A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Grade Scale adopted at MetalKings.com (starting from the lowest)

1 - Shite
2 - Could be worse
3 - Could be better
4 - Damn good
5 - Killer

4/5
AETERNUS
Ascension of Terror
2001
Hammerheart Records/FONO
brutal death

No matter how hard this cult Norwegian band should try to convince us through their official site that they are playing dark metal, when it comes down to it - it is brutal death, pure and simple, and the brutality does not have any limit to it. Extra-dense guitars, with a slight touch of Morbid Angel to them and drum salvos that would make the masters like Napalm Death pink with envy, coupled with elements of the now classic black metal and Ares' trademark growls, oppress the listener like an insane cyborg-asphalt spreader, purchased by the band at the Hell's very own construction machinery store. Add to this a twist in accessibility, provided by an enormous number of riffs per song-capita, an equally unbelievable amount of breaks, and the general impression of total fucking darkness, enveloping your consciousness into its funeral cape, and you gonna get a very angry and badass product that, in fact, is 'Ascension of Terror'. (Troll)

3/5
AGATHODAIMON
Chapter III
2001
Nuclear Blast
melodic black

I am getting the impression that after the release of Cradle of Filth's 'Midian' and, especially, Dimmu Borgir's 'Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia', the modern melodic black metal has established a new standard that is obligatory for all of the more or less commercially successful bands. At that, this standard is concerned not only about the musical contents of the record, but also its structure, layout, band's image, etc. And, very obviously, being a member of the top-league, Agathodaimon did not really have any other choice but to oblige by the rules. The new standard presupposes certain lyrical conceptualism (be it a distinct plot-line or a more general thematic), an abundance of classical arrangements, preferably with input from authentic orchestras, an unlimited amount of clean vocals, and last but not least monumentalism and pathos (in whichever sense of the word) in everything. These conditions are added by the necessary requirements of top-quality musicianship, performance and composition skills. So far so good, someone might say, and who am I to argue? And, of course, the bands latest complies with all of the set conditions. Indeed there is superior talent, quality, and doubtless play-skill, but tell me, why I cannot get red of the feeling that someone is trying to shove Dimmu Brogir 2001 Pt.2 up my ass? Seems like, after all, any frames, limits or standards, no matter how fair, necessary and best-intended will ultimately turn an art into craft Although, still, compared to 'Higher Art of Rebellion' 'Chapter III' is an unquestionable progression. (Troll)

4+/5
ARCH ENEMY
Wages Of Sin
2001
Toy's Factory
death/thrash
If I hadn't learned that it is woman singing beforehand, I would have never guessed. On "Wages Of Sin", Arch Enemy's fourth record, singer Angela Gossow produces the most brutal and man-like growls that I've ever heard from a female. Forget about Cadaveria (ex-Opera IX) or Sabina Classen, Angela surpasses them all. Her bandmates know what they're doing, too, and the music they produce is of excellent quality. Of course, there may be claims that Arch Enemy lost a considerable part of their brutality and aggression, and they have ground, to tell you the truth. However I've never been a die-hard death metal fan, and for me such a development is not a crime at all, especially when all losses are compensated by marvelous melodies and supreme musicianship. Let's put it straight, Arch Enemy are no longer a death metal band, their current music is brutal, but melodic and progressive thrash with growling vocals. You can, of course, condemn them and turn on your favourite "true death" record, but be aware that you're about to miss an album that is just one step away from a masterpiece. I won't single out any compositions, they are all very good. A must for lovers of extreme metal and Arch Enemy's best release so far. (Maniac)

