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
ALAS
Absolute Purity
2001
Hammerheart/FONO
Doom/neo-classic

In case anyone does not know by now, Eric Rutan is the second guitarist with Morbid Angel, but in Alas this demon of six steel strings have decided to try himself in an entirely new outfit. But as we all know talent is a constant thing and that is why we have got another top-quality CD, both professionalism- and music-wise, and even more so, considering the fact that the mike-stand in the project was given to none other than Martina Astner. The funniest thing about all of this, is that all the melodicity aside, half of the riffs on the record show that Rutan studies in Morbid Angel High, with its very special bee-out-of-hell guitar buzz that goes along with the drum line. Although I still have to admit, describing Eric's technique in normal verbal terms is too difficult and too useless of a task, because I mean on this album he has decided to try himself in all the possible and impossible genres, styles, manners, gimmicks, etc, etc, breaking all the limits and boundaries of what is considered permissible or impermissible in music. Moreover, while doing that, he never seizes to be his own self. And well how he makes the guitar sing together with Martina is something one cannot possibly imagine. All of this remarkableness closes with a genius acoustic instrumental track, where the master also shows himself as a brilliant classic guitarist. Why is it four minus then? At a certain point you gonna have a memory violation notice due to data overload and will have to reboot your brain, which refuses to take any more of this refined musical intellectualism. (Troll)

5/5
ALASTIS
Unity
2001

Century Media
tribal metal/industrial

Wow! What a sound! A total killer! Switzerland's Alastis have always been somehow overshadowed by their more fortunate countrymen Samael, but from now on it's over. Despite having obvious similiarities with Samael, "Unity" is better than most of the records Vorph & Co have done. An incredible combination of melodies and powerful sound made me a fan instantly even though I had never heard Alastis before. Already the first track "The Right To Die" makes it clear that the band is here to stay, it is an obvious hit and probably my favourite from "Unity", even though tracks like "Who Created The Gods?" and "To The Root Of Evil" are no less great. Musically-wise, Alastis play tribal metal in the vein of late Samael, but mix it with an incredibly dense sound in the vein of Rammstein and John Bush-era Anthrax. Probably "Unity" is not the world's most original record, but it is so well done and so full of hits that if this is not a masterpiece then what is? Recommended for everyone - get it now! (Maniac)

2/5
ANCIENT RITES
Dim Carcosa
2001
Hammerheart/FONO
heavy melodic black

Not too convincing, to be honest. Of course, I do understand that putting all the shit in one toilet, is probably pretty cool, and, moreover, I've always been the one to support such radical innovations in style mixing. But as pickled cucumbers with milk lead to an inevitable diarrhea, same way heavy-speed and melodic black are two things that don't really go together. It is quite original, but that's not enough. What makes it twice as disappointing is that these guys have absolutely genius keyboard inserts, which indeed are entirely brilliant, but that rest of it has all gone to hell. I don't know, but it seems like pathos has been the main focus of these dudes, and thus in the end result we have got a pretty hybrid of Bal Sagoth with Manowar and Malmsteen, which is, again a very nouvelle gumbo, but not really eatable. I mean seriously, take up sickeningly polished, super-duper correct guitar structures, bashing orchestra hits and irrelevantly spread blast-beats. Plus a weak sound and boring material. The only thing that compensates for all of the above is the already mentioned keyboard parts and a very stylish CD-sleeve. Then again Sagoth fans might enjoy it... (Troll)

2/5
AZAGHAL/BEHEADED LAMB
Suicide Anthems/Dark Blasphemous Moon
2001
Millenium Metal Music
true black

Actually, there is not much to review here, it's just two demos put together on a single CD. You just need to read the track list to know what kind of music these two bands are playing. However, the "truest" thing here is sound quality that is just terrifying. A Kreator demo from 1984 sounds better than this. Speaking about the music, Azaghal do not have much in common with the traditional blast-beats-all-the-way approach a la Darkthrone, their songs are closer to melodic death in the vein of early Dark Tranquillity, and only the vocals are 100 percent true black. The lyrics glorifying suicide are not so typical either. As to Beheaded Lamb, they practise a more thrashy approach, though traditional black metal lyrics and vocals would have ruined my impression of the band even though its efforts were recorded better. Verdict: the underground may be an interesting thing, but when you're dealing with it closely you have to go through a lot of crap. (Maniac)

4/5
BALTIMOORE
Original Sin
2000
Lion Music / FONO
experimental hard rock
It must be damn cool to play in a band with the person who has its own record label - you don't need to look for a record deal for your solo project. It is no wonder that Baltimoore, led by singer Bjorn Lodin, released their latest album via Lion Music, the record company owned by Lars Eric Mattson, who happens to play with Bjorn in a band called Mattson. But seriously, Baltimoore is a renowned act and I'm only glad to get their new release after six years of silence and, let's face it, oblivion. Back in the early 1990s Baltimoore was a prominent name on the Swedish and Japanese hard rock scenes, and featured guitarist Nikolo Kotzev (now with Brazen Abbot). Their new album "Original Sin" sticks to the band's hard rock roots, but also includes tracks that cover other spheres of music. Alongside with the energetic opener "Conviction" resembling Rainbow and Whitesnake of the early 1980s, the disc contains the track "Superman" which is nothing but pure jazz. In fact, no two songs on the record are alike, each is different and though Baltimoore is unlikely to make a revolution in hard rock, their efforts indeed deserve praise. They do not copy anybody all over the album, they borrow a bit from everywhere and make a fascinating cocktail that has only one drawback - with the duration of 39 minutes you can never get enough of "Original Sin" and are tempted to play it all over again. And then again and again (Maniac)

