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

 

5/5
AJATTARA
Itse
2001
Spinefarm/FONO
the most disgusting black in the world
"What a nice guy I am, I am the nicest guy in the world" - said the fat-ridden Narcissus Karlson from an old Swedish tale about the flying jam exterminator and muffin interceptor. The Finns from the Ajattara project are very likely to be finding the same kind of pleasure in such self-voyeurism lovingly admiring their own disgustingness: "How disgusting we are, as only disgusting can be," - they must be hissing in three voices lustfully licking their luscious lips with forked tongues and sneaking in their newly released debut from Spinefarm/Spikefarm Records. How true. Its really hard to imagine anything more disgusting than the goat-horned Wight that winks its eye at the listener from the cover. The insides are 100% compliant with the outsides and are made of nasty, disturbing techno-black with elements of pagan- and Viking-black in the key of Legenda, Moonsorrow and Barathrum with a load of keyboards. The poisoned breath of the inevitable evil from childhood nightmares is brilliantly framed into Finnish-languaged lyrics, which sound almost like a some dark spell. Ajattara is the prehistoric evil of the 1,000 lakes that was lying dormant since the creation of time but that has now been awaken by mistake. Its awake now. And it is very hungry. (Troll)
P.S. Best track - Eri Valta

4/5
ANGRA
Rebirth
2001
SPV / Soyuz
power metal
Apparently Brazilian singer Andre Matos gets on the nerves of his bandmates so hard with his classical influences and stuff that their music gets heavier right after his departure. That happened with Viper who eventually evolved from speed metal to punky thrash (weird, is it?) and this is now the story with Angra. Rebirth is heavier than the three records of the Matos-era, but after all the difference is not really big, even though the band has three new people in the line-up. It is still power metal of the highest quality with some folk influences (Unholy War) and some quotes from classical music (Visions Prelude, which is an adaptation from Chopin), just the things that Angra has been famous for. Actually, the band played practically the same music with Matos and I dont really understand all that buzz about musical differences being the reason for the split. New singer Eduardo Falaschi is a perfect replacement for Matos, he has his own individuality, but their ranges are not far apart. If you are among the few people disappointed with Fireworks (1998), you may be turned off by Angras new harder edge even more, but in general, I have no doubt that the record will be a success among fans of Angra and power metal. (Maniac)

4/5
ARMORED SAINT

Nod To The Old School
2001
Metal Blade/FONO
ole' school
metal
What can you expect from a record with such a title? Nothing but the old school U.S. style heavy metal which you either love or don't care about. I tend to like this style and this band in particular, and therefore I enjoyed this record, too. In my opinion, however, Armored Saint is something of a one-album wonder, with their "Symbol Of Salvation" (1991) by far surpassing everything else they've done. This record won't change this situation, even more so because it's a compilation of new, rare and unreleased material. A 24-track demo that later ended up on "Symbol Of Salvation" ("Reign Of Fire") is superior to all the other tracks. This aside, "Nod To The Old School" is a perfect pattern for compilations. It contains some new songs, some re-recordings, live tracks, covers of Robin Trower and Judas Priest, tracks from an ultra-rare EP dated 1983 and a bunch of demos. Everything here is of surprisingly good quality, and you won't even tell a 4-track recording from regular studio stuff, if you're not a sound expert, of course. Nothing but true heavy metal, music for 80s maniacs, if you please. A fans-only release, but with lots of charm and one hell of an attitude (Maniac).