4-/5
BARCODE
Hardcore
2002
Diehard Music/Hardboiled Music
hardcore

Why, oh why would a group of lads from the happy socialistic Kingdome of Denmark would want to start an anti-social New York hardcore band? What do them kids in Denmark would want to protest against? Their unemployment fees are one of the highest in Europe, they have got almost as much cheapo porn as their neighbours in Sweden, and their prince was famed by the great Shakespeare himself - is that not enough to make one happy? Well, not as it seems. Maybe its because porn in Sweden is cheaper after all, or they are jealous because of the fat-boy Karlson, or simply their childhood was not affected by the scary tales of Hans Kristian Andersen. Maybe But this way or other, one day a group of five very pissed off and very tough blokes met up in the narrow streets of good ole' Copenhagen and decided to articulate their protest via the music, rather than simply go out and beat the living crap out of someone. Well, and protest they do indeed for the third straight album now. Their latest very amazingly and originally named 'Hardcore' was spread across 31 minutes and divided into 16 tracks. That's an almost textbook layout we are talking about here - an approx. 2 minutes per song. The topics for the protest are also pretty 'original' - injustice in general, cheating sportsmen (as if they knew about the Olympics), human stupidity, jobs, music business, and of course hardcore, as the most progressive lifestyle. There is also a dedication here though and that one goes out to none other but the infamous starlet of hardcore porn Jenna Jameson herself (VCRHCHO). The overall impression of the disk is rather pleasing than not, but if you are not really into hardcore, I doubt that you will be able to spin it for any time long. Cheery, Interesting and Angry - that's a CIA plot against ya (Troll)

5/5
THE BLACK LEAGUE
Utopia A.D.
2001
Spinefarm/FONO
brutal and heavy stoner death-rock

The fact that the Finns are simply incapable of composing and recording low-quality music has long become an axiom, the world simply has to accept. The inborn music-sense characteristic of about 95 percent of this relatively small northern nation (an I am now talking out of experience) coupled with also typical reasonableness and a slightly melancholic nature makes Finnish bands a truly unique phenomenon. The additional twist about The Black League is that the band's lineup by three fifths consists of the ex-members of another, no less cult, but entirely different stylistically, act named the Impaled Nazarene. Quite obviously such an alma mater could not have gone unnoticed for the band's collective psyche jerking the scale of its mental state to the point of insanity. As a result the stylistic approach of the League can be described as a drunken Tom Waits singing stoner with death-metal musicians who have decided to go Brit-pop. Well despite the seeming incompatibility of the aforementioned components the end-product for a third time already (if we count the Doomsday Sun EP) surprises with its integrity and unbelievable melodic. The absolute hit of the record, in my humble opinion, is the romantic ballad of a wasted street-bum called 'To Suffer And to Smile', although quite honestly the remaining 11 tracks are no less worthy of your kind attention. Our man Jarva knows what he's about as usual. (Troll)

5/5
BURNED BY THE SUN
Soundtrack to the Personal Revolution
2002
Relapse Records
intellectual death metal with hardcore attitude....
A special note on the CD reads: 'Important! Please, read enclosure'. Very smart I should say, especially considering the fact that a good 50% of the listeners would normally just take a quick look at the pictures and thanks-lists, and even more so considering the fact that this band really has a message to get across. So, try to imagine that all of a sudden Henri Rollins has decided to make a difference, and that, all of a sudden, his choice was made in favor of death metal, well, should that have been the case he would probably sound like this. The lyrics on the 'Soundtrack to the Personal Revolution' are united into a concept based on the subject of a personal rebellion against the oppression of the society, civilization, state, and any other factor obstructing what is usually called individual development. Furnished with epigraphs from famous movie-lines, popular quotes and sayings the band's lyrics turn up in a gumbo of New-York hardcore and the already mentioned spoken word performance of Henri Rollins. Musicwise, the album is your best example of the so-called intellectual detah metal in the veins of such masters as Atheist and Cephalic Carnage. A very original and complex work intended for a thoughtful and avid listener (sorry for being banal, but it's really so). (Troll)

4/5
BURNING POINT
Salvation By Fire
2001
Limb Music/SPV
power

Having seen the word "Finland" on the cover, I was really expecting the worst, you know what I mean - supersonic keyboard-guitar duels, crazy soloing and victorious singing of a high-pitched youth. However as I studied the band photo some doubts crawled into my head, for there were only four stern faces on the picture looking at me in gloom. "Why only four, where's the keyboarder?" I thought as I was putting the CD in my stereo. A minute-long intro passed quickly, and the blockbuster "Under The Dying Sun" at once crossed all t's. Fast, heavy and relentless music performed by Burning Point on this record totally destroys all stereotypes concerning Finnish power metal that have been cultivated for years by famous musicians from that country. "Salvation By Fire" reminds me a lot of Impelliteri, Blackthorne and Headstone Epitaph, which means that it is pure and high-quality power metal without speculative prefixes such as true, sympho or melodic that have become so common lately. The guys learned English well and they know the right meaning of the word "power". Not everybody will enjoy this wall-crushing release, but I was really impressed by an enormous doze of energy and the musical direction chosen by the band. Burning Point refused to jump on the post-Helloween-Manowar-ish bandwagon and opted for a not so conventional and therefore a bit fresher form of music. Unfortunately, no hits again, but four points is fair enough in such situation. (Fireball)