unrated
BLACKMORE'S NIGHT
Fires At Midnight
2001
SPV / Soyuz
barocco / folk rock

It's extremely hard to review a Masterpiece of the Great Master, something that is born in the soul of a genius, embodied in his instrument and will remain in the hearts of listeners for eternity. It's not like the ordinary music that can easily be compared, rated or criticised. For the third time in the past five years the Master of Rainbow and Deep Purple lifts the veil of time and leads us to the world of medieval melodies, light and pure as Rafael's canvases. The Maestro is inspired by the German musical heritage and European Renaissance. Popular flirting with the Celtic culture that only the lazy don't practise at the moment is not something he considers worthy. His idols are Bach, Mozart, Beethoven. According to him, European music comes from Spain, Italy, Hungary and Germany. Celtic music is not close to his heart, he says and stresses that it is Germany that has something mystic in it, something that inspires a composer. Ritchie's pieces are the train of moods and eternal human passions - love, sorrow, nostalgia and happiness. I pity those who blame the Master's music of lacking a soul, of being too cold and rigid. They don't see the living beauty in it, the beauty that breathes and warms a human soul like the fire from a candle. I can't rate this disc. Rating a masterpiece like this is like trying to uncover the secret of Jockonda's smile with a ruler. Let him who hath ears hear! (Fireball)

5/5
BLIND DOG
The Last Adventures Of Captain Dog
2001
Meteor City
country'n'stoner

US label Meteor City apparently finds a sort of pleasure in finding stoner rock bands in the most unusual places. Some months ago we reviewed their signees Eternal Elysium from Japan and here comes Blind Dog from Sweden! Luckily, in addition to the exotic origin these two bands have something more to offer, and that is a great deal of uniqueness. Blind Dog mix traditional stoner attributes with country'n'westernish mood, and the end result turns to be a stoner analogue of Desperados. Of course, the band does not use banjos or something, the connection is in the spirit, or vibe, whatever you call it. This CD just makes you think that this is the kind of music that present-day cowboys on drugs would listen. Or create. On top of it, the record is extremely diverse, no similar songs follow each other, and there is even a ballad somewhere in the middle of this 64-minute record that despite being lengthy, does not gets boring at all. I don't really know what to add here. A very, very good album. (Maniac)

5/5
LIZZY BORDEN
Deal with the Devil
2001
Metal Blade/FONO
His Majesty Heavy Metal!
Who said that heavy-metal was dead? Who said there were no more heroes of NWOBHM, the music we had been all raised with? Who said the were no more prophets of past ideals, no matter how naive and funny in their old-fashioned appearance? Let the Pharisee whose pungent tongue dared to ooze such lies tremble in horror, for Lizzy Borden himself has cut a Deal with the Devil and this time no one shall escape his steel-encased punishing hand! The figure of Lizzy is so renowned and legendary, that a mere enumeration of the titles he'd earned and feats he'd accomplished in the name of Metal would take 666 such reviews. But this is not needed anyway. The only thing we have to say is 'Ole' Borden's back, man!' - and this means that with his return the music, that only a tiny handful of people can play properly nowadays, has also returned. 'Deal With the Devil' is about combat guitar riffs, spectacular harmonies, super-catchy choruses and, of course, the indispensable voice of Lizzy - a man and a fiend. This unique alloy of British and American steel is basically the quintessence, the absolute, the golden section of everything we mean by 'metal'. Hard to believe, eh? Just listen to 'Hell is for Heroes', 'Lovin' You Is Murder' or the title-track 'Deal With the Devil.' And then when your under-pubescent kid brothers: one dressed in oversized pants, fishnet-T, with rooster-colored hair and pierced-thru 'Korn' baseball hat, and the other one garmented in black leather pants, gladiator boots with No1-dyed hairs and an inverted cross on his neck, come back home sneak up to their audio system and turn on some bad-ass Lizzy Borden tune, and let this zit-faced teenies listen to some real stuff!. (Troll)

4/5
C.O.E.
Metal
2000

Shark Records
power
Long-time power metal fans will probably remember Shelko L. Coe, who sang in Angel Dust, Scanner and Reactor in the late 80s and early 90s. Having left Reactor in 1996 he concerntrated on producing unknown bands, but after a few years he is back in the business again with the first solo record. Shelko performed most of guitars and basses on the album and used assistance from the musicians he produced to play guitar solos and drums. To tell you the truth, the only guest musician I have heard of is John A.B.C. Smith (ex-Scanner), other names tell me nothing. However guest stars is not everything, music is more important. From this point of view, "Metal" is a solid record full of strong compositions, with "Warrior (Don't Be Afraid)" being my favourite. Moreover, the record cannot be directly compared to anyone, it is power metal alright, but with no obvious analogues. Also of interest are the lyrics that cover various themes ranging from the Yugoslav war to music business. The only drawback is the Guns N'Roses cover "Paradise City" which is, frankly speaking, a failure. Despite that, those who generally enjoy power metal should get this record for sure, they won't be disappointed. (Maniac)

4/5
DESTRUCTION
The Antichrist
2001
Nuclear Blast
pure fucking thrash metal
Seems like there's no stopping the mad butcher now. Deathlust is in his veins and axe in his hands, bloodstains all over his clothes, this bald psycho is as ugly as your worst nightmare, and he's after ya! 11 scars of genuine German thrash metal on your flesh will make you scream in pain and convulse, choke and finally die drowning in your own vomit. The opening "Days of Confusion" is just a precaution - all trespassers shall be prosecuted. But the forbidden apple is sweet and you enter the world of the Antichrist leaving fear behind. You have been warned Suddenly you hear steps behind, that's him. You start to run but there is no escaping him. First what he does when he gets you is "Thrash (you) Till Death", than he'll "Nail (you) to the Cross". And then, after treatment with "Bullets from Hell" coming from "Dictators of Cruelty", you shall "Meet your Destiny" and perish in the wastelands of hell. To cut it short the CD is excellent from all points - this one lets us face the REAL Destruction. The only thing I'd like to stress is that 13 years ago releasing an album every year with almost the same music might have been OK, but I have really grave doubts if Destruction should come up with new releases each year. They should of better let us get hungry for their music. (Felix the Katt)