4/5
BORKNAGAR
Empiricism
2001
Century Media
courtly black

Normally, as soon as the band hits the road of general decline in heaviness and starts striving for commercialism in its sound, it seldom dares to turn away from that path. Very fortunately the project managed by the cult guitarist Oystein Brun found itself in the lucky minority, which fears not to jump all over itself in the eternal search for experimentalism. After the last year's release of Quintessence which was not the best possible choice in the neighborhood, to be frank, and which in bore a strong scent of 1999 Dimmu Borgir, I didn't really expect much from the band. However as soon as the CD was sucked into the inners of my audio-system, my ears were struck by top-quality melodic black metal filled with the lead of Nordic aggression and a multitude of new ideas. Well, of course, Borknagar couldn't have instantly become Darkthrone or even Marduk, even if they'd wanted to. But the pop-ness of Quintessence was gone altogether, despite all the abundance of clean vocals sung by the recently recruited Monsegnior Viontersorg, who replaced ICS Vortex, endless keyboard-work, electronic gimmicks and acoustic experiments with grand piano. Another apparently smart decision was the replacement in the producer armchair, which was this time occupied by Borge Finstad (who has by the way worked on the latest Mayhem release). All of these lineup shufflings injected a good doze of fresh blood into the band and helped them record a splendorous album. The already-mentioned Vintersorg has smoothly integrated into the overall musical context, once again proving himself a great singer capable of going from clean high-pitched singing to the scream-o-growls characteristic of Swedish death metal. A lot of progress has been made in the arrangements, and there is also a very unexpected instrumental piano track (wittily entitled 'Matter and Motion') that somehow brings memories of such names as Shostakovitch and Prokofiev. The riff-factory operated by axe-men Brun and Ryland was also quite an impressions, rolling out top-quality black metal sheets, enameled with a tricky web of solos and framed into the sparkling glasswork of classical guitar. All in all, smart, beautiful and with a lot of good taste. (Troll)

4/5
BROKEN MIRROR
Sometimes We Live
2000

Atmospheric Death/Black

This demo came to us from the capital of our neighboring Ukraine. The sound is a bit raw, but nevertheless good. Sorry but no comparison comes to my cabbage-like mind. Good growling, good blackish cat-scratch-screams, clean vocals (sometimes too clean and vague), good riff patterns, good drumming. The songs are written in Russian, but due to the style influence sometimes you have to listen to it more attentively to make it out. Some songs are more melancholic, some are more aggressive. The band tends to extend the frames of the genre, for instance the fourth track "Dead Goddess" begins as something doomish, but turns into a brutal death piece of "raw material". The guys are good composers, they are definitely willing to write excellent stuff (for example I cannot but admire their instrumental parts), but something lacks hereI'm really lost in finding an answer to the question. May be the only thing they need is a good studio and producer? But as for nowjust good. P.S. The last (instrumental) track just blew my mind - kick ass guitar. . (Felix the Katt)

4-/5
CONDITION RED
Condition Red
2000
Lion Music/FONO
something very progressive

If there was a competition for the title of the most sophisticated record, "Condition Red" would surely be among the winners. A mix of progressive rock, progressive metal and jazz embodied in 8-10 minute compositions with protracted guitar, keyboard and saxophone solos seems brilliant as you listen to the first couple of tracks, but when you are through with two thirds of the album, it gets really difficult to continue listening, especially when the eight-minute instrumental "Lighthouse" kicks you in the head and makes a serious attempt at twisting your brains. If is of interest that such a complicated record was made by musicians who have been delivering more or less straight-forward hard rock for the major part of their career - Lars Eric Mattsson (vocals, guitar, keyboards) and Alex Masi (guitar). They are accompanied in this project by prominent session keyboardist Alexander King and yet another virtuoso of black and white keys Derek Sherinian (ex-Dream Theater) who guests on two tracks. Another interesting feature is the use of two vocals, a male and a female ones, which is very uncharacteristic for prog music. As a result, "Condition Red" is a unique record, but not very listenable, I'm afraid. Fans of progressive stuff should check it out for sure, anyway. (Maniac)

5-/5
EDGUY
Mandrake
2001
AFM Records
melodic speed power
Follower of glorious traditions and major hope of German power metal Tobias Sammet keeps on bringing light metal to the masses, and the periodicity of his releases doesn't affect their quality at all. "Mandrake" is done in the vain of Edguy's previous albums, it is a stainless alloy of speed/power metal a la Helloween and Gamma Ray decorated with choirs and keyboard arrangements. Nevertheless the album lacks diversity and fresh ideas that literally overfilled the Avantasia project. Tobias had made a pet of his listeners so much that even such a faultless disk as "Mandrake" that contains wonderful melodies and true drive can't be appreciated by 100 percent if it is compared with Sammet's previous releases because of similarities in the structure of compositions and repetitive passages. There are no obvious faults, but it's quite difficult to tell true hits ("Tears Of The Mandrake", "Golden Down", "Save Us Now") from the rest of the songs. The album makes an overall impression of a strong but too smooth disk without any revelations. Of special notice is Tobi's humour which is well-known among visitors of his website and those who have read his comments to his own works. The booklet contains photos, on which the guys are trying to pose "cool metalheads" and not to burst with laughter, while the disc includes a multimedia video where Tobias, wearing sleepers, strolls through a watered airshed. And hilarious "Save Us Now" that reminded me of Helloween's "Rise And Fall" is a nice and kind parody of power metal bands' favorite theme - saving the world from the global evil. And the Evil is No, I won't tell you! Check it out yourself! (Fireball)

