to the concert, but not sick enough to miss work. Also I’m totally broke and it stings that the £20 for the tickets is essentially thrown down the toilet…. And the toilet is covered in puke.

But oh well, I know its not very rock n roll but it makes sense to be responsible and just give this one a miss… even if next time BLS show up on tour it’ll be for an acoustic set I’m not interested in.

C’est la vie.

Its been a total of 77 days since I started this fifth volume of GITWYPF, and this round as you know is an extended challenge, not one month long, but three. That’s a quarter of a year! I’ve came close to breaking a few times along the way but as of yet I still haven’t caved.

Maybe I could just pick up a Molly Hatchet boxset here? Maybe one Batman wouldn’t hurt?
No… kapow, biff bam wallop, get back evil thoughts, don’t show your face round here no more!

So, another week since I last checked in and no slip ups. I have been happily listening away to all of my gifts from the last 12 months, such as Slipknot, Machine Head, Mastodon, Corrosion Of Conformity, Mushroomhead, Trivium, Judas Priest and Down’s newest studio output. I’ve also been breaking out more Grunge and Glam in my themed listening weeks.

For some reason I’ve also been listening to a lot of ZZ Top. Not exactly Grunge or Glam, but who cares when you’ve got songs like “Heard It On The X” to jam to? That’s also got me to break out some Foghat. I bought 5-album-boxsets from both of those bands and didn’t really fall in love with them right away. Now though, I’m getting more into them.

That’s pretty much it music-wise. What about other forms of media entertainment?

I’ve finally finished watching all of Gilmore Girls (no more Sebastian Bach acting as essentially himself!). I’m still cracking away at Ultimate Spiderman whenever there’s free time and, best of all, I went to go see Stewart Lee live.

Stewart Lee was playing my city, on a tour called Room With A Stew, which he said will appear on tv this winter. I’m not exaggerating when I say it was better than any of his live DVDs and better than practically every episode of Comedy Vehicle. It was indescribably good. Laughing till your face actually hurts (not hyperbole, real muscular pain), sitting with a huge grin all day, impressively clever and well researched good.… it was one of the best comedy sets I’ve ever seen or heard live or recorded. I don’t feel qualified or able to adequately review it (something he joked about in the set), so just accept that gushing above as a positive review. Oh and go see him live if you can! He’s crazily good.

Otherwise its back to work. Getting up at 4am. Getting soaked to my skin on the way to the too far away bus stop. All that good stuff. Seems like a bummer, but it really isn’t with Manowar blasting in your earphones.

February is a short month; so the challenge’s end is in sight. There’s only about twelve days left, and for most of that time I’ll be at work, asleep, or on one glorious night seeing Black Label Society live… so I feel fairly confident that I won’t break my challenge, and will emerge victorious at the end of it having gone the full three months without buying stuff. That’s what makes me not a teenager anymore. Its not the fact that my age hasn’t been in the teens for more than half a decade, it’s the fact that I can physically stop myself spending money on entertainment products.

‘Till next time.