5/5
BRUCE DICKINSON
The Best Of
2001
Air Raid Records
heavy metal

Everyone knows who Bruce Dickinson is and what kind of music he performs. So why the hell am I writing a review of Bruce's "best-of" compilation? It's just because I don't want you to think of it as a waste of money and skip it, thus depriving yourselves of a great release. The record is not just a collection of best tracks, it contains a lot of interesting material. First, two new songs ("Broken" and "Silver Wings") recorded with mighty Roy Z. earlier this year. Both tunes are great, they sound like a link between "Accident Of Birth" and "Chemical Wedding", borrowing all the best from these two groundbreaking albums. Tracks like this make me regret that Bruce abandoned such a successful solo career for the cosy, but somewhat too predictable slot in Iron Maiden. Second, the package contains a bonus disc with a collection of rarities and B-sides. Some of the tracks are well-known among collectors ("Ballad Of Mutt", "I'm In A Band With An Italian Drummer"), some are ultra rare (the original of "Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter" or the live version of "Jerusalem" that didn't fit into "Scream For Me Brazil"), some have never been heard before at all (the demo of "Wicker Man" that has almost nothing to do with the Iron Maiden track). Not all of the material is of excellent quality, but each song is interesting and deserves to be heard. A release that no Iron Maiden fan can live without. (Maniac)

4/5
DORNENREICH
Her Von Welken Nachten
2001
Prophecy
psychotic black

Stop the psychotic invasion! Just when I thought bands like Hungary's Tormentor are so rare that I'm safe and distant from another one for a while, here comes Dornenreich. "Her Von Welken Nachten" is a totally sick record with myriads of strange voices, schizoid breaks and other abnormalities added to the sympho black metal basis. At times the band turns from psychotic black to no less sicker dark folk in the vein of Sopor Aeturnus, which makes the album totally unlistenable for many people. At least, fans of Dummu Borgir will definitely have problems appreciating the CD, but if you're into something like Mayhem's "Grand Declaration Of War", you may want to try. I won't go as far as calling "Her Von Welken Nachten" a masterpiece, as some reviewers have done, but it is doubtlessly a very interesting and intriguing record. For true maniacs only! (Maniac)

3/5
EIDOLON
Hallowed Apparition
2001
Metal Blade/FONO
very heavy metal
The first couple of tracks of this CD must make a good background music for the pilot of a US plane flying to bomb the Taliban in the true belief that it is those nasty Moslems that killed his entire family in the WTC - so full of rage and aggression they are. As the record played on, I was getting more and more tired with the Canadian band's ultra-heavy, but quite pointless sound, and their vocalist which obviously tries to sound like Rob Halford but fails to even come close. What's worse, out of 10 tracks only one ("Forever Be Free") is more or less catchy, the others are based more on professionalism than on inspiration. A mix of late Judas Priest and late Saxon - if you are sure you haven't had enough of "Jugulator" and "Metalhead", hardly these two bands' best albums, check out "Hallowed Apparition". For me it's OK, I can listen to it, but whether I will ever want it in my player again remains doubtful. (Maniac)

unrated
EMPEROR
Prometheus - The Discipline of Fire and Demise
2001
Candlelight Records
Black
Frankly speaking, I really do not want to review this album. And not because this one is supposed to become the Swansong of Ihsahn and Co., and not because this is probably the most innovative Emperor album ever, and even not because it will surely become the most controversial disk in the band's history. Thing is, I just feel that whatever is my judgment - be it positive, negative, or neutral, - it will inevitably turn out wrong. I pretty much had the same impression when I heard their 1997 'Anthems to the Wilken at Dusk' release, which I made the idiocy of judging by the first spin, and was then very sorry about it. In fact Emperor is really not the band to be appreciated from the first listen. Rather than that, the listener here should act more like an archaeologist, slowly and patiently peeling away the dust of the centuries from a priceless artifact. And then, maybe, he will be able to see a tiny particle of the ruthless but at the same time endlessly splendid world, which is Emperor. So what is the so strange about it, an impatient reader would exclaim?1 Well, try imagining a CLASSIC emperor release with touches of death-metal, Voivod, Anathema-like doom and orchestrated keyboard in the vein of the latest Dimmu Borgir, multiply it by the traditional Emperor force and chaos, put it all together, then cut into a million pieces and glue them back together again in random order. 'Prometheus' is extremely difficult to listen to, but somehow it keeps ending up in your system again and again. (Troll)

5/5
FALCONER
Falconer
2001
Metal Blade/FONO
viking power

A power metal band from Norway, a country that very seldom produces such music. Residents of fjords and icy forests are more famous for their black metal than for any other kind of metal. Actually, the band's Scandinavian origin can easily be heard, which is no wonder - only a couple of years ago practically the same people were called Mithotyn and played viking black. Their new project, Falconer, still retains a huge viking influence, and its debut record is best of all described as "Rage meets Vintersorg". The 10 tracks included in the CD contain both Rage-like intensity and vocal patterns characteristic of "The Explorer", as well as a purely Scandinavian mood - winter all the way. The bonus track is a traditional Norwegian song rearranged in the vein of Storm and Otyg (also a Vintersorg project), which makes it clear that we are dealing with a truly outstanding band. The record's only problem is that all its hits ("Substitutional World", "Lord Of The Blacksmiths", "The Past Still Lives On") are concentrated in the end of the CD, and due to that "Falconer" requires several spins to get accustomed to. Anyway, the band practically produced a miracle, they recorded an original power metal album, and this alone deserves a fiver. (Maniac)