2/5
TORBEN ENEVOLDSEN
Heavy Persuasion
2000
Lion Music/FONO
guitar instrumental

My first attempt to check out this record failed dramatically as I fell asleep after the fourth track. Don't think that I was drunk or it was 4 o'clock in the morning, it's just the record was THAT boring. Really, when you are a young guitarist and you put out an instrumental record, you got to have a goal, something that distinguishes your product from hundreds of similar records that have been released before. You may want to surprise the public with supersonic guitar playing, or with advanced playing technique and tricks, or with catchy melodies, or with stylistic experiments, or with anything else, but a guitarist's solo record's just got to have individuality not to be forgotten as soon as it stops playing. Torben Enevoldsen fails at this, his "Heavy Persuasion" is indeed heavy, but lacks melodies damn hard. As to his playing, it is solid, but nothing extraordinary. In a situation like that, I can only recommend this CD to fans of lead guitar as such (if there are any). Others can easily skip it and turn to more interesting products of Lion Music. (Maniac)

4+/5
HEAVENLY
Sign Of the Winner
2001
Noise Records
melodic speed power

French metal finally takes revenge. From now on France is represented on the global power metal scene by its own heroes Heavenly. Their last years debut album did not find broad recognition, but Sign Of The Winner is already justifiably acclaimed as one of the best albums released by young bands in 2001. Heavy metal performed and mixed on the highest professional level (to a large degree the merit of producer Tommy Hansen) wins the listeners hearts on the first spin. The records sound is above any praise its solid and strong with sophisticated guitar solos, frequent theme changes and obligatory choirs in contrast with strong high vocals that remind me of Timo Kotipelto from Stratovarius. Of course Heavenly cant avoid comparisons with grandees of the genre but their music is second to none by its brightness and energy. As for the melody department, its not so perfect. The guys make a good start, develop the theme, come to promising bridges but when it comes to the chorus, its always a bit inexpressive. Thus, verses and instrumental solos are more melodic and catchy then choruses. The songs resemble a gracefully developing attack of a high-class football team (say, Real Madrid), with a bunch of excellent combinations and solos, that is just about to culminate with a great goal but fails at the last moment. Its a pity cause the young Frenchmen can compose, thats for sure. Im convinced that Heavenly will do even better on the next disk. (Fireball)

5/5
HYPNOS
Revenge Ride
2001
Morbid Records
death
To tell you the truth, having once listened to the debut work of this Czech project, I was already expecting the continuation. The deathly ride on the wings of revenge literally skyrocket from the start-point and go in an all-crushing frenzy right into the end of the CD. Brutalizing riffology, deep as the great abyss itself growling, avalanching drumwork and an absolutely unhuman aggression. The psychopathic death mix that combines elements of such tyrannosaurs as Deicide and Morbid Angel in the performance of no-less honorary cannibals of the local scene, charges your brain up to the very brim, feeding the hate into each and every cell and pore of the gray matter incarcerated in the bone prison of the skull. The multitude of various forms death assumes on the CD is nothing but devastating: schizo-bouncing in the 'Crystal Purity of Treachery' is replaced by a guitar swamp on 'Journey Into Doom' (probably the best song on the record) and the carnivorous tornado of bleeding flesh in 'Evil Awaken'. Indeed this bloody ode to annihilation is hypnotizing the listener, binding their horrified stare to the audio-system and you sit there shaking with fear, expecting that some huge disgusting saber-teethed sleazy monster with the band's logo on the forehead will crawl out of the rack any moment. All in all, its good ole' Bruno and friends. (Troll)

5/5
LACRIMOSA
Fassade
2001
Hall Of Sermon
gothic metal

Lacrimosa is synonymous to change. The band have never recorded two albums that sound alike, each has its own mood and its own sound peculiarities. With "Fassade", Tilo Wolf and Anne Nurmi abandon the emotional overload of their previous release "Elodia" to replace it with very sad, but solemn compositions, many of which have nothing to do with metal whatsoever. The two use a symphonic orchestra and choir again, this time even more actively than on "Elodia", and some tracks ("Fassade - 2.Satz", "Stumme Worte") are just orchestra and vocals. I wouldn't say that the band benefited a lot from losing a metal edge, and 1997's "Stille" remains unbeaten, IMHO, but Lacrimosa has taught their fans to accept changes. After all, it is one of those very few bands that makes truly unpredictable music. You can never tell from the beginning of a song what it's going to turn into in just a minute. It takes a lot of time to fully understand "Fassade", but you won't get bored even after five or six spins, that's for sure. (Maniac)