4/5
CRYHAVOC
Sweetbriers
1998/2001
Spinefarm/FONO
Finnish depressive metal

"Sweetbriers" may seem an ultraheavy version of ultrafashionable Finnish love metal for those who don't have the habit of studying the booklet before putting on a CD. However if you look in the credits you'll find out that the album was recorded yet in January 1998 (I'm reviewing its brand new re-release for the Russian market) when there was actually no love metal around. Thus, parallels must be different, though they are obvious too. Aggressive, almost growling vocals, fast tempos, blistering guitar melodies, lyrics about paganism, love and misanthropy - everything that was characteristics of Sentenced on their classic album "Amok" (1995). Sentenced never played like that on any other CD, though many consider "Amok" their best record, and it is no wonder that there are people willing to develop this style. A mix of Iron Maiden and Carcass - that's the description of "Amok" I heard years ago, and it suits Cryhavoc nicely, too. Of course, Cryhavoc are copycats, but they copy with style and they seem to believe in what they do. Moreover, they write very melodic and catchy stuff that still retains a solid doze of aggression. If you haven't had enough of "Amok" and are still unaware of Cryhavoc's existence, "Sweetbriers" should be your next goal when you go out to get some records. And the front cover in the vein of "Playboy" rules! (Maniac)

4/5
DEICIDE
In Torment In Hell
2001
Roadrunner Records
death

Yes-yes, I admit, we should of reviewed this CD much-much earlier, but it was not until a couple of weeks ago that a copy of it finally reached me. Well, to be frank, Old Glen keep surprising me with his experiments. Yes, you got that right, Deicide has been doing some intensive experimenting for two albums now. And if on the previous release the god-killers were trying their grounds on the minefield of true Norwegian black metal, them this time the lads have decided to present us with some bad-ass brutal grind in the best ways of the popular Nile Egyptologists. Whether it's good or bad is not for me to judge, however, I will say, that in my opinion, this is much better than the self-mimicking Herr Benton was exploiting during his first four records. Naturally here we do have some traditional Deicide things, like say a couple of parts in 'Child of God', which reminded me of 'Dead by Dawn' off the band's 1990 debut. The overall impression of this musical meatgrinder is quite encouraging and joyous, and the eye-pleasing pictures of slaughter and mayhem during a typical summer picnic of the Lucifer family, that are flooding one's imagination after the acquaintance with Deicide's lyrics serves as a perfect addition of the relaxation effect. Lean back and just enjoy the melodies UAAAAAARRRRRRGGGGGH!!!! (Troll)

4/5
ETERNAL TEARS OF SORROW
A Virgin And A Whore
2001
Spinefarm/FONO
Finnish gloomy metal
Honestly, I haven't heard earlier works of this Finnish combo, but judging from reviews and the band's statement of playing death metal, I expected something like a midtempo version of Children Of Bodom. However "A Virgin And A Whore" turned out to be a little different, I would rather describe it as a mix of Children Of Bodom, Warmen and To/Die/For. Each song is full of beautiful keyboard passages, most of the tracks are mid-tempo (with the exception of blockbuster "Blood of Hatred" and Accept cover "Sick Dirty And Mean" done very close to the original), and the only thing that has something to do with death metal is the main vocals which are a sort of soft growling and mixed a bit low. There are no female vocals, but a guest vocalist does some clean male singing, adding a touch of doom to the album. Thus, we get a very soft version of Swedish melodic death metal or, looking from the other prospective, a very harsh version of Finnish love metal. Maybe this description will make a lot of die-hard metalheads think that "A Virgin And A Whore" is not worth listening, but I personally think that all music doesn't have to be brutal and aggressive and that there is room for some melodic stuff in the music world. Moreover, you can compare EtoS with other bands, but you cannot say they are copying somebody. A record 100 percent worth checking out. (Maniac)