4/5
THE GATHERING
Downfall - the Early Days
2001
Hammerheart/FONO
doom/death roots

Let me give you some insider information about "The Gathering". The band used to be very famous among doom-death headbangers (if the term headbanger is at all applicable for the fans of the genre - the ed.) back in 1989-1992. Surprised? Oh I bet you are. There used to be no (or almost no) female vocals then - only growling. Nowadays the situation is turned upside down - they play silly gothic stuff with a cute-voiced babe on the vocals. Those of you who dug "The Gathering" with Bart Smits on vocals, "Downfall" is a true present for your ears. Actually, this is a collector-items-collection CD. Most of the metalheads fascinated by doom metal must have already got "Always" and "Almost a Dance", but the "Early Days" CD enlarges their collections with the first "The Gathering" releases. Surprised again? Take this: 7" (unreleased), An Imaginary Symphony'90 (rehearsal tape-demo), Moonlight Archer'91 (demo). What surprised me was the quality of the 7". Geez! This 3-song-tape was lying on the shelves for 10 years. The songs that can be found on the demos represent the major part of the materials that can be found on "Always". "Second Sunrise" and "Downfall" songs can be found on each demo but they ARE different regarding the sound quality and music, and they are different from their final versions on the "Always" album. I think that nothing else can be said here, if you like The Gathering "Always", Paradise Lost "Gothic", go and buy the CD, you will never regret it. (Felix da Katt)

3/5
HOSTILE BREED
Green Wound
2001
Irond/Sound Age
nu metal
Apparently we're dealing with Russia's only nu metal band. The Moscow-based combo earlier known as Transylvania debuts with an album which seems very well done at first sight, but as you look closer you see some aspects of it that generally ruin a positive impression. I'm not talking about musical innovations and stuff, nu metal is not a fruitful area for experimenting. Let's put it straight that "Green Wound" has a lot in common with Machine Head's "The Burning Red" and forget it. What's worse is that the record does not have a single catchy song, and that the most memorable thing is sound titles ("Mad Noise Invation", "Too Drunk To Drive"). Next, the lyrics are full of orphographic mistakes and make an impression that their author never really studied English and translated the stuff from Russian word by word with a help of a dictionary. Add to it some dubious statements by band members ("White Ghetto" is a racist song masked as an anti-racist one, or vice versa"), and you'll understand why I don't want to ever hear this record again. It does have some bright and breath-taking moments, but they are not enough to make a good album. (Maniac)

4-/5
GLENN HUGHES
Building The Machine
2001
SPV / Soyuz
funk/hard rock
"The Voice of Rock" is still in great shape even though he's not really young anymore. I guess many people will buy this CD just to hear this voice. However I was more interested in (and concerned with) the music that "Building The Machine" contained. I remember reading in the news a while ago that the album would mark Glenn's departure from heavy funk of his previous effots and his return to a more hard rocky style. This is not particularly true. "Building The Machine" may indeed be heavier, but it is still funky as hell, at least the first part of the record. Even the guest appearance of Pat Travers on "I Just Want To Celebrate" does not help. However starting from the sixth track the situation started to improve, and the remaining material pleased me a lot with its sheer power and nice melodies. "I Will Follow You" and the acoustic "Big Sky" are the tunes that I liked the most, but my top favourite is the re-recording of Deep Purple classic "Highball Shooter" (off the legendary "Stormbringer" record). Still, the overall rating is four minus - the amount of funk is, IMHO, just excessive. (Maniac)

4/5
IRON FIRE
On th Edge
2001
Noise Records
power

It's getting harder and harder nowadays to create something new in power metal. But this fact doesn't prevent young talented bands from creating small masterpieces that may lack outstanding melodies but still take no prisoners with true energy and professionalism, which is surprising for their young age. Scholars Iron Fire guided by mighty Tommy Hansen (needs no introduction) have proved that statement once again last year by releasing their debut record "Thunderstorm". Hansen also produced their brand new disc, which seems strange after you have listened to it. In addition to hymns like Gamma Ray-ish "The End Of It All" and "Forever Evil", the record contains elements that have nothing to do with power metal. Crunching thrashy riffs layered over the roughly sounding rhythm section ("On The Edge", "Into The Abyss", "Wanted Man") make way for a dirge-like mix of hard'n'heavy and power metal. Melting solos, "miauling", all-American vocals, semi-bluesy melodies - it seems that someone asked Jon Bon Jovi to play power-metal and he agreed for some purpose ("Lost'n Alone", "Miracle"). The record makes an unusual impression - the boys abandoned stylistic purity for the sake of trying themselves in other spheres of hard rock. I don't know if it is good or bad. One thing is for sure that the band has lost some power, joyful catchy melodies are also gone. On the other hand, the music is quite unusual and the original approach to the material makes the listener seek (and find!) standards and melodies borrowed from another metal genres and mixed with present-day power metal. Disputable but interesting or vice versa. (Fireball)