3/5
Legion
(Prophecy)
2001
Irond Records
heavy/progressive/melodic
A disappointment is not when you check out a new band and it's crap. It is not when you check out a new record of a band yon don't care about pretty much and it's crap. It's when you put on a CD of a band you love and it turns out that the music is below the band's own standards. This is just what happened to Moscow-based heavy metal veterans Legion. Having played for 20 years and releasing several cool albums, among them being immortal "1980-1987", the combo enters the third millenium with the record that will make any fan weep. No, it's not that Legion have turned pop or nu metal, nor have they forgot how to write powerful heavy metal anthems with a touch of progressive. The problem is the horrible sound, which kills all the energy of the songs, making Legion sound like a Hammerfall clone or something. Extra-loud vocals, incoherent guitars and artificial rhythm section I'd rather go to Legion's live shows, which I consider great, than to torture my ears with this piece of plastic again. C'mon men, you are not playing true black metal or punk to allow yourself records of this quality. After all, what else can you expect from recording in a place called Galimafon (shitload) Studios? (Maniac)

3/5
MACHINE HEAD
Supercharger
2001
Roadrunner Records
nu-metal

Back in the early 1994 this gang of Oakland hooligans was considered to be one of the most talented young bands. Their stunning 'Burn My Eyes Debut' caused an outrage on the metal scene, that at the time was slowly crumbling into very small pieces, sinking into the swamp of lethargic sleep and desperately trying to hold to every nut and every screw that were preventing its rusted and agony-crooked steel body from the final collapse. The old heroes were dying together with it, while the dark, corpse-painted power born in the north, was still too weak to save a whole a trend from the looming annihilation. Metal needed a hero, and he came in the form of four tattooed and bearded amigos dressed in hip-hop pants and sneakers. Despite all the cheesy image, the foursome was cranking some real bad-ass groovy thrash-core, bulging with pulsing energy of life. That became the salvation of metal but ironically ruined the musicians themselves. The feedback of the cast spell spawn a godzillion of clones and golems who were the exact copies of their forefathers but lacked in talent. However the forces were too unequal. The mob of thousands of brainwashed nu-metallers was sucking MH into their whirlpool. The first album was followed by the second, which was in no way worse quality-wise but seemed to be squeezed out. The succeeding 'Burning Red' did not add any hitpoints to the band and was reflecting the general decline inside MH. As if a fairy tale hero Rob Flynn and friends were fighting the many-headed nu-metal monster that entwined the world in its tentacles, but where a head was cut a dozen new appeared. Now in 2001 Machine Head are rising to battle again investing all the hope into the brand-new 'Supercharger' album. But, due to a short-circuit or some other unfortunate circumstance, the charger got broken. Despite all the quality of the material and quite a handful of new ideas Supercharger is continuing the bands rapid descend into the undeserved oblivion. The release does not withstand the competition with either its predecessors or albums by other bands, and is doomed to become "just another good nu-metal disk". Good, but too weak for being Machine Head. (Troll)

4/5
MELECHESH
Djinn
2001
Osmose Productions
Persian gimmick black
Ethnic gimmicks nowadays are a point of surprise for only that part of the listeners who are completely ignorant of what has been going on in the scene for the past couple of years, and have only known heavy music through the eternal masterpieces of Metallica. We've already had black metal mixed with Irish folk-music on the first Cruachan record, as well as humppa-viking-metal smithed by the hairy-legged loonies from Finntroll, as well as the Egyptologian grind-death made by the American Nile, and many others. And well as soon as a gimmick seizes to be treated as one anymore, everyone immediately starts to notice the qualitative aspect, and this is exactly where Mechelesh showed their best. Guitar whines that have a strong scent of kebab and shaurma smoke, keyboards smeared with the sugar-sweet Turkish delights and spectacular traditional drumming that was invented back some time ago by a well-known Arabic performer Davidrukh Ali Lombardo-Bei. To cut it all short, the end mixture comes out real good, provided you are not allergic to Arabian cuisine and the call-of-the-East would not summon the intimidating image of Bin Laden's curly beard in your exhausted imagination. Closer to the second half of the record the band's material might start getting on your nerves, but if you give yourself a break, the album still deserves a four.. (Troll)