3/5
FENRIS
Offerings to the Hunger
2002
Firebreath/CD-Maximum
black
Hmm, no offence, but it looks like that prior to issuing their CD these lads have very well familiarized themselves with the infamous '101 Rules of Black Metal' and did thewir best to follow the instructions. I mean, we've got 7 tracks (6 songs + intro) spread over nearly 55 minutes, a black-grey-white layout, an unreadable logo, that proudly incorporates an undercross, a minimum of keyboards - well, in other words, we've got the true thing. Nonetheless, all the outraging cliches aside, the CD itself turned out pretty good. Nothing super-original, but at least tis' high-quality, angry black with well-mixed guitars, a sufficient share of bass-line, etc. Well, the two 10-minute tracks in one album are slightly over the top in my opinion, but it is listenable. A solid three. (Troll)

3+/5
FLESHCRAWL
Soulskinner
2002
Metal Blade/FONO
elegy in the meatgrinder
With the sounds of the very first chords of this LP blasting through my speakers, my hand unconsciously twitched in the direction of the turntable as if to check whether I had accidentally replaced the disk with Entombed's 'Clandestine'. The 'deja vu' did not last however, and already in several seconds I let myself sink into the sweetest charm of the drum-and-guitar mayhem, brought to us by this Swedish quintet. Parallels with 'Clandestine' were too obvious to decline but hey, this is not necessarily a bad thing, and so humming along with the gurgling growl of Sven Gross, I placed myself behind the keyboard in a failed attempt to keep up with the drumming gallop of Bastian Herzog, The first three tracks flew by in a quiet (not) nostalgia for the golden days of Swedish death metal, when such words as melodic were not let anywhere near it, until all of a sudden a pneumatic buster solo in 'Bleeding the Dead' awakened me from the daydream shoving me weary head into the bloody pits of skull-bashing grind. Delightful images of meat bits spraying around from under the cogwheels of the grinder flashed my mind in a rose-scarlet fireworks and white threads of sinews cascaded in a carnival serpentine. A cannonade of guitar-riffs picked me up in whirlwind hauling my body across the killing waves of Styx, so bloody, and at the same time sp swampy, monotonic and mouldy The situation is somewhat saved by te closing cover of Judas Priest's classic 'Metal Gods', but doubtless, the rest of it could have used some diversity. Not bad after all. (Troll)

5/5
FORGIVE-ME-NOT
Swallow Songs
2002
MetalAgen Records
atmospheric gothic rock/doom
With an album title like that, the band's expected to play pop or some gothic etherial at best. But you better not jump to conclusions, Russia's Forgive-Me-Not are not a trendy pop band, they are just metalheads in sadness. Their latest five-track single starts with "The Dying Star Pilot", a powerful song with solid guitars and characteristic keyboards in the band's best traditions. But already the second track brings forward the melancholy. "A Voyage With Gods" is a semi-ballad about a love that never happened, where both music and lyrics are far from inspiring optimism. "A Tiny Swallow Song" is the first true ballad written by this band, it's full of sadness and grief. The last two tracks are radio versions of "The City Of Angels" and "In Danger", and they indeed suit the radio format perfectly. These mid-tempo compositions with a bit naive but very nice and saddening lyrics would sound great at any party, which is a compliment in this case. If some radio plays these songs a couple of times, Forgive-Me-Not will be in charts in less than a week The last thing that I would like to mention is the CD's graphic design. Even though it's just a single, a lot of efforts were put in it. The cover picturing raindrops on the spider's net at some gray break background suits perfectly the changes in the band's music, and the booklet contains lyrics to all the songs. If the upcoming album is going to be as good as this one, be sure to Forgive-Them-Not! (Lynx)