4/5
JUDAS PRIEST
Demolition
2001
SPV / Soyuz
heavy metal

Sometimes I feel like I don't understand most of the people. Really, why should metal critics and fans lash out at "Demolition" so unanimously when, in my opinion, the record is not that bad? What I think is that Judas Priest's latest effort is much better than their previous studio effort "Jugulator", and let me tell you why. First, there are more good songs here, with "Machine Men", "Hell Is Home" and "Feed On Me" easily claiming a place in the row of Priest classics. Second, Ripper Owens almost abandoned his King Diamond-like screams and started singing more in the traditional manner of 80's Rob Halford. His vocals is so close to Halford now that I could have got confused if I hadn't known better. Then, the band scaled up tempo a bit in comparison with "Jugulator", but also came up with some beautiful slow pieces (check out the beginning of "Hell Is Here", it rules). Finally, Judas Priest diversified their traditional NWOBHM style with a few daring experiments - "Subterfuge" and "Cyberface" sould a lot like nu metal, while on the final track "Metal Messiah" the band goes crazy and experiments with the least expected - rap (!) and eastern melodies. Even if "Demolition" is very long (circa 70 minutes), it is not boring at all. Not the second "Painkiller" and not even Rob Halford's "Resurrection", but much better than I expected. (Maniac)

4/5
LUCYFIRE
This Dollar Saved My Life At Whitehorse
2001
SPV
gothic pop

It's so tiresome to be always sad that sooner or later the gloomy one breaks down and goes to a party. This is what happened with Theatre Of Tragedy last year, and this is what is going on with Johan Edlund of Tiamat now. Like Liv, Raymond and Co, Edlund ventures into the gothic pop scene, though he has much lesser chances to get on major radio and TV chances. Why? Because his record sometimes sounds so hilarious that you can't take it seriously. It's slowed-down techno dance with a characteristic gothic feel and Edlund's trademark spaced vocals. The music is complemented by pseudo-love lyrics ("You Can Have All My Love Tonight") and a quite sick atmosphere. Normal people (I mean those who are not into metal) cannot stang such things for a long time, but I personally enjoyed "This Dollar" much more than the latest opus by Liv and her band. The main difference is that Lucyfire boasts an impressive number of potential hits ("Baby Come On", "And Over And Out" and ZZ top cover "Sharp Dressed Man"), while Theatre Of Tragedy's last affair was really poor on catchy melodies. Moreover, Edlund turned to be wise enough to experiment with gothic dance music in a side project, for if "This Dollar", no matter how good it is, had been a new record of Tiamat, I would have been greatly disturbed by the band's new course. (Maniac)

4/5
MIND ECLIPSE
In the Light of Eclipse Coming
2001
Bloodhead Production
black

Should Immortal and Dimmu Borgir have started playing together in the beginning of their respective careers, and should the end result have been mixed by the same guy who made the first two Barathrum records, and, moreover should all of this have happened in Russia, the end result would sound exactly like that. When it comes to the basics the music of this Yaroslavl band represents pretty standard quality forest-black with all the natural consequences: creaking Abbath-like vocals, buzzy-bee-riffs, slowdown let-ring distortion guitar-screams, and a blood-field of blast-beats. The Dimmu Borgir influence on the CD materialized in the form of lond atmospheric keyboard passages, which, gotta give them due, are done with certain taste, although are too much on the longish side as far as I am concerned. The cover likewise serves the purpose of black metal proper: the black-and-white remnants of a dead ancient city, locust feasting over them. All of that is spread under a tricky knotted logo, obviously designed by a tribal tattoo-freak. Although, if you forget about the sound quality, which unfortunately is on the crappy side, the music itself is quite good and pretty diverse. Some special attention has to be paid to the very last promo bonus-track which is done with much better mixing than the rest of the record Here it is much easier to make out the separate instruments and hence understand what the guys were really aiming at. All in all, all hail true black metal in all of its shapes and forms provided they are all true! (Troll)

5/5
OTEP
Otep EP
2001
Capitol Records/GALA
Slipknot dethroners

This IS sick, this is dark, Slipknot-like nu-metal. This is something everybody has to hear. The CD was released under the title "Jihad" but in regard to the recent tragic events the label insisted this should be reduced to just "Otep". Most of you probably heard the latest release of Arch Enemy. A lot were surprised at finding out that now they have a girl on vocals. A lot said she kicked ass. Some people heard Sinister with a girl on vocals. What am I driving at? Lemme tell you. There exist some absolutely hell-driven girls, they growl, they scream, they bang their heads, but they are all just nothing in comparison to Otep, the band's throat and lungs. If there were a competition she would have won right from the beginning. She possesses an unbelievable vocal pattern from broken whispering to demonic growling. The music of the band is all very groovy downtuned nu (I'd say even groovier than Soulfly) except for the third track, opus lasting for 8+ minutes, sounding very much like Henry Rollins speeches in hell. The lyrics are diabolically unclean and filthy, social, dramatic, disturbing, dealing with such things as rape and censorship. And this EP can even compete with aforementioned Iowa worshippers (Felix the Katt)

3+/5
POUNDHOUND
Pineappleskunk
2001
Metal Blade/FONO
New Nu-metal or the way it should be

It's a very very strange CD with very unusual music. Of course, for some of you it will sound very usual. But then you are the minority. "Nu metal crap!" will you say. Well, there's much more than this in this "Pineappleskunk". The music is definitely based on tuned as-low-as-possible guitars like many new-breed gangs use, but the vocalsthe throat belongs to Doug Pinnick, the black bass axeman and singer of the infamous Kings X. So can you imagine his amazing rock vocals that remind me personally of the Lee Ving's (MD.45) ones being applied to the aforementioned trendy nu-music. It is new and I never heard anything like this. It just kicks ass, but 16 songs, although it's only 50 minutes - too much for me. By the end it becomes boring... (Felix the Katt)