2/5
MIDNIGHT SUN
Metal Machine
2001
Limb Music
MMMMMetallllll! ;)
Wheee! Very funny! Do you know what would happen if you cross Rammstein with Manowar? (Pervert yourself!) What, you don't? (shut up!) Why, of course, how would you know? This is not something to occur in your average head. Although this does not necessarily imply nobody. For instance the guys from Midnight Sun seem to be quite interested in such DNA-blasting experiments and so they've recorded 'Metal Machine'. The amount of cliches per a millisecond of playtime exceeds all the possible maximum allowed concentration level by millions of times and cannot be understood by anyone in their own mind. No, I mean seriously who with a deal of sanity (not Manowar) would possibly write songs like Steel to Steel, Metal Machine or Metal Gods in fucking 2001? The pathetic image of these adorable children of anvil and hammer is fully corresponding to the inner senses of their songs: the leather-spiked pathetic of the 80ies that is striving to become the pop of the new generation. The only excuse to the existence of this band on the planet is that they are at least funny, and being seriously mad about 'Metal Machine' is only possible if sense of humor for you is a purely theoretical virtue. Anyways the '2' in the mark-line is comprised of 1 point for the humor and the second point that goes to the absolutely genious ballad, which for some reason the guys have shoved into the hidden track some 10 minutes after the official end of the CD. (Troll)

3/5
NAGELFAR
Virus West
2001
Ars Metalli
viking black

Sometimes it seems like there is nothing new to be created in such a down and out genre as black metal is. Everything has already been composed, played, remade, forgotten and re-composed anew. Hundred of not thousands of new bands appear on the scene literally every day and at times one would get the impression there is no end to this eternal cycle of birth, life and death. No denying, this planet can boast some bands that have both talent ad creativity and it is them who are responsible for developing the music, taking it to and beyond the new boundaries, shaping it into never-before-seen forms and incarnations. But there are also bands that do not allow the newly build bridge fall into the abyss of oblivion, enforcing it and providing a solid backup for those who march in the front. The German Nagelfar is exactly the example. Their coined, almost cliched Viking-pagan-black with thick guitar scrambling, blast beats that are timed to a millisecond and the already classical hoarse screaming is complemented with well-blending heroic and bombastic keyboard parts altogether forming a barbarian war anthem. The dark atmosphere of morbid northern woods rolls the listener into a grave-garment of horror and fear as you ascend into the blackness of prime evil. A solid three, that can even be a three plus. (Troll)

4-/5
OZZY OSBOURNE
Down To Earth
2001
Epic
Ozzy rocks.

but nothing happened. Earth keeps spinning, the Newton law keeps working and a neighbour of mine keeps drinking. Though I thought that the world would not be the same after the thing that had been awaited for six years finally happened. However the Great and Mighty One again surprised everybody this time by deciding not to surprise anybody. The vocal patterns that Ozzy uses were tried and tested by the man himself in the early 1980s, the lyrics are the same sincere thoughts about himself and his relations with the world, and some songs are clear reminders of the highlights of Ozzys career, be it in melody or in spirit. Lets see, slow tune Dreamer is a continuation of Goodbye To Romance, while Facing Hell and No Easy Way Out bring back memories of the Ultimate Sin record. On the other hand, the up-to-date sound is no surprise either. Unfortunately, Zakk Wylde is losing his individuality at the speed of light, his trademark guitar tricks have all but disappeared, and solos are watered down and incoherent. The record even features some electronic pieces and a few songs are nu metal pure and simple (or rather sad). Down To Earth is definitely less powerful than Ozzmosis, and the production is less clear, and there are no touching classics like I Just Want You. The only thing that distinguishes this record is Ozzys unique charm, his sincerity, humour and self-confidence that have withstood the test of time. You cannot but pay respect to this great musician. (Fireball)