3/5
GODS TOWER
Abandon All Hope
2001
Eternal Art
pagan metal epitaph
This is the end, my friends. Belarussian gods of pagan metal and one of the most talented bands in the entire CIS broke up shortly after releasing this album. The news was very saddening, given my long-time affection to Gods Tower, however, I somewhat expected it being aware of the band's prolonged abuse of alcohol. "Abandon All Hope" is not a new record, but a collection of unreleased material recorded over the past eight years. The tracks included vary in quality, both musically and recording-wise, and it was very difficult for me to rate it, so what you see in the first line of this review is the arithmetical mean of rates for each song. "Abandon All Hope" opens with two new tunes, total killers that are so great that even the underground recording quality cannot kill them. They are followed by three cover versions (Black Sabbath, Europe and Aria), that are recorded better and done OK. However what goes next is much more challenging. An unreleased track done in 1993 sounds like early My Dying Bride, which is not a compliment to me. The sound quality is on the demo level. Finally, there are two electronic remixes, the first is quite listenable, but the second is complete crap. The verdict: I hate prolonged farewells, and this one is 49 minutes long. I'm really sorry, but "Abandon All Hope" is nothing compared with its predecessor "The Turns". However the first two tracks alone are worth the price of a CD. (Maniac)

3+/5
HIGHLORD
When the Aurora Falls
2001
North Wind Records
Italian speed metal

What comes to your mind when you hear the term "Italian speed metal"? Aha, fans of black and death metal are already swearing and cursing and passing on to a next review. And what do you think when you see a knight in a red cloak and with a sword in hand on the cover? Oh yeah, old school metalheads are shouting "death to false metal!" and scrolling down, too. OK, let's go on, what's your opinion of song titles like "Frozen Heaven", "Perpetual Fury" or "Tears Of Darkness"? Hey, where are you all going, we're only getting started!? Now as only the most die-hard fans of shiny power metal like yours truly are here, I can say that it's very easy and at the same time difficult to review this record. Easy because I can just put together cliched descriptions of power metal and the review will be done, but difficult because the album made on a pattern cannot be properly differentiated from it due to lack of individuality and cannot be reviewed properly either. When you're spinning such records for the first time you get an impression that you've heard the stuff a million times, but when the record is over you realize that you can't recall a single song. Nevertheless, the second spin helps single out a few original melodies in choruses or in main riffs ("Don't Kill Me Again", "All I Want", "Again"). And the doze of heroic pathos is so strong here that the statement "We Are Gods" is perceived as the band's assuredness in its musical status. (Fireball)

4/5
KATATONIA
Last Fair Deal Gone Down
2001
Peaceville
gothic rock/post doom

There's some strange attraction in music like that. There are no supersonic guitar solos, outstanding vocals, superb drumming and supersymphonic keyboard passages, but there is no need for stuff like that here. There are even no hits (except "Teargas"), but there is the most important thing - the atmosphere. Thus, all evaluations tend to be a little bit senseless here, either you find this atmosphere attractive and enjoy the album, or you find it alien and cannot understand what the hype is all about. What kind of atmosphere? Well, it is the same on the past three or four Katatonia records, they all refer to a situation when you're in a big city at night, all by yourself, sitting alone by the window and feeling there's nobody in the world who understands you. If you ever feel like that, and moreover, if you feel comfortable with that, "Last Fair Deal Gone Down" is your record. To others it may only be recommended in experimental purposes, to give them an idea of what they have never felt. In my rating of the album, I am guided by a very simple logic - I do enjoy "Last Fair Deal" and I even find it the best of all Katatonia records I have heard (not all, I must confess), but it's not the kind of music I can listen to every day, once in a week or or even once in a month. It's kinda painful, you know. (Maniac)

5/5
NEW DAWN FOUNDATION
So Damn Lost Again
2002
promo
gothic rock
Well as some of you may know gothic rock is normally not the trend to cause me to jump all over myself with excitement and all. I mean, let's put this straight there is nothing grim nor necro about this type of music. There is no corpse paint, no running about the forests with axes and swords, and if you take up the lyrics, those usually touch upon such snotty issues as love, soul suffering, and other bullshit, not worthy of those who claim themselves as true, and praise the coming victory of world-wide black metal revolution and hail the advancing reign of Dark-lord. However, there are no rules without exceptions, which the newly born (yes, again) stars of Finnish gothic rock under the title of new Dawn Foundation are about to prove to everyone. This project of To/Die/For's drum tech Santtu and the former 'button-man' of the apish pierrot Ville Valo (alias HIM) Juska Salminen turned out to be very heavy guitar-oriented rock, with the only trace of gothic in the guys' image (if), and the usual lyrics about heartbreak and lost love. A combo of pumping riffs, pounding mid-tempo rhythm, smartly interwoven with meldoci keyboard arrangements and the quite smart (all romanticism aside) and, more importantly, easy-to-remember lyrics, all of that makes an exclusively pleasant impression of a musical job well done. The simplistic, and thus not overloaded song structure allows one to start singing along already in the second verse, while the CD itself amazingly starts spinning in the rack for the second, third and tenth time in a row. All in all it looks like To/Die/For and HIM are about to face some very strong competitor. (Troll)