5/5
POVERTY'S NO CRIME
One In A Million
2001
Inside Out
progressive
Really, the band's monicker sometimes means more than its music. By naming the band Poverty's No Crime, these German progressive metal adepts rejected any chance of commercial success for their record. As a result, "One In A Million" is the band's fourth (if I'm not mistaken) album, but the band is still obscure, even though the quality of their music is sky high. "One In A Million" is much less complicated than the combo's previous efforts, such as "The Autumn Years", it has more accessible song structures and more catchy melodies, but it still deserves to be called progressive. Long and complex compositions like "Dare To Fly" and "The Stranger Within", both lasting over eight minutes, leave no doubt that the band will be appreciated by fans of the genre, but its general success is still questionable. In my opinion, the band gained a lot by making their music easier to understand, and I like "One In A Million" more than Poverty's early stuff, so if you want some quality and serious, but yet not mind-twisting music, I recommend this CD. (Maniac)

5/5
RAGE
Welcome To The Other Side
2001
G.U.N.
speed/progressive

There is nothing worse for a band like Rage than to stop developing. Once you have established youself as a trader of new grounds, you have to live up to that reputation. Rage have been successful with it so far, and their new record is a new page in their history once again. With "Welcome To The Other Side", the powerful trio abandons the neoclassic atmosphere of the two previous records and goes back to the roots, but also adds new elements that Rage have never used before. First of all, the guitar sound is drastically different, it is more modern, more progressive (obvious influences of new guitarist Victor Smolski), and overall song structures are quite progressive too. For instance, the four-part epic "Tribute To Dishonour" has clear similiarities with Savatage. However the CD still contains traditional high-speed Rage songs like "Paint The Devil On The Wall" and mystic mid-tempo scaries such as the title track. The record's major advantage is that it is very diverse, and each fan of the band will find something up to his/her taste among the 17 featured tracks. The Japanese version also contains a new version of the classic song "Don't Fear The Winter", also the symbol of return to the roots. In general, this half-traditional, half-modern album really made a great impression on me. Maybe it's not as strong as "Trapped!" or "XIII", but it is still of very high quality and among my favourite records that have been released by this band. (Maniac)

3/5
SAXON
Killing Ground
2001
SPV / Soyuz
AC/DC & NWOBHM forever

The NWOBHM veterans are still alive and kicking, but their latest kick is much weaker than usually. Really, I enjoyed 1996's "Unleash The Beast" and even its follow-up, critically disclaimed "Metalhead", but "Killing Ground" is a major disappointment. The beginning of the record is very cool, with the title track being the best on the CD and the cover of King Crimson's "In The Hall Of The Crimson King" sounding very fresh and original. But suddenly after that the band loses its face completely and switches to AC/DC-like primitivisms all over the next two tracks. Then the face is quickly regained, but by means of several typical and extremely underdeveloped compositions. Of course, you can tell that it is Saxon playing all through the record, but I'm afraid this was the band's major goal, not good songs or musical development. As a result, the second half of the record contains nothing but cliches that I have heard a thousand times before. Apparently Saxon guys put so much energy in outstanding live shows over the past couple of years that they were too tired to work on new material properly. (Maniac)

4/5
VICTOR SMOLSKI
The Heretic
2000
Drakkar
guitar + orchestra

And the trend continues The number of bands and musicians willing to grace their compositions by adding some orchestra to it grows by the minute. Needless to say, it sounds very poor in most cases. "The Heretic" by Victor Smolski (Rage, ex-Mind Odyssey) is a different thing. It's not someone's classics played with an orchestra, it's seven compositions written especially for this album, and the first six of them are instrumentals performed by the White-Russian Orchestra and Victor himself of electric guitar. OK, I know that Yngwie has done it before, by Victor's music is much different from the neoclassic record of the Swedish virtuoso. It is much darker and quite heavier, I would say, and the impression is intensified by emotional narrations in three languages, namely English, German and Russian, performed by Victor and his fellows from Rage. Such a combination seems strange at first sight, but look in the booklet and you'll understand it - "The Heretic" is a concept album dealing with witchcraft and inquision, which was a common thing for the entire Europe in the not-so-distant past. The title track, which is located in the end of the record and lasts almost 10 minutes, adds to the orchestra+guitar pattern a bit of drums and bass and even vocals done by none else than Peavy Wagner (Rage) himself. A killer tune, but in the end, there is still the same problem - despite being a truly outstanding work, it is too classic for metalheads and too metal for classic music lovers. For open-minded people only. (Maniac)

5/5
SODOM
M-16
2001
SPV / Soyuz
Another brilliant piece of German thrash metal

Seems like this year, or even the last couple of months faced the German thrash metal re-conquer its throne. The leaders are back, fresh and even more brutal and groovy than they used to be. And of course such a massive attack would have been impossible without the legendary Tom Angelripper and his SODOM. Two years have passed since the deadly slaughter-militaristic "Code Red", and now we are facing the a new disaster. Following the old-time tradition, the CD dwells upon the atrocities and abominations of war, and this time the Vietnam War had been chosen as the baseline for the album. "Let those who had not been there shiver and scream in agony", - has definitely been the motto for the lyrics. Having once glanced at the track-titles you feel cold shivers run down your spine: "Napalm in the Morning", "M-16", "Lead Injection" and so on and so forth. As for the music - the record definitely follows the theme of "Code Red" brutalism, being at the same time filled with the groove of 'Persecution Mania' and of course, 'Agent Orange'. And as always there is a "salty" track, a cover version of the infamous Trashmen as the closing song of the record - "Surfing' Bird" - a piece of pure thrash'n'roll. Let's cut it short - an absolutely superb album. No shitty modern influences - true sodomized thrash. (Felix the Katt)