4/5
ROYAL HUNT
The Mission
2001
Frontiers
/Century Media America
- melodic metal
There are some records that are both a blessing and a curse to the band that recorded them. A blessing because they are the works of art that will be remembered for ages, and a curse because everything the band does after such an album fails to stand comparison with it. This is just the case with Royal Hunts Moving Target that brought the band to international spotlight back in 1995 and remains their strongest offering so far. After the sacking of brilliant singer D.C. Cooper Royal Hunt released a quite mediocre record called Fear that nearly ruined my hopes to hear anything worthy from this band, but The Mission is by far stronger than its predecessor. New vocalist John West finally fits nicely with the music, and his performance is far better than it was on "Fear. The songs are great too, with Surrender, Out Of Reach and Total Recall being obvious highlights. Even the sound is different and much better than the already habitual and quite tiresome keyboard domination heard on Fear and Andre Andersens solo record, it is more guitar driven, and if not for too computerised drums I would have said its perfect. Nevertheless, something is missing. What is it I truly dont know. Just listen to The Mission and compare it with Moving Target. The 1995 album was a masterpiece, the current one is just an excellent record. A minor difference, you say? Yes, but still (Maniac)

4/5
SHAPE OF DESPAIR
Angels of Distress
2001
Spinefarm/FONO
doom
To tell you the truth I have thought that the times of 80-minute long albums with 5 15-minute songs have long passed by, and that doom-metal died somewhere around the mid 90ies, not even having a chance to produce a lot of fuzz, due to its natural in-bred apathy. But no. There is yet a bunch of melancholy-ridden types in the land of a 1,000 lakes, and the new album of Shape of Despair is just another proof to that. Doom metal with a major 'D', ode to hysterical introverts, funeral march of the phlegmatic, an album worth of epitaph, requiem for love bygone. And at that I gotta say that despite all of its nominal dullness that goes by default with the genre, 'Angels of Distress' is a much easier listen than you would have imagined. At least the music does not bring any sleeping side-effects, and when it comes to growling this guy is just a genius of deep glottal roars, that would have done credit even to the early My Dying Bride. All in all a wonderful present for all of the doom-fans and early My Dying Bride lovers in particular. (Troll)

4/5
SIEGFRIED
Drachenherz
2001
Napalm Records
obscure sympho black folk heavy

And there was much rejoicing: Sandra Schleret - the legendary songstress of the now popped-thru Dreams of Sanity, have decided to part routes with her former colleagues unworthy of the good name of metal-heads, and have joined the real steel boys from Siegfried. The result of this alliance was quite unexpected though not altogether uninteresting. The debut album of the mighty Germans released through Napalm Records represents a stone-cast mixture of heavy, black, folk and sympho metal with keyboard arrangement sin the vein of early Dimmu-Borgir, boosting guitar riffs that lack neither in heaviness, nor melodism, the now already classic vocal trio - clean male vox, hoarse growling and clean female singing, and last but not least, highly professional rhythm section. Sandra's voice became an excellent dressing to the music of the band, and although my amateur opinion is not really touched by the vocal capacity of this renown songstress, I have to admit that 'Siegfried' could have hardly made a better choice. Besides, Sandra's own approach to singing is quite different from what we used to hear in Dreams of Sanity with such new elements as rough shrieks and even tremolo a-la the French Edit Piaf. Cool. (Troll)

0-5/5
SUMMONING
Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame
2001
Napalm Records
dark ambient
It's not as easy as it seems, although on the other hand ;) This assorted collection of taboo limerick ditties brought forward by mrs. Protector and Sileniuz (kiddin' ;) is almost an exact moniker of their previous release of this Austrian duo 'Stronghold'. Or, to be even more precise, any of the compositions from the previous release could of easily ended up here and vice versa. This would not have changed anything what-so-ever - the same epic and melancholic howls of the Viking war horns and drums, ear-torturing echoing shrieks and the stick black of a night-wood, entangling you in the web of fear. Although, coming to think of it, dark ambient is not the style for bands striving for musical development and millions of newly implemented ideas. Take that long-eared pretty-face Mortiis for examples. This unthinkable hybrid of a troll and elf did not show any musical progress on any of his albums aside from, probably, the last one. But this is not what quality dark ambient is about. No way. For me at least the main assessment criterion in this genre is the atmosphere the artist manages to create with their music. And then its all about simply liking or disliking the whole thing. Same thing basically happens to Summoning. The total absence of "new gimmicks" does not affect the quality of the end product in any way, and that is why the disk itself can be easily rated anywhere between 0 and 5, depending on your inner state at each and every given moment. This is like blues in many aspects, if it's being played right, it does not really matter who you're listening to Barnie Dumbwit from Middle Shittex or Steve Ray Vaughan. Although gotta admit Summoning are surely closer to the latter... (Troll)