4/5
NIGHTMARE
Cosmovision
2001
Napalm Records
heavy metal

This French band was founded in the early 1980s and released two albums in 1984 and 1985 before calling it quits. What we see here is the band's revival obviously explained by the growing interest in classic metal all over the world. Nightmare's original singer unfortunately died and was replaced by drummer Jo Amore, who, in turn, vacated his seat behind the drum-kit for his brother David. The first spin of "Cosmovision" makes it clear for an experienced metalhead (even if he has no idea of the band's background) that the record is done by veterans. This is indicated primarily by ascetic melodies that are not as catchy as those of modern bands but built on solid riffs and harmonies of true heavy metal. There are a lot of familiar moments in Nightmare's music, and parallels can be drawn with Iron Maiden, Savatage and even less-renown bands such as Zar. However they are more of an indication of the band's historical roots than signs of plagiarism and lack of one's own face. On the contrary, the French are experimenting with elements of modern heavy music, not sticking to a single style. A few tracks have powerful operatic choirs that are very unusual for this kind of music. Of course, Nightmare are not trying to rival Therion, but their experiment has to be acknowledged successful. The only drawback of this retro hit is poor production and especially the electronic sound of drums in the worst traditions of the 1980s. In general, "Cosmovision" is a quite successful reunion project and a good manual in heavy metal for young bands. (Fireball)

4/5
NUA
Subliminal
2002
Raging Planet
electronic gothic rock
It just happened so that this time I - a long-established cannibal, a grim and necro monster with Ph.D. in Malefistics, winner of the Sir Darkthrone annual award for the outstanding achievements in the field of Grindcore, author of a series of works on Ritual Dismemberment finally a world-known corpse-grinder - I was forced to review some really pop stuff. Well, that's life, as Frank Sinatra used to say. Anyways the present victim of my all-devastating infernal word is the Portuguese electro-gothic outfit called NUA. Unlike their Finnish colleagues from the earlier-mentioned New Dawn Foundation, who put the main emphasis on simple, though tasteful, guitar-rock, the NUA folks established themselves on a psychedelic computer-guitar depression with quite pleasant-sounding female vocals in the vein of the Gathering. Well, certainly, it is highly unlikely that NUA will become one of my all-time favorite bands, if not for anything else, than simply because of their stylistic characteristic, but still I have to admit that even my stone-cold nature was melted by the melancholic magic of this five-song (intro and outro exclusive) demo. And although this time I just did not happen to have a bottle of red wine at hand, I can easily imagine that on warm summer evening such a bottle would be terrific together with the wailing melodies of NUA, dissolving in the heat of the air. (Troll)

4/5
THE QUILL
Voodoo Caravan
2002
SPV/ Soyuz
stoner
I've never been to Sweden myself, but it seems to be that the Swedish scene can never have just one band of a certain style. If a combo starts playing some new music (death, black, prog rock, power metal, etc.), it gets competitors playing practically the same stuff in less than six months. The Quill is the third Swedish stoner band that I've got acquainted in the past year, which is quite unexpected since I have always considered stoner a typical British-American phenomenon. To my mind, stoner bands coming from the U.K. or U.S. are always boring and repetitive, while their colleagues from different regions (Blind Dog from Sweden or Eternal Elysium from Japan) have made a much better impression on me. The Quill is not disappointing either, their record is really groovy and really psychedelic, and fans of this kind of music must not skip it. To me the only problem is that the best track is the first one (a smasher!), and though there are some very decent tracks after it ("The Mighty River" and "Overlord", for instance), the record gets quite boring as it plays on. A fans-only release. (Maniac)