5-/5
SONATA ARCTICA
Silence
2001
Spinefarm / FONO
melodic speed-power
All the praise and criticism about Sonata Arctica's debut album have been voiced, all parallels with their fellow countrymen Stratovarius have been drawn, and all comments about the musicians' young age have been made. The only thing left for the band was to create and release their second album, and for us to get it and start listening. Being sure that there would be no problems with the production quality, I focused my attention on what is called "the soul of music" - I mean the melody. Already the first track "Weballergy" meets the demands of all fans - it's a high-speed blockbuster with clear-cut melody and non-trivial lyrics. By the way, the poetry plays a very important part on the disc, which distinguishes "Silence" from myriads of power metal albums with lyrics "about nothing", cliched images and rhymes. Tony Kakko demonstrates here an original approach to unrequited love, a theme extremely atypical for power metal. But let's get back to the music. If we compare "Silence" with Sonata's debut album "Ecliptica", it is a bit inferior as far as the number of hits in concerned. It seems to me that the productive Finns put on the record all the songs they had written within a year, including those that can't match their own standards of quality and melodies. As a result, wonderful compositions, such as "Black Sheep", "San Sebastian", "Tallulah" are joined here by much more modest achievements that still could have been called a success if they had been released by a band less talented than Sonata Arctica. On the whole the album is a decent follower of the musical direction chosen by the musicians that had found their own sound and their own method of self-actualization. (Fireball)

4/5
SOUL DOCTOR
Soul Doctor
2001
Massacre Records
melodic hard
Soul Doctor's got something that so many bands seek and so few possess - the charm. It is, of course, easy to feel at live shows but the record is still full of it. This German combo does not even attempt at trading new grounds, its power is in emotions that they put in their music, and also in sky-high professionalism of all band members. I don't think I should go into detail describing the band's music, just bear in mind that Soul Doctor features singer Tommy Heart (ex-Fair Warning) and bassman Joerg Deisinger (ex-Bonfire, ex-Sabu). Of course, it's melodic hard rock, very German, but with a great deal in common with American AOR legends like Foreigner (actually Soul Doctor took their name from a Foreigner song which they cover on this CD). The songs are less melodic than, say, what Joerg did with Bonfire, but they have more edge and no less drive. My favourite is "Who Will Be There", but all other compositions are also of interest, there are no weak moments on the album. This band is a must for all fans of traditional hard rock, the German style. (Maniac)

4/5
THRONEAEON
Neither of Gods
2001
Hammerheart/FONO
Death metal
When this act was first referred to me as a Swedish death metal outfit I was sorta skeptical like I generally am whenever I hear the term melodic death metal from Scandinavia. My skepticism, however, faded away very swiftly after I felt the first punches of this heavyweight prizefighter landing on my eardrums like miniature shell explosions. Although the band history dates back to as early as 1991, 'Neither of Gods' is their debut full-length CD, that was preceded my a handful of irrelevant demos, minis, etc. Well 10 years of incubation have surely allowed this newborn monster to gain some force and guts. The four-strong kill-brigade blasts right from the underground terrorizing the listener with Vaderesque roars, thick Morbid Angel-like axing and a wipe'em-all-out nihilism characteristic of Deicide. This has nothing to do with all of your lame-ass guitar strumming and pseudo-infernal vocals that wouldn't even impress a faggot poodle. No way, these four Swedes ain't about playing games and running around acting evil and dorky, they will bite you fragging head off and strip your skeleton naked of flesh, leaving the shiny bones to the hunger hounds of hell. This is death metal, folks, and that means take no prisoners. (Troll)

3/5
TROLLECH
Ve Hoozdech
2000
Eclipse Productions
true black
There is a theory that true black metal emerged in Scandinavia due to local musicians' inability to produce quality recordings. Trollech is fine proof of that. If their album had been recorded more or less cleaner, they would have been dubbed "folk metal". Taken as such, it's doubtlessly true black. At least the second composition has all traits characteristic of the genre. What comes later is best described as "early Barathrum meets Finntroll." Loads of folk are mixed with the traditional black metal screams, programmed drums and medium tempos. However Trollech are by far inferior to the two bands mentioned above. The main problem that these trolls are facing is repetitiveness. For instance, the instrumenlal "Ve Hoodech" is based on one riff only, even though the track is no less than three minutes long. Besides, awful sound quality really makes me beg for mercy. The album does have bright moments, which made me hope that Trollech will improve a lot and be a success in the future, but at present, they don't deserve more than three points. (Maniac)

4/5
VARIOUS ARTISTS
Wacken Rocks
2001
SPV / Soyuz
melodic rock/heavy metal

"Wacken Rocks" is both an advertisement and a reminder of the world's biggest heavy metal festival. An advertisemen for those who have never been in Wacken, and a reminder for those who have. Pictures in the booklet alone are enough for visitors of metalheads' Mecca to buy the CD. However, I always tend to be sceptical about compilations, and this one is no exception. Don't expect it to capture the intensity and atmosphere of Wacken's live performances, and even though almost half of the tracks are live versions, only two (those by Company Of Snakes and Rose Tattoo) were indeed recorded at Wacken, and even those two have been released before. Actually, the only unreleased piece is the track by Metal Mecca's home band The Bullheads, you won't get it anywhere else. In addition to it, the double CD includes a couple of rare tracks (Savatage "Jesus Saves (live)" and Zakk Wylde's Black Label Society with their rendition of Ozzy classic "No More Tears"), while the rest are album versions, pure and simple. Yes, the compilation indeed features only the bands that have played in Wacken over the 12 years of its existance, and the choice of tracks (Blind Guardian "Barbara Ann", Paul DiAnno "Wrathchild", UDO "Holy", Axxis "Kings Made Of Steel", etc.) and song order are beyond any criticism. But still, if not for the title and layout I would have never paid attention to it - I own (or am planning to get) most of the tracks anyway. (Maniac)