3-/5
TARANTULA
Dream Maker
2001
AFM Records
power

Now that power metal has become a fashion, something that's not very difficult to play but that pays generously, even bands from Portugal have realised it. The Tarantula guys decided not to burden themselves with composition of touching melodies or invention of new musical ideas. They decided that the main components of success are the triumphant tempo, supersonic movement of fingers on the fretboard, choirs here and there, simple rhymes like "sky-fly" and a stylish cover. Just put this all together, and here it is - a new masterpiece of positive metal! But despite all their efforts, even such a loyal reviewer as yours truly had a hard time finding some really hit moments on the disc. I can't say that it's total crap 'cause the record does reach an average level of modern power metal. The track "You Can Always Touch The Sky" is almost a hit (apart from the lyrics) and instrumental "To Feel The Light" is really like a light at the end of the tunnel - it improves not a very "bright" impression from the work of the quite elderly (judging from the photos) Portuguese rockers. (Fireball)

5/5
THERION
Secret Of The Runes
2001
Nuclear Blast
symphonic metal
Hmm, where shall I begin? It's sometimes hard to find the words to describe a record of such importance. OK, in a time when Scandinavia was dominated by death and black metal, Therion was among the very first bands to introduce gothic and symphonic elements to their music. Back then it made a sensation, but with each year the number of bands using Therion's trademark elements grew by hundreds, and by the end of 1990s critics started to call Christopher Johnsson's band stale and outdated, even though both "Vovin" (1998) and "Deggial" (2000) were of superb quality. With the coming of the new millenium, Therion tries another change. It goes more progressive this time, making songs even more complicated in structure while preserving the trademark symphonic sound. The orchestra is used again, and its role is still dominant, but the guitars are no less important in the sound. "Secret Of The Runes" is a thematic record with the theme clear from the title, but the general meaning is elusive to me because the English lyrics are complimented by songs in German and Swedish, languages which I do not speak. As a bonus you can enjoy Therion's attempts at Scorpions and ABBA classics earlier available on corresponding tributes, but remixed especially for this album. All in all, another great record of Christopher Johnsson that may not beat classics like "Theli", but comes as close as possible to that level. (Maniac)

4/5
THUNDERSTORM
Sad Symphony
2001
North Winds Records
deathly doom

The symphony of gloom indeed starts in a very sad and mourning way slowly drowning the listeners in the blood-coveted waters of this musical Styx. The blue cheer of traditional doom metal was mould into the mid-tempo German death metal a-la Morgoth 'Cursed': viscid slow infectious riffs, filigreed drumming and funeral melodism, that used to be so popular among death metal acts of the early nineties. No endless rhythm shifts, jazz breaks, or the now fashionable blast beats - just one even and polished gravestone, that looms over you in its morbid doom, shutting the door to your last shelter. A highly recommendable example of old-school death metal, aside for one 'but' - clean vocals is not something you'd expect here, although I am not saying its altogether bad. In fact its pretty good. Especially considering the fact that this guy actually knows how to sing. (Troll)

2/5
VARIOUS ARTISTS
A Tribute To Accept 2
2001
Nuclear Blast
tribute-mania at its worst

Who would have thought that founders of German heavy metal Accept are so difficult to cover? It is the second tribute to those distinguished veterans, and the second failure. The first selection of covers released a couple of years ago was scolded for its extreme closeness to original compositions. The bands participating in the second volume decided to do it the other way around - by making their versions as different as possible - and failed even harder. Let's see - half of the bands (Witchery, Raise Hell, Disbelief, Godgory, etc.) limited themselves to adding growling vocals to the heavy metal classics such as "Fast As A Shark" or "Dogs On Leads" - how interesting is that in 2001 when all was said here yet by the first Metal Militia disc back in 1994?. Others (Breaker, Rough Silk) went further and slowed down fast songs, making them a true pain for the ears. How would you like a slow version of "Breaker", for instance? A few bands stuck to the original again, but they are suffering either from poor vocalists (Darkseed) or from pure inability or unwillingness to perform songs properly (Agent Steel). Even the track recorded by Udo Dirkschneider himself is worse than the original, for the songs Accept wrote without him do not fit his voice at all. The only listenable versions are done by Therion ("Seawinds" - but that was released already a couple of years ago), Custard ("Aiming High") and Tad Morose ("Losing More") - is it enough for you to buy the CD ? (Maniac)

(Fireball Reviews - Translated from Russian - Lynx)


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