5-/5
SILENT FORCE
Infatuator
2001
Massacre Records
heavy / power
It's been a while since the first Silent Force album was released, but its follower was well worth the wait. The new record is much more powerful and diverse than "The Empire Of Future", the sound is more solid, but the songs still retain catchy hooks and melodies. There are some surprises, too - I don't really know how D.C. Cooper's auditioning for Judas Priest influenced his creativity, but the first track off "Infatuator" gave me an impression that I was listening to some unreleased Priest song. I was just about to be disappointed and say farewell to D.C.'s individuality, but the second track went a different way around, it's got the familiar Cooper vocals back, and the music is stripped off most of "Painkiller" influences, it's more like a bizarre mix of Rhapsody, Judas Priest and Stratovarius. There is not a trace of Royal Hunt on the album, unlike the first record that was too much of a continuation of D.C.'s work in Andre Andrerson's band. Apparently, the band invited Victor Smolski (Rage) for producing the vocals especially to detach themselves from their singer's past. Victor did a good job, and on "Infatuator" the only reminders of Royal Hunt are keyboard passages in "Hear Me Calling" and "We Must Use The Power". Smolski's input can be best perceived in "Cena Libera" that is performed by the Belorassian State Orchestra. And of course, the album's got its ballad, keyboard-driven "In Your Arms". In general, a high-quality piece and huge progress in comparison with the debut album! (Lynx)

4/5
TOLERANCE
Tolerance
1998/2001
Midnight Records / MetalAgen Records
melodic hard rock
It is strange but true: Russians tend to put their hard rock idols on a pedestal but are not at all eager to play this kind of music themselves. The USSR used to have a decent hard rock scene with bands like Autograph, Black Coffee and Integral gracing it, but at present the niche of melodic hard rock is vacant over here. This situation is about to change thanks to guitarist and vocalist Alexei Nelidov, leader of Tolerance. He is the mastermind behind this record containing simple and detached songs obviously influenced by many rock dinosaurs. There are classic rock ballads, a couple of bass-driven funky in the vein of the latest RHCP works, as well as some bluesy stuff. Nelidov and his fellows are not afraid of using tried and tested standards that have been famous in the west for many decades. No wonder that all tracks are distinguished by high-quality mixing, exemplary composition as though done on a schoolbook pattern, as well as solid instrumental and vocal parts. It is obvious that the guys were listening to their idols from the 1980s and 1990s for a long time before entering the studio and they knew for sure during the recording process that there would be no experimenting, everything would be done as "big boys" do. The result is professional, but a bit boring. I would love to have more hits on the record in the vein of "To The Son", a beautiful ballad as though borrowed from some classic U.S. hard'n'heavy album . (Fireball)

5/5
VARIOUS ARTISTS
Czech Assault
2001
Relapse Records
grindcore
At last! Now, there is something really tasty. Finally we will have an opportunity to shark on the most tender bites of the freshest meat, roll the bitter clots of blood in our mouths, enjoy the sensation of the sweetish aftertaste of fried brains and suck upon the tasty cannon-bone that found its way into our plate! Yammi! So, today is the Czech day in our small family restaurant and we are about to present you with a traditional Czech five-course meal, cooked by our very special guest-chefs from Relapce Records. The first cold appetizer for today is the super-duper technical grind-core from IMPERIAL FOETICIDE. Might be a bit hard to swallow for an unprepared listener, but if you love meat, like I do, you will undoubtedly appreciate the unspeakable professionalism and brutal aggressiveness of this quartet. And their drummer is simply beyond good and evil. The second hot appetizer comes in the form of NEGLIGENT COLLATERAL COLLAPSE - grind core punk rock with deep boarish grunting on the lead vocals, and a little-bit straightforward musical approach. Still is pretty good this one is. And here come the soup - a true treat named CONTRASTIC - that is a unique mixture of grind core, brutal death, hardcore and techno-style exercises in the vein of "jungle". Is quite a fresh and interesting experience that by all rights can be considered the cream of the crop of this sampler. For the main course we have this progressive grind-core outfit with a lot of rhythm shifts and pauses, as well as a good deal of cacophony that ironically seems to be very well-timed and calculated. The above rump steak illustratively named INTERVALLE BIZARRE is for gourmets only, but nonetheless qualifies as extremely good. And finally the dessert - our good ole' lads from the cult act FLESHLESS - a highly explosive cocktail of brutal death and classic grind in the key of the early Cannibal Corpse and Napalm Death. Pro riffs, fast-paced (or rather turbo-boosted) riffs and even some solo attempts. Bon Appetit! (Troll)

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