5/5
VARIOUS ARTISTS
A Tribute To ABBA
2001
Nuclear Blast
pop classics covered by metal bands
Don't think I'm trying to stick my head out by rating this album so high when everybody else is lashing out at it. Really, I think that "A Tribute To ABBA" has everything one can request from a record of that kind. If you're in a metal band and covering a pop song, you can't but make it different from the original. Thus, all the tracks featured here are heavily rearranged. The furthest to go were Therion, who turned "Summer Night City" into a symponic metal song in their traditional style, and Glow (never heard this name before), who made "Dancing Queen" sound like Pennywise or even Sick Of It All. At the same time, it's a real tribute to an influential band, not a mock or a joke or something. All the bands are paying respect to ABBA, and you don't get an impression that they're doing it unwillingly, just because their label asked them to or because they consider this project a good way to promote themselves. Well, maybe these two reasons are exactly what made most of the bands appear on the CD, but you don't feel it in every note they play, like it often happens. After all, what else do you want from a tribute? Outstanding musical innovations? I don't think so. The record is fun, it's easy to listen, it's excellently played and produced. Besides, it has a few really outstanding versions - in addition to the Therion track, I have to mention Metalium's "Thank You For The Music", At Vance's "Money, Money, Money", and the best of all, Morgana Lefay doing "Voulez Vouz" (though many of you may have heard it on the band's compilation "Past Present Future" released yet in 1996). The only track I didn't like was recorded by Paradox, who turned "S.O.S." into speed/punk that would have made Tom Angelripper proud. Seems like they did not rehearse the track at all before laying it on tape. And as usual, here is the list of participants that I haven't mentioned - Sinergy, Rough Silk, Spiral Tower, Sargant Fury, Flowing Tears, Nation, Custard and Tad Morose. (Maniac)

5/5
VIRGO
Virgo
2001
SPV / Soyuz
rock/hard rock

"Virgo? Who?" I almost hear the people reading this scratching their head in an attempt to recall where they have heard this name before. Yes, it's the long-awaited project put together by singer Andre Matos (ex-Angra) and guitarist/producer Sascha Paeth (ex-Heavens Gate). Let me tell you from the start that the album has nothing to do with the music that both bands are famous for. Having recruited an impressive backing band that features keyboarder Miro (more known as producer of Rhapsody works) and drummer Robert Hunnecke (Heavens Gate), the duo abandoned speed metal and ventured into orchestrated and modernised rock that does not have any analogues. Slow tunes ("To Be", "Don't Need To Have An Answer") somewhat remind me of Queen, but there is only distant similiarity between Virgo and the legendary British masters. But when it comes to faster material ("Baby Doll", "Blowing Away"), I just don't see anybody who I can compare it with. It is energetic but very light rock music (the term "hard rock" can be applied only to a few tracks) with Andre's trademark vocals and Sascha's top-notch producing. There are many various influences (Spanish guitar on "To Be", soul music on "River"), but taken together, they create a truly unique soundscape. Fans of Angra (especially of their latest "Fireworks" album) are bound to like this disc, fans of Queen too, but this also goes for many others, for Virgo is doubtlessly among the most interesting releases of the year on the hard rock scene. (Maniac)

4/5
VIVID

Auto All
2001
Virgin/GALA
Great Alternative
There is always time for the first time. I think it's the first CD reviewed here, that stands a bit further away from metal music, than everything else. But anyways I found a couple of threads that lead these Germans to the aforementioned music. The CD can be divided into two parts - melancholic and very melancholic & romantic. The first definitely comes from an enormous influence of Radiohead. The second part is very soft rock with ballads as if written both by the brit-pop bands (oh! that word combination is really blasphemous at this site) and some Seattle bands. The CD is highly recommended for those who are about to have a romantic dinner in candlelight and don't want to listen to those tear-bursting woose teen stuff. This music is very easy to listen to, and comes a bit in the vein of the now infamous Finnish superstars named HIM. But as for the latter they are more harsh and dull. Vivid charges us with 11 pieces of really beautiful and relaxing music. So if you listen to thrash-death-black-horror-porn-grind-core stuff and you want to invite your girlfriend over to your place, and as long as she most probably doesn't have your music play in your stereo and you really don't want to listen to the radio, this CD is a great alternative. (Felix Da Katt)

5/5
WITHIN TEMPTATION
Mother Earth
2001
DSFA Records
gothic metal
It took the Dutch band four years to make a follow-up to their critically acclaimed debut record "Enter", and I must tell you that it was worth the wait. "Mother Earth" is a great record, definitely among the best gothic metal albums released this year. Within Temptation does not exploit the fashionable "Beauty vs. Beast" vocal pattern, instead giving all vocal parts to their female singer. Of course this brings to mind similarities with another popular act, The Gathering, but they are far from abundant. First, "Mother Earth" is heavier than anything that Anneke & her boys have done since 1995, and second, the singer does not look up at Anneke alone, she has learned from other famous female voices as well. Thus, comparisons with the Cranberries and Cardigans are apparent as soon as slow tracks like "Our Farewell" start. Nevertheless, Within Temptation definitely have their own face, and their music full of bombastic synth passages and great guitar melodies played over the heavy pounding of drums and bass deserves to be heard by everybody interested in gothic metal. My favorite tunes here are "Mother Earth" and "In Perfect Harmony", both 100 percent hits, while more epic tunes like "The Promise" and "Deceiver of Fools" will appeal more to fans of complicated musical structures and progressive elements. Also, don't forget to check the multimedia section to learn more about the band. If they are lucky, they may soon become superstars. (Maniac)

(Fireball Reviews - Translated from Russian - Lynx)


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